I recently watched the final of the US Open women’s tennis and it was inspiring to see the endeavour, effort and expertise of each of the contestants. They slugged it out on center court with biceps bulging and lungs screaming as they battled to find an edge on their opponent.
The shots seem effortless and automatic and the speed and the strength of the athletes was on display for all to see and admire. The final prize… $1.8 million for the winner!
Optimizing for Peak Performance
But behind that seemingly natural easy athleticism and skill lies discipline and application to years of practice and training. Thousands of hours on the court practising, hours in the gym each day lifting small cars or any heavy object they can find at hand. Sports psychologists are engaged to build emotional and mental muscles so that the athlete can with one single stare bring their opponent to their knees. Optimizing performance and skill as a sports person requires focus and application and it not just about showing up on the day with tennis racquet in one hand and balls in another.
Behind the Scenes It’s Hard Work
Some writers and bloggers committ the cardinal sin of just turning up and hitting the publish button after throwing a block of text at a page and hope that Google will find you and your subscribers will read to the end of your article. There are some key tasks and elements that need attention before hitting that publish button.
Writing something interesting is just the start of the blogger and digital writer’s skill set that are essential to be successful on a crowded web. Top bloggers perfect the art of optimizing their blogs for readers and search and also learn the magic of marketing their content online.
10 Key Mistakes to Avoid
These are 10 key mistakes many writers and bloggers make.
1. Not Asking the Right Questions
There are some questions you should ask yourself before even punching those words into your keyboard and starting your article.
- Who is my audience?
- What are the problems my readers want me to provide solutions for?
- What topics or news will they find interesting
This where you need to start before you even write. Understand your audience first and continue to watch what sort of articles resonate and receive the most retweets and comments and write more of that content type.
2. Poor Headline
Headlines are vital to attract readers to your article. The headline will appear on Twitter and Facebook and you have a few seconds to tempt them to click on the link that follows your headline. Learn to write a good headline, make it great and if you don’t know how to do that… read this article
3. No Introduction
A good introduction leads the reader into the article it could be an interesting story, analogy or even some attention grabbing facts and figures.
4. Include an Image that Only your Mother Would Love
Quite often an image is included that detracts rather than optimises the attractiveness of the post. An image at the top right or left of the post that adds to the professional nature of the article is essential and lends authority and credibility to the writing. Sourcing iconic images that can add an air of mystique or interest to your content can really provide a beneficial boost to your post. Choose your images with care and they can be sourced for free with a creative commons licence from Flickr.com
5. Forget to Include Multi Media
Adding multi media whether that be images, screen shots, infographics or video provides curiosity capturing elements that readers love. It is worth using some screen shot software that offers additional features. The software that I cannot do without that I find extremely useful and use all the time is SnagIt. It is not essential for every article but always ask yourself the question… would an image, graph or screen shot tell the story better?
6. Use Big Boring Blocks of Text
This makes readers run away so fast that that you can only see their dust. Write subtitles that keep drawing readers into your article.
Bullet points also make it easy for your audience to capture the important elements of the post. Remember we live in a digital age of skimming and scanning and time poor readers. Make it easy for them to read and don’t make them think or squint.
7. Use Text so Small You Need Binoculars
Have you ever picked up a magazine and the font is so small it almost hurts your eyes. A lot of top bloggers are now using 14 point font sizes and often in an “Arial” font as it is easy for most readers to view without pain and squinting!
8. Forget Addtional Reading Links
While you have them on blog, don’t forget to remind them about some of your other top posts on the topic by including a short list at the bottom of the article which are hyper linked.
9. Not Optimizing for Search Engines
Search engines can drive a lot of traffic your way. To ensure that you are optimizing your blog for Google and Bing so people can find you for those all important key words and phrases install a plugin for your WordPress Blog such as “All In One SEO Pack” downloadable from the plugin section of your blog. Also learn the basics of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and apply it to your blog.
10. Don’t Promote or Market the Article
After hitting publish it is then time to market your blog on your social media channels. Tweet it, post it to your Facebook page. share it on Google+ and publish it on LinkedIn. By the way you are allowed to tweet your article more than once. I promise you that you will not be struck by lightning if you tweet it three or four times in one day!
So what mistakes do you need to correct!
Image by Leo Reynolds