Don’t Forget Context When you Add your Content

How to make my posts impacting?
← 6. Topic Management

On the view mode of your topic, edition features are available for each post to:

Add Context: why should your audience read this? How is it connected to other posts you’ve curated on the same topic? Connect the dots, give your opinion and thoughts: the Post description area is just here for that, either directly from the publishing window or, once the post is published, by clicking on the pen icon.

via How to make my posts impacting? – Customer Feedback for Scoopit.

I think we do forget context when we write our content. It’s such a race to get a new post finished and posted that we forget to give it the extras that make it relevant to readers and show them not just why we wrote the post but why they should read it.

I don’t mean showing them why they should read it in that marketing way that treats everyone like they read at the grade school level and just took a giant happy pill. I mean actually thinking about why someone should read your post, what they can get out of it. Think of why you would read it yourself and what you would hope and expect to get from it. Then, make sure you have that information in the post you wrote.

When it comes to curating content it is so easy to get a bit lazy or try to rush through and add several links while skipping the chance to add your own commentary. But, links without that context are less likely to be clicked. Think about yourself – how often to you click a mystery link versus one which comes with the context to tell you what the link (or the blog post) is about.

Character Development

This is originally posted to Suite101 University which has been closed and is due to be demolished soon. I wanted to keep the content I’d like to read again myself.
Character Development

By Linda Orlando
IntroductionWhen I was writing my first book, I went searching for tips and techniques from more experienced writers. I wanted my book to be the best it could be. I even joined a writer’s book club and read as many books about writing as I could. I found books on plot, dialogue, even how to write a novel in thirty days. But I found little information available in the many, many writing books on point-of-view or character development. Point-of-view was covered in several books but only in a very superficial manner, just a basic definition of point-of-view and a hard-and-fast rule on which was best. Most of the books I found about character development were generally written from the perspective of character traits or personality. I even found a book that was set up like a thesaurus. It included descriptive terms for physical features, clothing and accessories.

Read more

Important Tip for Content Curators

My biggest and most important tip for digital content curators is… don’t get sloppy!

  • Pick an image to go with the content and make sure it’s the right one, suitable. If not, don’t use an image.
  • Use the site name, give the site owner credit for the content you are curating. Don’t add your own keywords in place. That’s sloppy, ungrateful and *sploggy!
  • Add a description, especially if there is no image to give some explanation about the link, it’s contents/ purpose.
  • Add a title. A real title, not keywords or Twitter hashtags.
  • Check spelling and basic grammar. Don’t use too many short forms, it makes you and your content look sloppy and cheap.
  • Don’t just add anything. Use some discrimination, add quality content, not quantity.

* Splog – A spam blog. A blog existing to run ads, offering no content of it’s own.

Blog Smarter, Not Harder

Make Yourself a Content Curator

Too many bloggers use content the wrong way. I see so many blogs where the blogger is regurgitating content over and over in one way or another. It’s not working. They may make some money by pulling in readers but most people won’t be that interested in reading something rehashed when they could go to the original source. At the original source they will find fresh information, more resources and opinions from someone who really knows the subject. Rehashing content just makes a middleman, not a blogger.

Instead, become a content curator. Not unlike a museum curator, the content curator finds the rare, the original and the truly great content from other blogs and sites then displays and promotes the content. Copycat bloggers are already doing those steps. They just have not been using the content they find in the right way.

Don’t claim ownership of the content. Don’t rewrite the content and pretend it’s yours. Don’t post tired, washed out content and hope people will want to read the same stuff they can read on a thousand other blogs.

A content curator does not need to pose as the originator of the content. The content curator links back to the original source. First, make sure you go back to the source. Follow links back to the original blog when they are available.

There are three things a content curator needs from the original site.

First, you need an excerpt of the content. Pick the most interesting, stimulating or resourceful paragraph. If there is a short list of bullet points you might use that. You will have to build your own theory of what to use and your own discretion about how much content to use. Think of it as a lead in an article, you just want enough to give readers information which will make them click the link to the original source.

Second thing the content curator needs is the link, of course. Simple right? Make sure you get the right link. You want the link to the post. Not the link to the whole site. If you leave a comment (which you should!) make sure you are not copying the link to the comments instead of the direct link to the post itself.

Third, you need an image file to go with your post. You may choose the image which the original site uses. In some cases that may be the lead/ excerpt you use instead of text. You don’t want a massive image if you are also using text. Scale it down to thumbnail size or something close to that. Make the image clickable, another link back to the original site. At times there will be no image to use with the post. Or, the image will not be usable. If the blogger has stuck in a random image from a third person there isn’t much point in dragging it along. In this case you can use the blogger’s own link image (if they have a link back image in their sidebar) or take a screenshot of the blog or a section of the blog’s header. There will usually be something you can do to bring an image along to your post.

That’s about it for the original blog. Don’t close the window too soon, however. The odd time you may decide to change something, make a mistake in cut and pasting the content you wanted, or realize the link isn’t right, and then you will want to refer back to the source.

Also, it is a very great plan to leave a comment with the original post. Not only are you letting the blogger know you have given them a lead in your blog but any readers will also see your link and follow it to see what other content you have found on the subject. You can’t go wrong in leaving a comment. Take the time to do it right. Make a real comment, offer an opinion on the subject, input some personal experience, something that isn’t just dropping a link like a comment spammer. Your link is the comment with your name. Don’t repost it inside the comment itself.

When you have the post set up on your blog you still need to add something of your own. You could post whatever you left on the original blog as a comment. Make a comment on the content, explain why you liked it, why you found it useful, original, why you wanted to repost it.

Make sure the link to the original blog is highlighted either by having it stand out alone in the post or add HTML to bold it if it is inside the text of the post. You are promoting the original source, not hiding it.

Use blockquote around the excerpted content from the original blog. You want to clearly mark the content you have excerpted/ quoted from the original site. You could even post a lead in to your own comment on the post so readers plainly see where your comment ends and the original content begins.

Your comment, your lead in, should come first. Keep it short and to the point mainly because people won’t read a lengthy lead in anyway.

Write a simple, decent, plain, honest title for your post. Don’t sound like a spammer. Yes, you will want to use a keyword. No, you don’t want to flood your title with them. One title is not going to make or break you. But, a simple title is more likely to be read and found. Think about your own blogging habits. How do you feel about a post with a direct, short title compared to one which tries to use every keyword possible? Which are you more likely to click?

Don’t EVER forget to link back to the source. Don’t be a content thief, be a content curator. Find great content and display it. Let it shine. Don’t just copy and paste content. Any idiot can do that. Discriminate, use your common sense about how much content to display (take less, not more) and bring your own perspective into the post, add something original of your own experience, opinions, ideas. Your blog is a gallery, a museum for great content in your niche. you don’t need to own the content but you do need to give the original artist, the original source full credit for their work. That’s your job as a curator.

Be picky about the content you display. Make sure it fits your niche, make sure it really does have something to say and brings a new point, a fresh fact or creative idea to your niche topic. Don’t post often rehashed content as if you are just filling in space.

Plan your niche well. Know the limits and the focus you want to keep. Make sure you draft a well written About page and a subheading for the title of your blog. This is going to be how people know your site and what they can expect to find there. This is going to be what makes or breaks you. Treat it with the seriousness of a business plan, a contract. Use keywords in your description not to engage for SEO but for your possible readers. Rewrite your description, your About page and your blog subheader when you get a clearer, refined view on what your niche is. Don’t be afraid of a change in order to make your point clearer. Use your subheader as a short, quick and simple description of your blog when you create a social profile.

Be careful how you promote your blog. You are a content curator. Be proud. Be distinguished, at least a little. Be wise about how you promote yourself, create your authority on the subject, the niche you are creating with your blog. You have taken on an important job as a content curator, if you are a good one. You’re responsible for creating and swaying public opinion based on the content you choose to display. If you promote yourself as a sincere person, a responsible content curator you will find yourself taken seriously and being displayed as part of your content gallery/ museum will be an honour, something very worth while. Something worth attaining.

Make Yourself a Content Curator on WordPress

Get to know the Press This bookmarklet which comes with WordPress.

Press This Reloaded will add features to the WordPress bookmarklet. But, I found this was more than I wanted. I prefer the simpler bookmarklet.

Apps for posting to WordPress and WordPress.com without being on the site, includes mobile apps. I like Shareaholic but mainly I use it to post to Tumblr, StumbleUpon and Twitter.

Descriptions with Details Large and Small

 

 

 

 

 

 

These ASCII art houses are cute. Making it small is a different challenge from making them much bigger. You have to think about the details in the small size, how to show as many as you can. Unlike the big art where you are thinking how to show smaller details to make the complete work look full versus having a lot of white space.

When we write we do some of each thinking, filling in details while making a clear picture. It’s a balance. Write a description of a landscape, a time you were people watching somewhere or the view from the window nearest to you right now. Consider various elements in your description. Do you create an overall picture, clearly with enough details to bring it into focus and make it feel unique in some way?

Do you Give Inanimate Objects Feelings?

Do you sometimes attribute feelings to inanimate objects? Maybe you have named your car. Maybe you feel sad for the last cookie in the box, the only book on the shelf? Giving an object feelings this way is called anthropomorphism/ personification, or pathetic fallacy when used in literature.

It’s not a bad thing, but it is kind of funny when you stop to think about it. I like the description I found on Yahoo Answers best, explaining it as just our way of making our environment comfortable and getting through the day. People who are alone might feel this way more often than those who are busier with more people in their every day life.

From Yahoo Answers:

its a social condition we ted to anthropomorphize objects to make a safe environment so our car is Bessie old girl who wont start this morning as shes a bit cold and off colour. Its just a normal social way of inventing stories that get you through the day

Write about someone who names things and thinks everything has feelings. Someone who takes this little pathetic fallacy too far.

Extra Resources:

Wikipedia: Anthropomorphism
Wikipedia: Personification
Wikipedia: Pathetic fallacy

Flickr: Anthropomorphism – Pictures of unconstructed (not posed) subjects which cause the immagination of the viewer to percieve a human characteristic.
Flickr: Personification of the Inanimate
Flickr: Personification
Flickr: Animate Objects
Flickr: Abstract Extractionism

Know Your Meme: Website Anthropomorphism

Faceook: Object Personification – Outdated group but has some nice posts.

Fix Your Site’s Image for Social Network Sharing

Why are you pushing people to share your link on social networks if your link looks like garbage when it gets shared?

Try a little test of your site. Go to your front page and add your site to StumbleUpon, or some other social network – or just bookmark your own site. Now go look at the listing in your bookmarks or on StumbleUpon. How does it look?

What does the title say? Is it your site name or some promotional blurb? Does your site name show up at all? If not, read about meta tags and start using them!

Does an image show up with your site listing? Not everything will use an image, StumbleUpon does. Do you like the image that shows up for your site? Does it represent your site well? Will people want to read more? Does it give the impression of a good, well run site or does it look like splog?

Now, does a description show up with the site title? In bookmarks you aren’t going to have a description but the odd place will take the description from your meta tags and add it to your site listing. When I was an editor at the Dmoz web directory I did see site descriptions come up with any site I reviewed to list.

If your site title, image and description come up with just a sales pitch do you think you are going to get new readers?

When someone (like myself) clicks your site to list it with their bookmarks, to share it on a social network, favourites or sites they found interesting what does that listing look like?

Are you giving yourself a spammy impression without meaning to? You can’t change how your site appears when someone lists you on their own StumbleUpon account. But, you can be proactive and make sure your meta tags are not spammy.

I recently found a site I liked. I added it to my sites on StumbleUpon, thinking I was doing a good thing to share a good site with others and give the site itself some extra promotion. How do you think I felt when I looked at my StumbleUpon account and saw the site listed as “FREE ebook… blah blah blah…” Even the site image was an amateurish text ad for this FREE ebook. It looked like garbage. No one is likely to click on that link. I wouldn’t. So now I have this garbage looking thing in my list of sites on StumbleUpon. Possibly I will just delete it. I don’t want trash in my Stumbled sites. How would you feel if this were your site I am now deleting? Wouldn’t you rather go in and fix your meta tags?

Why are you pushing people to share your link on social networks if your link looks like garbage when it gets shared? Why waste my time and your own?

Making Headway with Headway WP Theme

After seeing  April Tara’s blog I was pretty sure I wanted to try Headway. Her blog has some of my favourite things which I was using with the Thesis theme. I spent a couple of hours looking at themes. Before choosing Thesis I spent years looking at free themes and patching together what I wanted for my own blog. So, I expect a lot from a premium (paid) theme.

I picked Headway’s WordPress theme as the one I would switch from Thesis for. I am not knocking Thesis, I still find it a great theme, the GPL debate was mostly a good time for me to try a new theme that also looked good. Matt Mullenweg bought Headway for me after his post about paying for a new theme for anyone using Thesis interested in trying a new theme.

I did have a rough start using Headway. I was frustrated. I’m not that frustrated now that I have made some progress. There are still some issues which I would like to change or fix. But, overall, Headway is working for me.

Headway:Visual Editor:

Visual Editor: Leafs:

The first thing you need to know is how to find the drag and drop to manhandle your layout. It is part of the Visual Editor. If you look at Leafs you will see you can enable Arrange and Resize. Be aware it is kind of backwards: if it says “enable” it means it is not going to work until you click the button. If it says “enable” it is actually disabled. When it says “disable” it is enabled. In a future Headway update they might add the “D” to make this clearer.

Leafs is mainly a way to move around your template with your mouse. You can set the dimensions of your columns but be careful, they still have to fit in the wrapper in order to appear side by side. Also, check your site in different sized monitors as it will need to shrink and contract to fit various screens. Keep things fluid so they can suit each screen size without you needing to having to stress out about it too much.

Other than the drag and drop feature Leafs are mainly widgets you can add to the site. They can replace some of the WordPress plugins you may already be using. I haven’t done much with Leafs so far. I did add the About one but may yet change my mind about it as I already have a whole About page which is linked in my header navigation bar.

Visual Editor: Templates:

You can ignore the Templates tab unless you buy another template or skin for Headway. You don’t have to. I think this tab on the Visual Editor should be moved to the bottom of the list. It is an optional thing versus the tabs for Design Editor, Site Configuration, Leafs and Navigation which you will each need.

Visual Editor: Design Editor:

Design Editor is where I spent most of my time. I think it has too many options. It would help to have something that lets you set the font and colours for the whole site/ blog instead of going through each and every littlest option for comments, footers, headers, widgets, etc. A main switch would be nice. Some people may like to have a rainbow of colours and use every font at least once, I prefer to stick to a couple of colours and a couple of fonts.

In the Design Editor go down the list on the Element Selector. This is the best way to make sure you don’t miss something. Once you choose an element you will see a button appear: Call this element out. This is very nice, it highlights which element you will be working on. It’s a guide through your functions so you know which part of your blog theme you are changing before you begin making selections. Almost everything you need is in the Design Editor, just keep working your way through. It is handy to open a Notepad file and paste in your code for the HTML colours you are using. Much easier to paste them in as you go if you remember which one is the main colour for headers and subheaders and which one is background or subtitles.

Visual Editor: Site Configuration:

Site Configuration is where you can make big changes to your header, footer, wrapper and body, basically push around your site width at the top, middle and bottom. After you do you may need to go back to Leafs and fiddle around to get your columns in place again. This is where having fluid elements comes in handy.

WordPress Admin: Headway:

Now, you could do this at the end or you could have started here but last on my list is configuring Headway back in your WordPress Admin. You will leave the Visual Editor and step back into the WordPress screen again.

Headway: General Options:

In General Options you can add Header and Footer stuff. I put in some extra meta tags. (You add your main meta tags for keywords and description to Search Engine Optimization below). I also added stuff to the footer but I have more work to do on that, it looks a mess right now as I want to make a horizontal bar for widgets to be in 3 columns there. So far I have not gotten it to work. General Option is pretty simple, just add your Favicon and feed as directed.

Headway: Posts/ Comments:

If you want short posts in a double row as I have in this blog you tick Enable Small Excerpts in Posts/ Comments. At the bottom of Posts/ Comments you can also change the “Read More” words you use in the excerted posts.

Headway: Search Engine Optimization:

We now come to Search Engine Optimization. Skip down past the navigation title section. (I only changed Posts Page Title so it doesn’t show “Blog | Word Grrls” at the top of my blog). The important section is for your basic meta tags: description and keywords. Write a good description but don’t make it a book and don’t let it be spammy. Describe your site as you would to someone who asked you what your site is about. Make it clear and keep it simple. Don’t go into overkill on keywords. Try to find search terms someone might use to actually find your site. You can use phrases, not just single words.

Thats about it. Once you have gotten this far you have covered the basics of working with the Headway theme. I still have a list of things I am working on. One nice thing I discovered in Headway is that you can use the new WordPress 3 Menu feature which is not yet configured with the Thesis theme. The Menu (which is on WordPress, not part of the Headway theme itself) will let you set up the header menu bar with links to your pages, categories or outside (custom) links you want to add.

I am coming to like Headway. But, it does need to build more community support in order to get the extra tutorials, plugins, features, widgets and such which you can find when you use the Thesis theme. Headway needs to grow and I see every chance that it will. I wouldn’t say Headway is a full package yet. If you read my list of things I am working on (below) you may notice a couple of things Headway could add in another upgrade. I’m glad to see a strong community around Headway because this is how things like new features and extras come about.

Other resources:

Headway Beginner

Headway Tips

Headway Demo

Headway Hub

Headway Support – For premium members who have bought the theme.

Headway WP – Headway, as mentioned on Twitter.

Just for fun and human interest, these are the things I have worked on, have fixed or am still working on with this blog and the Headway theme. Some of them are not Headway related but still relevant to the outer workings, the things you can see when you land here. Right now the footer thing is the biggest project. I have tried the Headway Hub plan but it did not work for me. Looking at WordPress options, but no luck on getting this working yet.

  • Footer- need 3 columns for widgets, gadgets, etc. – Would like one long horizontal sidebar or 3 widget columns, whichever is workable.
  • Fluid main content div to fit the page rather than be fixed or float and throw off the alignment. (This seems to be ok, so far).
  • Add header graphic, under the header text and link. (Not able to do this with Headway it seems).
  • About page is missing and navbar seems to be uncoordinated. (Turned out to be user error which I fixed).
  • Background, something new. (Still high on my to-do list).
  • Sidebars, look untidy still. (Done, changed my font, personal taste).
  • Set up e-cards – WordPress thing. (This has been on my to-do list awhile. I keep putting off getting into figuring it all out).
  • Headway saves and then returns to previous settings. Why? (Still a mystery but… it only did it the first day I was working with it).
  • Set standard for all pages. (I am still missing sidebars when you click into a post etc).
  • Lifestream feed and RSS. (Done).
  • Big, gaping space appears at bottom of content, above footer. (This was an odd thing. My div columns were re-setting themselves, one kept becoming very long. Seems to be ok now.)
  • If possible… have a ticker type thing announcing posts which I would like to highlight or feature, running right under the header and navbar. (Have not started this project but expect I can find some kind of WP plugin that will work for my idea).

Add a Blog Review to your Email Signature

Another reason to get someone to give your blog a fabulous review: promotion of your blog in your email or web forum signature.

Email signatures are very underused. Even my own just has the bare essentials with links to this site and thatgrrl.ca which is part landing page and part shop of curiousities for me. What I could do is add a review of my blog. I do have one. It is old and a bit messy from all the dust bunnies running around on my hard drive, but, it was a good review with humour and a fair description of my blog content. However, as old as it is, I think I will pester someone to write me a new one.

It is essential that the review include a description of your blog, it’s purpose and content. Just a “nice blog” type of review isn’t saying enough. You really need to get someone clever, with a bit of evil genius to write something. Feed them with information about your blog and what you want in a review. Let them write a few quick lines or a whole review and then pick out one sentence or one quick point from it all to use as your review in the email signature.

Keep it short! One sentence or less. If the review is a bit long winded chop it down to the best part and use quotes and punctuation to show that it is just touching on all the great things that were said in the full review.

Should you add a link back to the reviewer? That is something to consider. I think it is better to post the review to your blog with thanks to the reviewer and a link back to any (maybe not all) sites he or she has, especially if they are relevant to the review or your own site. I don’t think it is a good plan to link to the reviewer in your email signature. First, the extra space it would consume and secondly, you want the focus on your own blog in the limited time you have to catch the interest of anyone reading your signature.

Note: The idea for this post came from: Quips and Tips for Successful Writers: 6 Ways to Promote Your Blog or Books with Your Email Signature. A blog review was #4 on her list.

You don’t need to be a published author or experienced freelance writer to share a positive review of your blog or Web site! If someone has mentioned your blog in a positive light – even just one or two words of praise – consider adding that to your email signature.