Never Underestimate the Power of White Space

Remember what your teacher said about writing paragraphs?

That paragraphs are sentences on the same topic, put together in one block. We only start a new paragraph if we are transitioning to a new topic. Remember that?

Well, when it comes to blog writing you can take that advice and throw it out the window!

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In order to create an effective blog you need to create white space and not have your sentences all jumbled together.

If you’ve never heard of white space (aka blank/negative space), it’s all this empty space around these words and in between these paragraphs.

You might be thinking, “Who cares about space?! What’s the big deal?”

Well, it’s a huge deal.

Why White Space is Important

When you are blogging, your readers likely are not reading everything that you are writing. Sorry to say! Most of us online readers are skimming the page. It’s just what we all do.

Usually we are looking for pieces of information and just want to be able to find the answers and then move on. So in order to help our readers out, we create a lot of white space.

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Easier to Scan With Our Eyes

With white space your eyes have a clear layout which allows the page to be easily and quickly scanned. Not to mention doing this also makes it easier to understand as well, providing a better experience for the reader.

Shows Organization

White space allows to visually show how your blog post is organized. It also helps you keeps your place, in case you look up from the page for a second. You’re able to turn right back to the page and quickly find where you left off.

Think if you had the page all jumbled up. It would be too cluttered to scan and to visually map out.

I like to use headers on each topic so that it’s easier to scan as well. I feel like this leads your eye to the important information that you are seeking.

Appealing to Readers

White space also makes your post more attractive and keeps your readers intrigued and engaged. Too much clutter is a post is no good! It doesn’t lead the eyes to important information and instead of figuring it out, your readers will just hit the back button and find a new website to get the answers.

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If you’re unsure of how to use blank space, then look at the blogs that you enjoy reading and see how organize it. While it sounds easy, there are many different ways you can create this blank space and use headers.

And if you’re still reading this then I guess I did something right in my use of whites pace! Remember that it’s an important tool to use and never underestimate the power of white space!

Accepting Feedback as a Freelance Writer

While I was getting my undergrad degree in English, in all my writing courses we would have numerous peer review days. This was when you would give a draft of your story to another classmate and have them review and edit it.

I dreaded these days.

Not another peer review day!

At first, it’s a really scary feeling to give your piece of writing to someone else to critique. I mean, it’s your baby. It’s something that you’ve created and put your heart into. But feeling scared happens when you actually care and are passionate about your writing. So relate the feeling of being scared into a positive factor.

In my imagination I would think that someone would completely mark up my page and tell me I sucked at writing. But, you know what. That never happened. And it won’t happen to you either.

Instead it would just be a few markups, some grammar errors and some suggestions. In fact, most of the time…the suggestions helped me out and made the paper flow and sound better. As I looked around the room, in the sweet relief that I wasn’t told I was a sucky writer I saw that everyone received some type of mark up in red ink on their draft. I wasn’t the only one.

As I continued with my classes my anxiety about peer review day began to decrease week by week.

Overtime, I began to look forward to the peer reviews. I also learned to take suggestions….as just that. A suggestion. Most of the time I felt the suggestions helped the piece and I used it. Other times, if I didn’t like it, I didn’t use it. I mean, ultimately it’s your creation. So you can do what you want with it.

You do you and make your piece how you want

I feel that all people have the ability to offer you great feedback. But, sometimes you have to look at the source of that feedback before taking it too personally.

For example, I had a business owner tell me not to use so much white space in my blogs.  Which, I hesitantly had to accept and follow. I mean, it was his website and if he didn’t like the white space I could limit it. But, what this business guy didn’t care to understand was how important white space in a blog. So, while he wasn’t a fan of white space, I personally am. For his company’s blogs, I didn’t use white space. But going forward with my other blogs, I used white space.

Again, his suggestion wasn’t the say all end all for all blogs out there. It was just his opinion. And just like all opinion you can decide to take it or leave it.

I also look and think about who is giving the suggestion. I have some people in my life that are amazing writers and have grown into being very successful writers. Due to their experience and success I respect and follow their feedback with a higher regard than someone who doesn’t make a living from writing.

In any industry you should always be learning, growing and listening. Feedback is one of the greatest sources to improve your writing and should always be welcomed with an open mind. Again, while it may feel scary at first, the more you do it the more you will feel comfortable and even enjoy the feedback process.

Bloggers: Write Like You Talk

No one enjoys reading a research paper. Even if it’s the most interesting topic you can imagine, putting it in a research theme type of paper, can quickly become snoozefest. If your blog is too formal it can feel like a monotone robot spewing out information. Which, people in academics seem to love but the rest of us searching online need a little bit more fun and engagement.

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For this reason, when writing a blog it is highly necessary to write as if you are talking.

By keeping this friendly and human tone it shows personality and therefore is engaging. I mean, if you’re still reading this…then I’ve kept you engaged. See? It works!

It also makes you more approachable to your readers. If you’re approachable then people will actually enjoy and look forward to your blog posts. I mean, that’s the goal of writing a blog, right? To connect with other people with similar interest and learn from each other.

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Plus, isn’t it more fun to write like you talk? To show your personality while still giving out vital pieces of information? I think so! Comment your thoughts! I would love to hear them!

Done is Better Than Perfect.

Done is better than perfect.

I wrote down this saying on a sticky note and placed it on my keycard for work, which I pull out and see at least 4 times a day. This is a nice reminder that sneaks into my subconscious mind to remind me that sometimes, it’s better to be done and turn in a piece of writing versus constantly revising it.

Sometimes I feel that I can go a little nuts about my writing piece. I’m never 100% satisfied or confident with what I wrote. Even my published pieces, I feel like I could do better. So, when I’m writing I want to constantly re-edit, re-write and re-edit my pieces over and over and over again. In a world of deadlines and time management, feeling this way is not productive.

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Done is better than perfect

Therefore, being done with the piece, is better than it being perfect. Because the truth is…is that it will never be perfect. I think that’s a hard but important lesson for creative writers to learn. It will not be perfect. But you got it to be pretty darn close to it though, right? Right.

While it is important to turn in your best work, you can’t wait keep revising. If you do, than while your busy trying to make it perfect another person is coming up behind you and going to get the spot before you did.

At some point you have just to realize it’s done, submit it and walk away.

Let me know, does this make sense? Is this also how you feel writing or are you able to feel satisfied early on and turn it in?

Tips for Writer’s Block

At some point in all writers’ careers, it’s going to happen. The inevitable writers block. It could last for a few minutes, a few days or even longer.

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I know that sometimes, it can take me a few days to find the right words or the right way to deliver the message I’m trying to convey. I think that’s is sometimes just the creative process. But once I find it, I love it! That’s how I know that while writing can be a struggle, I still get giddy and love the process of finding the right words. So maybe instead of seeing writer’s block as a struggle, just think of it as the process.

One thing that I find helps me overcome writer’s block is my journal writing. This is my own private journal and I allow myself to be completely free when writing it in. Sometimes, I just repeat the same words over and over again. Sometimes, I just describe some object in the room that I’m looking at. Most of the time, I let out all my frustrations or emotions upon my keyboard.

Although, I save the work, I don’t re-read it or edit it. I leave it completely raw. Because that makes me feel like I have more freedom.

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By completing the journal entry it makes me feel like I accomplished a piece of writing and frees up space in my creative process to move forward and tackle more writing challenges.

So, if you ever find yourself in this situation, you may want to give journal writing a try! I know it’s my trick to overcoming the block.

What about you other writers? What do you do to overcome writers block?

What is Content Marketing?

The old methods of marketing are quickly becoming less effective and instead is being replaced with content marketing.

Content marketing is a strategy where you are giving your customers useful and relevant information in order to attract and gain business.

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For example, REI (which sells gear and clothes for outdoor recreational activities) offers customers a ton of information. There website is loaded with content that is surrounded with everything that has to do with the outdoors, and not just about their products. You’ll find a section with their expert advice and even a journal of news article and interviews.

By having this content, it opens up their website for new customers to discover them. Someone may only be searching for advice and stumble upon their page. As they are exploring the site, they will likely see the products then and be more willing to purchase if it is offered in that advice section.

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By using content marketing, it also allows them to share more information on social media and improve their SEO rankings while still being cost effective.

This is why it is important to hire a writer who is capable of accurate research or educated in the subject of your content. When you have a lot of valuable content, customers feel more trustworthy of your company and will likely do repeat business.

Can you think of other companies that use a lot of content marketing?

Keyword Research for Using SEO

Being knowledgeable in SEO strategies is important for all content writers to be familiar with. One of these strategies is using keywords that are naturally woven into your blog. But, if you’re an entry level writer then how do you know what keywords to use?

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The best method that I have discovered is to first, think about what keywords your reader would be looking for. Begin with a broad search and then try to think of words to narrow the search. For example if you running a new website for a local juice bar, your keywords might not only include the obvious keywords but also the zip code and area that you are located in.  This way your site may come up higher when users are looking a juice bar in a specific area.

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You also can try searching for these words in google. As you are researching words that you think will be good to use, you can scroll all the down at the bottom of the search screen and see the “searches related to” section. This will also give you an idea of some other keywords to input as well.

Google
Scrolling to the related search sections offers other keyword suggestions

Remember not to overuse the keyword and to naturally weave into your blog. I usually write the blog first the way I want it and then look for areas where I could naturally add the keywords there.

Do any of you other bloggers reading this have any helpful tips when it comes to deciding which keywords should be used?

Managing Your Writing Goals

Creating and maintaining goals is a great way to stay on track with your writing. I don’t know about you but if I don’t force myself to write, then I probably would not write as much as I do.

So if you’re like me, you should try setting some writing goals for yourself.

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When thinking about your goals, the first thing that you want to do is be realistic. Really think about it, before committing yourself to it.

Here’s why.

We, as humans all tend to become overly excited and extremely motivated when first setting goals. We envision who we want to be and then say that nothing will get in the way of our dreams. And for a few days, maybe even a few weeks it works.

We stay on track and hit our goals. Until…the inevitable happens.  You somehow manage to screw up your goal plan.

If your plan is too unrealistic, you’ll become overwhelmed quickly and when it doesn’t work out, you’ll feel like a failure. But, you’re not a failure. You just set your goals in an unrealistic way. But, kudos to you for your high ambition!

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To avoid this overwhelming feeling that do not serve us, it’s important to set realistic goals. In fact, set your goals low at first and then keep adding to them.

For example, I jstarted this blog about a month ago. It’s something that is brand new to me. I write for two other sites, I have a full time job and I need time during the weekends to mentally chill out. So, while at first I would love to write for this blog 4 times a week, I don’t think that’s really realistic at this point.

Instead, I am going to shoot for once a week. And, I’m able to hit that goal without feeling overwhelmed. In fact, I feel very satisfied with myself with hitting this goal, which in return, inspires me to keep up the work.  As this once a week post becomes an easy habit for me, then I will add 2 a week and so on.

So, once you have a realistic goal, the next thing to do is to write it down. This helps your brain to remember it better and also allows you to have a visual reminder. I like to place my written goal in an area on my desk where I see it numerous times a day. That way it’s a constant reminder and gets into my subconscious.

Another suggestion is to reward yourself every time you complete that goal. Our brain is hard wire to repeat actions that cause us pleasure. So if we do an action and expect a positive reward we are more likely to complete and repeat that action.

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Rewards are a great way to reinforce hitting your goals

The last suggestion is to remain patient. Goals take time to achieve. And learning how to achieve those goals also takes time. In our society we are led to believe that success will happen overnight, but sadly that’s not true. Every achievement takes goal setting, small steps and time. So if you remember to keep on top of your goals and you don’t quit, you will ultimately get there.

Remember no human can stay on track with their goals all the time. But what separates successful goal achieves from non-achievers is how they handle themselves when they fall off. An achiever will always get right back on the horse and try again, no matter how many times it takes.

Questions for you:

When was a time where you set a goal and achieved it? What things helped to keep you on track?

Do you Make These 5 Blogging Mistakes?

If you have a blog and it seems to be going nowhere, you may want to re-examine your technique. Especially if you are losing followers. Below are 5 common blog mistakes writers can be accustomed too, without realizing its harmful.

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Not Writing Consistently

The more consistent you write for your blog, the better. Especially if you have followers. They followed you for a reason, so give them what they want. More blogs that will make their day! This also tends to gain respect and trust from your readers as well. They know they can rely on you for consistent updates and news.

Too Many Topics

Oh man! Talking about too many topics can be really overwhelming and chaotic for your reader. Imagine this scenario….I just discovered your site and am skimming through your blog. Your blog…is right up my alley. You’re talking about the Kardashians, Ariana Grande and all the celebrity gossip. I am loving it! But then all of the sudden, I hit “Next” and your talking about how the architecture aspect of the Sears Tower was based off a pack of cigarettes. What? You completely switched topics and confused me. So, guess what…I’m leaving your site and now going to find another site by googling more celebrity gossip.

For this reason, I would advise to write between one or three topics.

Ignoring Your Audience

You need to write with a purpose and your audience is that purpose. Remember that you are writing for them. They are coming to your site for help, information or to just enjoy your writing. So keep them in mind when discussing topics. If you are unsure who your audience is, then you need to do some research and discover who they are.

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Lousy Quality

Sometimes bloggers focus more on quantity, instead of quality. While it’s important to be consistent in your blog writing, you also want to make sure it’s your best work. Good quality goes all long way. 12 crappy blogs will turn a reader away versus one great blog, which may attract a follower or two.

No Use of Tone

Writing a blog is not the same as writing an academic research paper. So, have fun with it! Do not go all monotone boring. Instead, write like you talk. Show your excitement or your dislike for something. Get your readers involved by letting them see your personality.

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Having a blog means that you learn and grow from your mistakes. That’s a part of the process and it’s apart of the fun of it. It’s all about discovering what works for you from trial and error. Hopefully now that you know these top 5 mistakes, you’ll be able to adjust your blogging methods and see if that helps you out.

Do any of you guys have any other suggestions? Anything that did or did not work for you? If so , please share in the comments. I would love to hear from you.

Master the Art of Writing With These 5 Tips

When you think of a professional writer you may imagine someone who can always find the right words immediately. Which can be true, but it’s not likely a writer begin that way. Mastering the Art of Writing takes time and discipline. Below are 5 tips that will help you prepare to become a better writer.

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#1 – Write every single day

I know. Sometimes writing is daunting and you’re just not feeling it. But, if you discipline yourself to write every single day, it’ll become a lot easier and you’ll find it’s more enjoyable. Throughout the process you will also find your voice and become better with every day.

#2 – Discover your passion and make it your niche

Your energy and love for a topic shines in your writing. Therefore, you don’t want to be writing anything that you find boring. This will reflect in your writing and your readers will likely find your tone boring as well. Plus, why waste time researching and writing about something you don’t like. So be sure to be passionate about your topics.

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#3 – Always be learning and reading

Even if you have found your niche, do not think that you know it all. There is always something else to learn and to research. You want to be an expert at your field and trends are always changing. So, never assume you know it all. Instead open yourself up to learning and reading as much as possible.

#4 – Keep the rough draft…rough

In other words do not edit the first draft. Make the first draft messy! This is how you can let go and get out everything. It allows you to not have any distractions that may interrupt your creative process. Trying to make it look pretty in the first round, can be detrimental. You can easily forget the things you were going to say, all because you needed to go back a spell a word correctly.

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#5 – Take breaks

Once you have written everything out on the rough draft, step away from it. It’s all there on the paper anyway, so you can take a break. Look at it again with fresh eyes in a few hours or days later. This will make the writing process easier. If you do everything at once, your brain kind of turns into mush, and you’ll likely miss easy grammatical errors. So give yourself and your brain some time to relax and approach the piece at a later time.

It really comes down to figuring out what works for you as a writer. One method or tip may work for one writer and not another. These 5 tips usually help most writers learn how to become more productive and thoughtful in their writing. Hopefully you find them helpful as well.