Writing Tip of the Week 22

Don’t get left behind with what is hot in the publishing industry. Read the latest best-sellers to see just what publishers’ are interested in right now and plan your writing to tie in with those hot, topical works of fiction. Whilst you should never emulate, if there is a trend brewing, you can be one step ahead of other writers.

Writing Tip of the Week 21

Writing can be pretty isolating especially if those around you have no interest in your creative pursuits. Get a writing buddy by joining a local writing group, college class or by setting up an ad on a writing forum. Your buddy doesn’t have to live in the same area but you can inspire each other by email. You can even do joint projects together if your styles compliment each other and this can really spur you on to great things creatively.

Writing Tip of the Week 20

Self Promotion is vital if you wish your novel to succeed. Finding a unique angle that can bring your novel before the masses is crucial but not easy.  It can help if you develop a strategy using your own strengths and experiences so that you feel comfortable and confident with any angle that you take.

Create a fan page on Facebook, use Twitter profusely and make any other social networking sites work for you. Once you start getting the word out about your novel, this process will really start to become easier. Use the local press to help promote your creative venture, get interviewed, talk loudly and proudly about why people should read your book.

Eventually, people will start to listen.

Writing Tip of the Week 19

You can think and plan your writing, create wonderful complex plots and imaginative characters, but there is no substitute for the actual art of writing. You need to write, write, write each and everyday if you wish to become successful.

Why Anchor Text Could Be The Most Important Aspect Of SEO

Copyright (c) 2011 Lee Dobbins

Anchor text is perhaps one of the most important aspects of
Search Engine Optimization but it is also one of the least talked
about.

This one element of SEO is important to understand because it can
help your page get ranked for a target keyword and also help you
evaluate your competition more precisely.

The latter is critical and, in fact, if you don’t take anchor
text backlinks into proper consideration when looking at the
competition for a keyword you could be missing out on some hidden
gems that are easy to rank for.

What Is Anchor Text?

Anchor text is the hyperlinked text you see on a webpage. It is
the visible words that you can click to take you to another page.
Anchor text html code looks like this: <xmp><a
href=”Your” _mce_href=”http://www.yoursite.com”>Your”>http://www.yoursite.com”>Your Anchor Text</a></xmp>

On most websites, you typically see this as blue text that is
underlined and when you click on it with your mouse, you are
taken to the corresponding url.

How Bloggers Use Anchor Text

Bloggers and website owners use anchor text naturally to point to
other pages on their website as well as pages on other sites that
they find relevant to what they are blogging about. You’ve
probably even done this yourself when writing a post where you
referenced another post on your site, an affiliate product or
even a post on another site.

Usually a blogger will use a phrase that indicates what the page
is about in the anchor text, as opposed to a url, so that the
sentence reads correctly.

The anchor text in these links helps both the visitor and the
search engine spiders figure out what the ‘linked to” page is
about.

How Search Engines Use Anchor Text

Search engines use anchor text to help them figure out what the
hyperlinked page is about. So, as you can see, getting anchor
text backlinks with relevant phrases in the anchor text is pretty
important if you want the search engines to rank you for a
particular keyword phrase.

In fact, anchor text is such an important factor in ranking a
page that pages can rank for a keyword phrase even when that
phrase does not appear in the url on on the page!

There are several cases where this has happened, but perhaps the
most famous is where the Adobe Reader download page ranked #1 for
the search term “click here” for many years even though those
words were nowhere on the page. So many people had linked to that
page using the anchor text “click here” that it got to the #1
spot without any on page SEO for the term.

Search engines place a large importance on external anchor text
(links coming in from other sites) and some importance on
internal anchor text (links from within your own site) when
ranking a page so it stands to reason that you should make
getting anchor text backlinks with your target keyword phrases a
priority.

One important thing to note is that it is widely thought that if
two links on the same page target the same url, that only the
first link is counted by Google so you want to be sure that you
use your desired anchor text in that first link.

How Anchor Text Is Important When Judging Competition For A
Keyword

If you think about how important anchor text is to the search
engines when determining ranking for a keyword, then it’s easy
to see why it is a critical component of analyzing the
competition for a particular keyword phrase.

Google even provides you with a search operator to do this –
the allinanchor operator. You can use it by typing the following
into the google search bar:

Allinanchor:”your keyword phrase”

This will return the pages which have anchor text pointing to it
that contain the quoted keyword phrase.

I hope you can see how powerful this is – first of all, Google
must think it is an important element of a page because it
provides the allinanchor operator. Just the existence of the
operator would seem to indicate that it uses the anchor text when
deciding what a page is about and ranking it.

Secondly, using this operator will show you which pages are
optimizing for your chosen keyword phrase!

It makes sense that only the pages that have anchor text
backlinks with your phrase are the ones optimizing for it so you
can forget about searching for your phrase in quotes or any of
that non-sense.

Not only that but, you can take a look at the actual backlinks
for each of your competitors and see how many of them have that
anchor text and what the strength of those links are to make a
more educated guess as to how difficult they will be to beat out
for that top spot.

Anchor Text “Best Practices” For Your Website

Now that you know how important anchor text is to your rankings,
I’m sure you will want to pay more attention to it in your SEO
efforts but you don’t want to go hog wild and create tons of
anchor text backlinks all with the same keyword phrase or you
might find that your efforts don’t yield the results you want.

Here are some things to consider:

1. Vary Your Anchor Text – We all know that Google prefers it
when people link to you naturally and when that is the case, they
don’t all use the same anchor text. So, when you are linking to
your site from your articles or web2.0 properties you want to
make sure you don’t always use the same phrase as well. Using
your target phrase in about 50% – 60% of the links is probably a
good idea.

2. Links From Relevant Pages – For the best results, you want
your anchor text backlinks to come from pages that are related to
the topic because this is what would happen naturally if people
were linking to you because you had great content it would most
likely be from a blog post on the same topic.

3. First Link On Page – Don’t forget that Google only counts
the anchor text from the first link that it sees so if you will
have more than one link to the same url on a page, act
accordingly.

4.Plan For Natural Linking – There’s nothing better than
having people just naturally link to one of your posts but, of
course, you can’t control the anchor text they use when they
do. Since most people will naturally use your headline as anchor
text, you want to be sure to consider that when coming up with
the title for your blog posts.

Anchor text is crucial to both your SEO efforts as well as when
analyzing the competition for a keyword phrase. Taking the time
to use it properly can be the difference between ranking in the
top 3 and not ranking at all so it’s in your best interest to
start putting better anchor text practices to use in your
business today!
About The Author:
Anchor text backlinks play a key role in SEO.  Get a free copy of
Lee’s”Website Promotion Blueprint Guide” to get more website
traffic: http://hypertracker.com/go/leedobbins/PhantomWriters/.

Read More Articles From Lee Dobbins:
http://thephantomwriters.com/recent/author/lee-dobbins.html

Writing Tip of the Week 18

It’s easy for a writer to become too introverted and staring at the same four walls can be detrimental to the whole creative process. If you start to feel stale then take yourself out for the day and visit somewhere new but don’t switch off your creative thoughts, instead soak up your surroundings like a sponge and recharge your batteries.

Make a mental note of the people that you see, events that occur and absorb the scenery. You can even try creating little fictional plots as you enjoy your day. Any ideas that you get may well come in useful for when back at your desk but most of all you will feel mentally refreshed and ready to start writing again.

Writing Tip of the Week 17

 If you are having a bad day with your writing, the words won’t come and every page is painstakingly hard, it’s very easy to be tempted  to discard your work, but resist that compulsion and simply put your writing away for another day. On a bad day, your perception of the standard may well be tainted and you will be particularly hard on yourself.

On another day when reviewing that material, you may be pleasantly surprised by how good your work actually is. Plus, as you had a reason for writing that material previously why not make use of the content? Re-write it, edit it or  simply use snippets from it, and see how you feel on a day when the creative process is flying. Remember- no writing is ever wasted.

Writing Tip of the Week 16

Want to know how to capitalise on your hobbies and interests? It’s simple. Choose the subject that you know most about or are most interested in and create a long list covering every aspect of your chosen subject. From this you will be able to see just how much knowledge you have and what information you could write about.

Having passion for a subject means that you can share this knowledge with other like-minded people. To some, you will be an expert simply through your experiences. As long as you have researched and double-checked your information before writing and submitting for publication, you could find that you have carved out an exciting little niche for yourself.

Writing Tip of the Week 15

How many times has devine inspiration suddenly appeared out of the blue? That perfect idea, the perfect character, a plot that sizzles with so many twists and turns that it takes your breath away? But how typical that you are in the middle of a family dinner or at work,submerged in a sea of paperwork or perhaps your children are asking you to push them harder and higher on the swings.

 You may want to commit your idea to memory and believe that you will remember this idea once you are back at home but don’t take that chance. Good ideas can come and go in a flash. It only takes a moments distraction before your memory starts to fade and before you know it, it’s vanished or you are left with a mere shell of a plot.

Why not carry a little notebook with you when you are out? Or if you prefer, invest in a dictaphone. It needn’t take you long to scribble down the essence of your idea but you will be very glad that you did. Remember, that one idea could be the latest best-seller and it could seal your fate as the next great writer.

Ideas are precious. Store yours for when you have time to indulge them.

Some Thoughts on Speciality Blogging

Copyright (c) 2011 Enzo F. Cesario

Blogging is held up in many circles as the epitome of the
personal project. Blogs are praised for their focus on the
personality of the blogger, the flexibility of the medium (text
only, vlog, podcast) and the relatively limitless topics that can
be blogged on.

Given that the division of labor allows for the formation of
specialized approaches, it shouldn’t be a surprise that niche
and specialty blogs have become part of this great journalistic
movement. There are blogs covering all manner of specialties,
from arts and craft-focused publications to hard-hitting
diatribes on the political situation in foreign hotspots. The
powers of SEO and keyword writing allow these blogs to stand out
to their intended audiences during searches, so clearly all that
remains is for the next blogging genius to unleash his
specialized knowledge upon the world, yes?

Well, as ever, the situation is perhaps slightly more complex
than that, and for good reason. Let’s have a look at some of the
pros and cons alike of dedicating a blog to a particular topic.

The Sublime

There is something very satisfying in reading a well-crafted blog
on a particular subject when it’s put out by a skilled and
well-versed master of that topic. A specialized blog is more than
single mindedness when done properly — it is a treasure house of
many varied gems.

A genuine expert writing a specialty blog is what really makes
the medium come alive, in fact. It’s one thing to simply have
anyone writing about something they care about and focusing on
that topic. Having someone who knows it, who “groks” it as
Heinlein would say, means that the blog can cover the various
shades in between the obvious postings.

As an example, consider a blog focusing on the latest in board
games (and if you think gaming of all sorts isn’t a topic worth
considering, you haven’t seen Steve Jackson Games’ 2010
shareholder report, in which they posted $3.5 million in gross
earnings). Our gaming blog, written by an interested observer
rather than an expert, could cover the major releases for the
year. Big gaming companies like Wizards of the Coast, Steve
Jackson Games, Battlefront and so forth could be profiled, the
occasional interview with a game designer could be featured,
trade shows could be reported on. It would be nice and
informative, and safe for all those reasons.

A genuine expert in game publication and game theory, on the
other hand, could get into the subtleties of game mechanics. They
could explain how a certain game is literally impossible to play
properly because of bad designs in the rules, or illustrate how a
new game just released takes all the problems inherent in a
timeless classic and makes a much better game of it. Rising stars
in the independent development industry could be pointed out and
brought to greater prominence.

Basically, the blog would look very similar, but would have many
varying shades of interest and subtlety between the more common
flavor of post, allowing for so much more interaction and
engagement with the material.

The Unfortunate

Specialization is, by necessity, also exclusive. Choosing to
specialize in a particular topic to any degree automatically
alienates a set of readers not interested in that specialization.
So while a specialty blog can allow an expert to really
illustrate the varying shades and joys inherent in their favorite
topic, each level of focus it dives into cuts away that much more
of an audience — and readers are certainly not an infinite
resource.

Again, take our gaming blog: Gaming as a whole topic is fairly
broad, encompassing video games, board games, roleplaying games,
casual games, serious-hardcore games and so forth. And yes, there
is a certain amount of overlap; many people enjoy playing games
of all sorts, so a blog about any one of them isn’t going to
outright sever all connection with the others.

However, there are people who are interested in some things, but
not others. Focusing a blog on RPGs and not video games
eliminates a major portion of the gaming crowd (RPGs haven’t
been the largest contender in the gaming market in more than a
decade now). There is a lot to talk about in roleplaying game
development, of course — but it will never approach the scale of
video game development as a market, and thus any blog about it is
never going to attract the same degree of attention.

So, what to about it.

There is fortunately a very clear answer: Do what you can do
best. If you know your niche, and are confident you can make it
work, try it. Start right now, put up that first post, and begin
shopping around for good keywords, listing your blog in
directories and promoting gently on social media networks. You
will never have success if you don’t try. If, on the other hand,
you feel more comfortable taking a generalist approach,
understand that this isn’t bad. There are many readers out
there, and a general approach to blogging can bring them in. And
if you start wide, there’s nothing to say you cannot drill down
to a more specific angle later.
About The Author:
Enzo F. Cesario is an online branding specialist
and co-founder of Brandsplat, a digital content
agency. Brandsplat creates blogs, articles, videos
and social media in the “voice” of our client’s
brand. It makes sites more findable and brands more
recognizable. For the free Brandcasting Report go to
http://www.BrandSplat.com/ or visit our blog at
http://www.iBrandCasting.com/

Read More Articles From Enzo F. Cesario:
http://thephantomwriters.com/recent/author/enzo-f_-cesario.html

Writing Tip of the Week 14

Hoping to have some quality writing time on your next day off? Excited by the prospect of hours of creativity? Don’t waste a minute. Have your plans in place and a mass of writing topics, projects and stimulus ready just in case your creative spirit begins to flag. This could be photos for inspiration, first lines of published books or even a series of What If’s. You could even use any writing competition to give you inspiration whether you plan to submit or not. Providing you are well prepared, you will be able to enjoy the creative process and feel satisfied that you have made the most of your writing time.

Good Press: Promoting Your Blog

Copyright (c) 2011 Enzo F. Cesario

There are numerous ways to get a blog noticed and mentioned online. Some are good and others are atrocious. We’re all aware of “that guy” who simply joins conversations online and says, “Wow, that’s interesting. Hey, have you read my blog about…” Sometimes the blog covers the topic being discussed — but usually it doesn’t. Sometimes our “friend” doesn’t even go to the trouble of actually even trying to comment on the conversation and simply spams his blog’s links everywhere he can, hoping someone somewhere will accidentally click the link instead of the block button.

So how do we avoid becoming “that guy?” The blog needs promoting; blogs that people don’t know about don’t get read… it’s as simple as that. But there are polite ways to promote your blog in an active sense without becoming a blog-spamming troll.

Directories
There are a number of website and blog-specific directories out there. Most of us are familiar with these, so a short summary is all I’ll include here. In essence, these are websites that will host and promote various other sites for a subscription of sorts. Some are ad-supported, others require payment or contracts of a certain period of time. What these do is allow another angle of search engine optimization so that people looking for topics relating to your blog will have more of a chance of finding your hard-written content.

SEO
By now, good SEO practices should be seen as mandatory. Keywords, meta-tags and other good SEO practices will promote your blog for you without ever requiring you to contact anyone. Do it.

However, there is the related, yet not identical, field of topic tagging. Many blogs have an option to tag an article with topics. These don’t necessarily directly relate to SEO results, though in some cases they do get listed. What they do is allow people using the same blogging software to browse based on topics. So if you’re discussing a particular issue or news story, tag it in the categories or topics section, and fellow WordPress or Blogger users might just come across your work.

Social Media
The previous techniques are useful because they don’t require direct interaction with others. They’re based on letting searches promote your work for you. However, nothing in the world beats the personal touch, and there’s nothing more personal than social media. As mentioned above, the personal approach is risky, because people have fickle moods. Not everyone is in the mood to hear about a blog when they’re having a discussion. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be as crass as the above example of our blog-desperate friend.

First, there are online forums. These are a great place to ease into the social media experience. Find a forum or two related to the topic of your blog, and begin participating. When it comes time to create your profile, make sure good content is provided. Provide a short but informative bio about what you do, put keyword relevant tags to your blog in the activities section and make sure your blog is linked in either the website or signature portions of your forum, or both.

These practices, you’ll note, can be repeated on any social media site. Facebook in particular is good for this, as it has a very robust background and biography section to work from.

Once in the forum or social media discussion group, participate actively. Introduce yourself if there is an appropriate place to do so. Mention your blog and what it is about briefly, and then drop it for a while. Drop in on discussions that you feel you have something relevant to contribute to, always being sure to be polite and provide insightful commentary. If you can’t think of something to say, don’t force it.

One good “bridging” method in these cases is using your fellow conversationalists’ comments as inspiration for a blog post. Suppose someone brings up a commonly held misconception, or mentions something you genuinely hadn’t thought of before. Write a post about it, and link to that post in the message. Use this technique sparingly — you want to be known for your own unique content, not as a topic-miner. However, when done politely and genuinely, this can get people interested in speaking with you and reading what you have to write.

Habits and Practices
Those paying attention will see that this is a process, not a “step.” Blog promotion is an activity that takes time to properly cultivate and is very easy to get wrong. The steady and measured approach is the best way to avoid taxing peoples’ patience — pushing too hard will get you flagged for spam or banned, which results in a bad reputation.

Getting readers to come to a blog is like developing any good relationship. Businesses tend to thrive on repeat customers rather than one-time visitors, and a blog is the same way. You want a loyal readership? Show them you’re trustworthy and friendly before they ever show up. You aren’t going to be able to force interest — either it is there or it isn’t. Do your blog a favor and remove the roadblocks of over eagerness by accepting the long-term view of solid promotion.

About The Author:
Enzo F. Cesario is an online branding specialist and co-founder of Brandsplat, a digital content agency. Brandsplat creates blogs, articles, videos and social media in the “voice” of our client’s brand. It makes sites more findable and brands more recognizable. For the free Brandcasting Report go to http://www.BrandSplat.com/ or visit our blog at http://www.iBrandCasting.com/

Plan Your Writing Day

by Annette Young

Over the years, I have tried and tested many different ways to enable myself to be more productive with my writing. From getting up at some unearthly hour and hoping that the creative part of my brain would kick into gear, to writing at lunchtimes (squeezing in as much writing as I could whilst working full-time ) to dedicating myself to the writing process just at weekends. Initially it was difficult to make myself sit down to write on demand but after a while, this approach worked-most of the time anyway because there were some days where I really struggled to find the right words. I even used reward tactics when I had successfully completed a difficult project, and this helped when I was working on writing projects that in my mind were deadly dull.

I came to the conclusion that the words are always there if you search for them hard enough but on sometimes, it’s a case of digging deep and pulling them out one by one. Surprisingly though, these can be times when the results are of a high standard and there is a greater sense of satisfaction at having persevered. One thing that I have found works for me is that  I enjoy the process of writing down thoughts and potential ideas in a notebook (the latest is a glorious red hand-stitched fabric) and there i can collate the jumble of ideas that are mulling around in my mind at any one time, and assemble them in some type of working order. Using something so precious, means I get great pleasure about writing on the handmade paper pages and feel satisfied when my creative to-do list is pretty much fulfilled.

At a weekend, when I’m always less inclined to get into work mode, I write my notes the night before so that I can review them and refresh my memory in the morning and this triggers my inspiration to get on and get my head down. This might not work for everyone but if you are a bit like me, have a mass of ideas, are prone to being distracted, feel very lazy at times, then, creating a list of tasks to be completed just might be the way forward for you. Remember that to succeed in writing, you have to find what works for you. Play to your strengths but recognise your weaknesses and you will generally be far more productive and successful.

10 Ways to Boost Writing Potential

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Writing Tip of the Week 11

If you wish to be a productive and successful writer, don’t just start writing the moment an idea pops into your mind, let the idea germinate for a while first. Daily household chores can be a bore but if you let your imagination run riot during those times, play with your initial idea and tease it into growth, you will be maximising your creativity plus creating a more solid storyline as a result.

Writing and Motivation

Writing and motivation go hand in hand and if you really wish to succeed in your writing, you have to learn how to push yourself even when writing is the last thing you feel like doing. We all have days when writing motivation is non existent, you slept poorly, have personal problems to chew over, the neighbour’s children are screaming and your head is crashing etc but even during those times, you have to learn to dig deep and rise to the challenge, effectively blocking out all external distractions.

Any writing motivation has to come from within and it’s dependent on how much you desire getting published and making your name known within writing circles. It’s not easy to stay motivated, there are days when I really don’t want to even switch the laptop on, let alone do any work but in my case, fear of missing deadlines and an inner need to write make me step up to the mark. I also need to plan my writing day the night before as if left to the morning, I would simply procrastinate.

If you really struggle to find your writing motivation, get out of the house, take a notebook and pen and go for a walk. Taking in a bit of fresh air and a change of scenery is sometimes all that is needed to clear the cobwebs from your brain and you can make notes every now and then if inspiration strikes – and it will.

I have found that often the mundane hampers creativity. We start the day with good intent but the distractions start flooding in, the phone that doesn’t stop ringing, the jobs that need to be done around the house and before you know it, distraction has won and your writing motivation has come to a grinding halt. How many times have you said, I’ll do my writing later? If you feel guilty about letting time and opportunity pass you by, you’re not alone but it is up to you to change that as no one else can do it for you.

The best way to accelerate your writing and motivation is to really consider what you want to achieve, write it down and even shout it from the rooftops and once you found the creative driving force within, make the most of it and start writing each and every day.

Writing Tip of the Week 7

Music has a way to inspire and it has the power to stimulate the creative mind. Next time you are struggling to write with deep emotion, play any songs that evoke an emotional response and watch how the words begin to flow afterwards.