Secrets to Great Content You Forgot You Knew


Secrets to Great Content You Forgot You Knew

Secrets to Great Content You Forgot You Knew

Maybe you’ve been toying with the idea of starting a blog. You’re getting ready to get started thinking about it. That is, right after you finish that new business plan for next year. And waxing the car. And don’t you also need to balance your checkbook again?

The secret to great content is to begin creating it. Maybe your writing isn’t perfect. Whose is? If you never start writing, you’ll never know. And great, original content on your blog helps your SEO with Google. Here are a few ideas that helped me get started with blogging.

Don’t procrastinate.

“Procrastination, quite frankly, is an epidemic,” declares Jeffery Combs, the author of “The Procrastination Cure,” says in an article “How to Stop Time,” via the New York Times. Don’t add to that epidemic.

An unfinished blog post

An unfinished blog post

Glue the seat of your pants to the seat of the chair.

Sit and start writing the first thing that pops into your head, and do that for 15 minutes. Can you do that? Sure you can! Now, you’ll probably go back and delete 90% of it, but there will be the glimmer of a good idea in there.

Write every day

Write every day

Write every day.

Write whether you feel like writing or not. Often you will not. That monkey brain of yours will want to do other things. Pinning banana recipes on Pinterest comes to mind. You will procrastinate on this important job. So get it over with. Once you get past that first 15 minutes, the rest will get easier. Jeff Goins, in his article “Why You Need To Write Every Day,” says: “If you want to get this writing thing down, you need to start writing every day.”

Talk, then write.

Speak your ideas, then write them down. Or have them written down by someone else. Or use Dragon Naturally. Whatever. Just get the words down. You can change them later. Because everyone can talk.

Don’t expect perfection.

Perfection will never happen. Just make sure to get something in writing. You can come back and insert some long, impressive-sounding words later.

Let it simmer

Let it simmer

Let it simmer.

Here’s the fun part. Go away. Get in your car and drive around. Go for a walk. Come back and everything will look different. When you return from your sojourn you can wear a different hat and edit your words.

Create five topics in your blog.

Today’s topic was one that I began months ago. It languished in my blog, along with some other unfinished work. But one day, you may not know what to write about. You’ll go to your website, and that half-written piece will start to take shape. By the way, here’s a post with some tips for blogging for startups.

Don't wait to get going

Don’t wait to get going

Don’t wait to get going.

It’s going to be work, but once you ‘re done, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment. Your competition is already done. Don’t get left in the dust. And when you’re done, make sure to promote that blog, too.

Six Facts About Introverts and Social Media That Will Impress Your Friends

Six Facts About Introverts and Social Media That Will Impress Your Friends

On #DigiBlogChat this week, my Twitter chat (along with @LazBlazter) about new technology and blogging, some of the participants started a side conversation about introverts and how well they do with writing, and that led to a discussion of social media. As a result of that chat, I decided to write this post. Many of these facts have been taken from Susan Cain’s wonderful book, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.” Susan Cain’s TED talk is wonderful, if you haven’t heard it yet. And by the way, one of these facts is not a fact. See if you can spot it!

Six Facts About Introverts and Social Media That Will Impress Your Friends

Six Facts About Introverts and Social Media That Will Impress Your Friends

Introverts Need Alone Time

Now, not all introverts are writers, but having and enjoying more alone time means that introverts can spend the extra time focused on their writing, or go out into nature for inspiration. Part of being a good social media or content provider means that you must write. So just by having that extra time, introverts can easily use it to recharge through their writing. And enjoy the time alone.

One-Third of the World’s Population is Introverted

In an article in Time Magazine featuring Susan Cain, the author discusses the introvert revolution (the website, ironically, starts playing a loud video), and how it tapped a nerve. With one-third of the population being introverted, is it any wonder that the popularity of social media is growing? All of us introverts (myself included) need a place to express ourselves with as loud a “voice” as those extroverts. Social media allows us that forum.

Al Gore and Warren Buffet Are Introverts

Along with Charles Darwin, J. K. Rowling, Mahatma Gandhi, Google’s Larry Page, and at least a third of the world, who prefer listening to speaking, who think before acting, and who speak softly and maybe don’t want to carry a big stick. So would it surprise you to know that introverts can be such naturals on social media since they like to think long and hard on things? While parties and small talk may be like torture for introverts, writing a social media headline or creating a blog piece are not nearly as difficult.

In a Gentle Way, You Can Shake the World. ~ Mahatma Gandhi

In a Gentle Way, You Can Shake the World. ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Introverts Are Not More Intelligent Than Extroverts

Unfortunately, introverts would like to say this is true. However, being introverted does not automagically make you a better or deeper thinker. However, introverts are more cautious as a general rule, and they like to listen more. If you haven’t read my post on the five hidden benefits of listening, by the way, you might want to. This caution can lead to slower decisions during social media disasters, which seem to happen quite often.

Introverts Love the Internet and Cats More Than Extroverts

Secretly, or not so secretly, introverts love cats. Introverts also love the Internet. And since the internet was invented by cats (not Al Gore, although he is an introvert), introverts of course have the edge with social media.

Introverts Don’t Care So Much If You Like Them

Introverts don’t care so much what you think about that post on Twitter or Facebook. This attitude may translate into a more interesting and honest post, headline, or article. An introvert will have their opinion and doesn’t need to be validated as often as an extrovert. And that is impressive!


Headline Writing: 10 Reasons it’s a Pain in the Asterisk*

Headline Writing: 10 Reasons it's a Pain in the Asterisk

Headline Writing: 10 Reasons it’s a Pain in the Asterisk

You have a perfect topic for your next blog post. You go out and take a million beautiful photos, all photoshopped and sized just right for Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest cross-posting. Then you suddenly realize: you don’t have a headline! Has this ever happened to you? Here’s why headline writing is so tough!

Everybody Says to Spend More Time on Headlines

Your headline is the first thing people see. In fact, some people will retweet or report that snazzy article of yours without even reading it. Not convinced by me? Read these articles, then (Copyblogger says to spend 50% of your time writing the headline):

So there’s a lot of pressure to come up with something grand.

A Good Headline Can Help Your Post Go Viral

A Good Headline Can Help Your Post Go Viral

A Good Headline Can Create a Viral Post

If you haven’t read my When Posts Go Viral: Four Lessons, you might want to take a look. A controversial headline (for instance, Is it Time to Quit Facebook?) can spark people’s emotions and cause a small or large furor. Again, no pressure (just kidding!).

Headline Writing: Your Words Need to Be Perfect

Headline Writing: Your Words Need to Be Perfect

Your Words Need to Be Perfect

Like a good tweet, a good headline needs to have all the right elements. It can’t be too short or too long. The important words need to be near the beginning of the headline. And you need to include “power words,” like “secret” and “magic.” And so on. Is that not a pain in the asterisk?

Because Traffic Blah Blah Blah

Because Traffic Blah Blah Blah

Because Traffic Blah Blah Blah

Every blogger wants traffic, right? When that post you wrote explodes all over the Interwebs, your blog gets a boost, you get more followers, and that 15 minutes of fame will follow you from platform to platform. So that’s another reason you have to get it right.

You Can’t Outsource It

Everybody has outsourced everything. I’m surprised we don’t remove our own hair and ship it to the Philippines (no disrespect to anyone in the Philippines–it’s just something I’d prefer to do myself). But if you want your post to be in your own words, then you have to do the work yourself.

Pain Points: Sisyphus, via Beth Scupham

Pain Points: Sisyphus, via Beth Scupham

Pain Points

Your audience experiences pain, just as you experience pain when you try to write a headline. So you want that headline to draw your reader in. The headline has to be magnetic enough so people will want to read it. It might be fun to write, but if it’s not fun to read? Fuhgetaboutit!

I'm Trying to Think But Nothing Happens!

I’m Trying to Think But Nothing Happens!

You Thought You Were Done

You outlined that article, got your topic sentences down, have all kinds of good images, and now you have to come up with a headline? Are you kidding?

The World is A Noisy Place

The world is getting noisier, and more crowded. The Internet has more people competing for the same space. So your headline has to be the juicy, juicy hamburger, and not the bun! It has to stand out.

Headline Writing: Your Headline is the Juicy Meat, Not the Bun

Headline Writing: Your Headline is the Juicy Meat, Not the Bun

When You Try to Think, Nothing Happens

You can only come up with one-word headlines, or headlines that don’t make sense. If you think they’re boring, what will your readers think?

Always keep one eye open. You never know who's lurking.

Always keep one eye open. You never know who’s lurking.

You Come Up with a Perfect Headline and Someone Steals it

It’s not a very good feeling, is it? But if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then is stealing even more flattering? I don’t think so.

*And you know what that asterisk really stands for, right?




WordCamp San Francisco: Why A Blogger Should Go

WordCamp San Francisco: Why Bloggers Should Go

WordCamp San Francisco: Why Bloggers Should Go

This isn’t the first WordCamp I’ve attended, and it won’t be my last one, either. There are so many reasons to go, I can’t even begin to list them all. Here are a few highlights. If you haven’t read any of my other  posts about WordCamps, here are a couple of my faves: WordCamp Orange County 2014: Awesome Moments and WordCamp San Francisco: Favorite Things.

The Bill Was Fabutab

Frankly, I was more than a little excited that WordCampSF had so many women speakers this year. You could practically spend the entire two days and not listen to one single man, which is unusual at a technical conference, and even more unusual in San Francisco, where even Pinterest events are filled with men. This is awesome in so many ways. More on the particulars below.

The Bloggess

One of the biggest draws for me at the 2014 WordCamp was getting to see and hear The Bloggess. If you’ve never read her blog, you should. Come back here after two and a half years, when you’re done laughing. Yes, she’s that funny. If you don’t come back, I don’t blame you. Whatever. I was a little bit afraid to hear her speak because she has reached that stage of awesome in my mind, but she did not disappoint. In fact, my favorite moment came from her talk.

She was talking about trolls, which we all get as bloggers, especially on the more successful posts. And she said “It’s my house, so if you’re going to comment, entertain me. And if you don’t, look out!” Since her blog is curated, she can change the comments of trolls, which she does. Simple, but brilliant, right? Then when the troll returns (they always do!), she can again change their comment from the extremely negative to the extremely positive.

WordCamp San Francisco: Buttons Are Everywhere

WordCamp San Francisco: Buttons Are Everywhere

WordCamp San Francisco: MailChimp Cat Apparel

WordCamp San Francisco: MailChimp Cat Apparel

The Freebies

Yes, this might seem trivial, but deep in our hearts we all love the cheesy t-shirts, mugs, and free things we get at conferences. Even the stickers help make a lackluster conference better. This year’s winner was clearly MailChimp’s cute knitted cat hat. They had full-sized hats for people, too. I’m not sure how much my cat loved the hat, but she’s fussy that way. Anyway, she put up with it long enough to get a picture.

Meeting People

Hobnobbing with the other WordPress nerds is always a highlight, and this year’s WordCamp participants were no exception. I got to hang out with my buddy Peter Woolvett, too.

Crafty Chica was a huge and welcome surprise as well. She’s @CraftyChica on Twitter, by the way. You’ll love all her glitter and positivity.

Getting Retweeted. By Matt Mullenweg. Twice.

If you don’t know who Matt Mullenweg is, Google him!

Giants. Fans.

As in the “Orange Tide” was right outside the door. When we wandered outside, we’d see planes with banners, people dressed in orange, tailgating parties, etc. Did I mention dogs wearing orange and black shoes? As thousands poured through SOMA, up King Street and over to the stadium, it was impossible to ignore. Walking out of WordCamp and into the insane orange-and-blackness that engulfed San Francisco was incredible.

Will You Go? Have You Been?

I’d love to hear from you! If you’re planning to go next year, let’s meet up for coffee!

WordCamp San Francisco: Giants Fans

WordCamp San Francisco: Giants Fans

Blogging Buddies: Catapult Your Writing Success with One Simple Idea

Blogging Buddies: Catapult Your Writing Success with One Simple Idea

Blogging Buddies: Catapult Your Writing Success with One Simple Idea

Entrepreneurs often say that they’d like to blog. They put someone on the job (often the poor intern who has no idea how to motivate others, let alone get the blog going), and hope for the best. What happens, though? The blog is dormant, wakes up from time to time, goes back into a Rumpelstiltskin-like slumber, and then languishes. While a team approach works well for some, putting a single (often inexperienced) person in charge of a business blog isn’t the best idea, in my opinion. A much better idea? Put two people in charge, and let them motivate each other.


Drafting in the sense of writing means creating a rough outline. Drafting in the aerodynamic sense, and for a business, can mean that everyone gets a break and works off each other. Take a look at this swell article from The Huffington Post: Why Birds Fly in a V-Formation. It’s aerodynamic. The lead bird does the most work when it’s out in front. Then it falls back and someone else leads. I like the idea of appointing a leader, but with a twist: have two leaders who are buddies with a similar work ethic and writing skillset.

The Buddy System

With two people in charge of blogging, neither of them bears full responsibility. And they can brainstorm with each other, pass the writing back and forth, and one can take over when the other is ill or on vacation. Blogging is critical for a startup or for anyone who wants to be found online. In my opinion, it’s a responsibility that shouldn’t be left to an intern, but given to someone on the team who is more invested in its long-term success. And when one person runs out of ideas, the other person can say “what about this? you’ve never covered this before!”

Hire a Writer or Two

Want Blogging Success? Hire a Writer!

Want Blogging Success? Hire a Writer!

If you want your business to succeed, hire someone whose primary job is to create content. This can mean social media posts, but more importantly it means original writing that positions your brand as a leader. Writers can not only write blog posts, but create playbooks, headlines for curated content, online materials, and slideshows. You want someone with experience as a writer, and that includes good grammatical skills. There’s nothing worse than seeing good content ruined by spelling errors and bad grammar.

The Best Movies Have Writers

The idea of having a writer for a movie might sound silly and straightforward. But often movies with fantastic special effects seem to miss one element: a writer. As a writer, this is offensive. Why couldn’t they hire one writer to make sure the script makes sense? Aside from continuity editing, the writer’s job is to create dialog that flows and sounds natural. Like a movie, your business needs a good writer, too. Preferably two or more writers!

My Blogging Buddy

My blogging buddy is Bridget Willard. You can read her work or subscribe to her blog at You, Too, Can Be a Guru. We often bounce ideas off each other, comment on each other’s crazy ideas, and keep each other sane through our ups and downs. She posts her videos on YouTube if you’d like to hear, rather than read social media tips. Here’s one about how to post the “same” content across platforms:

Feeling All Alone?

Whether you’re a solopreneur or a brand, I highly recommend the blogging buddy route. If you run your own business, find someone with similar ideas. If you’re a CEO or startup, and can hire two writers, they’ll keep each other motivated and your blog will always have enough content. Content has become more important and a blogging buddy can help your cause. Do you have a blogging buddy? Tell me about yours in the comments! Thank you!


What I’ve Learned from 100 Blog Posts

What I've Learned from 100 Blog Posts

What I’ve Learned from 100 Blog Posts

If you’ve been reading my blog, first of all, let me say how much I appreciate you. I am very blessed that I’ve gotten so many comments, and learned so much from all of you, out there reading these words. Because I’d heard all kinds of horror stories about people blogging for YEARS and never getting one. Single. Comment. I’ve been lucky enough to have extremely engaged readers and comments on nearly every post.

Now that I’ve written 100 posts, here’s some stuff I’ve learned. By the way, thanks for the inspiration to Randy Clark and his What We’ve Learned From 300 Posts.

Use Beautiful Images

Images are one of the most important aspects of a blog. Some people, I’m convinced, don’t read at all, but skim the headings and look at the pretty pictures. So I make an effort to use Flickr’s Creative Commons or my own photos whenever possible. Maybe in the future, blogs won’t even have words, just images. When I began, I stuck to the formula of two photos per post, but now sometimes use more.

Mistakes Were Made

I once made the mistake of using someone’s photo and got a “takedown notice.” Since then, I make sure to check in Creative Commons by using the Advanced Search and only using those available for commercial use so that doesn’t happen again! Wow. That was embarrassing.

Secret Killer Aliens from Outer Space!

Headlines matter. A lot. And stacking the important (read: SEO-centric) words towards the beginning of the headline is important. For instance, rather than saying “Most Important Hashtags on Twitter,” say “Twitter: Important Hashtags.” And shorter is better on headlines, too, for ranking. Not that every headline has to follow a formula, but it’s something I’m more aware of now. I learned about the SEO-centric headlines from friend Pam Aungst Marketing.


Going to WordCamp provides inspiration and inspiration is the juice that keeps your blogging engine fueled. So I highly recommend finding a WordCamp and attending. I’ve gone to both WordCamp Orange County and WordCamp San Francisco (the mother ship!). And each time have made numerous new friends, as well as meeting online friends like Peter Woolvett and Ruby Rusine!

My Secret Weapon

My Secret Friend

My Secret Friend

Yes, I have an editor friend. See? There she is behind that tree. She promised me I could take her picture–and she didn’t really lie. She is a real person, and she has helped me when I’ve painted myself into a grammatical corner many times. She doesn’t help me with every single post, but you can definitely tell when she does help. Because those posts make a whole lot more sense (and also contain more references to clowns)! Also: subject-verb agreement For The Win!


My blog is syndicated on Business to Community, sometimes appears in Yahoo Small Business! and Women of Technology. That has helped with traffic and probably brought me more followers and fans.

Don’t Worry That You Won’t Have Topics

I’m convinced that writing has helped me with my listening skills. Now I’m always listening for the question that someone might have. Many posts are inspired by my followers or fans. And I’ve been surprised at how many friends I’ve made among other bloggers, too. It’s a little community.

Unexpected Results

Blogging has helped me to go to cool places in my own imagination. I very often start writing and don’t know where a post is going. Some of my favorite posts have come out of times when I really didn’t feel like writing, but forced myself. What do you get out of blogging? Do you have a secret friend who encourages you to write about clowns?



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