How to Pack Power into Your Writing with this Tip

Writing tip

💡Writing tip #8—Use short paragraphs, sentences, and words to pack punch to your copy.

Writing is analogous to the flow of a football game.

Think of the headline as the kickoff. It gets your the attention of your audience.

The first sentence leads to the second.

Keep your sentences short to keep your readers’ attention.

Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes you need to have a longer sentence—especially when you want to provide facts or evidence for a claim.

Use those short punchy sentences to your advantage.

🏈 Short punchy sentences are like tossing the touchdown. Immediate impact.

🏈 Longer sentences are similar to that sustained drive when a team goes the length of a field to score.

🏈 Both are required to keep the attention of your reader. Change the sentence length. Keep the pace moving for your readers.

Short. Short. Long.

Thoughts?

Let me know in the comments. 🙂


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Thank you for sharing!

10 Simple Tips to Create Engaging Content Right Away

Does it feel like your best days of content creation are behind you? You best  ideas 💡 gone never to return? I have experienced that struggle recently. 🤔

How did I get my writing magic back? I stopped forcing ideas! I focused on being consistent with my writing. Five minutes here. Ten minutes there.

Having four kids, a wife who is an elementary school teacher, and working two part-time jobs during the evening and overnight shifts make my schedule a bit less than ideal. Okay. I admit it. My schedule is hectic. I feel like an acrobat swinging from trapeze to trapeze of events. Feels like I am juggling a cheetah, koala, car, and a monkey (those are what my kids pretend to be and act like it daily!).

My goal in this post is to give you ten simple and actionable tips to START creating content for your website, blog, or social media accounts. Entrepreneur Seth Godin quipped, “Content Marketing is all the Marketing that’s left.” It’s never too late to learn a new skill or polish up on an old skill. These tips will help you do that.

For more reasons why content marketing is not a want, but a necessity in 2019 (and beyond) check out the following link: https://www.advancedwebranking.com/blog/inspirational-content-marketing-quotes/

Now here are the ten tips to help you make engaging and amazing content immediately:

💡 Tip #1— Add Value to the Content Your Create

🤦‍♂️ This is probably the most generic statement ever.

Here is what I consider to be the specific ingredients for making content with value.

👇 👇 👇 Value MUST include the following (tier 1):

1️⃣ Truth—Authenticity for me is the absolutely essential for adding value. People can see through BS through fog and miles away.

2️⃣ Relevance—content needs to be geared towards a specific (niche) audience to be considered valuable. Generic content will not cut it.

The following I consider to be tier 2 level importance for adding value.

🔷 Informative—this type of content educates you about a specific process, product, service, history, best practices, or thought leaders in specific niche industry.

🔷 Inspiration— provides perspective, positivity, and hope in the face of adversity. 

🔷 Entertaining— provides fun through wit, humor, and storytelling. 

💡Tip #2— Try a Different Approach

⚙️Creating content is like riding a roller coaster. Highs. Lows. Comments veer off in different directions at times.

⚙️Coming off a week where I had personal record views, likes, and comments on my posts, I came into this week confident.

⚙️In tip one I talked about turning weaknesses into strengths. It did not get the engagement I predicted. 🤦‍♂️It was among my worst performing posts. 🤦‍♂️

⚙️The key is to shrug off the content flops and try again.

⚙️I am trying different hashtags and having a bit shorter text.

💡Tip #3— Experiment with Your Content

⚙️Whether you are a newbie or seasoned content creator it is important to be open to trying different approaches and styles.

⚙️For example, i tend to write content that is straightforward and informative. I am naturally a more serious and logical person who loves learning daily. Humor is definitely not my normal style.

⚙️But I felt whimsical a few times last month and created content that included humor. I was quite surprised to find that it actually resonated with more people than I anticipated.

⚙️Now does this mean you have to switch styles all the time. Definitely not! But being open to testing out a variety of content will provide you the following benefits:

1️⃣ Stretches your ability to create—this will only help you in the long term. It will make you generate content with more ease and dexterity.

2️⃣ Tells you if a certain style of content will work or not. If your content flops, then at least you become aware what content not to focus on.

💡Tip #4— Collect Data on Your Content

⚙️Everyone likes to collect something. Stamps. Baseball cards. Video games. Coins. Art. Owl 🦉 statues (like my grandma did). Or something else!

⚙️Something about collection invokes a sense of journey and accomplishment.

⚙️The same is true for content creation. See I myself am a collector of information. Best practices. Knowledge.

⚙️I also love to collect experiences to share my best practices. Find out how your content performs. Track likes, views, comments, and other engagement indicators to determine whether patterns emerge.

⚙️I started doing this today—I hope to share my findings later this month. 🙂

⚙️Collecting data on your content will provide you the following benefits:

1️⃣ Provide an opportunity to build and stretch your skills of research and data collection.

2️⃣ Allows for you to discern whether or not a pattern in results is present or not.

💡Tip #5— Giving Gets Results

⚙️This other day I noticed a post on the topic of how individuals with a larger following sometimes get little to zero content engagement.

⚙️Whenever I come across accounts like this I always check out whether they give value to others. More times than not what I learn is these individuals only post and never comment on others’ work.

⚙️You cannot keep asking people to look at your content without giving something back. 💭Maya Angelou wrote, “I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.”

⚙️Giving freely without expectation of things in return actually frees you of selfish tendencies.

⚙️Giving elevates others around you and yourself as well. It leads to a win-win-win-win-win (etc) scenario!

⚙️Giving will also provide YOU the following benefits:

1️⃣ Gratitude

2️⃣ Knowledge of best practices in your niche

3️⃣ Boosted brand visibility

4️⃣ Collaborative partnerships

5️⃣ Freelance work

6️⃣ Job opportunities

💡Tip #6— Make Time to Grow Professional Relationships

⚙️ Creativity cannot happen in a vacuum. Creating something involves a community. ❤️ Children are born from the union of mother and father. 🏠 Houses are built with many individuals. 📖 Book projects involve the collaboration of the author, proofreaders, editors, publicists, and marketing teams.

Relationship take time to develop. Follow someone in your respective niche field. First follow their content: podcast, blog, social media, or website. Get to the point of familiarity with the craft and their personality and next reach out to see how you could HELP them.

Don’t ask first. As previously, mentioned giving is the essential mindset to have in the 21st century. Give. Give. Give. And give some more. Your willingness to help and the content you generate in doing so will eventually lead to people noticing your skills.

💡Tip #7—Genuine and Add Value When You Comment on Posts

⚙️ LinkedIn experts tell us that commenting on posts is one of the best ways to grow visibility and add followers to your count.

⚙️While that is definitely true, It should not be the primary reason for commenting on a post. Here should be the primary reasons for commenting:

1️⃣ Add value—give best practices, tips, information, jokes (if the situation is appropriate), or tag connections who you know would benefit from reading the original post and/or would further the discussion.

2️⃣ Genuinely want to learn—adding a comment can help you receive notifications better. How do you write authentic comments?

  • Use the voice-to-text option on your phone—this has two benefits: saves time and ensures your comments are in the same style as you talk in real life.
  • Be specific—include a relevant detail from your life or the OP’s life that you learned from their profile or past posts.

💡Tip #8—Genuine and Act Like an Actual Human When You Message People

⚙️ Treat DMs like a conversation you would have at the grocery store or with your mail carrier. How do you write authentic messages?

1️⃣ Use the preferred name—in initial DMs I greet connections by the name they have on their LinkedIn profile. After getting to know them I may start using nicknames (Ex: Matthew vs. Matt)

2️⃣ Include the specific day as opposed to time in the greeting—I.e. “Happy Saturday Matt!” —This has three benefits:

🔷 Tailors message which establishes trust.

🔷 Shows you are engaged in reality as opposed to being ‘robotic’ and spammy in your messages.

🔷 Prevents the mistake of telling someone across the globe “Good Morning” when it is actually nighttime for them.

3️⃣  Use the voice-to-text option on your phone.

4️⃣ Be specific—include a relevant detail from your life or the OP’s life that you learned from their profile or past posts.

💡Tip #9—Professional Development Opportunities to Strengthen Your Skills

⚙️Whether you are working at your dream job, working towards that goal, or ensure of your next career step it is essential to pursue professional development opportunities.

⚙️ Examples of professional development can include the following:

  • Seminars
  • Trainings
  • Conferences
  • Side-by-side training
  • Listening to podcasts pertaining to your niche area of expertise
  •  Reading books by leaders in your industry
  • Collaboration with different people in your network

⚙️ Currently, I am reading John Caples’ Tested Advertising Methods. He was a titan of the copywriting industry with over 40 years of experience in the field.

⚙️I have been also watched Dan Lok’s YouTube videos to learn best practices in copywriting.

💡Tip #10— Be Concise and Direct to Simplify Your Personal Brand or Company’s Message

⚙️ Albert Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.”

⚙️ I have learned that to be true from my experience as both a parent and writer.

⚙️ Breaking down an idea to its basic and most necessary elements requires you get rid of technical jargon, acronyms, and define any unclear terms.

⚙️ Have you ever called into a customer service number about a bill charge or service needing corrected only to get the representative rattling off an explanation that includes a laundry list of acronyms?

⚙️ In those situations, I am more confused ending the call, then when began. 🙁

⚙️Acclaimed copywriter John Caples wrote, “When a young writer first enters the advertising business he often rebels at the advice: “Write simply. Use short words and short sentences.’”

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

Tip #1 Questions:

  • How do you define value?
  • What are the qualities that make up valuable content?

Tip #2 Questions:

  • When did you have to make an adjustment at work and had to try a different approach?
  • Do your new approach work? Why or why not?

Tip #3 Questions:

  • How you ever experimented with content creation?

Tip #4 Questions:

  • How you ever collected data on your content?
  • What metrics do you track?

Tip #5 Questions:

  • How do you give back to your network?
  • Why do you think a giving mindset is important in business interactions?

Tip #6 Question:

  • How have you fostered professional relationships this week?

Tip #7 Question:

  • How do you develop genuine comments on social media posts? 

Tip # 8 Questions:

  • What other benefits of messaging connections are there?
  • Do you prefer to DM or comment? Why?

Tip #9 Questions:

  • What books in your field are you currently reading to hone your craft?
  • How are you continuing your learning at work?
  • Does your employer offer any special professional development opportunities? If so, how have you benefited from them?

Tip #10 Questions:

  • Do you think simpler is better? Why or why not?
  • How have you simplified your personal or business content’s message?
  • What challenges did you face in simplifying your branding?
Thank you for sharing!

Why Initiative is the Key to Success

According to Seth Godin in his book Poke the Box, “Without the spark of initiative you have no choice but to simply react to the world. Without the ability to instigate and experiment, you are stuck, adrift, waiting to be shoved.”

Be proactive not reactive

I have been in reactionary mode the last couple of days. Yesterday, I had an entire day off of work from both of my part-time jobs. I spent the majority of my day catching up on sleep.

Too Much Rest for the Writer?

I had to get rest. There was really no way around it. Yet, I somehow felt lazy and unmotivated. Unproductive. I despise that feeling of being unproductive!

My plan for this morning was to begin the day writing. I had saved all these inspiring content ideas. I was going to make up for “lost time” and roar back with a productive tenacity.

Guess what? Sleep got the better of me again! My body needed additional rest. This was the beginning of a writing rut. I could sense it. “It is just one day. I have been busy with my jobs and I had earlier success last month. I deserve another day off. Another 30 minute or hour nap won’t hurt. I will get my article written later in the day,” I told myself.

Excuses Me?! Enough of the Excuses!

Chock it up to an irregular schedule or the beginning of the school year, but at the basic level those reasons were excuses. I lacked initiative.

Admittedly, I did seriously ponder taking another day to rest—to put off the initiative to write. Fortunately, that was a temporary attitude. I drive to my local library to check out some marketing and entrepreneurial books. Seth Godin’s Poke the Box was perfect tinder to reignite my initiative.

Taking time to rest is necessary. Be wary against going too far and letting that day of rest turning into a couple days, then a week, or even long.

Do it act

Take Action Now not Later

You will experience ruts. It is natural. Don’t give up. Rest your mind and body. Regroup. Go back to your work with a ferocity. Start. When? Now!

Please share your strategies to get yourself out of ruts and how you balance the need to rest with the need to get work done in the comments.

Thank you for sharing!

3 Reasons Why Forcing Ideas Leads to Bad Writing

According to Henry David Thoreau, “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”  I interpret the great American writer’s words to mean that writing without having living is a futile endeavor.  Lately, I have been experiencing writer’s block. Promising ideas and topics spring into my mind; however, a few sentences in I encounter a cerebral roadblock. I stop and wonder: what do my better works have in common? This question weighed on my mind for several days. Finally, I had an insight, a spark of inspiration!  My creativity stems from drawing on palpable life experiences and I write best when I do not force the pen to the paper. Here are three reasons why forcing ideas lead to bad writing:

yoda gif.gif

Writing is Creative

Writing is a form of art. Like all other artwork, writing involves creativity. From my experiences, I find that I am most creative when I do not seek to be creative. Rather, I allow myself to be inspired. I found inspiration from other authors, the wonders of the world, and my life experiences. William Wordsworth once said, “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” Without breathing creativity into sterile words, writing is a lifeless process—there exists no meaning.

once upon a time

Creativity stems freely engaging with reality, yet also believing in the seeming impossible. “Imagination is the beginning of creation. You image what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will,” declared George Bernard Shaw. Forcing me to write when I am not inspired and when I lack the volition does not lead to a good essay.

Freedom over Coercion

To further the previous point, creativity only flows naturally with a will to write. In other words, authors tend to best write under freedom versus being coerced. Freedom presupposes a will. An author’s will to compose comes in ebbs and flows. Throughout this past month, I have lived in an arid climate—intellectually speaking. Previously, creativity freely flowed into my mind like an open spout. Currently, the creative spigot is dripping sporadic moments of creativity. Without having access to turn the metaphorical spout, I need to patiently wait for my natural ability to write to return. Waiting is a tough thing for me. According to the famous French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau, “Patience is bitter, but its fruits are sweet”. I pray for the gift of patience from the Holy Spirit to withstand my aridity in authorship.

freedom.jpg

Real Life Experience vs. Fabricated Events

During the last few months, I learned that recalling past [and present] life experiences help me in sowing [and eventually reap the harvest] the seeds of writing. Concocting or fabricating an experience does not lead to a good piece of writing.  A contrived event only breeds half-finished drafts and clutters my computer’s filing system.

Without leaning on real life experiences, my writing suffers immensely. Drawing on the wellspring on my life infuses hue, vibrancy, and emotion into writing. A large part of my childhood involved reading. Franz Kafka boldly stated, “Reading is more important than writing.” The German novelist is on point with his claim.

This month involved a ton of changes in my family’s schedules. As a result, I lack sufficient time to ponder my experiences. I also failed to read daily. To combat this aridity, I made time to read at least 30 minutes a day to end this week. Reinvigorated with fresh ideas, I finally am able to complete today’s post!

Because writing is a creative endeavor forcing ideas does not always lead to the best artwork. Creativity involves freedom and a willingness to write and draw upon past and present experiences. Useful tips to help renew my creativity wellspring include: retreating from the busyness of life to reflect in silence and read other great books.

***“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”***

Thank you for sharing!

Seek Excellence over Perfection in 2019

Excellence over perfection According to Winston Churchill, “The maxim ‘Nothing but perfection’ may be spelled ‘paralysis’.”  As a recovering (and struggling) perfectionist myself, the English statesman’s words definitely makes sense. Perfectionists demand absolute flawlessness in all activities. Since I have focused more on making time to developing content for this blog and on social media, I have learned an important lesson. Consistency matters. Consistency allows one to produce more content regularly and in a fairly short time.

How Does Perfectionism Cripple?

The perfectionist in me used to (and still does on occasion) deliberate slowly and painstakingly over the perfect introduction to a post. Was it interesting enough? Was there that perfect balance between simple and complex sentences? Did I achieve the absolute lowest possible percentage for passive voice? My pernickety thoughts went on and on.

Perfectionism Meme

Is there a perfect way to write an article? Maybe. I honestly don’t know for certain. What I do know is that perfection 100% is not possible. Certainly, you will have those stellar posts that are simply gems. Flawless. But ultimately tough to replicate. Instead aiming to achieve perfection always, focus on excellence and be okay with your occasional (and sometimes rare) visit to perfection. Excellence is consistent. It is stable.

Practice Makes Excellence

Practice makes excellence

Aristotle made the connection between excellence and consistency. He wrote, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” The following article Excellence vs Perfection details out more key differences between the two. A link to this resource will be listed in the Resources section as the end of this post. One thing that stood out to me was the excellence tends to focus on both the goal and the journey to achieve that goal, whereas perfectionism looks solely at the end result. I have had to adjust my mindset from perfectionism to excellence. The journey involves the process of learning. Excellence learns from failure. Perfectionism tries to avoid mistakes.

Failure is the first attempt in learning. Be excellent. Strive to create first-rate content. Just remember it need not be perfect. Perfection stymies creativity and growth. Excellence nurtures creativity and daily growth.

Resources

https://www.habitsforwellbeing.com/excellence-vs-perfection/

Thank you for sharing!

3 Simple Strategies to Jumpstart Your Ability to Create Content

According to acclaimed entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, “No matter what you do, your job is to tell your story.” As a writer, this advice should be fairly straightforward. In theory this notion should be easy to implement. Practically, life tells us otherwise. At times work and family obligations make it quite difficult to create content.

Creating Content

“I don’t have time” or “I am too tired from work or parenting” are excuses. Valid excuses. But excuses nonetheless. American found Benjamin Franklin professed, “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” Ouch! His words certainly sound jarring. Sometimes we need to hear that severe truth  to ignite the passion within us.

Coming off a long weekend, I felt the need for a second weekend to recover from my Saturday and Sunday. Again, I am coming up with an excuse. I struggled to develop a topic for content this week. Suddenly, I realized— how about I write about what to do when you struggle with developing content! This post will be centered on three strategies that you can use immediately to jumpstart your ability to create content.

Get Creative

I have learned that value of developing innovative strategies to write. I started The Simple Catholic blog in 2015. Four years’ worth of content! It gets tough to write about things especially when you’ve exhausted a lot of great ideas in the past.

Think Outside the Box

One creative way I learned to develop content is to immediately jot down an idea when it pops into my head. Throughout the day I think about this idea. If it is a fruitful notion, I am able to develop a cohesive and understandable outline to then construct the post when I have time later. Driving, biking, showering, or in between calls at my job are great times for me to ponder and develop these nuggets of information.

Develop Time Savers

Some days I barely have 10 minutes to write. Honestly, these days frustrate me! As a storyteller, I long to have the ability to put down my thoughts, frustrations, joys, happenings, and concerns. Writing is therapeutic. It provides healing when I am distressed. Writing is cathartic—cleansing me of worry, doubt, and irritations. Because writing provides me that important function in my life, I make sure I take at least a little time to write daily.

Time Management

Today  was one of those rushed and packed days. During my job, my phone rang off the hook. I only had 30 seconds between speaking with customers. Along with being, creative, I had to seek ways to make the best use of my time. Below are a list of the best time management practices I have discovered:

  • Utilize outlines to craft the structure of an article
  • Use the voice-to-text function on phone/apps
  • Set a weekly post goal—meet this goal consistently
  • Develop flexibility to work in smaller chunks of time—this is especially key for writers who are also parents!
  • Make time for reflection/mediation
  • Exercise frequently—you will be quite surprised how a short jog or session at the gym will invigorate your mind
  • Set time limits for social media usage

Follow Your Mission Statement

A third strategy to boost your content creation is to write about your passion. What excites you? Which subject could you ad lib for 30 minutes? Why did you originally begin your blog? What motivates your writing?

What is your mission

These questions allow me to get back to the heart of my mission. My Catholic faith is more important to me than anything in this life. Possessing a Master’s degree in Theology and teaching experience provided me the initial foundation for my blog. Along with evangelizing and discovering the joy of the Gospel, I enjoy writing about my other passions as well: exercise, writing, fantasy, and comic books. I find joy in each of these subjects.

Gary Vaynerchuk say that “Passion is contagious.” Zest also leads to a more thriving life! Helping others learn to write and blog drive me to share my best practices. When we share knowledge and experience honestly and without any strings attached we all win. I would love to hear your own struggles and triumphs in the content creating process. Share your best practices in the comments below!

Related Links

https://thesimplecatholic.blog/2019/04/11/5-reasons-why-your-statistics-on-wordpress-do-not-define-you-as-a-blogger/

https://thesimplecatholic.blog/2019/04/01/3-seo-best-practices-to-grow-your-blog-traffic-in-2019/

https://thesimplecatholic.blog/2017/11/28/3-ways-to-stay-relevant-as-a-catholic-blogger/

 

Thank you for sharing!