10 Ways to Find Blog Topics that Convert

Blogging is big business. People want help. They want answers and solutions to their problems. They want it to be easy-to-read and simple to understand. If you don’t know how to produce useful content that converts, chances are you won’t be recognized as a respected authority in your niche.

Here are 10 ways to find blog topics that convert.

  1. Find out what your readers want to know. Start with Google’s free Keyword Planner or org. Don’t just search for the name word like “anxiety.” Add on other words that are part of a sentence like “anxiety from.”
  2. Forums provide a wealth of resources. In Google, type in anxiety forum and you’ll see where your target audience is discussing their needs and concerns.
  3. Take advantage of social media. Hashtags and conversations on social media sites, groups and communities can be helpful.
  4. Check out Facebook groups and pages that focus on your topic. If you searched for anxiety, you’d find numerous groups on that subject. Join them and see what members are saying.
  5. Take to Twitter and search for #anxiety and anxiety. Not everybody uses hashtags.
  6. Use Google+ the same way. Join the communities discussing your topic and circle your potential audience. They will usually circle you back and then you’re on your way to an engaged audience that will see your blog post links.
  7. Check out other people’s blogs for the “hot” topics. Use org to search out topics, such as “The Best Anxiety Blogs of the Year” or “Self-Help Anxiety Relief Tools.”
  8. Let’s not forget YouTube. Simply typing anxiety into this social network will produce some great ideas. Many people use it as their search engine of choice instead of other popular ones, such as Google, Bing and Yahoo.
  9. Don’t forget to check out the marketplace. Go to Amazon, ClickBank and Barnes and Noble to see what people are buying according to their bestseller lists.
  10. Look through the table of contents in books in your niche for topic ideas. That doesn’t mean plagiarizing the author. It does mean if you see natural ways to relieve anxiety in the table of contents and you’d never thought about that before, add it to your list of topics.

Hopefully, these tips have inspired you to tweak your content creation strategy and create copy that converts.

Make Your First Sentence the Best

You have roughly three seconds to hook your readers and get them reading. After the headline, it’s up to your first sentence to do the job.

Never mislead. Your headline and first sentence should take your reader smoothly to your main point. Do say something that makes people pay attention.

For example, “In business, it’s important to learn from your mistakes.” –Babar Suleman

As a reader, I think, “Mistakes? What mistakes? Maybe I’m making one…”

That little bit of doubt creates curiosity.

“So you noticed, eh?” –Russ Henneberry

The tone is casual and fun. I think, “Noticed what?” And I’m into the article.

“Want better results on your landing pages?” –Kathryn Aragon

You’ll hear that you should never ask a yes/no question. Readers might say no and move on. But in this case, everyone wants better sales results, so it’s a safe question.

For more tips, tricks and writing advice join our Facebook Group, The Write Way or visit us at The Ys One Writing Service.

Every Writer Starts Out as a Beginner

We all begin our educations without knowing how to read. We all learn to walk by first learning to crawl and later, falling down repeatedly. And every one of us who writes is—or was—a beginner at some point.

Being a beginner is nothing to be ashamed of or to apologize for. It’s simply an acknowledgment of where you are right now.

Throughout history, every writer who created something grand and wonderful first had to write dozens, even hundreds, of pieces that were anything but grand and wonderful. In fact, many of those pieces were utter failures. In each case, however, the writers learned and grew from them. Because of their mistakes, failures and experiments, they became better writers.

The same will be true of you and your work.

In one sense, no writer is every really a beginner. Most of us were taught to write in school so by now, we have years or decades of writing experience under our belts.

In another sense, all of us remain beginners, no matter how much writing experience we may accumulate. After all, every time you start a new piece, you’re bringing into existence something that hasn’t existed before.

So, whenever you’re tempted to look sheepishly at the ground and say to another writer, “I’m just a beginner,” catch yourself. Instead, look them in the eye, smile and say, “I’m a beginner—just like you were once.”

For more tips, tricks and writing advice join our Facebook Group, The Write Way or visit us at The Ys One Writing Service.

The Truth about Ampers&s

It’s time to set the record straight about ampersands.

Contrary to popular belief, an ampersand is NOT interchangeable with the word “and.” Believe it or not, it has its own functions, meanings and uses.

Unfortunately, I see it misused every day in my work as an editor.

The tendency to overuse the ampersand has worsened as less formal digital communication (texting, email, Tweeting), has exploded, calling for character shortcuts.

Using this symbol as convenient shorthand when writing, however, is like nails on a chalkboard—and it makes the writer appear careless.

I’d wager a guess that if you asked 10 people if they know the rules for using an ampersand, you’d be hard-pressed to find one person who knows said rules exist, much less what they are. Most people don’t think it’s important enough to merit attention.

Here’s the thing. It’s little details, like using an ampersand incorrectly, that can make your writing look amateurish.

The rules are simple.

Don’t use an ampersand in regular text, headings or titles in place of and, except as noted below.

Limit using ampersands in these situations:

  • Proper nouns names like “Crown & Co.” (Note: spaces are used here).
  • When logos, titles or names contain an ampersand as part of a design.
  • In titles of creative works, like books, songs and albums.
  • In tables or parentheses when there is limited space.
  • In common shorthand expressions like “R&D,” “rock & roll,” or “country & western.”
  • Ampersands can be used to indicate that the “and” in a listed item is part of the item’s name and not a separator, such as Rhythm & Blues.
  • In names that are abbreviations, like “AT&T” or “A&W” (Note: no spaces are used.)
  • In citations when the source has multiple authors, use the symbol to connect the last two (Smith, Greene & Jones, 2008).
  • When identifying more than one addressee, such as: Mr. & Mrs. Garone.
  • The phrase et cetera (“and so forth”), commonly written as , is also properly abbreviated &c., representing the combination et + c (etera).

There you have it. Consider yourself in the know.

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Why Your Copy Needs a Second Set of Eyes

In the words of Will Rogers,  “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

That’s especially true when it comes to your website copy.

Copy is one of the most overlooked aspects of any website. It’s also one of the most critical. How many of us have searched for information online only to find a site with poor grammar, misspelled words or sentences that don’t make sense?

Those are the sites that make visitors hit the back button and move on to the next search engine result. That means you’ve lost a customer or client. It’s important to remember that it’s your copy that keeps visitors there, not just the flashy graphics, bright colors or your latest video.

Not to say that’s not important but good copy does more than draw visitors to your site. It keeps them there. Your copy often turns a click into a sale simply because that visitor has a better understanding of your site; learned more about a product or program they’re interested in; or they find your copy more interesting than your competition.

Don’t let that happen to you. It’s time to call in the big guns.

Let’s face it. No matter how adept a writer you are, having your work professionally edited is crucial. Professional editors do more than correct mistakes.

They’ll polish your copy, leaving visitors with a memorable and lasting impression of your website and your business.

There will be less blood, sweat and tears. By the time your copy is completed, you’ll have spent countless hours working on it. When an editor looks at your paper for the first time, they’ll be able to notice things you might have missed, like where the structure could be improved.

They eliminate frustration. A professional editor eliminates the frustration that comes from editing your own work. An editor’s  job is to correct and improve your document and quickly rectify grammar, style, word choice and/or flow issues.

They’ll save you time. Instead of re-reading your copy for the umpteenth time, you can move on to another project, knowing your work is in good hands.

They read with objective eyes. While a friend or colleague may be afraid to tell you a paragraph or two should be deleted or there are grammatical errors, a professional editor will gladly address these issues and work with you to improve your copy.

They can assure your writing makes sense and flows well. This applies to fiction and non-fiction writers. Editors make sure that research and stories are correct and flow seamlessly together.

They’ll perfect your writing. Not only will a professional editor correct your mistakes, they’ll help you perfect your writing. They’ll point out errors and style issues you probably didn’t notice. They’ll also identify your strengths and weaknesses and offer specific feedback on how to take your writing to the next level.

They’re paid professionals. Yes, editing is a real job. When you hire one, you’re hiring a professional to do what they do best—edit! They look for misspelled words, reorganize paragraphs, double-check style guides and find the perfect word(s). You’re paying them for their expertise in return, editors ensure your writing is as close to perfect as possible.

They’re a confidence booster. Seeing your words polished by a professional will jumpstart your confidence as a writer. They motivate you to promote and share your content with others. As a result, you’ll exude confidence.

It’s a learning experience. By working with a professional editor, you’ll grow as a writer. You’ll receive trustworthy and meaningful feedback and learn how to apply that feedback to your writing.

If you want to get past copy that’s “good enough,” consider hiring a professional editor to polish your words and make your copy stand head and shoulders above the rest.

You’ll be glad you did.

Need help with your copy? Not to worry. We’ve got you covered. Visit The Ys One Writing and book a  Discovery Call.

 

 

 

It’s All about You!

Let’s face it. Most of us don’t devote nearly as much time to our “About” page as we did crafting our homepage, blog posts or website design.

Who does?

Instead, we slap up some basic background info, maybe even a little history about ourselves or our business and hit the save button. We tend to forget it’s the heart and soul of our website.

BIG MISTAKE!

You see, that page you just rushed through, it’s the second most visited page on your site.

It’s where visitors can learn more about how you can solve their problems, make them feel good and ease their pain. When they land on your site and head straight for the “About Us” page, they’re already telling you they’re interested in what you have to offer.

Now it’s your job to show them who you are, how you can help them and what to do next. It’s a great place to give your visitors the confidence to understand that you—and your business—have the necessary skills and experience to solve their particular problem.

Writing the perfect pitch and crafting a compelling “About” page can be challenging. It’s not easy to articulate the essence of what we do and communicate how and why we do it.

I’m going to make to easier for you. Here are 10 tips for telling the world “About” you.

1. Be original, honest and open. Don’t be afraid to be loud and bold. Dare to be different. Share your values. Tell your visitors who you are and what you believe.

2. Your content should answer five questions: Who are you? Why should they choose you over someone else? What do you do? When did you start your business/program? How do you do it?

3. Have an opening statement. Hook your visitor’s interest by touching on a problem or emotion you know affects them, such as “Do you want to cut the fat while eating delicious food?” or “Would you like to become a better public speaker in one week?”

4. Your page should have a welcoming tone that relates to your visitors’ needs, while aligning with your personality. Write in the first person. Keep it relatable and understandable.

5. State your case for what’s in it for them. How wonderful your products or services are isn’t important. Visitors are more concerned about what they’ll get out of a business relationship with you. They want to know what you can do to help solve their problems.

6. Tell the story of your professional journey. Your backstory doesn’t have to be in chronological order. Make it interesting. Let your visitors know how you know what you know.

7. Communicate in a clear, concise manner. The information on your “About” page represents your business and what it stands for.

8. Show yourself. Build trust by adding a photo that captures the real you. Your potential clients/customers like to look into your eyes.

9. Demonstrate how you’ve provided solutions for others. If visitors see you have serious training and work experience in the area they’re interested in, they feel comfortable about working with you.

10. Give them a sense of what it’s like to work with you. Show people they can trust you. Add client testimonials and stories about how you work.

Here’s a bonus tip. Write the way you speak. Granted, when writing your “About” page, it’s tempting to add words you never use. If you do that, you’ll end up sounding like someone else. Whether you should write in first or third person is up for debate. I prefer the first person because I want to speak directly to the reader.

Not everyone who visits your website will check out your “About” page, so you need to entice them to click on the link. You can accomplish that by having insightful and interesting content that makes your visitors believe they can’t live without what you’re offering.

Need help with your “About” page? Not to worry. We’ve got you covered. Visit The Ys One Writing  and book a Discovery Call.

Beware the Plagiarism Police

As I was scrolling through my news feed recently, a post caught my eye. Someone in a writing group posed the question, “To which level is plagiarism wrong?”

The responses ranged from “It’s always wrong” to “You can rephrase the information in your own words.”

I thought it was time to set the record straight.

When we hear the word plagiarism, most of us think of “copying” another person’s work (or words) or “borrowing” their ideas. These words often mask the gravity of the situation.

According to the Merriam-Webster online Dictionary, to “plagiarize” means to:

  • steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own;
  • use (another’s production) without crediting the source;
  • commit literary theft; and/or
  • present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.

Translation? Plagiarism is fraud. Pure and simple. It involves stealing another’s work and lying about it.

Really? Words and ideas can be “stolen?”

According to United States law, the answer is yes. The expression of original ideas is considered intellectual property and is protected by copyright laws, just like original inventions. Almost all forms of expression fall under copyright protection as long as they’re recorded in some way (e.g., a book or a computer file).

Here are some common examples of plagiarism.

  • Handing in someone else’s work—word for word—and claiming it as your own;
  • Copying someone else’s words or ideas without acknowledging them;
  • Not using quotation marks with a quote;
  • Providing wrong information about a quotation’s source;
  • Switching words but keeping the sentence structure and not acknowledging the source;
  • Using enough words or ideas to make up most of your work, regardless of whether you give credit;
  • Citing non-existent or inaccurate source information;
  • Copying content from multiple sources without properly citing them;
  • Properly citing the source(s) but the content is too close to the original wording or there’s almost no original content;
  • Combining properly cited sources with copied passages—without citing—in the same copy;
  • Paraphrasing from multiple sources and making the content fit together seamlessly; and
  • Changing keywords and phrases while retaining the essential content.

So how can you protect your work from being plagiarized?

According to Copyscape:

  • In defending your rights online against plagiarists, it’s important to be both vigilant and proactive. These four easy steps should help protect your content from being stolen:
  • Place a plagiarism warning banner on each of your pages in order to deter plagiarists from stealing your work.
  • Include copyright notices on your pages to assert ownership over your content. To create a © symbol in HTML code, use: ©
  • Use the automatic Copysentry service to detect illegal copies of your content as they appear.
  • If your content has been copied without permission, take immediate steps to have it removed.

Click here to perform a free Copyscape search on your content.

To learn more about copyright law, check out “How Much Do You Know about Copyright Law?

Want the best information, tips, tricks and advice on writing? Click here to join our Facebook Group, The Write Way. 

Freewriting: Getting Your Brain in Gear

Freewriting is one of the most creative and emancipating writing exercises you can do. Also known as stream-of-consciousness writing, freewriting allows you to let your thoughts and ideas flow onto the page without any inhibitions. The results can be inspiring, enlightening, even thought-provoking.

Freewriting is ideal for daily writing practice. Writing for 20 minutes first thing in the morning is a great way to capture your dreams or jot down your ideas before your head is filled with the day’s activities. A “before bed” session is good for clearing your mind of the day’s clutter and capturing new ideas you had during the day.

With freewriting, you write quickly and let your thoughts flow freely. Anything goes. Even if it doesn’t make sense. The process is simple. Start by setting a limit that will be the minimum amount you’ll write. It can be based on time, word count or pages. Then write whatever comes to mind. It doesn’t matter how crazy it might sound. Keep writing until you reach your limit. Don’t be afraid to exceed your limit if you’re on a roll.

The first few attempts you make at freewriting may result in writer’s block throughout your writing session. When that happens, whatever you do, don’t stop writing. Always keep your pen moving. If your mind is blank, write the word “blank” over and over until your creative juices start flowing again. Just keep writing!

Variations on a Theme

Guided freewriting can be used for creativity and problem-solving. For example:

Focused freewriting is just that. It focuses on a specific idea or concept. If you’re writing a novel and your characters are stuck in a rut, this type of freewriting can help you break through a scene or get your characters moving again. It’s similar to brainstorming but you let your ideas flow instead of thinking about them before committing them to paper.

Topical freewriting is generally used when writing about a particular topic or subject. If, for example, you’re working on an essay, you might choose this type of freewriting about your subject matter. It lets you explore your thoughts and feelings and determine which ideas or aspects of the topic you want to examine further.

Words and imagery is a good choice if you’re writing poetry or if you’re not making much progress in your general freewriting sessions. Pick a word or image. Stay focused on it while you write. If your mind draws a blank, go back to the word and write it repeatedly.

Character freewriting helps you get acquainted with your characters. There are two ways you can do it. You can freewrite about them by writing their name across the top of the page, set your timer and write whatever comes to mind about them. Or you can put yourself in their shoes and write about them in the first person.

Solution freewriting can be used to solve problems in your writing projects. Like character freewriting, begin by writing your problem across the top of the page, turn it into a question and then write. You may write yourself into a solution.

Here are a few freewriting tips to get you started.

Limits: If you have a timer, start by setting it for 20 minutes. That’s a good amount of time for any writing session. You also can fill two to three pages of handwriting. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Some writers find that anything more than a half hour of freewriting becomes jumbled, while others hit their stride within the first 10 minutes.

Tools: Experiment with different writing tools. I recommend writing in longhand for better creativity. When you right with your pen, you write from your heart. Something happens to your brain when you put pen to paper. The pace of writing will slow you down and give your thoughts a chance to come in.

Don’t give up: Most writers find it takes several attempts to get the hang of it.

Relax: Don’t try too hard to choose your topic. It will choose you. Don’t worry about the quality of your writing either. What’s important is to keep writing.

When freewriting, it’s important to remember not to be too hard on yourself. If you don’t like what you wrote or you think you’re writing is awful just ignore it and move on. The only thing that matters now is to get your words down on paper. Once you do that, those words and ideas are out in the open, ready to be used in any way you want. So keep your pen moving and let your ideas flow.

Want the best information, tips, tricks and advice on writing? Click here to join our Facebook Group, The Write Way. 

The Art of Journaling

Journaling…it’s not my thing. I don’t do it now and I don’t have any intentions of starting anytime soon. I don’t have time.

Does that sound like you? If it does, give me a few minutes of your time and see if I can offer a fresh perspective on why journaling can be an effective discipline.

Setting aside some dedicated time to meditate and write about your life not only helps you keep a record of your day and keep track of things you want to remember, it can help you deal with tough situations and think about the future.

Many have the pre-conceived notion that to journal effectively you have to sit down and write pages and pages about your feelings. It really means setting aside some quiet time to sit down and think about your life. It can be writing down what you did that day; venting about something you can’t get out of your mind; or noting something that inspired you. Some days it might be pages and pages and others only a few words. Just take a moment to stop and think about how things are going.

Here are five reasons you need journaling in your life.

It’s a tool for personal growth. Whenever you work through your thought processes, you can’t help but get helpful insights into how you think. This is a chance to analyze and understand any of those patterns or negative beliefs that consistently show up in your mind. When you can look back and see how you overcame a challenge in your life or business, you’re reminded that you’re capable of overcoming whatever new challenge you’re presented with.

It provides a healthy outlet. Journaling is mainly an outlet for your thoughts and feelings, positive and negative. It allows you to take those thoughts from your head and put them down on paper. Re-reading those entries allows you to see progress and areas where you still may be stuck.

It enhances your problem-solving Typically, we identify the problem and then brainstorm possible solutions. The same can be true for journaling. You can write out the problem, re-read it, make additions or corrections and then write out potential solutions.

It organizes your thoughts and ideas. No matter what lead you to journal, having a place to write down your ideas and put together a well thought out, articulated plan is beneficial.

It helps provide perspective. Journaling can help us understand the value of gratitude and positive thinking. Writing down the things we’re grateful for is a powerful thing. We can revisit those entries and be reminded of all the good in our lives.

When Should You Journal?

There’s not really a set time to journal. It’s more a matter of personal preference and whatever works best for you. Whatever time you choose, be sure to write at the same time every day.

I prefer to do it first thing in the morning. I follow Julia Cameron’s suggestion in her book, The Artist’s Way. Cameron encourages people who are trying to connect with themselves to write three pages every morning of whatever comes to mind.

Writing morning pages is like boot camp for your muse. When you write at the same time every day, you train her to show up when you say it’s time to work. The key is to let the words flow.

It’s a form of stream of consciousness or free-form writing. That’s when you allow a thought into your head and transfer it into the pen. You may not even finish a sentence before the next thought comes up. You should write continuously because there are always thoughts in your mind. Write them down no matter what they are. Even if they’re, “Gee, I don’t know why I’m doing this” or “What should I write next?”

It’s important to write in longhand. When you right with your pen, you write from your heart. Something happens to your brain when you put pen to paper. The pace of writing will slow you down and give your thoughts a chance to come in

Even if you don’t stick to a schedule, it’s important to write regularly to get the most out of the benefits of journaling. This helps keep ideas and language flowing and helps you get in the habit of journaling. Maybe you can only journal on weekends or certain days of the week. That’s okay. The most important thing is that you commit to keeping a journal.

How Journaling Helps to Expand Your Self-Awareness

Writing down your feelings and what’s going on in your head is not only cathartic. It also lets you get a grip on your emotions.

Journaling helps to expand your self-awareness in several ways.

  • It increases your insight into a situation. Writing about a situation puts it into perspective after the event has taken place. This allows you to process the emotions you experienced because of the event and notice details you might have overlooked when it was taking place.
  • It allows you to reflect on your feelings. You don’t have time to analyze every situation that’s taking place. When you’re journaling, you’ll have time to go back and identify feelings about an occurrence and reflect on why you felt that way.
  • It helps to shed light on why you feel a certain way. When you write about your feelings and discover the reasoning behind why you felt a certain way, it can help you to change them in the future. Becoming more self-aware provides an opportunity for you to change how you react in future situations.
  • Regularly reviewing previous entries helps you see results in an emotional response. Journaling helps document those patterns and bring them to light. The good news is when you see an unhealthy pattern in your responses, you can make a change to more healthy and positive reactions.

I also keep a journal that’s labeled “Intentions.” An intention is simply an aim or plan. But when we take a moment to “set” the intention and mindfully focus on that goal it becomes so much more. The intention doesn’t have to be something big. It can be something as small as, “I’ll be conscious of my breath today” or “I’ll drink more water.” Though it can be simple, it’s best to set a specific intention—something transformative.

I write my intention for the day in a notebook and then say it several times out loud. Creating that intention is more about being the self I envision. I tell myself what I want from myself. I envision my day in my mind. I see where I will waver and make the right choice keeping my intention in mind. When the day’s over and I’ve manifested my goal, I feel I’ve accomplished something.

My daily affirmations are recorded in another journal. Affirmations are short, powerful statements. When you say, think or hear them, they turn into the thoughts that create your reality. Some of my favorites are “I am enough,” “I have the power to change myself” and “I choose happiness, success and abundance in my life.”

A third journal is for recording what I’m grateful for. It can be anything from my wavy hair to my health, my family or being able to run every day.

Last but not least is my “Evidence” journal. That’s where I record things I see or hear or experience that let me know I’m on the right path. It could be finding a penny while out running or someone paying me a compliment or a coincidence that is too strong to ignore.

So have fun. Journaling is its own reward. Once you start, your journal will become a good friend—one who’s always around, has time to listen attentively and remembers what you said.

To get a list of 100 Journal Prompts, send an email to mary@theysonewriting.com.

Three Ways To Boost Your Social Media Marketing Video

Show, don’t tell, especially when it comes to social media marketing. Videos stand out, giving potential customers a brief overview of your product or service without overwhelming them with text. In under 30 seconds, they can get the necessary information about your business through a short, visually appealing video.

With busy schedules and long to-do lists, many business owners—myself included—fail to stay on top of their social media marketing strategies. Instead, we keep doing what we’ve always done and getting the same results we always did.

One way to reenergize your social media marketing efforts is to create a short, shareable video. Here are three ways to do that.

  1. Create an engaging video. The best way to convert social media followers into clients is getting them on your mailing list and have them visit your landing page. That is where they’ll find your video highlighting the value your product or service provides. To get the most from your lead generating video:
  • Keep it short (2 minutes or less)
  • Be genuine
  • Get their attention with premium offers
  • Support your pitch
  • Finish with a call to action (CTA)
  1. Coordinate cross-channel social promotion. This requires a planned marketing effort that spans across multiple social media channels, like Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. Keep your tone and message consistent while presenting your video in the best light on each platform. Unite all your social content with the same theme while sharing blog posts and images that tie into your video. This will entice your social media followers to become customers or clients. Make “them an offer they can’t refuse,” like a webinar or a free ebook, that offers solutions to common problems.
  2. Maximize your video’s shareability and drive traffic to your landing page. Here are some easy to implement, platform-specific suggestions.
  • Upload your video to YouTube. Give it a catchy, relevant title, add a URL and an engaging CTA. Get a greater ROI by adding a link to your landing page.
  • Share your video in a status update on Facebook with a clear CTA. Increase traffic with promoted posts and Facebook ads.
  • Tweet your YouTube video link and a link to your landing page.

Video marketing is a great way to make your business stand out. When done correctly, it can help you convert social media followers into clients or customers.