A Checklist (and the Woman Behind it) that Toppled Dear Blogger

lorraines_list!

Quick note from Greg – When I launched Dear Blogger way back, I remember telling all the writers and advertisers “sorry, this blog is too fresh for guest-posters” (cocky, eh?) Unlike my blogs that employ 50+ authors and interns I had zero plans to let anyone post here even if you were Darren Rowse himself. Then one day this peculiar woman surprised me with a spam comment and changed everything…(I’ll explain the full story later…for now, meet Lorraine!)

Are you a blogger who has dreamed of writing and publishing the best blog post ever?

Do you know the basics of blogging already, or are you just starting out?

Do you want to improve your posts? Would you like to learn a new trick or two? Take your blogging skills up a notch? Learn the secrets of “bigger” bloggers?

Regardless of your blogging status, I’m willing to bet that you still have a few things to learn. There’s always room for improvement, right? (Yes, and that’s why you’re here right now, reading this post!)

Luckily For You…

I’m here to help. I want to help you. I want to teach you. I also want to prove to you that I know what I’m talking about. You can and you will learn from me and my experiences. I promise.

I wasn’t offered a special appearance on Dear Blogger for nothing.

In case you didn’t know this: Dear Blogger has never before had a guest blogger. I’m the first.

There’s a reason for this: I have met and exceeded all of Greg’s expectations. I’ve impressed other bloggers so much, too, with my knowledge that I’ve appeared on another blogging blog. My guest post on the topic of editing blog posts was recently published on Ashley Faulkes’ blog. His site is called Mad Lemmings. I am proud to say that I am the first person to guest post on that blog as well!

Me again interjecting – It’s true, Lorraine earned it. She even blatantly called me out once saying I had “lost my touch.” She’s a super caring / outspoken blogger (both SO necessary these days) and has some nifty SEO skills she’ll show you below, though she claims to “know nothing of that sort.” 🙂
5 Weekly Tips eh Ashley? I'll take it!
5 Weekly Tips eh Ashley? I’ll take it!

So Who Am I?

My name is Lorraine Reguly. I’m the person who has scoured the internet and has read blog posts about creating and publishing blog posts until I thought my brain was going to burst.

I’ve also applied what I have learned, which is a lot. The good news is that I’m willing to let you in on a few blogging secrets, too. There’s no bad news. (Aren’t you glad?)

As a teacher, I am compelled to share my knowledge with others. As a writer, I decided to consolidate this information into an eBook, and as a blogger, I felt that getting it out to other bloggers as soon as possible was my duty.

For the last part, I needed Greg’s help! (If you are new here, Greg is the great guy who runs Dear Blogger. And if you’re reading this, you probably need some of his help, too!)

Greg: …stop, stop 🙂

What’s the Deal with My eBook?

The eBook I wrote is called 20 Blog Post Must-Haves (click to be one the first to enter the Bookstore). It is jam-packed with information. Big time.

The funny part is that it originally started out as a blog post.

Because I wanted to include a bunch of posts for further reading, my own experiences, and specific step-by-step instructions, it morphed into the ultimate guide for creating and publishing the best blog post ever! Helpful and inspirational images are included, too, as well as a bonus section. Resources are plentiful and the information is solid.

20 Blog Post Must-Haves is a must-have for every blogger. Just ask Greg!

Today I’ll share some of the essentials with you. (You lucky duck!)

I’ll also be sharing content in this post that is not in the book. I think that it’s only fair that you should learn something, especially if you don’t have a credit card or a PayPal account, or simply have no extra money to spend right now.

To start, I’ll share some information about title creation. There is more to this subject than you would think!

I could have called this book The Ultimate Guide for Creating and Publishing The Best Blog Post Ever, but twelve words is simply too long for a title – for a book OR a blog post. I needed something simpler. I also wanted a title that would convey what the content was about AND who it was for. 20 Blog Post Must-Haves clearly accomplishes this.

It is also a title that is short enough to share on Twitter. Here are two sample Tweets:

potential ebook tweet

potential ebook tweet 2

Notice how there is room left over if someone wants to Retweet this to their followers? It tells me that I have 25 “leftover” spaces! THIS IS IMPORTANT. Twitter only allows you 140 character spaces. It’s up to you to only use about 100 or so. Less is better, especially if you have a long “handle” or username, since Twitter adds “via @[yourusername]” and the initials “RT” when someone retweets your tweets. (It’s nice of Twitter to give the original Tweeter this credit, too, isn’t it?!)

Notice that the shorter title is much better than the long title! Look at this sample tweet to see what the Tweet would look like if I used the long title:

potential ebook tweet 3

Using the longer title makes Retweeting impossible. Where would via @lorrainereguly go?

If someone wanted to share this, they would have to modify the original Tweet OR create their own tweet, which would run into the same problem if they used the long title. A modified Retweet may also be possible if the hashtags were omitted. Often people don’t want to take the time to modify someone else’s Tweet or create a new one – especially when they are doing you a favour by retweeting you in the first place!

Let me ask you this: When was the last time you modified a Tweet? Have you ever modified a Tweet? How often have you seen “MT” instead of “RT”? Or have you ever? I’ve only witnessed this once. (See what I mean?) Retweeting should be easy, a click or two and you’re done. By choosing a shorter title, I have clearly eliminated these problems!

There are a few more things to consider when crafting compelling titles, but you’ll have to buy the eBook for the rest! (I can’t tell you EVERYTHING right now! I will, however, tell you that Blog Post Must-Have #8 is: Create a Compelling, Clickable Title, and #18 is about promoting your post.)

Other things you should know – ahem, MUST know – right now are some facts and stats about me, since you can learn from my experiences. I’ll share a few other things with you, too, including two short excerpts from my book.

The reason I want to tell you a bit about myself and reveal how I went from “nobody” to “somebody” on the blogging scene is because you will learn a few tips about blogging simply from hearing my accomplishments and blogging goals. Trust me on this. And this information is not included in my book. I didn’t want my book to be about all about me – it’s about helping YOU.

I want you to understand that EVEN YOU can achieve some of YOUR blogging goals.

Right about now, you might be saying to yourself: Huh? Blogging goals? Do I even have blogging goals?

I’m here to tell you that you do, whether you realize it or not!

Surprised? Don’t be.

There was a point when I didn’t know I had blogging goals, either. (That’s why I’m here. I want to help you achieve them.)

Most of you may not have heard of me, because I am “new to the scene”. I’m what you would call an “up-and-comer” – or a “blogger to watch”. I am a certified teacher, a writer, an editor, and (yes, you guessed it!) a blogger. However, I’m not a marketer, and so my blog, Lorraine Reguly’s Life, is not known by everyone worldwide. Yet. That’s because it is largely a personal blog, not a public blog. But this is changing. It seems to be taking on a life of its own, thanks to Google, and how Google is ranking some of my blog posts, which, incidentally, were written with the 20 Blog Post Must-Haves in mind!

Some facts and stats:

  • I began blogging in January 2013, four days after purchasing a laptop.
  • I hadn’t owned a computer since 2006. Even then, I didn’t use it. It was old and didn’t work.
  • I started a blog to document my writing and publishing journey.
  • I never thought anyone would take an interest in it.
  • People started to read my blog, Lorraine Reguly’s Life. (Even though it was called Lorraine Reguly’s Life!)
  • Unbeknownst to me, Google started sending people to my blog because the 4th post I wrote ranked in the top 5, with varying rankings depending on the specific search terms used (It was about my experience with the VisualBee toolbar and what I did to remove it after it was unintentionally installed on my computer.)Visualbee toolbar ranking is in top 2
  • My blog – like millions of others in the blogosphere – was nominated for several awards.
  • The first award I got was the Liebster Award, and like many newbie bloggers, I had no idea what this was, so I decided to “google it”.
  • I learned about it after reading many blog posts.
  • I wondered, “If I write a post about this award, will it end up on the first page of results?”
  • I decided to do an experiment. I consolidated my newfound knowledge in my acceptance post of this award, and added the words “Official Rules” to my blog post’s title.
  • At the time, I had no idea what Search Engine Optimization (SEO) was.
  • I also knew nothing about crafting awesome titles for my posts.
  • I ended up titling this post The Liebster Award: The Official Rules + My First Blog Award and a Few Personal Secrets Revealed.
  • To my surprise, I got Google’s attention.
  • This post is ranked #1 on Google.
  • Variations on search terms still rank is as #1. Look at the various terms used in these pictures; they all yield the same result – a ranking of #1liebster 1

liebster blog 1

liebster blog award 1

liebster blog award rules 1

liebster rules 1

  • I decided to experiment further. I read some posts about SEO, learned that writing naturally and not for search engines is better than trying to stuff your posts with keywords.
  • I read tons of posts about blogging, and discovered that there is more to blogging than meets the eye.
  • I wrote posts I had no intention of writing, (A) to help people and (B) to see how they would rank (yes, another experiment, of sorts!)
  • I was amazed at the results!
  • My post on Google+ Circles is found on the 3rd page of search results (good researchers check out several pages!) BUT my other post on Google+ Circles is ranked #6 on the first page of results.
  • My post on tips for making a good impression is also found on the 3rd page of search results BUT my post on turning weaknesses into strengths is ranked #2 on the first page.
  • My post on adding click-to-tweet links to blog posts is ranked #3.
  • My post on How to Add Images to Your Sidebar is ranked #3 BUT is ranked #1 if Google is asked: Is there a video that can show me how to add images to my sidebar?
  • Others started linking to my site!  People noticed my awesomeness! My skills helped teach others! I was pleased and proud! Word got around, and now I’m loved by many! (I told you I was a “blogger to watch”!)
  • Currently, 285 bloggers link to Lorraine Reguly’s Life. This number is growing each day. (YAY!)
  • The coolest thing about all this? My blog is a free blog on WordPress.com and I have not spent a single cent on blogging. I am living proof that you CAN accomplish things even if you have no money.

Okay, I think I’ve bragged enough. (Yes, I hear all of you saying, “Hurry up and show me those excerpts! Blogging tips are needed NOW! Get on with it already!”)

Alright. Calm down! I’m getting to them. Geez. Let me have my fifteen minutes of fame, will ya? 😉

I need to stop you here, and by you I mean Lorraine on the rampage of awesomeness and you the reader so your head doesn’t burst too.

Lorraine has proved a few important things to me that I’ll highlight here as they bring me back to when I launched by first basic Blogger:

On “small gains”
When I launched in 2010 I had no plans to become a known blogger. I just wanted to learn it, largely (selfishly) for my own good. The nice thing is this put me in a mindset where each new thing I learned felt amazing. That, and each new Like, or code that made sense to me, or comment (weren’t many back then) or virtually anything made my day. I think loving small gains leads a blogger to bigger things down the road.

On frugality
As Lorraine noted she’s done it all without spending a dime. Bravo! Many of you know I advocate for self-hosted WordPress because it helps take blogging to a new level, but here goes Lorraine proving me wrong. This frugal mindset is exactly what I had a couple years ago. It excites me to think back on live meetings I had with my writers before we registered our first domain, and just ways we squeezed pennies out of a free blog. So cool.

On perspective and vision
Er, goes without saying. Lorraine’s got it. If you need a boost in this department then keep reading.

Okay, I was doing to write another module here called “opening doors” but it would just be cheesy and redundant! Back to you, Lorraine!

To introduce a few more important elements of blog posts (which is THE name of the game in my eBook here) let me ask you a question.

Are you having trouble reading this one (this blog post)?

Seriously, stop for a moment and answer this. It’s important.

I know your answer is “NO!”

Now let me ask you another question.

Why not?

Do you have an answer to that? Maybe you’re wondering how I knew your response to my first question, and “Is she psychic?”

There are actually several reasons why you responded this way. Let me fill you in.

My Super-Powers (A.K.A. why you think I’m psychic)

I’m not overusing colours. Or bolded text. Or italicized text.

Plus, there is a lot of white space. My paragraphs are short and easy to read. I’m using simple words that everyone can understand.

These points are included in my book, 20 Blog Post Must-Haves.

I’m also presenting this material to you in a conversational tone.

As promised, here is an excerpt (which ends with a Further Reading link):

Step 5: Use the Colour, Bold, and Italicize Features Properly, and Never Underline!

Highlight important points by using bold text or italics, and add colour to your post in the subheadings. Never underline, though, since underlining generally indicates a link to another website. Note that links may also be indicated with a colour, so choose and use your colours wisely!

Step 6: Don’t Forget the “White Space”

Write using short paragraphs. Write one-sentence paragraphs, too. This makes reading and comprehension easier.

Use lists, or bullet points, to help highlight important points.

If you are telling a story, you probably won’t use lists, but you can remember to include a lot of white space. It’s easier to read a couple of lines than a long paragraph of twenty sentences! Break long paragraphs into shorter ones!

Further reading:

This information is common sense, really, and something you may have heard before. Notice that I have used short, concise sentences and few colours. The words are visually appealing and presented in a “nice” way. The information is easy to understand. I have also followed my own advice – advice that you “must-have” in order to be a better blogger!

20 Blog Post Must-Haves was created for YOU. Remember that!!!

My Parting Words

Creating a blog post shouldn’t be like doing calculus or running a 50K marathon. Blog posting should be fun! There are simple tips to follow, like these ones, but there are a few complex ones, too.

Since I am not a technical person by nature, I operate on the assumption that others are like me, and need help. I keep my language simple, my tone informal, and try to let my good-natured personality shine through. I’m easygoing, and I like connecting with others. I’m genuinely interested in helping others learn. These attributes made me a good teacher. Now they make me a good blogger, and ebook author.

Wouldn’t you agree?

Good, now go get the book and get this wisdom for yourself!

Greg – Here is my seriously massive “bio” (What can I say? #Dedication!)

Lorraine Reguly is a certified English teacher-turned-blogger, writer, and editor. During her ten months of being online, she has mastered her blogging skills. Her two posts on the Liebster Award (an award received by newbie bloggers) both hit the #1 spot in Google search! Whether you are looking for general information on this award OR the rules for receiving it, you will be brought to her site!

Several of her other posts are also ranked in the top spots on the first page of results. Clearly, Lorraine knows what she’s doing! Lucky for us, Lorraine has used her expertise to write an ebook, “20 Blog Posts Must-Haves” that is sure to be a hit for bloggers wanting to increase their knowledge. The images included are those of her own creation, used to illustrate the points she makes in this book.

Visit her site, Lorraine Reguly’s Life, for her posts on True Tales Tuesdays and Featured Fridays, where she blogs with an honesty that is unparalleled by most bloggers in the blogosphere. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, Goodreads, Pinterest, and LinkedIn – and leave a comment for her on her blog! (She LOVES comments!)

p.s. I bet you were wondering why my first interaction with Lorraine was a “spam” comment. WordPress deemed it such because of the high volume of exclamation marks and smileys 🙂 So basically, WordPress tried to keep us apart.

Now, what are you waiting for?! Go visit the bookstore to hear more from Lorraine!

Enjoy this post? Let’s chat about it in the comments.

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29 Responses to "A Checklist (and the Woman Behind it) that Toppled Dear Blogger"

    1. I think so, too, Krystle! LOL
      I still think writing in general is my true calling, but blogging seems to incorporate my desire to teach WITH writing, so perhaps you may be right!
      Thanks for taking the time to comment!

      Reply
  1. Lorraine – you are growing by leaps and bounds in the blogosphere! It’s incredible. I’ve learnt a couple of things from you, in particular your Google+ post!

    Very happy you are reaching new heights almost daily. Very well done on your book! You go girl.

    Reply
        1. Ditto Christine. Except Lorraine and I have only hung out on Skype.

          This would be an amazing post for someone with 10 YEARS of blogging experience, forget the 10 months thing 🙂

          Reply
  2. Great post Lorraine and Greg. I enjoyed “hearing” the two voices as I read and haven’t seen that before.

    CONGRATULATIONS Lorraine on completing your first e-book. I’m sure it’s full of great information since your posts always are.

    Reply
    1. Debra, you had better believe that my ebook is crammed with information! IT IS.

      I cannot tell you how many weeks/months I have spent on this. Four months, I think.

      It is super useful. Grab it while it’s free…if you want it.

      I also like the two voices – Greg’s blog, so he’s allowed to do what he wants!

      Reply
  3. Oh my, Lorraine – you surprise me each and every time!!! In a good way, of course 😉

    I LOVED this post! And laughed, and wondered, and… i do have problems with my titles sometimes (more often than not) – this was so good of an explanation how to trim ’em down and still deliver the message. I am buying your book.

    Well, i saw there is a way to get it for free here (eh, who does’t like a freebie once in a a while 😉 – but even if i am not getting it for free, i am buying it! Want to read it and then write a review to help spread the word some more 😀

    Thanks, Greg, for posting this guest post – or maybe i should say thanks, Lorraine, for introducing me to this new blog – i will sure check into details Dear Blogger and Greg’s activities altogether 🙂

    Reply
    1. Greg is a pretty cool guy. Then again, I wouldn’t have subscribed to this blog otherwise.

      I’m so glad that I am seeing familiar faces here this morning.

      I’d love LOVE love your honest opinion, which I KNOW I will get, about 20 Blog Post Must-Haves, Diana.

      Thank you.

      Reply
  4. Hey Lorraine and Greg!
    Crazy informative post. Love it. It is kinda like a duet. Very unique and compelling. I will even give it a little tweet for you :>

    It’s actually funny, but I agree with most of what you have written, but yesterday I saw a post saying – don’t bold, don’t spice up the text, keep it in paragraphs, simple boring etc. I completely disagree with this post – although it was aimed at businesses, it seems completely non-bloggy to me.

    BTW: Greg there is an issue with your comment fields, they are killing my auto-complete in Chrome, not sure what you have installed/turned on there, but it is probably a javascript trying to do something on keyup I think (sorry if that is techy, but I have seen this before)

    thanks again guys, and for the mention!
    have a great one
    ashley

    Reply
    1. a bit off-topic for the post but on topic for Ash’s comment – it’s not only the auto-fill in the comments; i tried to G+ the post – it crashed. i think none of the “drop-down-like” menus (auto fill or not) work properly… using Chrome under windows 7, if it matters 😀

      Reply
    2. Thanks for sharing this post, Ashley, and for hosting me on YOUR blog yesterday! This has been one of the busiest times for me in my blogging career! And one of the greatest, too.

      I didn’t understand the second part of what you said so I will let Greg address that. You know I’m not “techie”.

      Reply
      1. Is there a smiley for “embarrassed”?

        Sorry about those issues guys, feel awful. So Ash, when you try to auto-complete, what happens. Using basic oldschool WP comments + the FBs here.

        Diana, which drop down menus are we talking about? Sharing to G+ with the button above works fine, no?

        Thanks for the help!

        Reply
        1. Did I say drop down menu? Sorry – it’s drop-down-menu-like – don’t know how it’s called. It is the same principle like the auto-fill.

          OK, the auto fill – I start typing e.g. my email, the auto fill shows my email for a second (this i what I call ‘drop-down-like’) and right when I am about to choose my email from it – it disappears.

          Same experience with G+ – started weriting my update to share on G+ and it disappeared midway. Started second time and it crashed altogether (there even was a red warning sign that something went wrong and I should refresh – first time I see it 🙂

          Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful- I am no techie either 🙂

          Reply
            1. Two questions as I solve this:

              — What browser are you guys using?
              — Is it possible to send a screenshot of the drop-down-menu-like thing and the red warning sign?

              This would help me get to the root of the problem and zap it a lot quicker.

              Thanks again,
              Greg

              Reply
              1. as i said in my initial comment, using Chrome under windows 7 😀

                as to the screenshot – well, i am not sure how i can take a screenshot of something which is there for a split second and then gone. of the red sign – no, i can’t – i saw it only that once. sorry and good luck!

                Reply

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