Are you loosing readers in your first 50 words?

Bird-Writing good blog leads in 50 wordsWhat do you lead your blog posts with?

I once attended a news writing class where the lecturer only cared about 2 things: what the newspapers had written about that day, and how we could start of in 50 words or less, a story about a recent event on campus.

It had to be under 50 words, and it had to spark interest.

From attending class, I quickly learned to develop a thick skin about my writing and welcome criticism.

Who cares about the bird?

News writers know a great many things about good writing. They know, for example,  the only point of the first paragraph, called the lead, is to spark interest. And the job of the first paragraphs is to lead to the second, which would explain more on the story. So only the most important human-interest aspects of the story lead their writing, and the details are painted in later.

Example: An otherwise mundane story about say a firefighter who had to rescue Mrs. Teshire’s cat, named Lucy that got stuck in a tree that had a rare Galapagos bird nesting, yesterday at 5 p.m. on Grand Avenue could lead:

“The rare Galapagos bird, one among 1000 of its species in the world, was discovered yesterday in attempts to rescue a cat that got stuck in the tree it called home, along Grand Avenue.”

This opener sparks interest by telling you, the reader that a rare bird was accidentally discovered in your town. Questions like, “Who’s cat? Why did it get stuck? Is the bird safe?” might pop into your mind after reading this lead, which means you would read on.

The writer could then paint in details about the event in a few of the next paragraphs, then switch to information or news about the bird, or the reasons why its going extinct, or any other related information.

Do your blog post leads spark interest?

News writing is all storytelling, because it explains things that have already happened. Leads in news writing aim to answer the: who, what, when, where, and why should I care, but only starting off with elements that tempt them to read more.

If you have subscribers to your blog, then sometimes the first mention of your posts is through their e-mails, if a reader clicks on a title, then the lead is what makes them decide if it’s worth reading. So what do you entice your readers with?

Wether you write to entertain, inform, or inspire, the next time you are starting a post think of the headline, then tailor the first 50 words to make your readers stick around to read the rest. Paint a scenario, and then give them solutions, give an anecdote that ties off to the story, or just start by answering the “Why should I care?” and reel them in.

The point of the headline is to get clicks; the point of the first 50 words is to get readers to read the story.


Have a better idea for the lead in the example above? in 50 words or less, post it in the comments field below!

Image credit: Flickr-phalinn

This post is part of a series that will get published every Monday on Content Marketing or Blogging, follow me via Twitter or E-mail to receive your daily copy of helpful small business online marketing strategies.

Daisy Quaker is a freelance internet marketing consultant, specializing in social media strategy, content marketing, e-mail marketing and internet marketing strategy, find her on Twitter and tell her what strategies work for your business.

What TMZ and HuffPo can Teach Us About Irresistible Headlines

Whether you succumb to reading gossip on TMZ, or favor more newsworthy articles on Huffington Post, there are common tactics used by writers on both ends for irresistible headlines that can capture readers for your small business website or blog.

Image of Paparazzi Cameras-Headline tips from TMZ and Huffington PostThese tactics re-work basic headline formulas in ways that readers can’t resist. These formulas are used everywhere from the magazines at the check out counter, to the newsletters in your inbox, or just posts on your favorite website. Attention grabbing headlines catch our interest and entice us to read a the story even if it’s just a quick skim.

Is your content not getting the clicks it deserves? Tweaking your headline can be the boost your posts need.

So what headline tips can we learn from a gossip website, and a news site? Take a look at the some I found on both sites, and how they work with basic headline methods.

Arouse curiosity

Shake up the status quo, with a “Why”. If a reader is curious, then they will want to know more. And if they want to know more ,then they will click and read atlas the first paragraphs.Observe the use of the basic “Why” Headline

Why Jamaicans HATE ‘Cool Runnings’
Why Evangelicals Hate Jesus
Why Promising to Save the Middle Class May Just Not Be Enough!

The why headline is an easy grab of attention because it arouses a casual browser’s interest.  ‘Cool Runnings’, the Disney movie based on a Jamaican bobsled team, is a popular feel good story on persistence. A  common point of view, would be Jamaicans would like the movie, so a title that puts a different spin on that is bound to get clicks. Huffington Post’s headline also puts a spin on a common held belief about evangelicals and their relationship with a religious figure.

Give headlines a teaser of whats to come

A basic numbered lists work really well in telling the reader what to expect. Compare the power between “Get a better body” to “5 Minutes to a better body” Numbers can work in a variety of situations from checklists, to ideas, tips, and tricks.

Huff Po:
7 Reasons Why Diamonds are a Waste of Money

The beauty of it is the writer can talk about a variety of things from the shady history of diamond trade, to newer more precious stones, to how common diamond rings are, to a review of increasing divorce rates and the myth of everlasting love. It works because it sparks interest, and gives a hint.

Pose a challenge in the headline

Ask a question. This basic tactic arouses a reader’s curiosity and make them want to know more. A greatly phrased question can entice the reader to get answers to the question through the story.

“Can Rob Lowe Save ‘Two And A Half Men?’
Is Cheating Contagious?

Both questions make a reader wonder and challenges them to answer the question, and the only way to know is by reading the continent.

Surprise the reader with the unexpected

In this instance use celebrity names, figures, shows, or a familiar subject with a twist. TMZ is a celebrity gossip site, so the use of celebrity names in unexpected situations is rampant. But even if it is not a tabloid scandal, headlines  about subjects we are already aware of gets more clicks when used in a surprising way.

Michael Phelps — Gold Medal Loser in Real Estate

What Arranged Marriages Taught Me About Love
What Steve Jobs Taught Me About Stepfamilies
7 Life Lessons You Can Learn From ‘Star Trek’

These headlines take a subject that is commonly known or understood and puts a different spin or context. Arranged marriages are not traditionally seen as loving, and Steve Jobs, the admired innovator, is an unlikely source for inspiration on family bonding. Michael Phelps has been anything but a looser at the Olympics, so putting the unexpected link sparks curiosity.

Inspiration can come from many places, re-working your headlines with these tricks could help make your content stand out and earn you more readers and social media shares.

Image credit: Flickr-practicalowl

This post is part of a series that will get published every Monday on Content Marketing or Blogging, follow me via Twitter or E-mail and never miss a copy of helpful small business online marketing strategies.

Daisy Quaker is a freelance internet marketing consultant, specializing in social media, content marketing, e-mail marketing and internet marketing strategy. Find her on Twitter and tell her what strategies work for your business.

FISH! A New Way to Spark to a Better Social Media Presence

Do you like the smell of fresh fish? How would you feel about working at a fish market where that, and dealing with slippery fresh fish greets you everyday?

I would certainly end up crabby (no pun intended), but the good people of a popular Seattle fish market turned this dynamic around.

They made their fish market a pleasant, welcoming, and fun, place to be (check out this video). Now I think going to a fish market like that wouldn’t be so bad.

And so because of this fun-loving bunch, the FISH! Philosophy to customer service was born, and has become an approach to creating a positive and engaging customer service experience that is part of customer service training.

How FISH! can help you in social media

The FISH! philosophy is about dealing with people, coincidentally so is social media. Applying this approach can have a wonderful effect to your social media presence whether it’s for small business or your personal brand. The 4 elements of can help create a more meaningful presence on the various social media networks out there.


How many of us have liked a corporate company on say Facebook, when all their posts or statuses lack energy? Or the connection is so focused on promoting their work that the account becomes a soapbox.

FISH! Philosphy-Play

Some companies are so focused on having a clear and consistent (safe) voice that makes their posts dull to read. While other businesses have found a way to sound like a person, and bring some fun and energy to their page. The results? Their connections or followers respond!

PLAY is about bringing energy, and can be applied to your own situation, whether it’s creating awareness for a bog, business or product. Bring energy and fun to what you post, and your community will play with you.


You do not get to choose how people receive or approach you or your business on social media, but you do get to choose how you respond.

FISH! Philosophy -Choose your Attitude

For example, I recently put together a short beginner’s guide to social media. Towards the end of the project I was exhausted, frustrated and just wanted to be done with it. So I skipped a few grammar and spelling errors in my last review. A reader came across some grammar and spelling errors and decided to contact me. I could have been defensive (which I was at first) but then I decided to change my attitude, and welcome criticism, and hopefully that reader will stop back again in future.

Being on social media you will meet either complaints, criticism or negative feedback choose your attitude in how you respond. A lot of companies big and small have had scandals where they mishandled social media and it came back to bite them: Volkswagen, and the Ocean Marketing scandal spring to mind. Bring positivity to how you respond in comments, tweets, or Facebook statuses it helps reinforce positive associations people have with your brand.


I believe it’s Plato who once said, “Be kind. For everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

FISH! Philosophy -Make Their DaySo make someone’s day today. Find people on social media you want to connect with or that follow you and comment on their work. I don’t think there’s anyone out there who does not like receiving a compliment or just simple recognition. Try and apply this by following up to every other Twitter follower you receive. Take a peek at what they are working on and comment. I don’t do this as often as I would like but think about how great is when people acknowledge your efforts.

This also applies to newsletters; instead of having some “donotreply” address why not put one that people can respond to? Every once in a while I will read something in one of the newsletters that would really spark my creativity, being able to reach out and say a simple thank you or just my response would make me more likely to read future newsletters I receive from the writer.


Be engaged, be present, and be responsive.

FISH! Philosophy -Be ThereFor a small business or a personal brand you don’t have to be on every social media channel out there, but you should try to be engaged and active on the one’s you do join, otherwise what’s the point?

Social media is an engagement tool, and if you have Likes, followers or connections and you fail to respond, then you miss out on the potential of deepening these bonds. Many people think social media is killing the quality of human interactions, but I think if used correctly it can create an extension of it. So be there, where your customers or audience is, and be engaged in the conversation.

Have some thoughts? Share them below, I’d love to hear your feedback.

Featured Image credit- Flickr-David L.

Daisy Quaker is a freelance internet marketing consultant, specializing in social media strategy, content marketing, e-mail marketing and internet marketing strategy. In her spare time she writes a personal style blog. Find her on Twitter and Google+ and tell her what strategies work for your business.

3 Public Speaking Approaches that Improve Your Blog

Think back to the last time you attended a great public speaking event. What made it great? Often times you either learned something new, laughed till it hurt, or you were really inspired by the presentation.

Public Speakers have a tough job. They either give a  great presentation the audience welcomes and enjoys, or they are met with pin-drop silence. It’s an art and science that has hundreds of little techniques, but there is a common thread that runs through all great speeches that can be applied to writing great blog posts.

What do a great speech and a great post have in common? Purpose.

In public speaking there are 4 types of speeches: Informative, Persuasive, Entertaining, and Inspirational. Although a speech may have elements of each, most speeches fall in one of these categories. There is always a dominant purpose, or approach that the speaker uses to deliver value.

3 ways to deliver value to your readers

Blogging for blogging’s sake does not help your marketing efforts, it can make your content seem haphazard and unplanned. Instead focus on creating content that makes readers flock to your blog the same way they would flock to a presentation.

The cue small business owners and bloggers can take from public speaking is defining the primary purpose of your posts or content. Do you write to inform, entertain, or inspire?


“What will I learn from reading your post today?”
Informative blog posts teach readers something new. This does not necessarily mean your posts should just be “How To” guides. An informative post can include news that is relevant to your industry or the products you deliver, or even success strategies that users can benefit from. Thinking of your blog as either teaching readers something new, or expanding their knowledge base.

Marketing benefit: Readers learn something new from reading your content,  this will create loyalty and trust in your service or products.


“What will I read that will lighten my day?”
Arguably every post should have some element of entertainment to it, but blogs that aim to entertain are focus more on brightening up a reader’s day by amusing them or even making them laugh out loud. Funny stories, anecdotes, or even pictures that brighten up your reader’s day help make your writing endearing.

Marketing Benefit: Think of Blendtec’s “Will It Blend?” series, finding amusing or unconventional uses for your products is a great promotion tactic for your small business (remember blogging does not mean you can’t involve multimedia).


“What can I read that will help me achieve my goals?”
This is helpful for businesses offering services such as personal life coaching, fashion retailers, cleaning services or marketing services. Inspirational posts can motivate readers by sharing powerful stories or giving fresh ideas that inspire action. Inspirational posts leave room for the reader to think about how to apply this wisdom or perspective in their lives.

Marketing benefit: You will inspire repeat visits, but also grow in your reader’s mind as a useful resource in the area.

Each of these approaches focus on the reader’s benefit and not on your product or company. A great speech delivers a benefit to the listener, just like a great post delivers a benefit to the reader.

Image credit Flickr-by TOM81115

Daisy Quaker is a freelance internet marketing consultant, specializing in social media strategy, content marketing, e-mail marketing and internet marketing strategy. In her spare time she writes a personal style blog. Find her on <Twitter and Google+ and tell her what strategies work for your business.

5 Basics to Online Writing That Wows Your Readers

This post is part of a series that will get published very Monday on Content marketing or Blogging, subscribe to this blog to receive your daily copy of  helpful small business online marketing strategies.

Online users have short attention spans, and no one wants to create content that gets looked over; so mastering these basics can make your online marketing campaign sizzle.

Small Business Blogging- Wow Factor-Internet Marketing


The beauty of these guidelines is that they can help you sell or gain attention anywhere from websites, to blog posts, to newsletters and email marketing campaigns. So whatever online marketing strategy that’s in place for your small business these tips can help inject the wow factor into your material.

1. Crappy Headlines Means Crappy Content

What’s in a name? Well when it comes to online writing everything.

Attention spans are at a premium these days, and your content faces tough competition to get your reader’s interest. So, have a promise in your headline that your writing will deliver. Find a way to communicate the benefit by spelling out what your audience will gain from reading your material (Answer this question for your readers: What’s in it for me?)

It helps to write your headline first, because it helps set an expectation for your post from the get-go. This strategy also helps narrow your focus in your writing and editing stage.

The art of writing great headlines can be mastered by applying a few basic formulas that you might have already come across. Next time you are waiting in line at the grocery store, gloss over the magazine racks and note the titles that get your attention. You might just notice a few formulas that get reused over and over, check out this great post on Copyblogger to find out what they are.

2. Sub-Titles are your friend

And not just sub-titles, but bullet points as well. These help break up your writing into smaller chunks, allowing some white space and making it easier for your readers to navigate. Avoid long blocks of text because even at a glance this can seem intimidating and too much work for your readers to wade through. Use your formatting skills to highlight important points, so that they are easier to spot and pick up on.

3. Can the “Average Joe” understand you?

Ever had to read a scientific or academic paper? They are a pain, and not very popular outside the academic community. If your online marketing efforts are targeting a wide audience, then great writing means that anyone can pick up your material and read it.

You may an expert in your field, but unless you are writing for a very specify (read: narrow) audience with a lot of knowledge in your line of business, then you ought to keep it simple and avoid using acronyms, and overly complex words.

4. Keep It Short and sweet

Putting out 5 pages of great material is not going to help your marketing strategy, when you can cut it down and save everyone’s time. Really try to get to the point in as interesting and few words as possible. If 2 sentences can get your point across instead of 5, trim it. Give your writing a 5 minute or 10 minute reading test is, it digestible? Maybe you need to simplify it, or narrow your focus.

If you really have some information that you think needs to be broken down in more than a page or two, then consider having a downloadable PDF that your reader can refer to and a short blurb about why you think its important. An even better strategy is to have it link to an e-mail subscription to receive your newsletters, that way you earn more subscribers for your mailing list, and your e-mail campaigns get a few more eye-balls.

5. Use some basic SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

If you want your content to rank better than making it search engine friendly is important.

What I like to do with each post is write freely then go back and review ways that I can use some keywords to make it search engine friendly. SEO is a must-have if you are hoping to get more search engine traffic. A great way to get started in learning about it is through this free guide by SEOmoz.

The point to remember here is you write for humans, not robots. So don’t get too wrapped up in technicalities and forget your readers.

Internet and content marketing is really cool because through a little time, patience and marketing tactic you can build a loyal audience that cares about what you have to say.

And that’s it, 5 basics!

If this all seems a little too much to chew, perhaps you could benefit from more one-on-one coaching and tutorials, click here to contact me to find out how we can make this work.

Image credit: Flickr Mohammed Alnaser

Daisy Quaker is a freelance internet marketing consultant, specializing in social media strategy, content marketing, e-mail marketing and internet marketing strategy. In her spare time she writes a personal style blog. Find her on Twitter and Google+ and tell her what strategies work for your business.