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I hope you find my writing and business tips and observations useful. My business and blog are dedicated to helping businesses communicate clearly and reach their potential. Read, subscribe to my newsletter, enjoy! Tash

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Working on goals

Do you have some big goals that you’re struggling with?

I just read a great blog post about goals – well, Julien specifically wrote about the goal of reading a book a week but I like some of his points for general goal following.

Side track – a goal of reading a book a week is great, especially if reading is not something that comes naturally to you. I admit my biggest issue with reading a book a week is that I love long books and with 4 kids, one a week is a challenge! With literacy week here this week, though, maybe it’s a challenge you may want to consider…

The best points Julien made about reaching goals…

  1. break it down into reasonable steps so it’s less overwhelming. For instance, based on books of 250 – 300 words, read 40 pages a day to reach 52 books a year. To get 100 blog or facebook subscribers in 6 months, aim for 4 a week. To finish the Tour de France, start riding your bike for an hour a day and build it up to 6 hours a day!
  2. set up a routine  – it’s much easier to follow steps when they are habit and you don’t have to think about it
  3. keep up to date or ahead – letting yourself fall behind (especially early on in a goal) can be disheartening and makes it less likely to be achieved. Don’t accept excuses – do build up some credit to cover issues later.
  4. Cheat a little occasionally to stay on track and interested. Surprised by that one? By cheat a little I don’t mean lie to yourself but just take the easy option occasionally. So if you’re reading is falling behind a book a week, deliberately choose a short book you can finish off fast. If training for the Tour, ride your exercise bike instead of hitting the streets in a storm. Building a blog readership – post a really short post or a summary of old posts instead of sweating a long post. Cheating like this is much better than stopping your actions altogether.
  5. You don’t have to be linear all the time. It depends on your goal, but sometimes allow yourself to go a – b – c- f – e – d- t- g- h- k instead of following a straight line. This will keep you moving if one step hits a delay and can provide some variety if you’re loosing momentum and interest.
    What does this mean in a practical sense? Going back to our earlier examples, if you can’t get into book 4, put it aside while you read books 5 and 6; instead of riding an hour uphill every day put in the occasional day of two hours on the flat; skip a post on your blog and submit a guest post somewhere else.

So what do you think – will these tips help you reach your next big goal? Share your goal here and the impact of these tips, too, if you like.

The value of guest blog posts

A few days ago, I raised the question of reading guest blogger posts in a favourite blog.

I think there are a number of reasons to value a guest post in a blog, although I do agree that too many guest posts could detract from the person I visit that blog to hear from.

If the guest blogger is filling in for my favourite blogger so that I continue getting content, that consistency and committment is of value to me. Of course, this is of less importance if the blog is erractic in providing content anyway, but we’ll ignore that for the moment!

Assuming that the blog has carefully selected any guest bloggers and the topics they post on, then the guest posts could provide me with an alternative point of view which can be really useful. It could also provide me with a new blog to read and gain information from.

A different person writing may also inspire different people to comment on my favourite blog which again can lead to new conversations, ideas and leads.

And on a more superficial level, if I comment on a guest blogger’s post, that guest blogger may then know of me and my blog…

While there are obvious advantages for the host and guest bloggers, I think guest blogging also holds advantages for the readers. What do you think?

You are making an impression…

Sigh. That’s my immediate response to a blog post I just read – sigh.

Doesn’t give a good impression of that blog or writer does it? Every time you write something that goes public, it affects how people view you – yet some people just don’t seem to get that. What’s worse is that this was a guest post on another blog so I assume they didn’t review it before accepting it. Silly as I closed the site after this post, and the rest may be great for all I’ll ever know…

I started reading the post in good faith but the poor expression made me skim the second half rather than read it which is never a good sign. I honestly only kept reading because I hoped the content would improve and justify it’s existence on a site I was reviewing. It didn’t.

Although appearing to be an article giving information, it was a poorly disguised ad for why company X is a good choice for design work – namely because they are young designers. I commented back as I don’t believe all young designers are good, nor all experienced designers lack passion.

Had I been given that article to edit or at least comment on, my suggestions for this article would have been:

  • make sure it all flows and that each sentence make sense
  • give balanced information (eg “while an older designer has experience, remember that new designers are keen to impress and may be passionate about their work” or “new designers have a lot to offer and you may find they charge less to get experience”)
  • introduce any specifics in the article, not just the heading (in this case the heading mentions web design but the article starts with ‘designing is a creative field’ – designing is more than websites)
  • use good grammar and punctuation (“give you the brand image as promised because; they want to earn a good name” does not need any punctuation in the middle and certainly not a semi-colon)

Just as I was leaving the page, I noticed the writer’s bio and sighed again. Nearly every word started with a capital letter (which is so annoying and completely unnecessary) and he claimed to be a ‘professional content writer’. With that example of his writing skills, he is not making a good impression for himself or the web design company paying him to write this article.

How do you respond to such poor examples of work?

Why read a guest blogger?

Many blogs use a guest blogger from time to time, some use guest bloggers all the time; in fact, Matt Coddington suggest that just about every blog will include a guest blogger at some point in its lifetime.

A guest blogger simply means someone else writes a post or series of posts that are published on another blog. For example, I have done some guest blog posts at The Study Gurus. Sometimes it is one or two posts, sometimes there are many posts in quick succession and sometimes a number of guest posts are added over a longer period.

As a reader of a blog, why would you read a guest blogger in a favourite blog? Or would you actively not read it at all?

Making your blog quality

Often, I read about the importance of quantity for blog posts – that is, there is a message to write frequently in your blog to make it successful. And I have to disagree with that message.

Oh, there is no argument that a certain number of posts and some regularity is necessary to get traffic to your blog and search engines ranking you. And for regular readers it does help to have a pattern to posting or at least multiple posts a week.

But having five or more posts a week that are boring or trashy is not going to get you a lot of repeat visitors either.

Good quality blog posts that engage people is what will bring people back to your blog. That can be done in many ways (informative, descriptive, entertaining and so on) as long as people are interested in what you are writing. Quality posts may or may not generate a lot of conversation (ie comments), but they will achieve the usual aims of a blog – sharing ideas, showing expertise and communicating with real people.

I would much rather read an informative blog post once a month than visit a blog every day to read some drivel churned out – how about you?

How does this affect your blogging time? Well in reality writing one good post shouldn’t take much longer than three or five short, nonsense posts so don’t assume quality means more of your precious time. Remember a quality post can also be short…