So, you want to be a blogger. There are lots of steps you need to learn. How long to make your articles. How many internal and external links your article should have. How to write captivating headlines to get attention. For example:
Tips to Becoming a Better Blogger
How Drinking Beer for Breakfast Super Charges Your Writing Creativity!
And of course, how using keywords like “Kardashian” and “Lottery Secrets” always attracts attention, even if you’re writing about your city’s water use ordinances.
Today, I’m writing about an even more baseline blogging tip that even Kim Kardashian would be proud of. <— Notice how easily I worked in my keyword?!
Today’s Big Tip: The Importance of Reading to Improve Your Blogging
Hey, if you want to have stuff to write about, you need to keep up with the world. And that means reading both off-line and on-line articles, whether it be today’s newspaper or blogs and news sites. Today, I’m concentrating on the on-line part of the equation. Reading improves your blogging habits by doing the following for you:
- It inspires you to write in the first place.
- It gives you ideas on subjects to write about.
- If you’re not in the mood to write but need to, you can at least provide commentary on another blog story, using excerpts in your own story. A bit lazy, but perfectly acceptable to get you through those writer’s block moments.
- It helps you find out what the “hot” stories are right now to blog about.
- It exposes you to a whole range of writing styles that you may want to emulate or mash-up into your own.
This will be more of a how-I-work lesson, rather than a comprehensive list of tips. So pull up a chair, Grasshopper. And get ready to learn about all the tools I use to better manage my reading.
Grazing For Stories
Remember the old days using browser bookmarks or favorites to save stories? How 90s. Check out these ways to discover and save stories to improve your reading management prowess.
Whether you’re purposely out reading to mine story ideas or just need a handy tool to grab-and-go, I find Pocket to be an excellent way to capture and categorize stories on the fly. Just sign up for a free account, add an extension to whatever browsers you use, and start grazing! Once you see a story you’d like to store for later, just click your pocket extension and your story will be lovingly stored in a Pinterest-style display for later perusing. You can categorize your story as you save it or after-the-fact at the Pocket website. Soon you’ll be just like me, with what seems like hundreds of stories I can never seem to find time to get around to actually reading.
RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is sort of old-school by today’s web standards, but still a truly lazy way to have stories delivered directly to you! It involves subscribing to your favorite blogs which you can learn more about here. For me, I use a cool app called Reeder. It’s a Mac-only thing, but there are apps out there for Windows users, too. As I scan the mountains of stories that flood through Reeder continuously, I can star certain articles to save them. Or even forward them into Pocket to be categorized and read later. Eventually.
Evernote is a great all-purpose storage application that syncs across all your devices (as does Pocket). Sometimes I have Pocket stories I’d like to keep even longer for ongoing reference. You can email these stories directly into Evernote, but being the power user that I am, I’ve set up a recipe at IFTTT.com (If This Then That) so that IF I star an item in Pocket (including those I may have forwarded in from Reeder), THEN the story will be automatically removed from Pocket and sent into Evernote. Clever, no? Then, hopefully I find time to read it later.
I keep some of my most-read blogs and news sites on Top Sites on my Safari browser. It’s sort of a Mission Control of Safari where you have all your most-visited sites just one mouse click away! Some of these blogs are kept in my Reeder app as well in case I want to even more quickly scan articles to forward to Pocket and eventually Evernote. If I find articles while grazing, I can skip Pocket and send articles directly to Evernote if desired – choosing to clip full pages, just the articles, or even screenshots of the pages. Or maybe just the link to a page.
See Also: Blogging: You Can Run But You Can’t Hide
I mentioned email earlier as a way to forward articles directly into Evernote. This works for Pocket as well. I also am a user of Flipboard, a mobile magazine-style news aggregator that I use to forward articles into Pocket or Evernote. I can also copy and paste the link somewhere – like my Mac or iOS Notes app or a Word document – or message it to myself. Efficient. Sort of. Anyway, sometimes you’ll get articles sent from friends and associates in emails, which you can simply forward into your Pocket account or Evernote. You’ll have to categorize them afterward if you ever hope to see the articles again. Oh, and you may not want to get too attached to Flipboard, as Apple just announced it’s coming out with a “Flipboard-killer” they’re simply calling “News.” But wait! YouTube videos are also great to save in … um … uh … Also, if you work in an office environment that uses Microsoft OneNote, well, I’ll let you search articles on that one yourself. And oh yeah, there’s StumbleUpon. A great way to, you know … save articles right in StumbleUpon … or send to Pocket and/or Evernote by … I’m not really sure how (sigh). And Pinterest is where you pin stuff. Why, I’m not sure. I never do, because I’m too busy trying to remember if I kept an article saved in Reeder, Pocket, Evernote … or if I just emailed or messaged or pasted an important link in a calendar event that I’ll need in the morning. Which if that’s the case, I create a reminder to tell me where I kept the stupid article. GAHHH!!!!!
I may need help.
Anyway, that’s how I work. Let’s call it a work-in-progress. I hope you found this helpful in staying organized when it comes to your on-line reading habits. I’ve also included an easy-to-follow info-graphic below. Happy reading!