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

Today’s blogging post is a little different. I’ve collected some blogging pet peeves along the way, and I’m sure some of you have more to add!

Here are the other 2 Blogging Best Practices posts:

Develop your voice, solve with a story
Grammar, graphics & links

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  1. Posting all. the. time.

    I remember one week when a certain bloggers quite literally published something 2 or 3 times a day. I can’t wrap my mind around having the time to post that often, much less having something to say. Not necessary. Just don’t do it.

  2. Posting, um, never.

    I’m picky about who I actually follow (btw, I made the switch from Google Reader to Feedly and am loving it) and I’m not hesitant with my unsubscribes, so if you haven’t posted in ages, I probably won’t stick around. That being said, I understand life happens, vacations come, weeks of studying and tests take over your time – let’s face it, few of us are “bloggers” first, we have real life lives that get in the way –  so I don’t pull the plug after a few weeks of quiet. But sometimes it’s hard to tell if a blogger has just given up or doesn’t take blogging seriously. You’ve got to put in the work before you get subscribers.

  3. Never responding to comments.

    I know I only get a handful of comments on each post, so it’s easy for me to respond. I also know the “big” bloggers just can’t respond to everything, but I do appreciate when I see them in the comments occasionally. It let’s us all know you read our responses. What bothers me most is the bloggers with a few comments who can’t ever manage some responses. I can think of a couple of blogs in particular that I really enjoy reading, and that I know are smaller like me, so I like to write a comment here and there…. but I have never ever gotten a reply. I give you the benefit of the doubt for a while, but after months, I’m probably not sticking around.

  4. Giveaways/sponsored posts.

    This discussion has been pretty feisty in the healthy living blog world, and here’s my two cents. I like giveaways – I’ve won 3 of them in the last few months and that’s always fun. I don’t mind reviews, sponsored or just because. I’ve done a few, and have a few more planned out. Hey, I’ll even brush off a full week of reviews and giveaways for a special event like your “blogiversary.” What I don’t like is seeing bloggers “sell out.” It’s a fine line, and I applaud those of you who can walk it well. But really, is it worth yet another free product to review if you’re turning off readers?

  5. A gazillion ads on your site.

    Honestly, do you really need 2 banner ads? How about that full column of ads top to bottom? I get it, we spent a lot of time developing a blog people want to read, and it helps when there’s supplemental income coming from it. Maybe it’s the designer in me that makes me more sensitive; I like clean, open and easy–to–follow websites. Plastering your page with ads is not those things. Again, fine line.

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I could go one, but then I’d just be getting picky. 🙂 Hope you’re all having a fabulous spring weekend!

 

What would you add to this list? Is there anything you would remove from my list?


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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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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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Successful week in the blogging world!

Liebster Award {Piloting Paper Airplanes}I have officially purchased my domain (finally), will be self–hosted as soon as I find time to build my own blog, and was nominated for the Liebster Award. The Liebster is a pass–along recognition for smaller blogs (under 200 followers) who deserve notice; the more we share, the more we grow, right?

The rules are simple. I’ve answered 11 questions from my nominator, posted 11 random facts about me, and given 11 new questions for my nominees. These are bloggers I read regularly so I’m happy to give a much–deserved shout out!

Questions from The Secret Life Coach of D.C.:

  1. If you could were a superhero, what would your name be?
    No idea what my name would be, but my power would telekinesis. Sure, not the most original, but how cool would it be to run my car without gas or heal a wound?
  2. What is your favorite aspect of blogging?
    The relationships. I’ve “met” so many fabulous bloggers and become part of great communities. These people have taught and motivated me more than I can ever say.
  3. What blog do you follow most religiously?
    Tough one. I don’t think there’s one blog that rates above others. I’m fairly picky about which blogs I add to my Google reader, so when I follow, I read.
  4. What is your biggest fear in life?
    Sharks. Absolutely sharks.
  5.  Are you a Harry Potter fan? If so, what was your favorite book?
    I never read the books, but I loved all the movies. They all run together, though, so I can’t say which was my favorite… I do know I liked the first few the best when the characters were younger.Ke$ha Halloween {Piloting Paper Airplanes}
  6. What’s your favorite Halloween costume that you’ve ever worn?
    Ke$ha. Because she’s my home girl. And because this SNL performance was ridiculous.
  7. Favorite workout routine?
    Running, hands down. I do enjoy a solid HIIT workout any day, but a run would be my first choice.
  8. What is your dream career?
    Working on the communications team for an international non–profit organization, preferably in D.C. I have a slight crush on that city.
  9. If you had to choose a color to represent your personality, what would it be and why?
    Oh geez…. probably brown: a mix of every color and emotion. I can say my favorite color (right now, at least) is a warm yellow. The color is bright, friendly, sunny, fresh, full of energy and hopeful. I am most certainly not all of those things… but I do aspire to be more of that, and yellow always brightens my mood.
  10. Do you believe in horoscopes? Why or why not?
    Hmm. Never really thought about it. I know I’m on the Cancer/Gemini cusp and that while I have some Gemini traits, I’m solidly a Cancer. I don’t “believe” in the daily horoscope just like I don’t believe in fortune tellers.
  11. Name your greatest passion in life.
    I would say I have three: humanitarian work, environmental issues and healthy living (obviously).

11 random facts about me:

  1. When doing a forward bend stretch, I can lay fully over my legs and fold my feet to touch my toes to the floor.
  2. My birthmark is a small bald spot in my hair.
  3. I hate – I mean haaaaate – raisins. Other dried fruits aren’t far behind.
  4. I am the worst liar on the planet.
  5. Jon and I are experts at eating super simple (read: cheap) and healthy. It’s an art.
  6. I play piano.
  7. My favorite accessories are earrings and scarves.
  8. I’m a huge tea drinker. Not the biggest fan of straight coffee.
  9. When I order a hot drink, I have to line up the lid, cup and hot sleeve. Everything must be straight.
  10. Really, most things have to be straight. Jon will leave things around the house with lids out of line and such just to drive me crazy. OCD much? Probably yes.
  11. I am the oldest of 5 with all brothers. I already have one sister–in–law and I’m expecting a few more to help even things up. (Also, 6.2, my  parents live in Brazil and my youngest brother is still in high school with them).

{Piloting Paper Airplanes}{Piloting Paper Airplanes}

11 questions for my nominees:

  1. If you could be best friends with anyone, current or historical, who would it be?
  2. Coffee snob or tea–litist?
  3. Favorite workout?
  4. Favorite recipe?
  5. Coolest place you’ve every been. (Can be as extravagant as a tour of Europe or simple as the best hole–in–the–wall café ever).
  6. Why did you start blogging?
  7. One thing that automatically makes you smile.
  8. Tell us one of your dreams or goals, why, and what you’re doing to pursue it.
  9. Which do you  dislike most: emailing, texting or talking on the phone.
  10. Would you describe yourself as a thinker, communicator or doer and why?
  11. Finish the sentence: If I could do anything with my life from this point forward, I would…

And finally, my nominees in no particular order:

  1. Casey at Casey Voight
  2. Krista at Krista Dalton
  3. Michelle at I Run With It
  4. Lindsay at A Runnaroundd Life
  5. Dana at Mom Runs Half
  6. Connie at Livin’ Lean
  7. Angela at Latte Confidential
  8. Becca at Diary of a Slow Runner
  9. Robyn at Diary of a Spartan–In–Training
  10. Sarah at Picky Runner
  11. Amy at Lavender Parking
  12. Caitlin at Rad Racer

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Our first and last love is self love. {Piloting Paper Airplanes}

I made a commitment this week: to say something positive to my body every day.

More and more often lately, I make comments to Jon about things I don’t like:

“I wish [blank] was more [blank]” or

“Why can’t [blank] be better?”
and even worse,

“Why does my body hate me?”

I’ve struggled the last few weeks to balance those increasing comments – and thoughts – with something I consider vitally important to overall health: positive self talk. You are what you eat, right? How about you are what you think? Even more, you are what you say

The mental aspect is such a crucial component to health that I worry is too often overlooked. Krysten at Darwinian Fail challenged her readers with the #happyheartproject to change this kind of talk. We want to lose weight, increase muscle, run longer, eat better. Where is the excitement to meditate longer, to praise yourself to yourself, to truly enjoy things that make us happy. (I love to play piano, but I can’t remember the last time I did.)

Dorothy Beal at Mile–Posts wrote this week: “Happiness isn’t a destination as I once thought. Life is rarely perfect, things often don’t go as planned. You have to learn to ride the wave of life and just enjoy it. Don’t worry so much what others think, do what makes you really happy. On that day, last Sunday, running 30 miles on a treadmill made me really happy – SO I DID IT.”

These things are necessary ingredients to good health, too.

Last summer, during all the pre–wedding crippling stress, I was working out too much, eating too little, not taking enough quiet time for myself, letting the stress take over my speech… an all around miserable summer. I was not healthy, physically or mentally. Truth be told, it is impossible for me to hit my physical goals if I am not taking care of myself mentally/emotionally/spiritually (using these terms interchangeably today).

Fellow Sweat Pink ambassador, Caroline, made a telling statement on her blog this week: Health isn’t just about the absence of the negative, but the presence of positive factors. She’s completely right. I need not only to stop telling myself negative things, I need to replace them with positive words.

It is a correction of my thinking. Right now I am fixing numbness and back problems that have limited my running, but in the process, I’ve corrected my running form and increased my speed. I have a metabolism that feels as slow as molasses, but in learning how to eat for my body and metabolism, I’ve learned so many other important things of how food affects our bodies. I am curvy, making me naturally prone to carrying more weight, but I’m curvy with a perfect hourglass shape!

Somewhere on this self–talk journey we discover Casey’s magic web of emotions:

“We are all part of huge web that stretches all across the world. Each and every one of us is linked to that web. You are a vital part of that web. Now imagine if you will that there is an imaginary line drawn from you to everyone you encounter. Every person you come in contact with will take with them a piece of your emotion. (Don’t worry you have endless amounts of this.) Now lets say you are having a bad day. You’re tired, you’re grumpy, you’re uninspired, you’re feeling rather negative. The way you are feeling will come out and attach itself to everyone you meet. (Because we can FEEL emotions). This happens without people even thinking about it. At this point you are not only making yourself feel bad but others as well – yikes.”

Sarah Ogden wrote an incredible post over at Everyday Feminism about this negative talk and body shaming. (Seriously, gals and guys, please read her post). “We have trouble understanding why someone who isn’t a size 2 could love their body,” Sarah wrote. “We exist in a culture that conflates health with thinness.”  I have certainly succumbed to that kind of thinking and my self–talk reflects that. When I say things like “Why can’t I get in shape like that person?” Jon is always quick to tell me that I am in shape and I am healthy.

And he’s right! Looking back to the summer, I am stronger, faster & fitter; I eat more and healthier now; I’m not stressing about workouts anymore; I’m making meditation & prayer a priority.

Sarah is on point: We need to move the conversation around exercise away from weight loss and shift the focus onto health and wellness.

Your turn:
Do you talk to yourself negatively or positively?
How can you improve that part of your healthy lifestyle?


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