The Five Non-Writing Skills Every Writer Needs

writing

You’ve decided to take the plunge and start a blog, eager to showcase your business or professional skills in the digital world. The hard stuff is done: you’ve registered your site, picked a fancy color scheme, and even have a witty or prolific title secured. Other than high-quality, original written content, what more do you need? A LOT.

#1 You Must be Social – at Least Online

You can be the most brilliant writer in the world, but if no one knows about your work, your blog will go unread. Creating accounts through Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn will give you a sounding board to announce your work to the world, but that’s just the start. Heidi Cohen, an actionable marketing specialist, discusses strategies for maximizing your blog’s reach on her website. Cohen encourages you to seek out your audience by searching hashtags (beginner’s suggestions: #amreading, #blogging, #writing) and make sure to cross-promote similar writers through the practice of retweets/shares. Keeping your headlines catchy will inspire a click, as will the practice of using a “featured image,” as it will show as a picture in social media newsfeeds.

#2 Learn Fundamental SEO: STAT!

Especially if you’re blogging to support a business or promote a product, you need to make sure that your customers can find you when they visit a search engine.

As referenced in last year’s Degree Spotlight on Internet Marketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) refers to the effectiveness of your blog’s visibility in search engine results. A few easy tricks that even SEO-newbies can implement are: using a title plug-in and crafting your headline for Google, attaching related articles to the end of your posts, using specific categories to sort your blog topics, and adding sharing buttons to each of your posts. In addition, creating static pages which are permanently displayed on your blog makes it easier for your visitors to find important information, such as your bio or business hours, without digging through archived posts. Think clean, intuitive, and simplistic with your layout, and you’ll see the results in Google search!

#3 Basic Video Editing is a MUST

The use of video helps break up big chunks of text, a common faux pas in web writing, and serves as an eye-catcher for those that may have gone into autopilot while scrolling.

“You should know how to edit video using iMovie, Final Cut, Premiere, or preferably all three,” says Jeff Sharon, Course Director for Digital News Production & New Media Publishing and Distribution in the New Media Journalism Master of Arts degree program. Even if you have minimal video experience, you can develop these skills through experimentation with the software or by viewing tutorials, such as those found on Lynda.com.

#4 Photo-Editing: Beyond Making Memes

As mentioned above, multimedia content helps to keep your reader engaged while on your site. While you can find legally sharable photos, your options are limited if you’re not using your own pictures. Bloggers should experiment with creating collages, infographics, and adding text/titles to their photos (which can also positively impact your search ranking). Picasa, Pixlr, PicMonkey, and iPhoto are just some of the free programs you can use to turn a commonplace photo into a visual appetizer for your Tweet or serve as a content-delivery tool for your post.

#5 Do Your Research

A good blogger should also be a good researcher. If you plan to share information with a specific audience, your content must be accurate and supported through reputable sources.

Interview experts in the field, find articles on similar topics, and observe bloggers of similar scope to determine how they cater information to their audiences. Double-check facts – Wikipedia should NOT be your primary source for information – and make sure to cite your references by linking to the other websites. This not only adds credibility to your work, it also promotes relationships between you and other bloggers, which can serve you in the long run.

“Knowing the tech stuff is great,” Sharon offers, “but if you can’t get the Journalism 101 stuff down pat, it’s going to be a rough road, because no audience member is going to find you credible. And our only real form of currency with our audience is credibility.”

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