Blog Entries, Writing

Why Your Content Should Pack an Emotional Punch

When you’re writing content online, you can write it in such a way that it sounds very factual and impersonal. Or, you can write in a way that really packs an emotional punch.

By and large, most small publishers will do better with the latter approach. Of course, if you’re starting a website like Wikipedia or WebMD you’ll probably want to take on a professional tone. However, if you’re a smaller website looking to gain traction, you’ll want to aim to engage your reader’s emotions.

aman-shrivastava-224529
Photo by Aman Shrivastava on Unsplash

Why?

It Makes People Remember You

People browse dozens if not hundreds of websites every day. Most websites fail to draw their readers in emotionally.

How many websites do you visit each day that gets you to laugh, gets you to feel touched or gets you to get angry about something? How often do you feel like a website is talking directly to you and your problems and that they understand where you’re coming from?

These kinds of websites stand out. There’s a reason why YouTube videos of shocking clips, funny clips or touching clips tend to get passed around a lot. They make people feel something, and that’s memorable.

It Gets You More Links

Content that evokes a lot of emotion tends to get linked to a lot more. Naturally, people are a lot more likely to want to share or endorse something that really got them riled up.

It gets more shares on Facebook and gets more retweets. In other words, it has a higher chance of getting passed around immediately, but also has much stronger long-term potential.

Develop a Stronger Reader Relationship

Finally, emotional content will help you build a much stronger bond with your readers.

People reading your content will feel like they can relate with you, as opposed to feeling that you’re just an objective website on the internet.

This translates to people coming back more often, to a more lively community around your blog or business and finally to more loyal buyers and customers.

As an added benefit, people will also want to partner with you more. If they can tell you’re really passionate about something or that you have a way of being able to move an audience, they’re likely to want to invite you to speak at their events, do teleseminars for their audience and in general open up their customer base to you.

There are many benefits to creating content with an emotional punch rather than just factual information. Adding a dose of personality is great for just about any small to medium sized business. Unless you’re trying to build an encyclopedia-type site, try to make your website as emotionally engaging as possible.

Flash Fiction, Writing

Flash Fiction: Hazel and the Dog Man: Love in an Instant

I felt lonely.  I felt depressed.  I felt dejected.  The sun shone brightly, but I wished for rain to hit my face so I could hide the tears that never fell, anyway.  The tangible man left me alone, again, like he always did. He didn’t understand my grind.

Then, a sliver of hope announced itself, quietly.  In the afternoon.

matt-briney-282540
Photo by Matt Briney on Unsplash

 

He walked along the concrete sidewalk beside the Bay and a small leashed dog trotted obediently alongside.  He walked with a dancer’s grace and an athlete’s control.  His flip-flops slapped against his heels and a breeze rustled the palm tree that separated us.  He strolled with the vitality of youth because he couldn’t be old enough to shave, yet, could he?

Beige board shorts, and a black tank top.  Sun-bleached hair.  Ray-Bans.  Tanned skin. The dog wore a fluffy white coat in the summer breeze.  

The man caught me watching him.

I felt bold.  “He’s so cute.  What’s his name?”  I asked, pointing down at the dog.  

Her name is Hazel.  My girlfriend’s dog.  She has a thing for Watership Down. I don’t know.”  His voice drifted off.  He had no idea the significance of Hazel’s name.

Hazel’s paws touched my knee and I squatted down to her level.  I rubbed her cottony head and the tiny pink tongue touched my fingers. So expectant and so deserving in the same instant.  Her dark eyes scrutinized me and she smiled.

“What breed is she?” I asked.  Not quite a poodle.

“Bichon Frise.  I don’t know.”  

I talked to the dog.  “Hello, Hazel.  You are a sweet puppy!”  Her tailed waved.

She glanced quickly at the man on the other end of the tether that held them together.  Expectation crossed her face. I scratched under her chin and the tail waved far more vigorously.  The man reached down and unclipped the leash.  He pulled a blue ball from his pocket and he sailed it into the air.  “Get it, Hazel,”  and white fur was off a second later, tires screeching on the start line.

The ball bounced once and Hazel jumped up to catch it.  She ran back to the man, ball in her teeth, laughing as only a dog can.  Her tail wagged furiously, eager for another run.  The man threw the ball, again.  Hazel caught it before it hit the ground.

“She’ll do that all day.  I don’t know.,”  he said.  

Hazel dropped the ball at my feet and I picked up the slimy toy and tossed it as far as I could.  Twice, three times, I threw the ball.  The man grew restless.  I gave him the ball and he scooped the little dog up in his arms, spun around to return the way he came.

I hope I see Hazel, again.  I smiled watching her fluffy tail wag as the man carried her away, no more thoughts of rain clouding my day.

Ready for more Flash Fiction:

The Road Construction Worker:  Love in an Instant

 

Flash Fiction

Flash Fiction: The Road Construction Worker: Love in an Instant.

Love can happen in an instant.  Many times I have fallen in love, the affair lasting only moments or a few precious minutes. Like this story.

matthew-hamilton-159691
Photo by Matthew Hamilton on Unsplash

He stood on the road holding one of those signs that commanded drivers to stop. Six feet tall, with dirty well-fitting jeans and a faded t-shirt hidden by a Day-Glo yellow don’t-hit-me vest.  His brown work boots were scuffed and worn from months or years standing on the road, holding a sign.  Or maybe he did real work and that day his turn came up to catch a break.

I was the first in line, waiting for the signal to proceed, but the sign refused to allow forward movement.  It forced me to pause and assess my environs.

Slowly, he turned his face in my direction. He smiled at me revealing bright white teeth.  Eyes made out of blue crystals sparkled in the sun.  I opened my car window and said, “Good morning.”

“It won’t be long, Ma’am.”  he responded, the southern twang adding romance and color to his voice.  The sound of his voice alone told me the story of his life.

I imagined him in a small house in the woods. Pickup in the dirt drive, dirty boots left by the door, feeding two dogs, neither with any sign of pedigree, eating the hamburger he bought on the way home, popping open the can of beer to wash it all down, turning on the news, propping his feet on the coffee table, settling in for the evening.  Unencumbered by the pressures of life.

No responsibilities at work to weigh heavily on his shoulders, to wrinkle his features.  Just hold the sign.  Turn it around.  Shampoo, rinse, repeat.

I imagined him in another job.  Print ad model wearing the same clothes and holding a sign to direct the traffic of people to the store to buy jeans or signs.  Or perhaps the poster boy for the road department.  Watch out for the working class while you drive through the construction zone.

Regretfully, he spun the sign around.  He touched the brim of his yellow hard hat that covered most of his short dark hair and said, “Have a good day, Ma’am.”  He talked to me.  He noticed me.

I drove forward among Bob’s Barricades, asphalt trucks, more men in don’t-hit-me vests.  The love affair ended because I drove away from it, like all my other love affairs.  Involved for just a few moments and then forward into my life.  

I smiled all the way to work that day.

Blog Entries, Writing

Why Content is Still King

Long before the internet was invented, the defining axiom in print was that “content is king.” Today, where online content dominates print content, many of the world’s top SEO and web marketing experts still say that “content is king.”

Why is this the case? That even after decades, no matter the medium, content is still the crux of good marketing?

michal-parzuchowski-227671
Photo by Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash

It’s What Builds Loyalty

Businesses aren’t built on first-time visitors. Companies like the Wall Street Journal don’t make most of their money from people picking up their papers for the first time.

They make money from people who’ve read their content and then decided it was good enough that they either want to purchase again or subscribe to a subscription. If the business had to get a new customer every time in order to get paid, they’d all have gone under by now.

Yet many online publications approach their business that way. Instead of focusing on repeat visitors, they focus on optimizing for search engines so they get more new customers.

At the end of the day, however, the really famous and successful blogs like Huffington Post or TechCrunch ultimately still get most of their traffic from repeat visitors. Yes, search engines love them – but their businesses would be a fraction of what they are today if they didn’t have great content.

The Evolution of Search Engines

For many years Google and other search engines have worked towards making their search results pull up better and better results. They want people who search on their engines to find the best content possible in relationship to what they’re looking for.

As search engines get smarter, marketers who focus primarily on marketing tactics rather than actual content will die away.

Google has proven this repeatedly by continually downgrading the importance of low-quality links and upgrading the importance of usage statistics and other metrics to actually measure the content of a website.

If you build your website around great content while having a decent understanding of basic SEO, your site will flourish. If you put all your attention on SEO and don’t pay much attention to your content, you’ll always be trying to stay one step ahead of the search engines.

The Ability to Sell High Ticket Items

A low quality content website might be able to sell $0.20 clicks via AdSense. But a high quality website could sell $5,000 DVD sets by the hundreds.

Having great quality content allows you to build a relationship with your readers. That relationship allows you to sell any number of things to your readers. From high end items to recurring memberships to one on one coaching, it all starts from having high quality content.

In the long run, only content that really helps people is going to succeed. Content that doesn’t do so is likely to get downgraded more and more as time passes.

Sign up for updates below:

 

 

Writing

7 Passionate Ideas for Passionate Writing

I am a passionate writer.  That doesn’t mean that I write passionate stories, but rather I write passionately.  And what that means is I treat writing like a job.  True, it is a job I love doing and true, I would rather write than work at (something)Mart.  Passion is the critical element in writing.

Karen Writes' Writing Desk

If I write something bad, which happens more often than I care to think about, I have options:  I can delete it, I can put in that “terrible idea” file and maybe use it at a later time, or I can leave it on my desktop to percolate, marinate, season, age like fine wine or sharp cheese.  Maybe after a few days, I will find it is not such a terrible idea after all.

For me writing often reflects the mood I am in at that particular moment.  Like everyone, I have days that are dark and gloomy as the weather during a winter storm or as bright and sunny as the first of spring.  So, if I am gloomy today and I am trying to write a happy scene, it will not work very well.  I wait until the sun comes out, then I write something happy.  That’s not to say that I won’t write on that gloomy day.  I simply write a gloomy scene or spend time writing a reflective journal post.

I have learned recently that holding myself back while writing will never result in good writing.  What I will achieve is superficial and one dimensional.  To have passion in my writing, I have to get emotionally involved with my characters or my topic and not worry about what the neighbors think.  I have to stop writing what others want to read, because whatever I write will appeal to only one person in a thousand.  The other 999 will not be interested, anyway.

Now, for the advice portion of this post:

  1. Strive to be a passionate writer. Dig deep and find the passion that is there, anyway.
  2. Don’t write for an individual, either real or imagined. Find what’s in that deepest part of your heart and write about it.
  3. Don’t let a day go by without writing something, be it a journal entry, or a chapter in a novel that will later get deleted. Write something.  Every day.
  4. Write about the things inside. If it is emotional to you, it will be emotional to someone else.
  5. Use your favorite method to write, whether it is a #2 pencil and a scrap of paper rummaged from the trash pile or (my personal favorite) a keyboard. I prefer the keyboard because I type fast and fairly accurately, so I can get these random ideas down more quickly.  Also, I have began audio recordings while driving in my car or making breakfast.
  6. Write using your own voice. It makes you unique.  In that way, you will stand out from the crowd.  You’ve heard it before.  There is only one you, so don’t try to be someone else.
  7. Read something every day. Reading is an excellent method for improving your own writing because you are learning about sentence structure, plot lines, information that can be used in a story or article at a later day.  Much of what you are learning is on a subliminal, but reading is beneficial to every writer.

Writing 500 words a day doesn’t take that long to do.  Stephen King recommends writing 1000 words a day, although he writes 2000 a day.   But, I am no Stephen King nor am I trying to be him.  Most days, I write more than 500 words.  All I had to do was to turn off the TV (or Netflix or Amazon) and write.  I put down my computer games and then write.  I make time for writing.  I don’t wait for inspiration.  I start writing and then inspiration just happens.

I write passionately.

Fill in the form below to get email updates.

Uncategorized

5 Clever Ways to Name a Character in a Fiction Story

One of the most important aspects of writing fiction is the character’s name.  Often I spend hours or even days pondering over this critical issue.  I spent more time on naming characters than I spent naming my children.  The name has to fit the character’s personality.  Names like Stephanie Plum, Sherlock Holmes, Dirk Pitt fit the characters so well and I hope to do at least that good in naming mine. This is a list of some of the guidelines I use.  I would like to take a moment and point out that NONE of these names belong to anybody I know, so if you try to find yourself in a name, you will be wrong.

carlo-navarro-219810
What would you name your baby?
  1. Bad Guys

The bad guy will have a hard sounding name will have “J”, hard “G”, or “D” sounds.  Think Judge, Garrick, Darth.  While Judge Dred was a good guy, to me that is a perfect bad guy name.  A name that sounds like a crime is a good choice.  One novel I wrote has Arsen Gray, Bad Guy.  How about Killian Kroft?  Aaron Battle, or Lance Pierce

  1. Good Guys

An innocent woman or sweet female character will have a name like Mary Perkins or Sarah Simpkins.  It reminds me of “Babykins” or Lambykins.”  Mary denotes innocence itself.  You will never go wrong naming a mother Mary.  Also, variations of Mary, such as Marie Perkins work or Mariel or Muriel.  Sarah or Sally are good mother’s names.  Ann, Anne, Anna, Hannah are all main character names I like to use for my ladies.

For a good guy, I choose softer sounding names like, Christopher or Matthew.  James is a good guy, as in James Bond.  More good choices are Matthew Holmes, Eli Morning, Chris Shanley, or Christian Erikson.

  1. Heroes

A hero would have to have a heroic sounding name, like Ares, Arthur, Garrett, and Julius, or for the ladies, Artemis, Diana, or Raven.

To name a character, you have to figure out who they are and what they will accomplish.  For example, a male who will save Earth from destruction, but is a complete computer geek, you may try something like Arthur Palmer or Sterling Watson. I often create the back story for a character before I ever name them.  I sometimes use a “working name” until I decide what the character’s name will really be.  When I plug in the new name, I read over what I have written to see if the new name fits a s well as I think it will.

  1. Beautiful People

A beautiful woman needs a beautiful name, like Rose, Lily or any other flower name, or named for a jewel, like Ruby, Beryl, or Jewel.  A very handsome man could be Brian, Daniel, Alexander or (my favorite) Adrian.

What about a beautiful evil woman?  Ruby Pierce or Lily Lance.

  1. Intellects

Brian is a perfect genius’s name because it looks like Brain, or Isaac or Vincent.  And a genius girl could be Margaret, Sage or Alice.

I try to use names that are easy to pronounce and recognizable.  I don’t make up names, even in a Sci-Fi story.  I have seen that too often, where a character has a name that makes you want to buy a vowel.  I have spent way too much time trying to pronounce a name in my head that seemed unpronounceable.  In a novel I am currently working on, the heroine is Kathleen Fouraker and the hero is Christian Shanley.  In another Sci-Fi, I used Regina Sharpe as the heroine and James Thompson as the hero.  If you promised your grandmother that you would name your lead character after a village in Wales, then be kind to your readers and include a pronunciation guide.

The character name is an important story element, so don’t be afraid to give it some serious thought. Google it.  Look up the name’s meaning, its origins.  Say it out loud.  Does it sound hard as diamond or soft as cotton?  Also, if you need to change the character’s name, then do it.  I have changed a name more than once in my stories.

 

Writing

How to Write: Put Your Fingers on the Keyboard and WRITE

100112-Selectric-Element
IBM Selectric Ball
To write something a person has to put pen to paper or, in my case, fingers to keyboard.
I type fast, having learned how to keyboard while in high school.  At that time, I never dreamed I would own a computer.  My big dream was an IBM Selectric–an electric typewriter with a ball instead of keys that got jammed together when I typed too fast.  After years of practice, I can keyboard almost as fast as I think.  Definitely as fast as I can talk.
The ability to type rapidly enables me to get my thoughts in front of me without losing them as new thoughts are processed.

I set aside time to write on my calendar.

By scheduling my time, I know I am going to sit down in front of the keyboard and create something.  That doesn’t mean I sit down to absolutely no idea of what to write.  I always have a general idea of which direction I am going.  I think about my stories or blog articles a lot before I actually show up at the keyboard.  I make notes in my iPhone if something particularly meaty occurs to me.

I don’t always type something meaningful or enlightening.  Often, it is just weird ramblings or several paragraphs in my novel that I can later delete.

The Delete Key

The main key to my writing is my delete key.  I know some writers disagree with that and treat every word they write as if they were chiseled onto a stone table.  For a while, I did, too.  I saved every word instead of deleting until I had a folder chock-a-block full of deleted paragraphs, phrases and chapters.

Delete Key
My DELETE Key

I NEVER went back in to re-read them.  Finally, I stopped saving everything and just delete, delete, delete.  Eventually, after two years of sitting idle and unopened, I deleted my deleted paragraphs folder.

 

I love the process of editing what I write.  How many times have I ran across something in someone else’s novel I am reading that just screams for an edit?  It is almost disappointing to me when what I have written reaches that point where no further editing is necessary.   In fact, the way I start writing when I am working on a novel is to read what I wrote the previous two or three days, edit while reading and then, I allow the ideas flow to add new content.  By the time I reach the end of the first draft, it is a nearly perfectly edited piece.

Let It Rest

Then, I let it rest for several days or even weeks before reading again and checking for additional edits needed.  I have at this point, chucked an entire body of work.  I have rearranged chapters, I have eliminated chapters.  I have even eliminated characters.  Then, I let it rest again.  And so forth until I am satisfied with the end product.
Working from an outline tends to limit my creativity.
I normally write on the fly, having a general idea of where I want the story to go.  It is like flying an airplane by dead reckoning.  I can pinpoint the landing as I get closer to my destination.
Heart-Made-with-an-Airplane-Featured
Write on the fly
Writing

Changing Your Mindset will Help You Build Your Tribe

What is a Tribe?  Simply put, it is a group of people who follow you because what you have to say resonates with them.  And to build a tribe, you have to be willing to change your mindset. alexis-brown-82988Photo by Alexis Brown on Unsplash

Changing your mindset sounds easy, right?  Truth is, people are their own worse enemies.  I know I am.  What I mean is, I wanted to be a writer for the wrong reasons.  I was looking for validation that I am a good writer.  I wanted to be adored.  I wanted people to stop me on the street and ask for my autograph.  It never occurred to me that I write because I must write.

Once I realized the obvious, I knew being a writer who writes is the most important thing to me. I am a writer and have been since I was a child. I am a writer!  What I have to say matters.  aaron-burden-64849Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Changing my mindset became important to me.  Not focusing on HOW MANY are reading what I write, but focusing on doing the best writing of my life.  For ten years (or longer) my goal with writing was feedback from others.  And guess what?  Feedback was slow in coming or non-existent.  Even my kids do not read what I write.  My friends do not read what I write, except for 140 character Twitter messages.  Jesus even said in the Bible at John 4:44,  “Jesus himself, however, bore witness that a prophet has no honor in his own homeland.” (New World Translation 2013 Revision)

Once you know the why of your writing, your mind is freed to write everything–blog posts such as this one, articles, stories, novels.  I write because I must write.

 

 

Exercise

5 Easy Ways to Get Enough Exercise

Exercise is a word that makes many older folks shudder.  Retirement doesn’t mean sitting in a rocking chair in front of the TV for the rest of your life.  Exercise is important to maintain your health during retirement.

Improving your health doesn’t have to include an arduous workout routine.  You don’t have to have special clothes.  You don’t have to have a gym membership where you exercise and sweat your retirement away.

Simply put, to remain (or get) healthy, you must increase your physical activity.  This can be done gradually with a goal to change your behavior not wear yourself out.thomas-hafeneth-244903

Burning just 200 to 300 calories a day through moderate exercise will decrease your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and even some cancers.  You’ll increase your fitness which will lead to greater enjoyment of life.

Activities for Health

Some of the easiest way to increase activity is often over looked.

  • Increase the number of steps you take each day.  That alone will go a long way toward burning calories and exercising muscles.   Buying a pedometer will help you track your steps, but it is not necessary.

Most people over the age of 50 with a sedentary job or life style get between 2000 and 4000 steps a day.  Increasing this is easy.  Every time you go to a store or a restaurant, park away from the front door and walk instead of driving around until you find a spot in the “rock star parking” area.

  • Stand instead of sit.  Standing burns more calories than sitting.  When you talk on the phone, get out of your seat and walk around.  Use even more calories by walking around while you talk.
  • Move around.  Even slow walking burns twice as many calories as sitting..
  • Do household chores.  Catch up on your gardening.  Do minor repairs.  Repaint a wall. Hang decorative wallpaper on a feature wall in your bedroom.  Rearrange the furniture. Organize a closet.  The list is endless of small activities that can burn calories each day.

Keep on Track

The problem with making a determination to get more exercise is that it is too easy to fall into old habits, again.  Long established behavior is difficult to overcome, especially if that behavior is avoiding anything strenuous.

  • Set goals.  Aim low at first.  For example, aim at 5 minutes of walking.  When that goal is achieved, then increase it to 6 minutes. Once you reach your goal, you will be inspired to continue on to the next goal.
  • Monitor your progress.  Recording your physical activities in a diary can help you develop momentum for reaching your goals.  Keep the entries short so keeping the diary doesn’t become a chore. Just record an activity and make note of when you achieve your goal for that day.

Safety First.  The suggestions listed here should be safe for anyone.  Just do a little bit more of what you would normally do.  I am not a doctor and I am not giving medical advice.  Check with your doctor before starting any kind of exercise program to make sure you can safely do it, especially if you have a history or heart problems, osteoporosis or other physical difficulty that could interfere with your activity.

Important:  If you experience worrisome symptoms while exercising, like tightness in your chest, chest pain, a sudden sharp pain in a joint or muscle, or extreme difficulty breathing while exercising contact your doctor immediately.

Photo by Thomas Hafeneth on Unsplash

 

 

 

retirement

6 Convenient (and Unnecessary) Things Many People Can Live Without

It is scary to have to give up something you are used to, but in a successful retirement, it may happen.  In my case, there are a number of things that have to go just so I can make ends meet.  Here are some ideas you may not have thought about .

  • Cable TV:  Cable is something that is pernicious and ever-present in our lives.  The eyes pop open in the morning, the TV goes on.  And we watch whatever is there, almost mindlessly.  But, what if it doesn’t have to be that way?
    • Can you bite the bullet and cancel your cable subscription?  You can buy and inexpensive HD Antenna to receive all the local channels–a one time expense and you still have access to many network channels and your local news.
  • Smart Phone Data Service:  I know this one is a real toughie for many people.  But, can you cut down on the amount of data you are paying for?  If you are now retired, you are probably spending more time at home and you can use WiFi instead of cellular data on your phone.  Or, can you switch to a cheaper cell phone plan?
    • An Internet search will reveal many inexpensive cell phone plans, so do your research and find out which one will work best for you.  You don’t have to spend big buck for Verizon or Sprint when you can get identical service for much less every month.
  • Land Line Phone:  If you have a cell phone, do you really need a land line, too?  Eliminating one or the other will be a savings.
  • Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu:  Are you paying for a streaming service?  Maybe eliminating one or two of them will save you a few dollars each month.  Try it.  Pick one to keep and cancel the rest for a month.  If you really can’t live without them all, then simply turn them back on.
    • I know you just got rid of your cable, so you may be reluctant to give up a streaming service.  Ask yourself how much you actually have to save each month and maybe $10 or $20 will make a huge difference.
  • Magazine Subscriptions:  Is there anything you can read in a magazine that you can’t find on the Internet?  Don’t renew any of your current subscriptions.
  • Books, Movies, Music on line:  You can get books from a library.  You can watch movies on Netflix without buying the latest DVDs.  You can listen to music on streaming services, like Pandora, without having to buy all the latest tunes.
    • I love my local library because I can get books sent directly to my Kindle with my library card.  Not every book is available in ePub format, but you can request them from your library and perhaps within a few months, your book will be downloadable.

Having to find a couple of hundred dollars extra each month has been a challenge, but there are cheaper ways of doing just about everything I do.  It just takes courage.  It takes willingness to change and to make a difference in my own life.

Photo by Didier Weemaels on Unsplash