How to Make Your Writing (a Little Bit) Better

The Director of Columbia University’s writing program and author of the new book To Show and to Tell: The Craft of Literary Nonfiction reveals a few ways to write a fresh and engaging story.

I came across this post on Oprah’s website and thought it was worth re-posting for my readers. There are some great tidbits, guidance and instructions for making your writing better. Now that online content is so huge, it’s always a good idea to tweak and work on your writing or hire a ghostwriter to assist you.

1) Be Bold (Even if You’re Not) Regardless of how timid you may feel inside, you need to project an assertive tone in your sentences, conveying that you have a right to speak and that know what you’re talking about. This may mean bluffing—both at the beginning and maybe throughout one’s writing life. One of the boldest openings is a confession of ignorance. You might tell people that you don’t know everything or that you’ve forgotten some of the story. Surprisingly, instead of alienating your readers, this tactic usually makes them believe you more, because it lets them know you’re a human being—imperfect, like all of us, but honest.

2) Make Yourself into a Real-Life Elizabeth Bennet Whatever you write, particularly if it’s an autobiography or any kind of nonfiction, you would do well to turn yourself into a character. The reader needs to sense very quickly the real individual behind the prose—in order to like or trust the narrator of the piece. To start, you may need to take inventory of yourself, so the reader will have some idea of who is talking. For instance, what are your geographical roots, family background, ethnicity, social class, religious training, sexual preferences, and political affiliations? Not that your entire identity can ever be explained by membership in this or that one category, but at least the sum of them helps define you—if nothing else, then in your opposition or refusal to identify with any of these assigned labels. What are your pet likes and dislikes? What are some of the crucial experiences in your life? Certainly, this is the heart of memoir or personal writing.

Now comes the “characterization” part of your character. You need to dramatize yourself. Paradoxically, this may mean putting on a mask, emphasizing just those aspects of your personality that throw you into sharper light, that make you seem a little more odd or idiosyncratic—in any case, not completely typical. The easiest way to do that is to single out those parts of your personality that are most vibrant, or even disparaging. Self-mockery is a perfect example. If you can laugh at yourself, you will find it easier to see yourself as a character.

3) Take the Contrarian Position It’s sometimes a good idea to go against the grain of accepted thought, simply because it takes the reader by surprise and engages him or her in a stimulating, feisty relationship. (It also helps to build the author quickly into a character—see number 2.) To advocate for Mom, apple pie, world peace or universal brotherhood can be pretty bland. Try airing a more antisocial or counterintuitive position, just for the fun of it. Some models to consult in this technique are Laura Kipnis’ “Against Love,” Witold Gombrowicz’s “Against Poetry,” Susan Sontag’s “Against Interpretation,” Joyce Carol Oates’ “Against Nature” or my own “Against Joie de Vivre.”

The other way to be contrarian is to praise something that usually inspires distaste. William Hazlitt’s “On the Pleasure of Hating” is one such topsy-turvy example. Think of something ostensibly negative—disappointment, envy, chagrin, obesity, air pollution—and make a case for it. Of course, this defense of the indefensible can be done ironically, as in Jonathan Swift’s classic “A Modest Proposal,” which purports to argue in favor of eating babies as a solution to overpopulation.

4) Don’t Forget Your Inner Adult When writing about your past, don’t be afraid to reflect on the way you were, from the standpoint of the way you are now. You don’t have to pretend that you’re still 9 years old or stay within the child mind: You can avail yourself of the perspective of acquired wisdom over the years and move back and forth in the narrative between the younger person you were and the older person you’ve become. This means you don’t have to tell every story entirely through scene and dialogue. You can forget about that “show, don’t tell” business. Do tell. But do it frankly, thoughtfully and, wherever possible without self-pity and with good-humored detachment.

5) Bring in the World Even if you are writing a memoir, and telling what you feel is just your own private story, there are ways of bringing greater relevance and resonance to the tale by hitching it to a broader perspective: historical, psychological, sociological, theological, whatever. You begin to see yourself as part of a larger pattern, and this will take you to the library, where you can gain new insights.

Research also helps to keep the material alive when you are starting to get sick of yourself and your story. If you start out knowing all the answers, your resulting writing will appear stale. But if you engage in an exploration, a need to get answers to questions that are still unresolved, there is a much greater chance that the writing will come alive. And research can certainly assist in any such exploration.

For more information on writing techniques, consult Phillip Lopate’s new book To Show and to Tell: The Craft of Literary Nonfiction.

Read more: http://www.oprah.com/spirit/Expert-Writing-Strategies-How-to-Write-Better#ixzz2LMYAJ4yF

What do Petticoats and Writing Have in Common?

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As I was sitting in my recliner last night, trying my best to find that light-bulb moment or the next viral blog post, for some reason the petticoat came to mind.

I know you’re thinking…what!? My sentiments exactly! I had no idea where I was going with this, but something sparked inside me to simply start writing. I was hoping it would come to me as fast as my speedy typing.

Wikipedia defines the Petticoat as follows:

“In historical contexts (sixteenth to mid-nineteenth centuries), petticoat refers to any separate skirt worn with a gown, bedgown, bodice or jacket; these petticoats are not strictly speaking underwear as they were made to be seen. In both historical and modern contexts, petticoat refers to skirt-like undergarments worn for warmth or to give the skirt or dress the desired fashionable shape. In this context a petticoat may be called a waist slip or underskirt (UK) or half-slip (US), with petticoat restricted to extremely full garments. Petticoat can also refer to a full-length slip in the UK,  although this usage is somewhat old-fashioned.”

Going way back to my childhood, (and yes, that was quite some time ago), I can remember having such frilly, foo-foo dresses. They were just not quite completed until I had all those petticoats underneath my dress. Once those were on and fluffed, then I felt as though I was completely dressed.

As I reminisced about those days, I saw myself running and playing and jumping around, just to experience all the fluffiness, fullness and the sounds of crinkling petticoats. Not only did they make me feel feminine and girly, they also made me feel extremely dressed up and exquisite. Like I’m sure some of those on the red carpet feel when they are all dolled up. That is how I felt! Like a model! Simply beautiful.

There was something about the sound of all that crinkly material and the crushing, rustling-type sound they made. The way they would fly up into your face when you sat down. The manner in which you would lay your hands on top of your dress to push it down just so you could see. The gorgeous way they looked under such a beautiful and frilly dress. Of course, in most cases there were matching shoes and socks, as well as gloves and purse.

The more you had under your dress, the better you felt.

So, how does that relate to writing, you ask?

Well, think about this. How do you feel when you have completed an awesome article or blog post that gets raving reviews, or increases your followers, or is shared amongst your friends, family and social network?

Doesn’t that make you feel all frilly and foo-foo and tingly inside? The sounds of the petticoats are similar to the sounds of raving fans applauding like you’ve just finished a Tony award-winning performance.

You feel like running and jumping and twirling around exhibiting tons of glee and excitement. Well, maybe not to that extent, but you are excited and thoroughly happy with yourself. Right?

If you have created compelling content that others want to read and share, you should be proud.

Petticoats are Meant to be Seen

Remembering back to those petticoat days, I can remember how cool it was to have layers upon layers of petticoats. The colors were also something to be admired. From pinks, purples, red (yep…had to have red, it’s my favorite color) to the simple white and beige. Whatever color I wore, it was meant to be seen. Imagine that. You wanted to show them off.

Which brings me right back to writing, (you knew I was coming back to it). Whatever you write, whether it’s a blog post, article, eBook or white paper, you want it to be seen, admired and appreciated. You want to provide solutions to problems and issues people are having.

You want to be the one they search for when they are in need of answers. You want to be that “go-to” person. But exactly how do you do that? Well, you do your homework and figure out what problems your readers or clients are having. And then give them what they want.

If you can teach your readers something they don’t know you’ll have a robust following. Then those readers will share your content with their friends, and so on and so on.

What happens when you create valuable, informing, educational and even humorous content? It will be seen by many.

Desired Fashionable Shape

What does the petticoat’s fashionable shape have to do with writing? You need to make sure your articles and blogs posts are fashioned in a readable and shareable format.

For example, include compelling images to your articles as well as shaping your post in an appealing manner. Make sure you have enough white space between paragraphs. Chunk your content so it’s easier to scan. Create intriguing headlines and paragraph titles. Use a font that is easy on the eyes to online readers. Always add something personal, emotional or some sort of life experiences.

Before writing your next article or blog post, think about something in your personal life you can use to relate to your product or services.

Don’t be afraid to get a little personal. People can relate to those types of experiences and it’s quite possible they are going through something you’ve already been through. Think about how helpful that could be to others.

Add flare, experiences, emotion, humor, solid advice, and you will dazzle your audience to no end.

What have you found in your articles and blog posts that have increased readers and followers? Do you find by adding life experiences to help tell your story beneficial?

Columbine Student’s Father 12 Years Later

Since the horrific tragedy in Newtown, CT, I felt this post speaks volumes and will give you something to ponder as we try to come to grips with everything that happened.

Darrell Scott, father of Rachel Scott, Columbine High School victim, sums it up brilliantly on what he feels is happening in our schools. I totally agree with him. See if you agree. It is definitely worth reading.

Here we go:

Guess our national leaders didn’t expect this. On Thursday, Darrell Scott, the father of Rachel Scott, a victim of the Columbine High School shootings in Littleton, Colorado, was invited to address the House Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee. What he said to our national leaders during this special session of Congress was painfully truthful.

They were not prepared for what he was to say, nor was it received well. It needs to be heard by every parent, every teacher, every politician, every sociologist, every psychologist, and every so-called expert! These courageous words spoken by Darrell Scott are powerful, penetrating, and deeply personal.

There is no doubt that God sent this man as a voice crying in the wilderness. The following is a portion of the transcript: “Since the dawn of creation there has been both good & evil in the hearts of men and women. We all contain the seeds of kindness or the seeds of violence. The death of my wonderful daughter, Rachel Joy Scott, and the deaths of that heroic teacher, and the other eleven children who died must not be in vain. Their blood cries out for answers.

“The first recorded act of violence was when Cain slew his brother Abel out in the field. The villain was not the club he used.. Neither was it the NCA, the National Club Association. The true killer was Cain, and the reason for the murder could only be found in Cain’s heart.

“In the days that followed the Columbine tragedy, I was amazed at how quickly fingers began to be pointed at groups such as the NRA. I am not a member of the NRA. I am not a hunter. I do not even own a gun. I am not here to represent or defend the NRA – because I don’t believe that they are responsible for my daughter’s death. Therefore I do not believe that they need to be defended. If I believed they had anything to do with Rachel’s murder I would be their strongest opponent

I am here today to declare that Columbine was not just a tragedy — it was a spiritual event that should be forcing us to look at where the real blame lies! Much of the blame lies here in this room. Much of the blame lies behind the pointing fingers of the accusers themselves. I wrote a poem just four nights ago that expresses my feelings best.

Your laws ignore our deepest needs,

Your words are empty air. You’ve stripped away our heritage, You’ve outlawed simple prayer. Now gunshots fill our classrooms, And precious children die. You seek for answers everywhere, And ask the question “Why?” You regulate restrictive laws, Through legislative creed. And yet you fail to understand, That God is what we need!

“Men and women are three-part beings. We all consist of body, mind, and spirit. When we refuse to acknowledge a third part of our make-up, we create a void that allows evil, prejudice, and hatred to rush in and wreak havoc. Spiritual presences were present within our educational systems for most of our nation’s history. Many of our major colleges began as theological seminaries. This is a historical fact. What has happened to us as a nation? We have refused to honor God, and in so doing, we open the doors to hatred and violence. And when something as terrible as Columbine’s tragedy occurs — politicians immediately look for a scapegoat such as the NRA. They immediately seek to pass more restrictive laws that contribute to erode away our personal and private liberties. We do not need more restrictive laws. Eric and Dylan would not have been stopped by metal detectors. No amount of gun laws can stop someone who spends months planning this type of massacre. The real villain lies within our own hearts.

“As my son Craig lay under that table in the school library and saw his two friends murdered before his very eyes, he did not hesitate to pray in school. I defy any law or politician to deny him that right! I challenge every young person in America and around the world, to realize that on April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School prayer was brought back to our schools. Do not let the many prayers offered by those students be in vain. Dare to move into the new millennium with a sacred disregard for legislation that violates your God-given right to communicate with Him. To those of you who would point your finger at the NRA — I give to you a sincere challenge.. Dare to examine your own heart before casting the first stone!

My daughter’s death will not be in vain! The young people of this country will not allow that to happen!” –Darrell Scott

————–

My prayers continue to go out to all those affected by that tragedy in Newtown, CT. How has it impacted your life? Do you check with your kids at school more frequently? Do you simply thank God for protecting them? Has it changed the way you do things? Please let us know.

Do You Know the Benefits of Hiring a Ghostwriter for your Business?

No matter what field you’re in, the life of your small business depends on written content to maintain a strong online presence and build your brand.  But you knew that already, didn’t you?  Sure, you’d like to start a blog for your business, write an e-book, or maintain an active Facebook or Twitter feed, but you’re already wearing so many hats–now you have to be a writer, too?  No, you don’t.  Instead, consider hiring a ghostwriter.

A ghostwriter is an expert writer who can handle any written task such as articles, blog posts, press releases, essays and e-books according to your specifications and let you take credit for them.  Once the publishing industry’s best-kept secret, ghostwriters are now a trusted part of every industry from medicine to music, and have become very popular with small business owners in particular.

Let’s face it; some of the world’s smartest, charismatic and talented people are terrible writers.  Ghostwriters can help their clients look as competent and knowledgeable on the page (or screen) as they are in person.

Why do you need a ghostwriter?

Well, consider what your time is worth, and how it can best be put to use to help your business.  Do you think that being hunched over a keyboard writing a blog post is the best use of your time or your talent?  By leaving your writing needs in the hands of a capable ghostwriter, you can go back to doing what you love, and remind yourself of why you started your business in the first place.

Even if you did have the time to write (and brainstorm, and edit) it yourself, having well-written, informative and enjoyable content is not quite enough.  Experienced ghostwriters can also help you create targeted content that skillfully uses keywords that will help your website or blog rank high in search engine results while avoiding being marked as spam.  After all, what good is a blog if no one reads it?  The more people who seek out your website, blog, and social media and benefit from the valuable information you provide, the more money you will make.

It can be hard to let go of control of something as important as online marketing for your business, but your business needs YOU more than anything else.  Successful business owners know that part of their success comes from knowing how and when to delegate tasks.  Many will tell you to do what you’re best at, and hire skilled people to handle the rest.  Wouldn’t hiring a ghostwriter be a great place to start?

Have you hired a ghostwriter in the past? What have you learned from using a ghostwriter?

Do You Know How to Choose the Best-Selling E-Book Topics?

Choosing an e-book topic that will sell well is a lot like choosing the best wave to ride. You want to find the one that is on its way up. Like most things, e-book topics follow trends. One month, the topic of dog training secrets will be all the rage. The next, its clean eating tips.

If you want to be successful with your e-books, you need to stay on top of the rising trends. The idea is to find out what people are talking about, what information they are searching for right now instead of taking a few guesses at what they might like.

There are several tactics that you can use when you start to research popular e-book topics:

Clickbank

One of the best places to find e-book ideas is on Clickbank, one of the most popular places to find e-books. You can look at what topics are trending at the moment and what ones are on the rise.

To make the search even simpler, use a site like cbengine.com. CB Engine collects data from Clickbank, making it easy to find what topics are growing in popularity.

To use CB Engine, click on “CB Best Gain” in the left column. This will show you the products that have moved up in the rankings on Clickbank. You can choose your search criteria based on momentum, popularity, moving up and moving steady, and those that have big payouts.

Click on a product to go to its data page and review the vital statistics.

Using this information can help you stay on top of trends that are on the rise before the market becomes saturated with e-books. Keep an eye on topics that are jumping higher on the charts to take advantage of growing opportunities.

Do Your Keyword Research

Keyword research is a fantastic way to find popular topics for e-books. You start by writing down a few of your own topic ideas. For example, if you are interested in writing about gardening, you could list ideas like:

  • First-time gardening
  • Gardening when you don’t have the space for a garden
  • Container gardening
  • Organic gardening

And so on.

Write down as many ideas as you can based on your chosen niche topic. Use a keyword tool, like the one for Google AdWords. Type in your ideas, one at a time, and see the results.

The Keyword tool will show you how many people are searching for that keyword phrase (or something similar) every month. You will be able to see how popular those search terms are as well as how high the competition is for them.

Choosing keywords that have too much competition could mean that your e-book would get lost in the crowd. Look for keywords that have a high number of searches but with less competition.

Repeat this process with all of your search phrases so that you can get a clear picture of how well each niche topic will do for you before you invest more time and research into it.

Search the Kindle Book Store

The Amazon Kindle Store is one of the most popular places to find e-books on virtually any subject. You can use the site’s lists of Top 100 books to see what is trending right now.

You will see how long a book has been on the Top 100 list, whether it is moving up the list or moving down. You can also break this down according to category to see what is trending in your specific niche.

Look at Forums

Internet forums are a great place to go when you are looking for topics that people want to know about. People will typically go onto a niche forum to post a specific question about something they need to know.

For example, on a gardening forum, you might see several people posting questions about how to deal with garden pests without harmful chemicals. With that information, you know that there are people looking for more information to help resolve this common problem so it is probably a good topic for an e-book.

E-books have grown in popularity over the last decade. Many people turn to them for quick information about a variety of topics. This is an area that you can focus on when you want to create valuable content.

Are you considering writing e-books? How do you brainstorm ideas for topics?

Get up Early and Start the Day off Right!

For many people, sunrise is not a friend. I love watching the sun come up! It’s my favorite time of day. But there are some who instead of bounding out of bed, ready to greet the day, prefer pulling the covers over your head and catching just a few more minutes of sleep.

Then, you reluctantly give in and stumble out of your cozy bed in search of coffee before you feel like a human being again.

You might be happy with this morning routine, but if not you don’t have to accept it as the start to your day. When you wake up fresh in the morning, you are ready to tackle all of your goals, and in some cases, with a smile on your face.

Despite what you might think, you don’t have to remain among those who classify themselves as “not a morning person.” If you want to change, it can be done simply by changing your habits.

The first step is always to admit that the habit you have is not working in your best interest and that you want to change. Understand that the first thing you try won’t necessarily be the right method for you, so don’t become discouraged. Just move on to another way and keep going until you find what works best.

You’ve probably heard this before, especially if you are a parent: Routine is very important! It may not always be possible to stick with the exact same routine from one night to the next, but try to stay as close as possible to your original plan. Eat healthy throughout the day. Avoid foods that are full of sugars and fat close to bedtime. Eat dinner at the same time each day, several hours before bedtime. Do not ingest any stimulants, such as caffeine, before you go to bed.

One thing to try is to eat a healthy dinner each night. When you do, make notes in a journal that describe how you felt when you woke up, how easy it was to get out of bed, your mood after you begin to get ready for the day. After a few days, you will be able to see if this is working for you.

Get some exercise in the early part of your day. When you keep your body in shape, you will sleep better. It is more beneficial to exercise in the morning instead of at night. If you exercise closer to bedtime, your blood will be pumping, which makes it harder to fall asleep. That extra energy boost that you get will be more helpful at the start of your day, so it just makes more sense to get an early workout.

Do something that makes you happy and relaxed before going to bed. Read a chapter or two of your book, do some yoga or meditation. Do not do something that is likely to cause stress, such as balancing your check book or paying bills. Stressing about money is one of the leading causes of sleepless nights.

Also, switch off the television and computer before you start getting ready for bed. The light from their screens can decrease your melatonin levels, making it even more difficult to fall asleep.

Before going to bed, plan to do something that you enjoy first thing in the morning. Maybe do some sun salutations, or even just enjoy your coffee on the patio to soak up some sunshine. Don’t worry about your to-do list until after you are up and ready to take on the day.

Are you a morning glory or a night owl? What do you do to get yourself out of bed in the morning? Let us know!

Three Steps to Improving Your Article Marketing Efforts

When you are using article marketing for your business, it is easy to become frustrated quickly. You may not be reaching goals you had set and that can leave you feeling disappointed with your plan. That doesn’t mean you should wave the white flag and give in! In order to cross the line from failure to success in article marketing, you need to have a plan.

To improve your marketing strategy, there are three important steps you need to take:

Step 1: Figure out Your Message

What are you trying to tell customers? They are looking for solutions to their problems. They have a need and want to know if you are going to fulfill it. Review each of your products or services and write out why the customer needs it. When you have a clear understanding of why someone needs to buy your product, then you will have an easier time explaining it to them. Customers want you to answer their questions so they can be confident you are the person to go to when they need something.

Step 2: Know How to Get Your Point Across- Quickly!

A lot of studies show that the average Internet user will only stay on a website between thirty seconds and one minute. That doesn’t give you very much time to grab their attention and convince them to buy your product. There is likely a lot of competition out there for the products or services you offer so you need to make yourself stand out right away. It will help by having headlines that will get the attention of readers while using your keywords.

Don’t be afraid to be entertaining! Your content doesn’t have to sound stuffy and dull. Make your content enjoyable to read and the customers will keep coming back. Be snarky, add a little humor or put a unique spin on it. Content should be engaging.

Step 3: Be Customer-Friendly

The Internet can be a very impersonal marketplace. That doesn’t mean you can’t treat your customers as you would if they were there in person. How would you talk to your customers if you had a brick-and-mortar store? Be personable. Chat them up. Form a bond, which will create a loyalty that isn’t often seen in too many businesses today.

Think about how you would want to be treated as a customer. What would you want to hear from a seller? What would make you trust them enough to hand over your money? You don’t have to throw a bunch of razzle-dazzle at them, but customers want to be handled in a friendly, thoughtful manner. And putting a smile on their face goes a long way in getting repeat customers.

Article marketing is just like any other form of marketing strategy. You need to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and figure out what they want to hear and how. Listen to your inner consumer and you will soon know exactly what you need to do to improve your article marketing efforts.

Tell us what you have done to create better online content for your business. Where do you get your inspiration? Let us know!

7 Tips for Completing an Article in 20 Minutes

Whether you are a Ghostwriter or a business owner who writes for their own blog or website, writing can be very time-consuming. We would all like to find ways to trim back on the amount of time it takes us to write.

If you’re a writer for business, you probably would like to see ways to become more efficient. One way to do so is to learn a few techniques for getting an article completed within a short time frame. This article will guide you to get an article written and completed in 20 minutes.

Many ghostwriters or freelance writers juggle clients all day, day-in and day-out. So it’s not always the most economical job for one to have. However, if you can master these seven techniques, you’ll be able to get an article written in a jiffy and even be able to take on more clients to maximize your profits.

It’s important to remember that even though you may be writing quickly, you can’t compromise the quality.

1. Start an “idea” list:

Being a writer, sometimes your inspiration and motivation can easily be jeopardized, since you’re relying on it every single day. So, when you’re bountiful of ideas, write them down and keep a list. Many times, writers of all types, be it bloggers, article writers, ghostwriters, etc. the idea of what to write is what takes the most time. If you keep an idea list, you’ve already won half the battle.

2. Let your ideas simmer a bit:

It is typical that when you NEED something, it’s the most difficult to find whereas, when you don’t need it anymore, then it happens to just pop up. The same thing applies to writing and gaining ideas. The more force you put into it, the longer it will take. Thus, when you get a new topic, let it fester for a while before brainstorming. This way, a couple of days later, when it’s time to get started, you’ll already have a few things in mind that will work.

3. Be Selective

Now, you’ve formulated all these list ideas and brainstorming ideas for your articles, you’ve got so many ideas, what in the world are you going to do with them all?! Well, you’re going to have to be very hard on yourself and simply scratch through the majority of them on your list. Ask yourself, “does this idea really work?” or look at which ideas are the best and discard the rest. You can however, save the ideas for an article for later, but it’s important to remember we’re not writing an epic trilogy book now, just a simple article within a 20-minute time frame.

4. Be the Bullet Master:

Using bullet points or numbered entries is fantastic! Not only will it cut down the time spent on writing an article (since you don’t have to formulate a complete sentence or think about transitions from paragraph to paragraph) but it is also helps the reader to easily navigate the article and break up content.

5. Short and Sweet:

Articles that are 500 words are less are perfect for writing articles within the 20-minute time frame. What is most important here is to focus on the type of content. It needs to be content rich to make up for the shortness. Your article should be chalked full of valuable content.

6. Take a break:

More times than not, a nice break from work will benefit your motivation and inspiration. Writing can be a hard task some days, so it’s better not to force out words and rather, take a break, come back and let the words flow.

7. Use your good idea NOW:

It is very tempting to keep all your best ideas saved for using later, or for a “better” article. However, this is not the most productive or realistic. You need to save time now, not later on. Whatever is in front of you now, should be what you focus on to get it done quickly and to make the most of your time. So take the “good” ideas off the back-burner and use the immediately.

These seven steps will help you to create an article within a 20-minute time frame so that you have time to focus on more interesting things or maximize your article output. If you have ideas or know of ways to write articles more quickly, what are they? Please share!

The Ten Best Ways to Get More Traffic to Your Site

The number one goal of website owners is a heavy traffic flow. Trying to accomplish that on your own can be difficult. You can spend the majority of your time trying to optimize your site for search engines or spending hard-earned money on marketing techniques, like pay-per-click. Luckily, there are easier ways to attract more visitors to your website in less time, and for free!

Some of the best ways to generate a higher, steadier flow of traffic to your site are as simple as leveraging another website’s traffic and resources. Here are ten of the best ways you can get other people to direct traffic to your site.

Become a Guest Blogger

A lot of popular bloggers will solicit submissions from guest writers to post to their site. Even some bloggers who don’t advertise a desire to have a guest blogger on their site may be open to the idea of accepting guest posts, so long as you give them reasons for using your post.

For example, you can offer to:

Trade article space with the blogger, letting them post to your site as well

Include their affiliate links in your article so that they will still be able to make money when a reader buys their product

Give them some free advertising by writing a glowing review of them in your newsletter or on your site

Recruit People to Your Affiliate Program

One of the best ways to sell more products through other peoples’ traffic is by asking them to take part in your affiliate program.

For example, if you are selling digital products, offering a 50% commission to your affiliates could be very enticing. Offer a higher rate for those who send a lot of site traffic your way. Consider offering additional perks too, like bonuses or discounts to their customers.

An easy way to set up your own affiliate program for digital merchandise is through Clickbank.com. It also works as a payment processor.

Swap Blog Links

Blogrolling is a fantastic way to trade blog links with your fellow bloggers who focus on your niche. This has the long-term benefit of being listed permanently on the front page of another person’s blog. Also, if the blog has a high Google Page Rank, you’ll benefit from the search engine optimization that comes with trading blog links with that blogger. Include keywords in your anchor text for your link, too.

Swap Newsletter Articles

If the idea of trading content seems great, think about the possibility of trading newsletters with other people who focus on the same topics as you. When you’re visiting other blogs, find out if they post their newsletter issues to their blogs. Then you’ll also have the added benefit of a backlink and continuous traffic.

Team Up to Promote

If you offer a similar product or service offered by another marketer, consider swapping product links with them on your download or thank you pages. You could also see if the marketer would be interested in using their affiliate link to direct traffic to your product sales page.

This is a great way to draw responsive traffic. When people have already made a purchase of one product, they could still be in the mood to buy more.

Trade Links on Your Confirmation Pages

Subscription confirmation pages are another great place to trade links. You may also consider trading endorsements in the welcome emails you send to new subscribers.

Consider Joint Mailings

If you sell physical merchandise, look for other marketers who sell related physical goods as well. Request that they include a flyer advertising your products with any shipment they send out, and offer to do the same for them.

You can find marketers that sell large quantities of products similar or related to your own on sites like EBay.

Offer to Interview Marketers

Some of the larger marketers in your niche may not agree to some of the other suggestions we’ve gone over, especially if you are still an unknown in the blogosphere and have a small amount of traffic.

They may be open to the idea of being interviewed, though, maybe via teleseminar. If they’re keen on the idea, they may help with advertising your interview, which means more free traffic for you!

Don’t forget to mention your website during the interview, ensuring additional traffic long after the interview has been recorded.

Co-Author Articles

Another option to consider is writing an article with another marketer. You can write an article together about tips that focus on your niche. You’ll both benefit from the additional traffic when they post it to their blog and mention it to followers.

Make Rebrandable Reports

With tools like ViralPDF.com, you can get traffic sent to you when you create rebrandable reports. This means allowing others to change the affiliate links in a report you create. Then, anyone distributing that report will have the chance to make money on the backend.

By implementing some, or all, of these simple techniques, you’ll see a greater boost in your Internet traffic and in less time. This will save you plenty of time and money, just by using the traffic generated by another person’s website.

Mind Clearing Techniques That Improve Efficiency

Focus on Exactly What Needs Your Attention

 

Being overwhelmed and having a mental overload is plain crappy. This overload of thoughts produces symptoms that enable you to enjoy your work and sometimes, can even be a lack of motivation to get all the things you need done completed.

 

Learning how to clear your mind is a technique that will increase your focus on precisely what needs your attention at the moment, not only in your work, but also in your life. Simple questions like, “what do I need to get done today?” to the more broad question of  “what is my true calling?” can all be pondered on better when you have a clear mind.

 

It’s typical for people, on a daily basis, to have an endless to-do list, a lot of business on their plate and be left with the feeling of being overloaded.

 

How do you clear your mind so that your brain isn’t cluttered? Here are 5 steps to get you started on clearing your mind so you can focus on the things that need attention the most.

 

1. What do you want to accomplish?

The first step in completing any task or goal is to define exactly what it is you need to get out of it, whether it’s your freelance business, daily tasks, or a grocery store visit. You need to sit down and ask yourself “what do I need or want to accomplish?” and write the details down.

 

It doesn’t matter what the motivation behind it is, whether it’s to feel accomplished, earn money, or if it’s your life goal. Basically, you need to know why you’re doing what you’re doing to ever get to where you want to go. By explaining to yourself why or where you want to be, will give you the clarity you need to get there.

 

2. Make a list

The second step, after deciding what your goal is, is to write a list of ways to accomplish this goal. One helpful tip is to use the 80-20 Rule: You basically write down 20% of your tasks that will help you to achieve 80% of your goals. This method has been proven to be very effective.

 

Try and maintain this list to be as specific as you can possibly make it. The clearer you are, the more your mind will feel at ease. Overall, this is a way to get the thoughts out of your mind and onto paper, so your mind doesn’t have to keep wondering about it.

 

Here are a few brief examples:

 

  • Don’t: get more clients, make more income

 

Do: gain two new clients per month, increase my freelance income by $1,000

 

  • Don’t: get better at designing

 

Do: learn a specific design technique to better my designs

 

  • Don’t: increase my website’s traffic

 

Do: Perform tasks 1 and 2, every other day, every week for x amount of hours

 

3. Write down a list of things that you’ve been doing that are unnecessary

Step three can be daunting since most of us think that the things we do are all necessary. However, if you can sit down and really put some thought into your daily routine, and find areas that are necessary, it can help you tremendously. Tasks that can be labeled as unnecessary are those that seem to be important but actually hold little to no importance when trying to get the things done that you need to do.

 

It’s important, when developing this list, to be completely brutally honest with yourself. If you’re not honest, these simple things can hold you back greatly. A major aspect to clearing your mind is to be effective, not only productive. If you have trouble making this list, take the 80-20 Rule to help you, write down 80% of tasks that are not necessary and that only help with 20% of your desired accomplishments.

 

The main goal of this step is to see where you can give yourself more leeway to do other goal-oriented tasks all the while, clearing up more of your mind. Sometimes these tasks are quite small and go unnoticed until you write them down.

 

4. Perform the essentials

Now is the time to really put the 80-20 Rule into your plan. Taking your list from step 2, complete each of those tasks and stop! These are the tasks that will help you accomplish your clearly stated goal from step 1. This is also where you STOP doing the things you listed from Step 3.

 

It may be hard to completely quit the things you listed from step 3, but you have to try, and even if you stop doing one-to-two things at a time, it will help. Face it, we’re all human and life is a total learning experience. The best way to do anything, I have learned, is step-by-step. Start with the smaller things and work your way up, I know it will help you and it will give you encouragement to keep going.

 

5. Now your mind is clearer, better enjoy it!

If you’re using step 4 (which is implementing steps 1-3) you’re on your way to doing less in a day but seeing the same or more results, which therefore, will help you to clear your mind and be able to focus on the things that really need attention.

 

You are now being not only productive but effective.

 

Since you’ve made these lists, defined your goals and are doing away with the unnecessary, you’ll have more time to focus on what needs to be focused on and you’ll be able to enjoy it. When your mind is clear and you’re able to provide attention, other areas of interest will start to be important such as:

 

  • Finding ways to do more of the work you love
  • Improve and expand your business
  • More time for your ideas that have been put on the back burner
  • Learning how to live out the lifestyle you really want
  • And other things you feel are important

 

Clearing the Mind in 5 Steps

 

Much of this technique will be better maximized through trial and error. You must consistently stick with it. To wrap it up, here’s how to clear your mind:

 

1. Define precisely what you want to accomplish

2. Write down the tasks that will help you to succeed your goal

3. Write down everything you’re doing that is unnecessary

4. Begin by performing only the essentials

5. Enjoy a free and clear mind!

 

Have you ever been one to have trouble in clearing your own mind? Do you have any techniques, helpful tips or tools that help to do so? Please share!