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Starting A Blog in 2012? Avoid These 7 New Blogger Blunders

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Starting A Blog in 2012? Avoid These 7 New Blogger Blunders

    Are you thinking of starting a blog in 2012, or making significant changes to your old one?

    One thing that you should always be 100% clear on is your purpose of writing. Is it to start a personal blog where you don’t really care if you have a total readership of 9 or is it to have a blog that you want to monetize at some point.

    If you belong to the former camp, then do as you please, and skip this post. If not, read on.

    1. Making Your Blog All About You

    Your blog is not an online journal. Although it might feel like the perfect place to let everything out, be careful about what you write. Especially, when you have aims of making money from it.

    Many people get offended at this advice. They indignantly retort that they are writing for their friends and family only. If that is your intent – and it is perfectly fine – go ahead but keep this in mind it would be fairly hard if not impossible to reach wider audiences with a personal blog.

    The majority of the new bloggers gives up within first year of blogging. Lack of audience is the biggest factor. And they are not finding these audiences because they are not targeting them.

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    You target new audiences through marketing as well as your content. Not one or the other, both.

    Write for your readers. Find out what can you write about that will interest them enough to come back. Remember, you might be the author but ultimately the blog exists because of your readers.

    2. Writing About Every Topic Under the Sun

    You have many interests and you are happy to write about them. Ask yourself, would your readers be happy to read just the same?

    The only way to survive in the blogosphere is to pick a niche and write about that. If you are like most of us, you have lots of things that interest you and it can be hard to choose one.

    For starters choose a broad niche such as personal development, writing, marketing, business, technology, fashion etc. As you get comfortable with writing, you could narrow it down further.

    Make a list of 20 possible posts you could write on your blog. You would be dismayed to discover that you run of things earlier than you anticipated. On the other hand, a new topic with potential might surprise you. Go on, try it, you won’t know it until you do.

    3. Confusing Your First Time Visitors

    When somebody lands on your blog for the first time, it takes a few seconds for them to form an impression. And you need to do everything you can to make it a favourable one.

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    A first time visitor is looking for this information.

    • What is your blog about?
    • Who are you?
    • What is it in it for them?

    If they find the answers to these questions quickly, and if they fit your reader’s profile, there is no reason for them not stay and explore further.

    If you indeed are right for them, but the information is hidden away and hard to find, you are doing yourself a big disservice. Choose your blog name carefully, put a great deal of thought into your tag-line, all of these things contribute towards positive branding.

    4. Not Paying Due Attention to Your “About Me” Page

    Your ‘About me’ page is the second most frequently visited page of your blog. (Your homepage is the first in case you are wondering)

    As soon as the visitors start to develop a soft corner for your homepage, they will head straight towards your ‘About me’ page to find out more. Now its your job to satisfy their curiosity in a way that is highly relevant to them.

    Talk about what your blog is about, who you are and what you can do for your readers. That’s the main information any reader wants to have. Once you have done that, you can elaborate on what is important to you and really personalize your page.

    Include a back story if you think it will inspire your readers in some way. Don’t ramble about your early childhood.

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    5. Writing Like Your High School English Teacher

    Your design will would help to get people through the door but what will make them stay put? Your content!

    It doesn’t have to resemble a college essay in form. Work hard, write passionately, be yourself and don’t forget to learn from A list bloggers who deliver with style and panache!

    Make your content screen friendly, break up large chunks of text, use headings, bullet points and bold to make it easy on the eyes.

    Headlines: If you want your posts to be read and shared across social media channels, then you better be a pro at crafting headlines. Headlines that arouse curiosity, hints at solving reader problems and are so good that it is impossible to not check out the article.

    Intro: Once the reader is there, they are skimming. Remember it is the web, attention spans are shorter and everybody is in a rush. Your lead should invite the reader straight into your post. Start with a story, a shocking statement or a question. Whatever you do, make sure you get to the point quickly or you will risk losing your precious reader.

    Close: Have a clear call to action when you finish your post. What is it that you want your reader to do? Comment, share or buy? Make it explicit.

    6. Not Embracing Social Media

    Even if you build it, they still won’t come, unless you market and promote your blog – repeatedly. Go out there and get active on social media. If you think it’s too hard, start using one medium at a time. Start with twitter then move on to Facebook. Don’t overlook the importance of Linkedin and other networks if you are serious about monetizing your blog in future.

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    7. Ignoring Other Bloggers

    You should subscribe to as many blogs as you can. There are a few reasons for that. Not only will you learn a lot, you will never run out of material for future posts. On top of it, you will stay abreast of latest trends in your niche.

    Most of all, you would start to develop relationships with fellow bloggers who can help you out and vice versa. You will form meaningful connections and even make a few friends. They will support you, link to you and keep you working towards your goal.

    And that is priceless.

    If you were to start a blog again, what would you do differently? Share with us in the comments below.

    (Photo credit: Start Blog via Shutterstock)

    More by this author

    Marya Jan

    Marya is a business strategist. She shares tips about life and success on Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on July 20, 2021

    How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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    How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

    You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

    Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

    Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

    Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

    1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

    According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

    “Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

    Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

    Warming up

    If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

    If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

    Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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    1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
    2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
    3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

    Stay hydrated

    Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

    To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

    Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

    Meditate

    Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

    Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

    Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

    Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

    2. Focus on your goal

    One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

    Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

    Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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    Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

    If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

    3. Convert negativity to positivity

    There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

    ‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

    It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

    Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

    Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

    Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

    4. Understand your content

    Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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    However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

    “No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

    Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

    Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

    One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

    5. Practice makes perfect

    Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

    In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

    Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

    6. Be authentic

    There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

    Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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    Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

    To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

    With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

    Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

    7. Post speech evaluation

    Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

    Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

    We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

    You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

    Improve your next speech

    As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

    Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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    • How did I do?
    • Are there any areas for improvement?
    • Did I sound or look stressed?
    • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
    • Was I saying “um” too often?
    • How was the flow of the speech?

    Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

    If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

    Reference

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