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December 26, 2014

Learning the Tricks of the Trade

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What is it worth to you to learn the writing secrets of three successful writers? Would it be useful if you know their tricks of the trade, the elements they use to capture a reader’s attention, captivating them to read on and to be engrossed to the very end of your article? If that’s what you’re looking for, this second segment of Blogging 101 will deliver that in spades. It will provide the real tips and tricks of the trade provided by Carl Weiss, Robert Kaye and myself, successfully published writers and authors all. So get comfy and dig in to read Working the Web to Win’s “Learning the Tricks of the Trade — Part 2 of Blogging 101.”

My colleagues at Working the Web to Win put together their best tips and tricks for this article. All of us write unique content every week and also ghost write for clients on a regular basis. I’ll start with Carl’s tips as this is where my search began. When I asked Carl his best Tricks of the Trade, he provided these:

Carl’s Top Tips & Tricks

Carl’s No. 1 tip — Create a “Killer Title.” “Without a great title, most people won’t read any further,” he says. There is no question that if you can’t gain the reader’s attention, they won’t even scan your article at all (unless they already like you as an author). For example, a clever title on one of Carl’s articles reads: “Has Google Given Everyone the Bird with its Pigeon Update?”

Carl’s No. 2 tip — “Make them an offer they can’t refuse in the opening paragraph.” If the title gets them interested, the opening paragraph must follow suit. The importance of the opening cannot be understated. Here you make a compelling promise to your audience. Or you can “tease them” to read on and by actually inviting them to continue their journey of discovery with you.

Carl’s No. 3 tip — Provide a “Quirky Conclusion.” If you have read any of Carl’s articles, you know he likes to get back to his opening premise and come full circle with a quirky punchline at the end. A great example would be his article “How to Survive a Big Mac Attack.” His play on words between Apple (i.e., Mac computers) being hacked and McDonald’s trade name is clever. He ends the article with the following “quirky conclusion”: “There is still one tough question that begs to be answered.  As with any Big Mac Attack … ‘Do you want fries with that?’”

Carl’s No. 4 tip — “Always include a video that directly ties into your story.” Carl loves videos and for good reason. Most people would rather watch a video than read all the details. With this in mind, adding a video with a direct tie in to your blog instantly adds more “stickiness.” He further states that if the video features unique content produced by you or is about your product or service, it enhances your credibility. However, make sure that it has a direct tie to your subject.

Robert Kaye’s Primary Trick of the Trade

Robert’s No. 1 tip — “Do your research, make sure your facts are correct, and that you’re providing quality information.” You always want to ensure your information is accurate and useful. People like opinions, but they love the facts more. Also, always give other writers and authors credit when quoting their material. Providing direct hyperlinks is a good habit, too.

Robert’s No. 2 tip — “Make sure the article is visually appealing, good images are very important.” He will scour the web looking for the right picture and/or image that completes and complements his verbiage in the article. Photographs, images, painting, cartoons, etc., are “eye-candy” for the written word. They’re the frosting on the cake, an element that begs you to take another bite.  Robert also emphasizes that, just like using someone else’s quotation and properly attributing it, you should also list photo credits for any images you post in your blog.

Roberts’ No. 3 tip — “Make sure you provide ample subheads and compelling, pithy pull quotes throughout the article.” Bolded Subheads and Pull Quotes add eye-catching elements that compel readers to dig into the following paragraphs. They also help break up the text, giving it some “breathing room.” By spreading these elements throughout your articles, you lead the reader from idea to idea, all the way to the end, while at the same time adding to the overall visual appeal to article and providing additional “white space.”

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Robert also likes to add humor when it’s appropriate. By adding a little humor here and there with a compelling quote, pun, limerick, joke, or anecdotal story, you relax the readers and allow them to continue on with their literary journey. Robert also likes to use alliterations, onomatopoeias, as well as rhymes.

Hector’s Tricks… if You Want to Call Them That

Now for my tips. First, I agree with Carl’s and Robert’s tips. They’re all very important and should not be left out of your blog. These first eight elements are so very important that if you left them out, my four elements would be reduced in value significantly, cutting your audience size by probably two thirds.

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My No. 1 tip — Do not to trick people. Provide focused, high-quality content and deliver it to your targeted audience. Don’t sway far from the focus of your core subject/s, it tends to confuse the audience. Don’t forget to include relevant keywords throughout the article. Make sure you have others proof and edit your articles not only for grammar and spelling issues, but also to ensure your content is consistent, flows well and is on-track. Blogging buddies can be a big help here. Also make certain you use the best writing tools you can afford and always strive to improve the quality of your work.

My No. 2 tip — Include multimedia elements such as videos, podcasts, animated GIF, pictures, etc. Carl likes videos and Robert likes great graphics, but they only make up two of the available elements you can add. Podcasts have great appeal today, plus you can also add animated gif files, animated videos, and slides shares. Make sure you provide credit to the people and places you found the multimedia elements. If the elements you add are of your own creation, you’ll get bonus points from your audience.

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My No. 3 tip — Make sure you include a call to action at the end of your article. Ask the reader to search your blog for similar articles, ask them to share this article on social media. Ask them to leave a comment or sign up for your free eBook, or whatever kind of offer that would be compelling to your audience.

My No. 4 tip — Always include links to your previous articles. Of course you have to make sure that you’re doing so in a non-deceptive way. Your links must be relevant, topic-appropriate, and fit into the context and flow of your article. Trying to trick the search engines ― or worse, your readers ― by adding inappropriate links is like slapping your audience in the face. It will hurt your credibility.

My No. 5 tip — Always thank your audience and invite them back. It never ceases to amaze me how many authors don’t provide this simple courtesy. Be grateful and gracious to your audience. They are the most important factor for your article. Without your audience, you have nothing, “a billboard in the deserts of cyberspace” or worse, fire-starting material for someone’s next cook out. Saying “thank you” fulfills an important psychological need in us all. Make sure you give thanks… I guarantee you’ll thank me for telling you to do so.

That’s my opinion; I look forward to hearing yours.


Hector Cisneros is the president and COO for W Squared Media Group LLC. A digital Marketing Agency in the N.E. Florida Area. He is also the co-host of the BlogTalkRadio Show Working The Web To Win. W Squared Media also does Business as Working The Web To Win online and in Florida.