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Don’t Go Into Blogging If You Don’t Know These 7 Things

Don’t Go Into Blogging If You Don’t Know These 7 Things

Blogging is a creative way to express your feelings, reach out to potential customers, and improve your communication skills. Whether you’re blogging for profit or fun, a blog gives you the power to communicate with people all over the world at the click of a mouse.

However, before you run off to publish your amazing blog, it’s important to know these seven blogging tips:

1. Be ridiculously good at one thing and write about that.

Are you a professional photographer who would like to reach out to potential clients? Compile the best photographs from every gig, put them in a blog post, and tell a story about why those pictures are special. Make sure to thank the people in the photos for allowing you the pleasure to work with them, because expressing gratitude for the clients you have will encourage potential clients to give you a chance.

Are you a self-published author who would like to sell more books? Write blogs about related ideas and share the occasional “preview chapter” of one of your works. Don’t forget to make your reader’s life easy by ending your blogs in a link that goes straight to your book listing!

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Have you struggled with universal issues like poor body-image, yo-yo weight-gain, an abusive relationship? Express your feelings on a blog directed to people who struggle with the same thing. Tell them a story to inspire them. Offer them action steps and guidance. Be vulnerable and upfront about your struggles to connect with your readers emotionally. Expressing yourself is therapeutic, and helping others will give you a sense of purpose.

2. Determine who you are going to help.

Your blog isn’t about you; it’s about your reader. Ask yourself these questions to sharpen your message and ensure you’re writing with focus:

  • Who am I going to help?

If you don’t know what kind of reader you hope to engage, then you’ll probably find yourself performing for a crowd of none. Teenagers, college students, busy parents, and business owners all speak in a different language, so it would be absurd to think you could effectively express your idea to all of these people in the very same words. If you don’t know who your reader is, you won’t be able to connect with them on an emotional level; and if you can’t connect with your reader on an emotional level, no one will care about your blog.

  • How am I going to reach out to them?

Now that you know who your reader is, you need to figure out where they are. If you’re targeting busy professionals, you might want to join some networking groups on LinkedIn and share your articles there. If you’re writing for busy parents, you could join a parenting forum to meet like-minded people, and include a link to your blog in your profile. If your goal is to help people lose weight, there is an endless supply of weight-loss support groups on Facebook that might find your blogs helpful (just make sure you ask the group’s owner for permission before you share anything).

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  • What makes them so special?

You need to know what makes your reader tick. Are there certain words or phrases they use to describe the world and how it relates to them? Do they prefer short action-based posts, or would they rather read a personal story that illustrates your point? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, that’s okay; experiment with as many blog styles and formats as you can. Pay attention to what formula results in the best reaction.

3. Focus on style and substance.

No matter how good you might be at writing, your effort could be for naught if you don’t pay proper respect to the elements of style. Style and substance are equally important. If your web design looks unattractive, blog layout is impossible to navigate, content is riddled in typos, or site loads at a sluggish pace, people will leave your blog and go elsewhere for their needs. Run your blog as if it’s a business. Oh, by the way, you just so happen to be the CEO of this business, so you don’t get to make any excuses.

Reading Doctor Who

    4. Read first.

    If you can’t even be troubled to read, it’s arrogant to think you have the chops to make it as a blogger. The best writers know that reading is essential to their growth process. When you’re so absorbed in a book’s plot that you can’t put it down, or are so in love with a blog that you spend hours digging through their archives, take a moment to ponder why you feel that way… because this is the very feeling you want to inspire in your reader.

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    5. Ask for help.

    Confession: I suck at a lot of things, especially graphic design and HTML/coding. If I tried to design a logo, blog layout, or book cover myself, they would look like crap. But you know what? It doesn’t matter, because I can pay professionals to do those things for me. If you’re working on a shoe-string budget, don’t fret: browse through freelancer listings on sites like Upwork and Fiverr to get some help. If you’re going to do it, do it right; if you can’t do it right, hire someone who can.

    6. Don’t quit your day job (yet).

    When I first started my blog, I had a single reader. I call her “mom.” Be comfortable with the fact that people aren’t going to magically discover your blog as soon as you click “Publish.” I know it’s hard to be patient, but consistency is the only key that will unlock the door to success. Think about ways to monetize your blog in the future, but be aware that you probably won’t see any profit for a long while.

    But don’t get too caught up in that just yet. Think about income generation, but don’t get consumed with it. If you’re a beginning blogger, your primary goals should be to establish a daily writing habit and offer immense value to your readers.

    Below are eight questions that will help you keep your readers happy and engaged:

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    • What makes your reader laugh?
    • What does your reader think about during the day?
    • What are some common traits that you share with your readers?
    • What does “success” look, taste, and/or smell like to your reader?
    • What roadblocks prevents your reader from achieving goals?
    • What words and phrases does your reader use to describe the world he live in?
    • What sources of stress trouble does your reader face, and how can you relieve her burden?
    • What story do your readers tell themselves about life, and how can you tell a better story?

    It would be smart to use sign-up forms to collect the contact details of your readers with an email marketing service like Aweber. This allows you to notify subscribers of your new blogs (and increase your traffic). You’ll also be able to inform them of promotions and/or product launches after you figure out how to monetize your blog.

    7. Reach out to fellow bloggers in your field.

    One of the best ways to drive traffic to your blog is through writing guest posts on other people’s blogs. Don’t get trigger-happy; you need to wine-and-dine a fellow blogger before you try to score. Leave a thoughtful comment on a recent post or two, interact with them on social media, and maybe share one of their posts with your friends. After a little bit of interaction (I’d suggest giving it at least three weeks), send them an email offering to write a guest post. If you correctly applied the steps before this, they might recognize your name, which helps your cause. Here is an email script you’re welcome to copy/paste and modify to fit your needs:

    Hello! This is (Your Name) with (Your Blog or Business Title). I discovered your blog a few days/weeks/months ago, and especially enjoyed your piece, (Insert Blog Title Here). I loved how you (Insert Specific, Meaningful Compliment Here). I am also in the field of (Insert Your Niche Here), and was wondering if you could use a guest post? Below are a few ideas for blogs that I would be happy to write for you. If you would like to see samples of my work, you may do so at (Insert Link Here). Thanks for your time and have a great day.

    I hope these seven blogging tips help you make your blogs more creative, helpful, and share-able. Feel free to post a link to your blog in the comments if you have one. Also, in four sentences or less, tell us what you hope to offer your readers. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me in the comments.

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    Daniel Wallen

    Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on January 6, 2021

    14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

    14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

    Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

    In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

    For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

    For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

    Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

    Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

    Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

    How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

    Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

    1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

    Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

    For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

    2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

    Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

    Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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    Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

    3. Create a System

    Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

    This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

    You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

    Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

    Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

    4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

    We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

    If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

    Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

    Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

    5. Use a Ratings Scale

    Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

    Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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    It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

    6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

    This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

    You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

    You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

    7. Offer Feedback Forms

    Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

    First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

    Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

    You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    8. Track Cost Effectiveness

    This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

    Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

    Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

    9. Use Self-Evaluations

    Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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    Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

    10. Monitor Time Management

    This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

    Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

      The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

      While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

      11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

      We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

      Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

      For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

      Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

      Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

      From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

      12. Utilize Peer Feedback

      This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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      Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

      Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

      It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

      13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

      When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

      Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

      Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

      14. Use an External Evaluator

      Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

      They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

      While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

      Final Thoughts

      These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

      The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

      The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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      Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

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