Tag Archives: business

Blogging

4 Article templates to increase your blog frequency

Have you ever wondered how popular bloggers keep their blogs up to date? Well, I’m going to let you in on a secret. One way to enable frequent blogging is to use article templates.

An article template provides you with a structure and set of instructions for designing your blog post. It saves oodles of time. If you’re new to blogging, writing a post without a structure can lead to a messy and confusing article.

Using a template to structure your blog posts gives you a:

  • Proven formula to follow.
  • Formatted page using consistent conventions.
  • Structure to sort out your thoughts.
  • A quicker writing process.
  • A professional business vibe.

Different mediums use templates as a guide for consistent formatting but also to meet reader expectations. Emails, business reports, letters and even restaurant menus become easier to read when they use a familiar structure.

Without a structure to guide the writer, it makes the first edit harder and longer. While consistent blogging improves traffic and reader engagement, using an article template makes frequent blogging easier to achieve.

Layout of articles

Use more than one type of article template

As you begin to blog you might notice a repetition in the types of blog posts you write. Keeping a guide for each sort can save you time but also help vary your writing formats.

1. The basic article template

The basic blog post uses the formula of a beginning, middle and end. This dramatic structure observed by Plato and also promoted by Toastmasters International for structuring speeches forms the backbone of most article templates.

The opening should grab the reader’s attention, give background information of your topic and introduce your argument.

In the middle you elaborate on your argument.  Toastmaster’s advice on adding sub-points also applies to a blogging structure.

End the post with a summation of the issue reiterating your strongest point.

2. The “why” template

When you need to persuade your reader to take a particular course of action, the “why” template is rather useful. Like many structural variations, the basic article template forms the foundation for this type of blog post.

The introduction provides the background to the action and tells the reader the most shared and well-known reason. Such as: “It’s common knowledge….” or “You may have heard…”.

End the introduction by telling your reader that you’re going to show them X more reasons why.

Use the middle section to elaborate on less well-known reasons for doing the why. The middle is where you give your reader with new information or a new point of view that substantiates the why.

Sum up the new reasons to wrap it up, but return to the original explanation for a 360º closure.

3. The “list” template

Numbered and bulleted lists seem to do well in search engine results. Their popularity may be due to their simple format which makes it easier for readers to scan text.

Not all lists are the same though. Take this blog post, it contains a list of four types of templates, but there’s a substantial amount of information beneath each heading. This post on WordPress plugins also follows a similar list format.

But there are other list structures and formats that you can follow. Most importantly:

  1. List Posts often have a beginning and conclusion while providing a concise list of items in the middle.
  2. Each list item consists of one paragraph of up to three or four lines in length.
  3. The list heading often appears in bold at the start of the paragraph next to the list number.

When it comes to formatting your blog post remember consistency is the key to great communication.

4. The “how to” template

Internet users search the web to solve challenges. The “how to” blog post provides a step-by-step solution to a problem. It may also incorporate one or more lists into the answer.

“How to” blog posts are like human resource procedures. While they have similar aims, you don’t want your “how to” post to be as dry as some organisations’ training handouts. But using a verb at the start of each step makes the process easy to read.

For example:

  1. Take one cup of icing sugar and pour it into a glass bowl.
  2. Crack three large eggs.
  3. Separate the egg white from the yolk.
  4. Fold the egg whites slowly into the sugar.
  5. Whisk the sugar and egg whites for 5 minutes until well blended.
  6. Scoop up large spoonfuls of the fluffy mixture.
  7. Place….

I’m not 100% sure what this recipe is trying to create, maybe meringues? But regardless of your topic, always strive to write your posts in active voice.

Enlarge

Coffee and article writing
Coffee's another reason why serious bloggers blog frequently.

Practice blogging with article templates

Not everything you write will fit your templates. Allow room in your writing for flexibility. But keep it simple. Online readers like to scan fresh content, so format the post into bite-sized chunks of information. Use headings, bullet points, numbered lists and images to free meaning.

If you blog regularly and use article templates, you can check analytics and see which structures your audience likes best. After a while, you’ll find it takes less time to write a blog post, as the more you write, the more the templates become second nature.

The Business of Art

4 Reasons artists practice business skills

Should artists practice business skills? The legacy of the starving artist suggests artists are not capable of running their art as a business. That art and business should be kept separate.

Yet, in our rapidly changing world where machines threaten job stability, some jobs like those that involve creativity remain preferable for humans.  Starting up an art business as an income source looks desirable.

In countries like Australia, Creative Artists, Musicians, Writers and Performers makeup a measly 0.15% of the population (Census, 2011). This less than remarkable figure represents:

  • Artists contracted to government or industry associations like state orchestras.
  • Recording artists who have signed a legal agreement with a record label.
  • Live entertainers in musicals, stand-up comedy, operas, circuses and theme parks.
  • Authors with a publishing deal or agent who work at their writing full-time.
  • Individual artists committed to proving their talent.

America’s statistics on creative industries paint a different picture of innovation, perhaps made remarkable by places like Hollywood and Broadway that employ thousands of entertainers. What’s it like for where you live? Let me know in the comments.

But whether it’s selling your art as a product or service, or contracting out your artistic talents, these four reasons for using business skills can turn a hobby into a profession:

1. Grow your audience

The growth of the Internet has allowed more independent artists to produce and market their art online. According to Internet World Stats, there’s an estimated 3.9 billion people online as of June 2017. That’s a huge potential market.

With so many people online, there’s never been a better opportunity for you to set up a supportive base for your talent in a broad international community. Some people call it a fan base, a readership or a tribe.

Aside from moral support, growing your online audience has other benefits too. Like:

  • Showing agents, you’re willing and able to promote your work yourself.
  • Gathering leads to maximise sales of your artistic product.

2. Reduce time-wasting

Find more time for your art

Still, it’s important for an artist to develop a business acumen whether signing a deal with an agent or doing it alone like self-published authors do. You need to know if you’re signing a good deal and how to keep control of your artistic talent.

Too often, inexperienced artists sign away their rights. I should know, I signed up on an exclusive contract with the wrong agent fresh out of acting school. Years of acting preparation sabotaged by an all-too-eager signature.

If you sell your art online, developing business skills extends beyond contract law. It’s also about knowing how to invest your time so you can balance art creation with selling.

You don’t need to:

  • Do all the techie stuff.
  • Write every blog post.
  • Push your art on social media.
  • Give a personal response to every email.

But you can:

  • Outsource aspects of your business but maintain control.
  • Develop your talent to create something new where there’s a need.
  • Raise capital and spend it wisely.
  • Choose online marketing programs that work and when to use them.

3. Assess opportunities

Business-minded artists seek opportunities but also create them. When you’re a business-minded artist, you prove the market value of your art and its fit.

You evaluate your practice’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) to:

  • Discover new achievable opportunities.
  • Manage or eliminate threats.

An artist practising business skills employs creative thinking to strategically introduce their art to the marketplace.

Recently, I prepared to enter a short story into a competition. I had the perfect piece. It just needed a polish. One week before the deadline, I re-read the guidelines: ‘We prefer literary pieces, not genre based short stories.’

It occurred to me that my short story suited the genre of speculative fiction. You may be aware of the controversy around what is literary fiction and what isn’t, especially speculative fiction.

Had I stopped to assess the SWOT of this opportunity, I might have chosen a different piece to enter or focused on a different project.

Without any evaluative process at the start of an opportunity you can waste valuable time and resources.

4. Do what you love

Artists practice business skills to sculpt a living from doing what they enjoy. It enables the opportunity to do what they love most: their art.

To value your art as a product broadens the meaning and purpose of the process to create it. Perhaps, you will aim to develop your brand into a trademark, where your studio’s R&D may qualify as intellectual property.

Entrepreneurial artists also look at:

  • Process repetition and whether a different project can use the research data.
  • Financial costs and whether to seek grants or venture capital.
  • Easy-to-use apps that help to build their business.
  • What you do well (strengths) and when you should ask for help (weaknesses).

In my last post about writing goals, I mentioned how being an artist can be a lonely profession. But when it comes to the final production and marketing of your art, you don’t need to do it on your own.

Artists practice business skills to…

  • Negotiate sales and purchases.
  • Organise help to strengthen their weaknesses.
  • Form partnerships with other creatives.
  • Turn a hobby into a profession.

When your passion to create and sell art eats a hole in your pocket, it can suck the life out of your soul. Bringing business skills into your art studio, can help you manage your time and resources.

Within our changing technological world, there’s an opportunity for creative people empowered with business skills to discover new possibilities.

What business skills do you practice with your art?

Strategic planning

Writing goals: to help others do what they love

Recently, I did some deep thinking about where I was heading with my writing goals. Since I graduated from my Masters, I’ve pottered around working on a few creative projects;  mostly my fictional short stories. But, something was missing.

Writer's journal showing writing goals.
My scribbles.

I looked at my core values and rejigged my writing practice to support them. Writing as you may know, is a lonely profession. The writer is often inwardly focused. The result of my heart to heart? Two new writing goals emerged.

My new writing goals

  1. To help other artists promote themselves online by using my writing skills.
  2. To share my knowledge and resources for writing with other people.

An artist is…

When I say “artist”, it includes individuals who work in the arts industry.

Writing goals to create and sell art.

People like:

  • Writers.
  • Visual artists.
  • Sculptors.
  • Vocalists.
  • Musicians.
  • Painters.
  • Artisans.
  • Photographers.
  • Actors.
  • Dancers.

There’s a huge list of different specialities within the arts industry, and my list is by no means exhaustive. Is your speciality listed above? If I’ve missed it, you can let me know in the comments.

What do you get?

People seek information when they visit a website. On this site, you can learn how you can benefit from my writing practice. You can also find inspiration or an alternative insight on a writing topic, fiction and non-fiction.

But, you could also hire my online writing services. I would enjoy helping you write an article for your blog or website. For me, doing what I love extends beyond writing fictional stories to online writing.

Either way, I recommend you look through my archive of reflections for writing examples and tips. If you don’t find what you’re looking for and you’d prefer to have a chat, contact me.

Expect at least three new reflections every week. If you don’t want to miss my updates, you can subscribe at the end of this post. Alternatively, sign up for my Arts Entrepreneur newsletter aimed at providing artists with helpful advice for their online business.

Do what you love

If you are not doing what you love, you are wasting your time. Billy Joel
Writing goals to help you do what you love.
Let's explore the world of words together.

I love to write, not just fictional writing but non-fiction online writing too. I also want to help you do what you enjoy. And that’s what I discovered was missing from my writerly practice. The structure supporting my value to help others do what they love.

Let’s explore the world of words together and discover how you can do what you love.

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