Make your online writing more tweetable

Twitter logo No matter what you write online, whether an article or a blog post or even a short story, you’ll want to spread it as far and as widely as you can. One way that many writers do that is posting to Twitter.

Tweeting the link to what you’ve written is a good start. What you really want to do is make quotes from your piece easy to tweet. An easy way to do that is to add some basic HTML and CSS (the languages used to create web pages and to format them, respectively) to your article or post or story.

That’s what Paul Bradshaw teaches you in his short book Learn HTML and CSS by making tweetable quotes. The book, which runs 31 pages, is a crash course in a useful skill for not only journalists, who are the book’s main audience, but also for writers and bloggers.

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Vacuum cleaners and adding value to your services

A vacuum Sometime in 2008, my long-serving and long-suffering vacuum cleaner gave up the ghost. It wasn’t a top-quality vacuum to begin with, and I did push it beyond its limits. Way beyond its limits.

When that vacuum called it quits, I was in the midst of renovating my home. I guess all that plaster dust from the drywall I was putting up was the final straw.

I needed a new vacuum. Instead of getting another cheap one, I decided to go all in — I found a Dyson vacuum on sale and I grabbed it. That Dyson was the best vacuum I ever owned; worth every penny.

What I found interesting, though, was that the vacuum itself came with the minimum of accessories. If I wanted to get any of the attachments I really needed, I had to fork over another $99 dollars.

At first, that annoyed me. Then I saw the business sense of it all. More to the point, I saw how that strategy can apply to freelance writers.

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A few links for the end of the week

Start your own email newsletter

Reading an email newsletter on a smartphone As you may or may not know, I started a bi-weekly email newsletter a couple of months ago. Why? I had two reasons:

First, I’d been threatening to do that for a number of years and it was about time I followed through on that threat.

Second, in the first part of 2015 I’d fallen into a bit of a writing rut. I needed something to help drag me out of it. That something was, in part, the newsletter.

Whatever your reason for taking the plunge, starting an email newsletter can be beneficial. Not just for your freelance writing business but for yourself, too.

Here are some thoughts and ideas that can help you get going with an email newsletter.

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Breaking out of your comfort zone

A martial artist breaking some bricks with his elbow There’s a lot happening here at the Home Firm. Some tweaking of how I do things, some updates to my presence on the web, and several other things. But what’s exciting me are a couple of new initiatives I’m working on. They’re exciting because they go beyond what I usually do.

That said, I’m mulling over whether or not what I’m planning to do will dilute my so-called brand. I’m known as a writer, a blogger, and a coach. It’s not quite a pigeon hole (or set of pigeon holes), but those are the first things that people think of when they hear my name.

The areas I’m planning on moving into … well, they’re not exactly terra incognita. They are areas into which I’m not known for treading. I have some experience in those areas; it’s just a bit more low key.

Of course, we’re not going it alone. I’m consulting various professionals I know to get as much advice as I can. No matter what I say, I don’t know everything. I’m more than willing to embrace my ignorance to learn more and to find new ways of doing things.

I’m learning a number of lessons as I move through this process. To move outside your comfort zone, you should try to absorb these lessons:

  1. Being small, mobile, and self contained has its place. However, there are times when you need to reach out to your circle of contacts to get information or to get the job done
  2. Moving outside of your comfort zone can be scary, but it’s also exhilarating and invigourating. It gives you a chance to try something new, learn something new, and reconnect with your passion
  3. Failure is an option. It can happen. Don’t be afraid of it. Instead, embrace failure (or, at the very least, the possibility of failure. What you don’t fear can’t hurt you as much

Thoughts? As always, feel free to leave a comment.

(A quick plug: If you haven’t already, think about subscribing to my bi-weekly email newsletter. It’s free and I won’t use your information to spam you. Promise!)

A few links for the end of the week

How to structure longer writing

Man at a whiteboard planning something The tl;dr crowd be hanged: there is a place for longer-form writing on the web. And in print, too.

I won’t go into detail about why longer-form writing is important — that’s another blog post for another time. If you have an interesting story to tell, there’s no reason why you can’t take a bit more time, a bit more space, and a few more words to tell that story.

There are three main factors that can make or break a long piece of writing: the quality of the writing, whether or not the story you’re telling is worth reading, and its structure. They’re equally important, but structure is often the factor that many writers ignore.

Correctly structuring your makes your writing easier to read. It helps your writing flow. Here are a few tips that can help you better structure longer writing.

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Writing a short ebook

ebook reader By short I mean an ebook that runs anywhere from 4,000 to 8,000 words. Often, somewhere in between. Sort of what I’m trying with my Short ebook Project.

Writing a short ebook can be as challenging as writing a full-length book. You not only need to narrow your topic down, you need to write concisely. There’s no reason, though, why you can’t also write vividly and with impact.

Here are a few pointers that can help you quickly and efficiently write a short ebook.

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