Tag Archives: blog tips

Monday’s Link Roundup.

In this Monday’s Link Roundup I seem to have been intrigued by disappearing things. There’s Disappearing Ink Book, ideal for the procrastinator. Endangered Languages, an online resource to record languages in danger of disappearing. And  Vanishing Languages, a National Geographic site containing some frightening statistics on the weekly disappearance of languages.

On a lighter note you might want to check out Top Punctuation Howlers.

  • Disappearing Ink Book. “For less voracious readers and those with busy lives, finishing a book can be an elusive task continually pushed to the bottom of to-do lists, right along with reorganizing a closet and learning French. A small Argentinean publisher, Eterna Cadencia, has found a way to combat this: They created an ink that begins to fade away after only two months of interaction with light and air.”
  • India’s paper trail runs for centuries. “Hundreds of years before the colonizers came, Indians were counting, sorting and filing with a precision that the British could only hope to envy. They went deh-be-dehi, or village-by-village, he [Mohammed Irfann] said in the mellifluous Persian of the Moghul Empire, and they made meticulous lists of everything from castes to trees. Dr. Irfann, archivist in the Oriental Division of the Indian National Archives, understands how monumental a task that was. He is near the end of more than 25 years of work cataloging a trove of 137,000 Moghul documents, known as the Inayat Jang Collection.”
  • Endangered Languages. “…an online resource to record, access, and share samples of and research on endangered languages, as well as to share advice and best practices for those working to document or strengthen languages under threat.”
  • Top Punctuation Howlers – The Comma. “What’s so great about the comma? It clears away ambiguity, confusion, and on occasion steers us away from cannibalism. For example: Martha finds inspiration in cooking her family and her dog.
  • Vanishing Languages. “One language dies every 14 days. By the next century nearly half of the roughly 7,000 languages spoken on Earth will likely disappear, as communities abandon native tongues in favor of English, Mandarin, or Spanish. What is lost when a language goes silent?”
  • “I Am Allergic to Abstraction” by Carlo Rotella. “What does it mean to explore the world through stories? Martin Eiermann sat down with scholar and writer Carlo Rotella to talk about vivid characters, Bostonian accents, and the future of suburbia.”
  • 11 Ways to Bore the Boots Off Your Readers. “I’ve collected the 11 most common mistakes bloggers make that bore the hell out of their readers. And of course, if you prefer to engage, entertain, and entice your readers … just turn these around, and make your content really work.”

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4 Tips to Keep Your Blog Fresh, Consistent, and Enduring.

Recently one of my readers  asked, “How do you keep a blog going and keep it fresh, regular, and on time? It’s a skill I can’t seem to master yet!”

I haven’t written on the subject of blog motivation and commitment before and now seems a good time. After three years of blogging and posting three articles a week,  I’ve learned what keeps me going. Here’s what I know:

Find your passion.

Writing regularly requires passion. If you don’t have enthusiasm and interest for your material,  writing will be laborious and you’ll resent putting in the time.

I’m naturally curious and I enjoy researching and writing.  This combined with my love of life stories makes producing for my blog a delight – well most of the time. ;-)

Finding your passion is easier said than done. Here’s a clue. What is it that you love and can’t wait to do? What do you find yourself doing when other more pragmatic things require your attention? For more on finding your passion click here.

Know your audience.

It’s difficult to come up with material if you don’t have an audience in mind.

When I started my blog, my focus was split between the hobbyist doing life stories and the professional personal historian. It didn’t work. After several months I knew that the people I wanted to write for were like me – professional personal historians working at their craft full-time.

So ask yourself, “Who are the people I really want to talk to?”

Think Outside The Box.

Coming up with fresh original material week after week can be challenging. One method of sparking article content  is combining apparently non-related subjects. For example, I used my cat to come up with 6 Lessons My Cat Taught Me About Time Management. Betty White became the inspiration for  Want to Know What Betty White Can Teach You About Your Personal History Business?. And my garden provided fodder for What Gardening Can Teach You About Growing Your Business.

Other sources I go to regularly for inspiration are newspaper and magazine articles, movies, other blogs, forums, Facebook, and Twitter.  After a while your radar is alert for potential blog articles  in the most unlikely places. Coming out of my neighborhood bank one day, I saw a sign that led to this post, Are Your Clients Extremely Satisfied With Your Service?

be self-disciplined.

Remember what Woody Allen said, ” Eighty percent of success is showing up.”

If you’re going to be consistent with your blog posts, you need to be disciplined. It doesn’t matter whether you write one post a week or five. What matters to your readers is that they can count on you being there. Consistency demonstrates that you take your blog seriously.

Schedule blog time in your work week calendar making certain to book an uninterrupted hour or two. Try to select periods in the day when you naturally have more energy.

Avoid distractions. Close your Internet browser, let your answering service pick up your calls, and close the door to your office. Don’t get up from your desk until you’ve spent at least 30 minutes researching or writing.


If you have something to say and you want to build a readership for your blog, you’ve got to work at it. Don’t expect immediate results. It’ll take a couple of years before you start to see the fruits of your labor.

When I started out three years ago, I barely averaged 6oo viewers a month.  Today I reach over 4,000 viewers a month. True, it’s a small number when compared to such mega star blogs as Zen Habits and copyblogger. Then again, the personal historian niche is small and so I’m pleased with my progress so far.

For other blogging articles that I’ve written you might want to check out Should I Have a Business Blog? and What Everybody Ought to Know About a Successful Blog.

Photo by Mike Licht

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Should I Have a Business Blog?

That’s the question that rattled around in my head three years ago. So I started reading everything that I could lay my hands on about blogging. I discovered, among other things, that blogging could be a very useful business tool. For example, in a 2008 social media survey, 93% of Americans believe a company should have a presence in social media, 85% believe a company should not only be present but also interact with its consumers via social media, and 56% of American consumers feel both a stronger connection with and better served by companies when they can interact with them in a social media environment.

I decided to take the plunge and set up my blog. What I’ve learned might be useful to those of you still thinking about doing so.  I’m not a Web 2.0 expert and I’m not going to tell you that blogging will bring you fame and fortune. But I hope you’ll see that blogging can be an important part of your personal history business.

Seven reasons why you need a business blog.

  1. Millions of people every day search for information and services on the Internet. If you’re not there, they won’t find you.
  2. Blogs are easier and cheaper to set up and maintain than websites. I spent all of $20 getting my WordPress.com blog launched.
  3. Google ranks blogs higher on its listing than web pages. Search engines like activity and links. If you post frequently and people link to your blog, you’ll eventually be on page one of Google.
  4. Blogs are more personal and informal than a website. They allow for conversations  and in our business being personal is a critical part of who we are.
  5. Blogs can establish you as an authority. Part of this has to do with publishing content regularly. As Woody Allen said, “80% of success is showing up.”
  6. Blogs are a great way to connect with clients and share valuable content about life stories.
  7. Writing on a regular basis  clarifies your thinking and adds immeasurably to your learning about the many facets of personal history.

Has blogging worked for me?  I think it has. My blog is still a work in progress, but since I launched it in July 2008 I’ve  had over 56,000 viewers and 137  have become subscribers. I consistently appear in the top five Google listings for “personal historian”.

I’ve also discovered how much I enjoy writing articles and how it has limbered up my creativity and worked my “writing muscles”.  I’ve come to know some of my personal history colleagues better and expanded my network to include genealogists, social-networkers, and writers.

So what do you say? Time to take the plunge?

Photo by Sarah

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From The Archives: What Everybody Ought to Know About a Successful Blog.

What Everybody Ought to Know About a Successful Blog. If you want a blog that will attract and keep readers, then this is what you need to do. Post frequently. Aim for at least one post a week. Writing once a month won’t attract and hold visitors to your blog. The exception to this rule would be an original, dynamite, must-have  article each time. Then once a month might work. Be consistent. As Woody Allen said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.”  Visitors to your blog want to know that they … Read More

What Everybody Ought to Know About a Successful Blog.

If you want a blog that will attract and keep readers, then this is what you need to do.

  • Post frequently. Aim for at least one post a week. Writing once a month won’t attract and hold visitors to your blog. The exception to this rule would be an original, dynamite, must-have  article each time. Then once a month might work.
  • Be consistent. As Woody Allen said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.”  Visitors to your blog want to know that they can count on you to deliver.
  • Be personal. The best blogs are those that give you a real sense of the person behind the articles. Write conversationally.  To illustrate a point, use your own experience.  A word of caution: don’t write only about yourself. Unless your life is truly riveting, most people  really don’t care.
  • Keep it short and scannable. The truth is that visitors to a web page don’t stay long. As a rule they want quick, relevant information, presented clearly and succinctly. So use bulleted lists, short paragraphs, headings, and sub headings.
  • Keep it uncluttered. You want to make it easy for visitors to find their way around your blog. You don’t need to hire an expensive website designer. Many of the existing blog templates work well. Just don’t load them down with too much stuff.
  • Use photographs. Photos add interest. They can attract attention to your content and leaven longer articles.
  • Use catchy headlines. Think newspapers and popular magazines when writing your headlines. You want them to be simple, intriguing, and descriptive.
  • Be generous and useful. Don’t hoard your best ideas. Create useful reports and give them away for free. Keep your audience in mind and solve problems they’re encountering.

For more on successful blogging these two sites are terrific: ProBlogger and  Copyblogger

Photo by iStockphoto

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