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

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.

    16 Simple Rules to Live by for a Successful And Fulfilling Life 13 Ways to Be an Exceptional Teacher 7 Golden Rules of Writing and Editing: A Non-grammar-focused Guide to Irresistible Writing 30 Books You Need to Read if You Want to Make it Big Online 5 Ways Mommy Soloprofessionals Can Strive for Work-Life Balance

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    Last Updated on October 22, 2020

    8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

    8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

    How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

    Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

    When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

    Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

    What Makes People Poor Listeners?

    Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

    1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

    Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

    Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

    It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

    2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

    This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

    Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

    3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

    It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

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    I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

    If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

    4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

    While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

    To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

    My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

    Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

    Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

    How To Be a Better Listener

    For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

    1. Pay Attention

    A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

    According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

    As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

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    I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

    2. Use Positive Body Language

    You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

    A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

    People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

    But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

    According to Alan Gurney,[2]

    “An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

    Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

    3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

    I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

    Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

    Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

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    Be polite and wait your turn!

    4. Ask Questions

    Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

    5. Just Listen

    This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

    I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

    I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

    6. Remember and Follow Up

    Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

    For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

    According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

    It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

    7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

    If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

    Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

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    Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

    Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

    NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

    1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
    2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

    8. Maintain Eye Contact

    When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

    Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

    By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

    Final Thoughts

    Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

    You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

    And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

    More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
    [2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
    [3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
    [4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

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