This Month in Media News

It’s the end of the month so it’s time to recap some of the stories you may have missed: The Columbia Journalism Review had a rather interesting blog post commenting on ZDNet’s post about printing and things that are making offset printing obsolete. Lauren Kirchner’s “Don’t Get Your Printing Advice from a Printer Manufacturer” is great, if not for the great analytical content, then simply for this: “So essentially, I realized, I was reading and analyzing a blogpost written by someone like Microsoft’s Clippy.“ Hilarious. Al Qaidia entered the magazine business this month with the Inspire web mag. Designed to [Read more…]

Persistent and Consistent – Keys to successful article writing

I talked to a friend and mentor the other day and she stressed the importance of being persistent and consistent in whatever you do. Initially, I was inspired to apply those key terms to another area of my life when I realized she said, “in everything you do.” It applies to article writing as well. Are you persistent – writing despite things going on in your life or business? This is important especially if you’re a blogger, but applies to magazine and web writers as well. Blogging on a regular basis despite sickness and strife helps build and keep your [Read more…]

Too Many Articles Killed the Freelance Writing Star

Success is going to happen. As a freelance writer, if you keep plugging away, success will happen for you. Sometimes it will hit all of the sudden. A deluge of articles, projects and client meetings suddenly appear in your email box. In between giddy high fives to yourself, you quickly say yes to everything and get to work. Other times it builds slowly, like a tide coming in and you suddenly find yourself surrounded by work. Soon you’re slogging away frantically trying to meet all your deadlines and while steak for dinner is nice, you don’t really get to enjoy [Read more…]

Will re-posting breaking news benefit you and your readers

As previously noted, it’s practically impossible to break actual breaking news at a blog. Still, if you can find breaking news, and it fits your blog topic, you can still post it. You’ll just need a slant that makes it your own. Before you slant with your own lovely style though you should consider if it’s worth slanting at all. Should you waste time slanting? Slanting, in the most general of descriptions means making the news your own. Giving your own opinion on it. Hopefully an opinion that will make the news interesting to your community EVEN though they may [Read more…]

10 Popular Article Writing Questions – Answered!

The FWJ mailbag is always pretty full and there are a few questions that pop up regularly. Deb reposted her super popular Frequently Asked Questions and made me think about the most popular questions I receive over here at the Article Writing blog. So here they are in no particular order: 10. How do you write an article? It’s true, I get this one pretty often and it’s kind of like asking someone how to cook – there’s a lot to it. So in pretty general terms: start with a topic, research the topic and based on your research find [Read more…]

Do you post breaking news at your blog?

First off if you missed it be sure to check out Deb’s post on luck vs. work – it’s excellent and one of the better posts I’ve read in a while. Now, on the topic of breaking news at a blog… I’m bringing it up because recently one of my clients has been asking all the writers on staff to break more news. This isn’t a new deal; many clients want what they call, “breaking news” posted at their blog because they think it will be a good traffic draw which is true in some cases but not all (more [Read more…]

Not getting enough traffic? Key questions that can help

If you’re writing a blog for a client (or writing for a blog you own) you’ll be more likely to get return traffic if you focus on writing posts that get across what the specific blog is trying to sell. By sell, I don’t mean products, although that may be one goal. Before you start typing away consider the following… What information, products or services does your blog offer? Is there any sort of benefit for readers who might come across your information, product or services and can they expect that benefit each time they visit? What’s the unique slant [Read more…]

Cleveland Plain Dealer and Anonymous Posting Ethics

Earlier this week I gathered up a bunch of interesting media and industry news from the past week for the FWJ community: “This Week in Media News.” While several stories are worth delving into, one story in particular had kept my interest since coming across it. This past week The Plain Dealer, a newspaper in Cleveland Ohio, investigated, uncovered and revealed the name of an anonymous poster from their web site. This poster,”lawmiss,” had commented many times, but one comment, aimed at a Dealer reporter’s family member raised eyebrows and led to the investigation. It turns out the username’s, registered [Read more…]

Looking in the Mirror: Reading Your Published Articles

I’d been thinking about writing this post for next week, but today I was reading through Deb’s job posting for the day and came across an article she linked to: “Driving Rules for Getting to the Point with Your Lede” and thought, “Hmm, that’s a good topic, interesting headline, I wonder who in the network wrote that one…” I clicked the link and realized it was my work. Oops. Self-flattery aside, I realize I have fallen into a pattern of writing, editing, publishing and forgetting my work. When you first become a professional writer, once you get past the “Whoo [Read more…]

Down with Deb Ng! Headline Writing 101

Headlines are an important, often overlooked part of article writing. They are what prompt readers to click the link, pick up the magazine or buy the paper. Blog posts, magazine articles and news articles have unique characteristics that will be addressed individually in follow-up posts, but there are a few guidelines that apply across the different styles and medium of the articles. Interesting & Descriptive Headlines should attract reader’s attention while giving a brief overview of the article’s content. Sounds easy right? Well, given the dearth of boring and vague headlines in media there’s got to be more to it. [Read more…]

Eight easy tips for writing better blog posts

It’s easy for bloggers to get caught up in community, traffic, word count, social networking, keywords and oh my gosh, the Twitter scene. You may get so caught up in the business of blogging that you might be lacking focus on the actual writing part of blogging. I’m not free and clear either. I don’t always focus on content as much as I should, but it doesn’t make it right. There’s a lot of mucky and boring posts on the web, why contribute to that? This week; heck this year, why not focus on the writing part of blogging. Following [Read more…]

Blog Posts vs. Articles: Format

Today we complete the blog versus article comparison. Previous posts covered length and POV,  audience expectation and today we are going to look at formatting differences. Articles have a pretty standard format. There’s the lede (lead) paragraph, some quotes, source citing, each new idea is in a new paragraph and there is a conclusion paragraph to tie it all together. Articles that have more information will also have bullet points or sub-sections with different headers. It’s a simple concept that’s not so easy to execute successfully no matter what those “Freelance Writing is Easy!” ads contend. Blog posts have more [Read more…]

Blog Posts vs. Articles: Length and Point of View

We’re going to take a break from the 5 days, 5 Ways to Enhance Your Writing Skills series and answer a freelance writing question I receive pretty regularly. “What’s the difference between a blog post and an article?” In many ways they are the same and much of the information featured here can apply to both. There are, however, important ways they differ: Length Most blog posts are short – between 200 – 300 words. They may be longer, but the majority of posts are designed to give you information quickly before you lose interest – almost like a commercial. [Read more…]

Need hundreds of blog post ideas?

If you’re a problogger for clients, odds are you do need hundreds of blog post ideas. Because typically one blog won’t provide a livable income, you’re likely writing for many clients, which means multiple blogs and multiple topics, which in turn means you really need to churn out those blog post ideas. Example, I write, on average a minimum of 14-20 posts a day for clients (not counting all the forum topics I need to come up with for my community management gig) – that’s a minimum of 100 topics and issues I need to come up with each week. [Read more…]

I didn't check my email all day… AND the world didn't end!

I’m detouring from our get a job series today to gloat. If you want to review the current series check out… How to get blogging jobs and web writing jobs – getting started Finding blog gigs – starting out with no clips How to get a blogging job – advice from b5media’s hiring editor How to get a blogging job – advice from Deb Ng of FWJ Now on with the gloat – I didn’t check my email and survived to tell you about it! I’m super frustrated right now because I’m moving August 1st, which means I need to [Read more…]

Are you too distracted at work?

If you work as a blogger / web writer, you may find yourself getting super distracted often when you come across fun stuff to see and read. It’s also easy to get distracted when networking; sure Twitter can help you score gigs, but if you’re on there all day chatting, you won’t get much real work done. I’m not immune to distractions. In one sense I’m lucky because I get to write mostly topics I love, but since part of my gigs is finding news and cool new products related to said topics I love, it’s easy for me to [Read more…]

Five reasons to hit the more function

For most of my blogging life, I’ve been a non-supporter of more. I never personally liked it because I don’t like extra work. That may sound lazy, but I read scads of blogs. When you click as much as I do, clicking one more time is too much work. I also agree with something Lorelle said once. Something to the effect of, if you have something important enough to say, why not put it all above the fold? That’s not exact – I looked all over for her post, but can’t find it. If you want to hunt, it could [Read more…]

16 Post Ideas for Your Blog – Different Types of Posts for Network Blogs

Sometimes the plain old blog post, seems well, plain and old. Spice up your blog with a variety of posts. 1. The List Post Nine times out of ten, if my post has gotten a ton of hits, it’s a list post. 10 favorite buildings, 15 ways to eat organic, 100 places to find a deal on sustainable home supplies, ABCs of mental health, and more. 2. The Long Post Everyone writes a short post. Today, write about something in great detail. Post a long task or idea that will really inform and help your readers like how to install [Read more…]

Troublesome Client Alert!

Here’s a quick tip. If you’d like to hold onto your blogging sanity, don’t attempt to work for someone who says… “$10 a blog, I need 5-10 Blogs. Please respond with samples. Serious only Thanks.” It’s a serious pet peeve of mine when clients call blog posts, “Blogs” – right away you know they’re going to be trouble. Why? Because obviously if they don’t know the difference between a blog and a blog post, you’re going to have to walk them through just what a blog is; every tiny aspect. As the client they should already know this stuff. This [Read more…]

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