Blogging best practices MegaphoneSociety.wordpress.com {PilotingPaperAirplanes.com}
Blogging Best Practices Series {Megaphone Society}

This weekend I continue the blogging series that I originally wrote for the Megaphone Society.

All graphics © Casey Voight for the Megaphone Society.


Blogging Best Practices Spacing and Grammer {Megaphone Society}

Flash back to middle school when you learned grammar rules, wrote sentence structure trees, and were grilled on the correct use of there/their/they’re. As a good blogger, it’s time to brush away the cobwebs and become your own grammar police.

Readers have a bit of grace for spelling errors and grammar mistakes, but don’t ask them to excuse those often. You will lose readers as quickly as we dump correct apostrophes on twitter.

Here are some musts for a good post:

  • Become best friends with a good dictionary app.
  • Use correct punctuation. Commas, apostrophes and semi–colons are your friends. Use them.
  • Please please please use paragraphs. A giant block of text will get people navigating away from your page in half of a hot second.
  • Limit run–on sentences. Break it up. A general rule is to alternate short and long sentences for a smooth read.
  • READ. BACK. THROUGH. YOUR. POST. (Preaching to the choir here).

Blogging Best Practices Images and Graphics {Megaphone Society}

When you upload an image in your blogging platform, you should easily find a field called “alt text” or “alternative text.”

Alt Text WordPress example {Megaphone Society}

Example in WordPress

Why is Alt Text important, you ask? Because this is how searches find your site. When someone searches “blogging for writers,” for example, they may find this Megaphone Society series because the posts and images are well–tagged.

Here at PPA, I consistently get visitors from searches like “running motivation” because I have tagged my posts and graphics that way.

An added bonus is that the default text for a graphics pinned to Pinterest comes from the Alt Text for that image. I tag all of my blog images with “Piloting Paper Airplanes” and all Megaphone Society images with “Megaphone Society.” That way, if a user re–pins a graphic, the blog name automatically appears in Pinterest.

A word of caution: don’t steal another’s visual property.

As much as possible, use your own photos or create your own graphics. Some great  royalty–free resources are Stock Exchange and Flickr Creative Commons. When you do use another’s image (like all the motivation graphics on Pinterest), be sure to link back to the source when uploading the image.

Image Link in WordPress {Megaphone Society}

Example in WordPress. Select “Custom URL” and paste a link to the image source.


Blogging Best Practices Links and Quotes {Megaphone Society}

Just like graphics, always cite your sources.

Most posts probably do not require sources. But when you do read an excellent post and want to write about it on your own, include links back. It’s basic blogging etiquette to do so. When you use an exact quote from another article, you must link back and make it an obvious quote.

For example: “Sometimes when you are going through rough times you need to hang on to every ounce of spiritual uplifting that you can find, and savoring the good moments is an easy way to be uplifted,” wrote Casey Voight on her blog. See what I did there? I’ve quoted her directly by name and I’ve put a link back to her post.

Not doing this is plagiarism, so make it a habit.

Including more links in your posts also improves your search ranking. So read blogs, find sources, then quote and link to them in your posts. Linking to your own posts also improves your search-ability  When I include links like this, I do Megaphone Society a big favor:

Be wary of over–linking; readers can tell if you’re a Mega Linker just for search purposes. But regularly sourcing and including links is a key habit to develop.

What other tips have I’ve missed?
Have you ever found one of your photos/graphics used without sourcing you?


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Swamp park {PilotingPaperAirplanes.com}

Wow this has felt like a long week. Long, slow and boring. I’ve been alone at the office all week – fine for a couple of days, quite blah after 5. We’ve also gone from 50+° to a snow storm and back to 60° in less than a week. Come on spring! I’m ready to pack up the winter coats and not have to wear leggings under my dress pants. And maybe sandals! Oh so ready.

Thanks to Laura at Fit Running Mama and HB Tune for a great giveaway that I’m excited to have won. Can’t wait to use the hand band! I haaaate my arm band  and just holding my phone/music/gps on a run isn’t good either. *Happy*

Training week 3:

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  • Last Friday
    • A fabulous evening walk with Jon: 3.3 miles, 1:01:15 (18:33). A perfect easy/rest day that got my legs moving and muscles loose for Saturday’s long run.
  • Saturday
    • 5.05 miles long run, 52:04 (10:18 pace).
      Got my weekend long run in while it was still 50+ degrees… and then came another snow storm. Felt good on this one; well–rested, great weather and finished with my avg. pace right where it should be.
  • Sunday & Monday
    • Sunday was a rest day, and Monday I had a work event in the evening. My training felt a little off this week because it was pushed back a day. Such is life.
March snow {PilotingPaperAirplanes.com}

Plus, this happened Sunday. Oh, hello spring.

  • Tuesday
    • Tired after a late Monday night, so my cross training was really light and I went to bed early.
    • 75 each: pushups, back extensions and bridges plus a short #plankaday.
  • Wednesday
    • Kicked up the intensity with some sprint intervals: 4 miles, 39:46 (9:56 pace).
    •  2 miles easy run in 19:36, then 1.5 miles of :45/:45 sprint intervals (well, sprint for me 🙂 ) followed by an easy .5 miles cool down.
      My first interval set of this training cycle, so I wasn’t sure how it would go. But given my current average pace and fitness level, I’m pretty happy the paces on my sprint sets.
Swamp park {PilotingPaperAirplanes.com}

The snow was melting, leaving the park a complete swamp.

  • Thursday
    • The dreaded hill repeats: 4.02 miles, 40:36 (10:05 pace).
    • 1 mile warm up in 8:32 – way fast for me! Totally proud of that mile. Then 2.5 miles of hills and a 1/2 mile finish that I pushed a bit to keep the average pace close to 10:00.
    • Hills the day after speed work is tough. Definitely could have used that Wednesday rest day on a normal training week! I needed a few quick walk breaks after some of the hills, so all around, I’m really happy with this total time.
    • Finished up with 60 pushups, 60 superman lifts and stretching. Oh, and my warm up for both of these runs included my #plankaday.
Hill repeats {PilotingPaperAirplanes.com}

Tired, sweaty and sore right after my hills, but feeling good!

  • Friday (today)
    • Today is supposed to be 4 easy miles. I’ve made the executive decision, as my personal coach, that my Friday easy days are most often going to be walks. I’m upping my mileage fairly aggressively each week. Don’t want to overdo it and DON’T want to get injured again. My knee is feeling just a tad stiff right now. We’ll see if I even want to walk; I may need a solid rest day before my 6 miles tomorrow.

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Sexy heels {PilotingPaperAirplanes.com}

Some days (weeks?) I just need that extra “oomph.” Something that pushes me from a blah day to a successful day. So I got to thinking…

What makes me feel powerful?

I’m looking for tangible things. Things I underestimate, but that make a big difference.  And I settled on a few that automatically take my day up a notch.

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  • The power of sexy shoes.

    I’m talking a good pair of sexy heels, not the kind that make you wan to cut your toes off. The kind that make my legs look so good I want to show off all day. Never underestimate the power of some good heels.

    Screeeeech, stop, back up.

    Am I talking about heels? Me?? The woman who for a long time has said I don’t like them and wear them never–only–on–blue–moons? Yup. Because somewhere in my adult life I’ve learned the power of good shoes. For so long I collected hand–me–downs from friends. Now I have 4 pairs of  comfortable memory–foam heels in good colors – black of course, nude, red and silver –  and man, do I feel good with a cute dress or sexy skinny jeans and those heels.

    But honestly… some days my comfortable sparkly flats are just what I need.

  • The power of a green smoothie.

    Nothing makes me feel better than a fresh green smoothie. It’s magic to my insides. It settles my stomach, replenishes protein and energy, keeps me hydrated and gives me just enough sweetness to take the edge off those give–me–chocolate–before–I–poke–someone’s–eye–out moments. (We generally keep a bag of chocolate chips in the fridge as Jon preferes to keep his eyes).

    I generally make a pretty big smoothie batch and put some in the fridge for the next day. I also cut and freeze all my ingredients so I don’t have to mess with that every time. Keeps me from being too lazy to make a smoothie.

Green Smoothie {PIlotingPaperAirplanes.com}

  • The power of a good workout.

    This is an obvious one. Whether its a run, an interval workout, a yoga practice or a hike, moving makes our bodies happy.

    A workout is just as much a mental things as physical. Once I get those endorphin’s flowing, the muscles burning and some “me” time, I feel great. Lately I’m into 30 minute HIIT workouts before work.

  • The power of REST.

    Ahem. Let me climb onto my soap box and put on a mom hat. Go to bed! Set a bed time and stick to it. Preaching to the choir here, but I’ve kept a consistent bed time for over a month now and feel much better.

    Another part to this: rest days. Use those days and take care of your body. Plus, think of all the reading/TV watching/shopping/general interneting/sleeping  you can do?

Sweat every day UnderArmour {PilotingPaperAirplanes.com}
This is just silly.
  • The power of living without guilt.

    I have little tolerance for guilt. Some days off, an extra cookie, two many glasses of wine… I want to be aware of my choices and adjust some not-so-good habits. But when that awareness turns into guilt and little mental voice telling me I’m too heavy and a failure, there’s a problem.

    Instead, I need to take a moment to thank my body for being healthy and strong enough to bounce back. Maybe I even need to apologize to my intestines for the extra work I’m asking of them. And then move on sans guilt. That’s powerful right there.

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What makes you powerful? Any specific habits or items that just make you feel awesome? Add to my list!


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#success #goals #running #motivation #inspiration {PilotingPaperAirplanes.com)

I think this was the most perfect weekend ever. Seriously.

It started with a relaxing 3–mile walk with Jon on Friday evening and heading to bed at a normal (i.e. not weekend) hour. Then I was up and energized much earlier than normal for a Saturday morning. And hour later I had read some Women’s Running in bed, enjoyed 30 minutes of yoga made my tea and was sitting down for some blog reading. All before Jon got up, which for a weekend in my house, is amazing.

Then I had a great 5 mile run in perfect 53 degree weather, followed by an afternoon coffee shop date and a quick grocery run. Sunday we were snowed in by yet another winter storm, so we listened to a podcast, watched a movie, worked on graphic stuff… all around just the perfect relaxing weekend.

I also stepped on my scale for a bi–monthly weight check and saw the lowest number in ages. More proof that when I focus on my health, my strength and how I feel, that number tends to take care of itself.

And so as I head into a snowy week 3 of half–marathon training, today’s motivation is all about goals.

Set ’em, work for them, fight for them, knock them out of the park.


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Blogging best practices MegaphoneSociety.wordpress.com {PilotingPaperAirplanes.com}

I first wrote this series for the Megaphone Society, a community of writers that I have co–founded with my friend and author Casey Voight. She and I developed these “best practices” from our own blogging experiences, our day jobs are marketers and from other resources I’ll link to.

As these practices have helped my own, non–book author blog, I realized my fellow healthy–living bloggers may find something useful as well. And so I’ve adapted the series for a weekend edition of Piloting Paper Airplanes. Enjoy!

All graphics © Casey Voight for the Megaphone Society.


Voice

“But why?” you ask. “Isn’t blogging supposed to be casual and off–the–cuff writing?”

Well, yes, to a point. Your readers want to get to know you, so don’t jerk them around with an aggressive political post followed by a whimsical post about your dream last night followed by a tough love post about fighting through a workout. Decide the overall tone of your blog and begin to develop your style to establish some consistency for you readers.

If you’re just starting a blog, write a handful of posts before publishing anything. Then go back and read them all with a critical eye. Consider the things you like, and the parts that sound off to you. Even better, have a friend read them. You want the posts to sound like they’re written by you, so evaluate how much of yourself comes through. Then rewrite the posts, building on the elements you liked and adjusting the problem areas. This exercise may take some time, but you’ll begin to see your personal style and voice come through much quicker once you start hitting the publish button.

Remember that you don’t have to box yourself in topically. You’re a runner/cross–fitter/foodie/healthy living blogger, but you don’t have to write only about health–related topics. In fact, that’s a fast way to get yourself ignored. Kristen Lamb wrote a great post about blogging for authors and a banana slicer that has a great lesson fo bloggers of all types – be creative! She writes:

Yet, here’s the thing, writers (especially fiction writers) are CREATIVE people. We are storytellers. When we blog merely on information, we engage the left-side of the brain, but our fiction engages the RIGHT side of the brain.

Why are we trying to build a following/fan base for a right-brain product with a left-brain TOOL?

You’re a dynamic and fun person, so expand on other areas of life. A parent? I’m certain you have some great stories. Like to travel? Run marathons? Are you also an artist? Write poems or short stories? Post about it!

Solve

People read blogs because there is something for them to gain. Big shocker, I know. We’re selfish beings who won’t waste time on something that doesn’t help us or entertain us. So keep that in mind as you plan your posts. In his e–book Gorilla Influence Formula, Tyler Tervooren suggests solving problems creatively in your posts. Sound familiar?

Start by making a list of “problems” related to your blog topic. As a healthy living or fitness blogger, that list can include eating for a better run, strength training, your cross–fit WOD adjusted to do at home, great recourses you’ve found, how to stay motivated and so much more!

The next step is to think of personal stories that relate to those problems. Don’t have one (yet)? Find a friend or other blogger who has worked through the problem and use them as sources for your post – be sure to link back to them! When you use other sources, think of writing the post more like a journalist: gather some resources, quote them, then expand on their points to have your own “take–a–way” for your post.

Some of these “problem” posts may take a while to research and write, but that’s ok! Better to take the time and craft a great and entertaining piece than to publish something prematurely.


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