Advertising executive Alex F. Osborn was the first to invent formal brainstorming techniques. He became frustrated by his team’s ability to generate creative ideas for their campaigns.
Osborn launched group creativity sessions that allowed team members to suggest spontaneous new ideas without criticism. Participants “used the brain to storm a problem,” and dubbed their gatherings as “brainstorming sessions.”
That was in 1939.
Since then, brainstorming has become a standard part of the creative process both for teams and for individuals. As for writers, we use brainstorming techniques for two key reasons:
Write a better headline, say the writing gurus, and you can pull more readers into your article or blog post. And there are plenty of outstanding tips for writing better headlines: include powerful words. Be specific. And use tried-and-true headline formulas to get solid results.
But what about length … as in word count?
The traditional view among writers is that a short headline is better. (Disclaimer: longer headlines are gaining traction in social media.) Web usability guru Jakob Nielsen, for instance, champions writing better headlines by using a short, snappy format.
A book is a powerful piece of intellectual property. Plus, writing one takes effort. That’s why the idea of investing all that time and then figuring out how to get an eBook digitally published can seem like a monumental task. Offering it for free appears to be counterintuitive at best and foolish at worst.
Yet writing an eBook can be an attractive project to undertake. An eBook can be as short or long as you like. …
Your blog post has its best chance for success when you write an opening paragraph that pulls in the reader.
Notice I didn’t say opening paragraphs (plural.) I said opening paragraph (singular.) Yep, just one.
And that first paragraph is a biggee. Because Rachel Reader has plenty of options, thanks to the online information overload. Your opening paragraph can lead her through the rest of the post. Or not.
On the plus side, she has made it past your headline. Now she’s into your content. Do a good job here — in your opening paragraph — and there’s a better…
Inbound links … internal links … outbound links …link language can be confusing. To simplify: there are three types of links you need to include on your website or blog. For your site to succeed, you need all three of them.
The reason is simple. Your website or blog is your online home. You want plenty of visitors to your home, right? The way those visitors find you is through links. Each of the 3 types of links plays a part in building traffic to your site.
An inbound link is a link from another website to yours.
I love freebies. Most of us do. And what better way to enjoy free than with free images on your blog or website? But I and so many others have learned that it’s not right or legal to simply hop on the internet, find an image, and then just copy and paste it onto my site’s back end.
There’s a little issue called “copyright” which assigns ownership to photographers, just as copyright applies to writers, too. If I infringe on a photographer’s work product, I can face some nasty fees or other legal challenges. …
Is the writing life limited to the evenings-and-weekends wannabe novelist or the byline-hungry journalist? For many years, that’s what I thought. In my ignorance, I believed that real writers were sprinkled with pixie dust at birth and always knew they wanted to write The Great American Bestseller. I threw journalists into that mix, too, grouping them all together in a Woodward and Bernstein investigative reporting mishmash.
My first writing course taught me how to write an article and break into print. Back then, the internet was still fairly new. Magazines were one of the main avenues to accumulating clips and experience. Many freelance writers got their start by writing feature articles for trade and consumer publications — myself included.
Plus, learning how to write an article yielded more than bylines. I’ve been able to apply those skills as I write other kinds of content. Some project-specific details vary, but the principles are the same.
For instance, when I learned how to write an article, I learned…
Writing a mission statement is an important step for your business, whether you are a large organization or sole proprietor. When it’s clear and concise, your statement becomes a rallying cry for your staff and stakeholders (“This is why we do what we do!”) And when your mission statement is targeted and focused, you can use it as a yardstick for making programming and funding decisions (“This proposed project doesn’t contribute to our mission, so we shouldn’t pursue it at this time.”)
But here’s the problem: it can be hard to know where to begin with writing a mission statement.
Writers have long known it: telling stories makes content stick to readers. We use stories to illustrate a point and touch a reader’s heart. All of the thousands of stories used in content writing and copywriting boil down to 7 basic story plots. Yes, that fact surprised me, too.
In a 2006 book, British journalist Christopher Booker outlined The Seven Basic Plots, which distills all stories (long or short, ancient or contemporary) to seven classic patterns. Each plot, he explains, centers on a main character, his setback, and what happens to him. When you use a pattern, writing formula, or…