It’s been a couple of months now since Shanna graciously allowed me a recurring spot on her site, and during that time I’ve tried to provide some helpful tidbits on how to secure your blogspace, what goes into picking the right CMS, and how to design your site to suit your fancy.
And I’ve tried to weave in a few points that I want to write about in greater detail, and one of those points is content.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll continue to beat the drum … content is king (or queen).
It really doesn’t matter how great your design is, how many concurrent visitors your host can tolerate, or how secure your database may be if your content falls short.
There are some easy points to follow about content that can make a huge difference. But, just like all other tools you’ve installed, they’re only helpful if you utilize them.
Know Your Why
This is one of those big buzz-terms right now, and it’s such a great life mantra: Know your why.
I’m a firm believer that no matter what you do, you need to know your why. Why do you work? Why do you write? Why do you go to the gym? Why do you diet?
Be intentional, and everything becomes a progressive step toward that goal.
When you sit down to draft a post, know what message you’re trying to convey, and make every sentence you write work toward that message.
Nobody likes to hear someone drivel on and on about something that doesn’t go anywhere.
So know your why. Write to your why. And do it eloquently and intelligently.
Graphics, Photos, and Images
I’m a reader. I love reading. However, I’m easily distracted by shiny photos.
I admit, I’ll visit a page because it interests me, and the first thing I’ll do is scroll through the photos.
If the photos are sub-par, I immediately lose interest.
Please don’t use that line above for justification to run out and buy a $3,000 Nikon DSL.
There is still so much you can do with an old point-and-shoot or a camera phone.
Some helpful tips on using photos:
- First and foremost: Always use pictures that are in focus. You can edit a photo to make it brighter, you can crop out the extra space, you can photoshop little things out of the image … BUT you can’t make a photo clearer if it’s not in focus.
- Never, ever, ever take a photo directly from your phone/camera to your website. At the very least, it needs to be resized to a web-friendlier ratio (like 1024×768). And more than likely, there are enhancements you can make to improve that image’s quality.
- Know how to use image enhancement tools. Know how to crop, know how to change exposure, and know how to fix white balance. These three tools will fix 90% of photo problems.
- If you have faces in the photo, point them toward the middle of the page. It’s a little thing, but it makes a difference.
- Practice. Just like everything else in life, the more you practice taking photos, the better you’ll be. So make it a challenge to shoot everyday for 30 days and see how it improves — not just shooting, but editing also.
Proofread. And then proofread again.
Pay attention to your spell check. The red squiggly lines are there for a reason. Heed their warnings.
Here are two valuable tips to instantly improve your writing:
- Whenever you’re finished writing your post, highlight it all (Ctrl+A), copy it (Ctrl+C), open Google Translate, and paste the text (Ctrl+V) into the pane on the left. Then scroll down to the bottom left corner and press the speaker button. Why? Because this reads aloud what you’ve written, and this is huge because it gives you a chance to listen for words you’re mentally changing as you proofread (because we all do it).
- Install a browser plug-in called “After The Deadline”. It’s a tool that will allow you a full grammar check within your browser — going beyond spelling, but also looking at sentence structure. Again … heed its warnings.
Show some personality.
Sure, the project you’re writing about is fantastic. You’ve DIYed the heck out of it, and it’s amazing.
Tell me a story about it.
More than likely, I follow your blog because I want to be entertained, and I don’t want to see the amazing after photos of your project only to read a boring how-to manual on how you did it.
Use some color. Use some spunk. Use some flair. Use some pizzazz. Do something to entertain me. I have ADHD, and I need you to keep my attention. Please.
It’s a relationship … between you and your reader. They’re giving-up time in their day to come check into your world, and they deserve a warm welcome, a good dose of entertainment, and a pat on the derriere as they walk away.
Don’t Be a Sell-Out
As you build your brand, you’ll likely have some opportunities to work with some vendors asking you to promote something of theirs.
That’s awesome! It really, really is, and it’s a huge shot in the arm when you’re offered that attention.
Plus, they’re willing to pay you, either monetarily or with product. Either way is a win.
But please, please don’t become a NASCAR car and get so riddled with sponsors your audience can’t see what you’re about.
Your guests are willing to tolerate a little bit of that — more if you’re endorsing products relevant to their lives. But don’t test their patience.
That’s about it for now! I can talk about the importance of content for days, but let’s finish here.
Thanks for stopping in, and please visit some of my other posts on blogging below.
Great post, Shanna. You follow your own rules and it shows. Thanks for sharing.
Marie@The Interior Frugalista says
Topher, “THANK YOU” for this one! Got it…had a light bulb moment…mak’n some changes.
Your “Tuesdays with Topher” is a great addition to Shanna’s blog. You are so right about the quality of pictures and the entertainment factor of the composition of the blog. There are a lot of us who will never attempt to replicate the projects but we are addicted to the cleverness & the humor in both of your gifted styles of writing. And I think I speak for many of us who love the before & after photos and are amazed at the ingenuity & vision it takes to turn an ugly piece of damaged furniture into a work of art.
We are grateful also that you are generous enough to share the knowledge of how to create our own blog if chose to do so. Before I started reading your “Tuesdays with Topher” I had no idea how many choices an individual has to make before they even start to create a blog. I don’t pretend to understand all of your technical terms but I’m still impressed that you choose to take the time to educate the rest of us.
Thank you Mr. Restoration Redoux!