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List vs. Listless — 14 Ways to Focus Your Blog

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listsLists are everywhere here in blogland.  They’re prevalent in magazines, too, especially in how-to and enthusiast publications, and more than a few grocery checkout tabloids. 

We should pay attention to the latter and take care what we emmulate in our blogs. Because we, as bloggers, have a higher standard to strive for.

But that’s not my soap box today. 

Today is about promising a long list of valuable points in a 700 word blog, when you really can’t.  And shouldn’t. 

And you’re right, my title today is totally bogus. 

The rookie blogger takes stock of this list-infested topical landscape and assumes this is the way it’s done.  Because even the Big Boys do it, and they are, after all, the Big Boys.

Big doesn’t mean better.  Never has, never will.

So pervasive are lists that they are among the other little blog-exclusive rules of order and expectations, such as avoiding paragraphs of more than two lines and the use of sub-heads and a preference for words your gradeschooler can understand.

I did a guest blog on one of those Big Boy sites recently, and was advised to dumb it down next time. 

Obvious Too Often Equals Dumb

Blog readers don’t really read, they scan.  So make your blog scannable, right?  And if you promise X number of salient points in your header, then their scanning has a target.

Yeah, that’s all good on paper.  But too often it falls apart on the digital page.  Because blog readers don’t want dumb, they want fast, and in truth they are a cut above the average periodical reader in terms of comprehension and appetite for information.

Somewhere on the executive floor…

… there is a suit who decided lists are a great way to deliver information. 

I can give you ten reasons this isn’t necessarily so. 

But to remain true to the point of this post, I won’t.  Because, pure and simple,  it’s not the best strategy for serving your readers.

I was thumbing through a major writing magazine recently when I saw an article titled, “10 Ways to Make Your Characters Come Alive.”  Aroused by this, I purchased the magazine, and when I got home I attacked the pages like the hungry-for-knowledge writer than I am.  And sure enough, there they were, all ten things on the list.

I threw the magazine against the wall.

Because none were fresh and original.   Not one.   All of the the promised points were obvious, completely entry-level stuff, like… give your character obstacles to their goal.

Genius. This is like telling a soccer player to kick the thing toward the goal.  We owe our readers better than that.  They can get dumb in the grocery checkout lane.

Let’s leave obvious and old news lists to the fitness magazines — the same lists appear in nearly every issue, if you haven’t noticed — and give our readers a higher standard of content.

We Need to Raise the Blogging Bar

If you’re offering a list in your blog, make sure it isn’t stocked with old news.  If one or two items on your list are original thoughts or new takes on established issues, then consider making your blog about that.  And just that.

Why?  Because a header promising “6 New Ways To Do Something” rarely delivers on the new part.   Which means your reader comes away disappointed, disallusioned, and unlikely to hit the Subscribe button.

And if you really do have 10 completely fresh and original points to offer, then consider writing an ebook.  Or post a 10-part series.  Both help you reach your blogging goals faster and more honorably than skimming over that which deserves more.

We only have 500 to 1000 words or so to align with the numero uno holy gospel of blogging — to deliver value to the reader.  Give me 500 words on something I can use instead of 1000 on ten things I already know, any day.

So maybe I do owe you 13 other ways to focus your blog.  That is, if you’re into lists instead of a take-away you can actually use.  If that’s you… look for the ebook soon.

Larry Brooks’ site, Storyfix.com, is currently running a 7-part series on characterization.

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How Do I Teach Bloggers if I Am a New Blogger?

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I see that question popping around in your head.

The same question danced around in my head 10 years ago. How could I teach people how to blog if I did not know how to blog? Plus I had no connections. No skills either. Big time problem.

Here is how to solve your problem:

  • learn how to blog from top pros
  • write 500 words daily offline
  • publish 1-2 posts weekly, turning around and teaching what you learned
  • continue to learn both about blogging and your blogging niche

Learn then teach.

Or absorb then teach.

Jan Verhoeff published this post yesterday:

5 Ways to Broaden Your Blogging Tips for Expansion and Depth

She led off the post explaining how she watched one of my Facebook Live Broadcasts recently and delved deeper into the topic I discussed, said topic being blogging overlap.

Jan is a seasoned veteran blogger but she and I both use this concept of learning or absorbing then immediately teaching the concept to our readers. Knowledge ain’t getting stale in our brain boxes.

Newbie bloggers; I get it. You may feel intimidated to learn, then to teach. But being a blogging student is hands down your most important role as a new blogger because learning and studying gives you confidence to turn around and teach your new found knowledge quickly.

Check out my guest post on Janice Wald’s Mostly Blogging:

8 Ways to Become a Student of Blogging

Janice regularly shares this post and noted it still drives blog traffic.

Why?

New and seasoned blogging veterans alike know deep down we are all perpetual students. Plus we know that in order to teach we must first learn, being open and willing students.

Newbie bloggers; you better become a voracious reader of blogging tips and tips aligned with your niche. Learn to gain confidence and clarity. Then you better practice writing like crazy. Pen 500 words daily offline to become a confident writer.

Being armed with knowledge and improving writing skills sets the foundation to learn, then to teach.

Iconic Marketer

10 years ago when I was a new blogger I read a post on Ray Higdon Dot Com.

This iconic network marketer introduced me to the simple concept of how you can teach folks how to succeed in your niche, even as a newbie. Learn. Teach.

Allow little time to elapse between learning and teaching. Teaching does not require 10,000 word blog posts or 45 minute long videos or eBooks or courses.

Practical Examples of Teaching

Peep these examples of how you can learn a concept and teach as a new blogger:

  • record and upload a 1 minute long video on YouTube
  • write and publish a 600 word post on your blog
  • record and upload a 5 minute long podcast

The idea is to learn a concept and to be comfortable teaching the concept without being an expert. Fraud energies may arise guys. Fears attempt to shame you into remaining quiet.  Don’t trust these fears. Don’t believe these lies.

If you want to become a blogger you better get comfortable with being a teacher because blogging is teaching. If you want to become a teacher you better be a hungry student, learning the in’s and out’s of blogging and your niche and practicing your writing to more easily convey your blogging message.

Learn.

Teach.

Hit the ground running as a new blogger.

Nobody begins blogging as an experienced blogger.

Nobody begins blogging with blogging skills.

We need to learn and practice persistently as a new blogger to become a successful blogger.

Just don’t hesitate to turn around and teach what you have learned immediately, to drive traffic to your blog.

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Blogging

Do I Look Lucky to You?

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Many people believe me to be lucky.

Folks think I am so lucky to travel the world.

Like a magic fairy alighted on my shoulder, tapped me with a magic wand, and sent me to that location in Bali you see in the featured image.

As if I lucked out to circle around the globe for the past 7 years.

Not quite guys.

Luck does not exist.

Smart, generous work helped me retire to a life of island hopping through smart blogging.

Peep this link:

583 Ryan Biddulph Blog Posts on Blogging Tips

Does that sound lucky? Was I lucky to write and publish 583 guest posts on Blogging Tips alone? Am I lucky to have written and published thousands of blog posts during the past decade I spent online?

Have I been lucky to work hundreds of thousands of hours during my life, in order to retire to a life of island hopping through smart blogging?

Did luck make me a full time digital nomad? Have I been lucky to write and self-publish 126 eBooks?

Luck does not exist.

Smart, energized, years of work, this brings blogging success.

Convenience Store Luck

Back in New Jersey for a bit.

After spending a few moments at the local convenience store I saw no less than 5 people buy lottery tickets.

Folks spend money on a wing and a prayer, hoping, praying, begging to make money through a game of chance.

Forget building a sustainable online business. Forget rendering service to become successful with your blog. Don’t even bother investing money in solid vehicles.

Leave your life to chance. See if you get lucky.

Terrible mindset to have guys.

Luck does not exist. No magical fairy blesses some folks and curses other folks. Nobody suffers from bad luck. Chance does not exist.

Smart, intelligent service, persistently applied, exists. Learning and practicing the skill of blogging for 2-4 years of your life exists. Spending 10 years writing and publishing thousands of posts exists. Commenting on 50,000 blogs exists. Being generous exists. Helping folks for months before making a dime exists.

Luck does not exist.

Luck Is a Jailer

If you believe successful bloggers are lucky, that limiting belief jails you. Since you believe you are not lucky you naturally will always struggle and fail. Not a good belief to cling to guys.

Many bloggers think I am:

  • lucky
  • blessed
  • gifted
  • talented
  • a natural

but I am not. I just spent years of my life learning, practicing and mastering the skill of blogging. I wrote almost 600 guest posts on Blogging Tips alone. Does that sound like luck, or chance, or like a blessing? Smart, persistent work guys. I committed fully to blogging so blogging committed fully to me. Simple equation but goodness does this journey feel uncomfortable at times.

Early Friday evening, here I am writing this guest post as my 2 year old niece hangs all over me, bopping me on the head. Hardly a crazy challenge but still a bit of a challenge. Try thinking through a post and writing it while a hyper 2 year old does all in her power to grab your attention.

I am not writing this post because Lady Luck sent me the idea. I am writing this post because I have written 2 million plus words during the past decade of my life, so words flow easily for me.

  • Creating, connecting and polishing my blogging skills by patiently writing and broadcasting live videos daily helped me craft a neat life for me and for my readers.
  • Generously commenting on other blogs and promoting other bloggers helped me become a pro blogger.
  • Persisting through thick and thin created my blogging success.

The next time you explain someone’s success as a simple matter of luck, think again.

Luck does not exist.

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Blogging

Why Use a VPN? Here Are 5 Reasons for Bloggers

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why use a vpn

As a blogger, the internet is your second home. Your blog is literally the house you built from scratch online. The stellar content you created and promoted enabled you to engage with your audience effectively. As a blogger, you also developed professional relationships with influential bloggers like yourself.

Despite your success, you should never put your guard down when meeting people online or engaging with other websites. I’m sure you have your anti-virus and malware protection software installed in your CPU to shield you from online threats. However, there’s nothing wrong in taking an extra measure to ensure your protection not only as a blogger but also your life outside it.

In this post, you will learn how a virtual private network is and why use a VPN to protect your online activity and engagement with other websites not just as a blogger but an online user.

Why use a VPN? Below are the ways

Before we get into the different reasons bloggers must use a VPN, we need to explain first how it works for you to understand it better.

In a nutshell, a virtual private network (VPN) enables you to encrypt your information behind its servers. Whenever you visit a website, it sees information provided by the server and not the ones found on your local computer. This simple process is very beneficial for bloggers for several reasons:

1. Keeps your website activity anonymous

The most immediate advantage of using a VPN is anonymity. Website won’t be able to trace your actual IP address and location, aside from the other encrypted data about your site.

The main benefit of online anonymity is better protection from online threats. Sometimes, your protection software won’t be enough to keep hackers at bay. They’ll get into your CPU without you knowing it. And God knows what they will do with your information once they gain it. They might sell it to third-party services that will send you spam or launch random attacks to your CPU via your internet connection.

Since a VPN withholds your actual information, hackers and malware can’t successfully penetrate through your online activity and intercept data from your browser. This way, you can perform research online or visit different websites without the looming threat of hackers hanging over your head all the time.

2. Makes your transactions more secure

online security

If you make transactions online, then you need a VPN to beef up your security. Most websites nowadays have an SSL certificate installed to ensure customers it is safe to type sensitive information on the site. However, an as mentioned, additional protection to ensure your online safety is always welcome. This rings true if you enjoy purchasing tools and software to help boost your blogging efforts (hello, Appsumo).

By setting up a VPN, you can guarantee all your transactions are secure.

3. Prevents censorship

If you live in a country that controls the sites you can see and content you can access, then your work as a blogger is already cut out for you. You don’t need this encumbrance as a blogger – information needs to be free for all. It’s up to the person to decide what s/he wants to see online and which sites to visit. For bloggers, knowledge is power, and you cannot wield this responsibility if you don’t have the full information,

If you share these beliefs, then using a VPN will help you gain access to information that wasn’t available before. As a result, you can speak your message considering all the information there is about the subject. Doing so puts you in a position to become a credible and influential voice in your space.

4. Work in confidence

Some bloggers live a nomadic lifestyle. Because of its inherent nature where you don’t have a boss and you can work whenever or how long you want, bloggers can work anywhere. Whether it be coffee shops, co-working spaces, or even from different countries, bloggers will sustain their income as long as they get the job done.

However, they won’t be able to get it done if the WiFi connection doesn’t afford you the security and freedom to need for blogging. For example, WiFi connections in public spaces are open to everybody. As a result, anything can enter it and disrupt your online browsing, online threats included. If you’re not careful, your laptop can get infected and leave you with hundreds of dollars worth of repairs, on top of days not being able to blog due to the incident.

With a VPN, you can access the web securely so you continue with your nomadic lifestyle to full effect! Your information will be safe in public places and you can gain access to websites that might be blocked at the country you’re living in right now.

5. Unblock geo-restricted content

unblock geo restricted content

It’s normal to take time off as a blogger. You need time for yourself to sit back, relax, and live life a little. Part of living your life is watching TV shows and series from your favorite streaming sites. With so many good shows available for binging, you can lose yourself watching these shows for days if not weeks!

But it’s not fun to binge-watch if not all the shows and movies are available for viewing. For example, if you want access to the complete library of movies and shows on Netflix, then you need to be in the US to access the content. If not, there will be content unavailable in your region due to the licensing deals of these shows. If you have a running subscription on these streaming sites and you live outside the US, you don’t get to maximize the site due to incomplete content.

However, you can watch US Netflix with Smart DNS Proxy. Using this VPN services and setting it up on your devices gives you full access to Netflix shows you can take a break from blogging by watching the shows you want. Also, you unblock content from Hulu, HBO, and other streaming sites to make your binge-watching sessions more complete!

Are you convinced why you need a VPN as a blogger?

If you think VPN is just technical mumbo-jumbo, you’re dead wrong! It has practical applications for bloggers who want to continue providing their audience with content they love. Aside from living a more focused blogging lifestyle, a VPN allows people to live a life outside blogging if they’re into TV shows and movies. Keeping these reasons in mind, it’s time you should get a VPN service to take your blogging to the next level.

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