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Archive for January, 2011

Blogging Right Takes Effort

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

The following is a guest post by RetroSciFiGeek, a natural follow up to my post on the golden rules of guest blogging.

One of the rules, obviously, is that you should prepare a quality post.  I say “obviously”, because I think we can all agree that it should be obvious.  Apparently, though, it is not.  In fact, most offers to guest blog are of very low quality.  When RetroSciFiGeek tweeted about how much effort he puts into each of his own posts I asked him to write about it for us.  I think it is instructive of how much effort goes into a guest post, or any blog post for that matter.

Some people do not get the difference between spam and a quality blog post,. In all my years of blogging I would say that I have come across spam on mainstream sites and I have come across quality posts on sites that are not so popular. Sometimes it is easy to think that a quality blog post comes naturally to the person writing it. A quality blog post usually takes a while to put together for people like myself. In my experience, a really good quality blog post can take hours to finish while a spammy post can either be one of those automatic hit jobs or a post that takes less than five minutes to complete.

When it comes to quality, the blog post needs to be well researched and it also needs to provide the answers to what the reader is looking for. Take for example the posts that I write on retroscifigeek.com. What most people think is that it took me a few minutes to put these posts together.  However, that is far from the truth. On average, one of my posts takes about three hours to complete. You might be thinking in your mind “Whoa!” or “No Way!” but I can assure it most certainly does.

Here is how the whole process breaks down for me:

Watching the Show (1 hour to 2 hours)

When I write about a particular show I have to watch the episode first. Watching episodes on the television or the computer takes more time for me than it does for most folks. The biggest reason is I have to constantly stop the episode so I can take notes on what is transpiring. Sometimes in really intelligently written shows like Battlestar Galactica or a show where there is a lot of techno-babble, I have to watch the show once and then go back through and watch it second time to take the best notes I can. The reason for watching it twice is to make sure I don’t miss anything that is important to the overall story that is being told.

In all honestly, watching the show is the best part about the whole process because I get to enjoy the show for what it is. When going back through a second time, I have already seen it… so taking notes is so much easier. I can concentrate on the little things that I may have missed the first time through. Obviously, watching the episode online or using a DVR makes the job a whole lot easier, but it still time consuming, to say the least.

Writing the Post (40 minutes)

Writing the post is probably my least favorite thing to do, because sometimes when I am watching a show, I just want to get to the next show. Obviously, I don’t want to forget things about the show that I just watched, so I jump right into writing the post. I know I said I take notes about what happens in a show, but I still remember things while I am writing that I did not remember to write down during the note taking process.

Before you can even begin to write about the episode you just watched, you have to structure the post in such a way that will make sense to the reader. Sometimes that means structuring it by character, place or thing. I tend to structure a lot of my posts based on where the most characters are in the show. Once the structure of the episode is laid out, then the writing process begins. I will say that the majority of my posts tend to be between 900 and 1400 words. This all depends on the show that I am watching and also the length of the show. Then there are times when the show itself is one of those filler episodes. When this happens, the posts tend to be shorter because the story is not adding anything to the overall story.

Editing (20 minutes)

Editing the post takes about 20 minutes for the entire piece. I know my grammar is not the strongest in the world, so I use Microsoft Word 2007 for grammar and spelling. Even then I know my grammar could use some work. I always joke about how I got a “C” in English and a “B” in French class. I still cannot figure that one out. Anyway, when I reread the post I find sentences that don’t make sense or words that are missing or words that don’t belong. Editing can make a world of difference and believe me — sometimes I get lazy during this process.

Finding Pictures, Videos and Finishing Up (30 minutes)

At the end of all the other processes, it is now time to find the pictures, videos and other doodads that belong on the post. I pretty much use Paint.net and Google Images for all my picture needs and Youtube.com for all my video needs. Usually I do a search on Google Images and then edit them for size in Paint.net

For videos, it is pretty cut and dry. Go to Youtube.com find the video and then place the code into the post. Now sometimes you will want the video at a different size. All you have to do in that case is to change the size parameters in the video code. Not too hard but it still takes time to do.

This whole process has taken over three hours to do and I have not even touched WordPress yet. I always upload my posts as a draft and then I go into WordPress to make sure the post will look right in a browser. Sometimes, but not all the time, I find little errors that have to be fixed so this makes publishing the post take a little bit longer. Once I have the whole post edited, and the code fixed, I am then able to add tags, categories, and anything else that the post may need.

As you can see writing a quality blog post takes time, research, patience, and the will to do it. It might take a little bit of computer know-how, but WordPress has made things so easy that I believe anyone can do it. In my past, I used to write those spammy looking posts that were less than 200 words. I used to always wonder why I was not getting the money and/or traffic for those posts that I thought I should get. I also used to wonder how sites like Problogger or Techcrunch were able to get so many followers. Now I know! It is a process of writing good quality posts first and then everything else will take care of itself.


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The Golden Rules of Guest Blogging

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

So many people are guest blogging these days. It is almost a cliché to say that once the masses get a-hold of something, they cheapen it. Sadly, the cliché is often true. So it is with guest blogging. I regularly receive offers to guest blog from people who have no clue what they are doing …which generally is wasting my time and theirs. So, here are the Golden Rules of Guest Blogging:

Know Thy Blog

That’s right, take time to study the blog you want to guest post for. What topics do they cover? What topics do they avoid? (Hint, if there are subjects that would be obviously on-topic, but they haven’t touched in the past 341 posts, they probably do NOT want your take on the subject.) Are posts serious? Fun? Are posts mostly practical or philosophical or reviews or opinion? Are posts very professional or very informal? Very carefully worded? Or anything goes? Are posts one-sided (is there a theme to the opinions?) or well-balanced? Is the writing top-quality? (Hint, regurgitating an article-directory article won’t fly on a good quality blog.) Are all the posts long? Short? All different lengths? These are just some of the points to look for.

Don’t Bore Thy Audience

Keep in mind what you learned about the blog you wish to write for. Even if it is a very serious blog, you don’t have to be boring. At very least, use colourful analogies or some form of allegory. Jesus spoke in parables, politicians do so all the time, and you can, too. Look for a new way to express old thoughts. For instance, how to eat frugally has been written all over the blogosphere, but how animals can teach us to eat frugally has not been covered very much. Get creative.

Can’t be creative? Maybe guest blogging isn’t for you. Your creativity – your fresh approach to a topic – is one of the main reasons a blogger might want a guest post on her blog.

Bring Value to the Table

Why on earth would I want you to write for my blog? Well, there might be some good reasons. Here are a few that I would consider worthwhile….

  • You have an amazing idea that captures my imagination
  • You have superstar credentials, strong enough that my blog would be very impressive just to host your name on it
  • You have an amazingly strong account at Twitter or StumbleUpon or other places that can drive traffic and links to my blog
  • I can’t write for the life of me and I need good writers that will impress people with the quality of the post
  • I have a far too ambitious publishing schedule to cover it all myself

What do you have to offer? At the risk of sounding like a nag, study the blog; you’ll quickly learn what might or might not be worthwhile. For instance, on this blog you’ll see immediately that I write very well and that “ambitious” is an antonym of my publishing schedule. You will also note that I rarely take on guest posts, so you’d better be prepared to really “Wow!” me if you hope to escape my brush-off.

Approach Bloggers Who Welcome Guests

I am not the only blogger who ignores most offers to guest post. But there are many bloggers who hungrily invite guest bloggers Try searching Google for your keywords along with “guest post” or “guest blog”. Or head over to Ann Smarty’s guest blogging forum where many of the more eager hosts are already waiting for you.

Write Well

If you write trash, your post will be accepted on a trashy blog. You get what you pay for. Or what you write for. Or what you scribble for. This falls under the heading of “when is an opportunity not an opportunity?”

These are the Golden Rules, as I see them. There are also some guest blogging tips to consider at About.com .


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