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Amplifying Reach of Your Posts – The Blogging Fundamentals

Amplifying Reach of Your Posts – The Blogging Fundamentals

If you can create good content and have mastered the blogging fundamentals, you have a skill that is highly prized (not to mention lucrative) in the market today. Whether as a job opportunity, or simply because one is passionate about writing, blogging is one of the most popular mediums of expression in the present times. We only need to look toward the various forms of social media we use on an everyday basis, to realize that a good 40% of what we see in our ‘feed’ is in the form of blogs.

What sets apart good content from not so good content? Originality, grammar, accuracy and engagement are some of the crucial factors for what qualifies as ‘good content’. To know more, read our post on “what qualifies as good content?”

One of the most commonly used platforms for blogging is WordPress which has a simple interface, and also guides you towards making your posts more readable, and optimizing it for the search engines. In this post, we introduce you to certain techniques of blogging fundamentals that will help you gain more engagement and traffic on your content – the lifeblood for your blogs.

Blogging Fundamentals – The Title of the Post

It is very important to put thought into what the title of the post should be, because your title should be a 5 second takeaway which convinces the reader to click on the link and proceed to read the post.

Ideally, your title should:

  • convey the essence of the post, i.e., give the reader an idea about what to expect from the post.
  • not be very lengthy – a title between 5 to 9 words is great.
  • contain the focus keyword: Say you are searching for something particular on the web, you would enter one word, or a phrase which will then link you to search results containing the word or the phrase. A focus keyword is nothing but the main topic or issue being spoken about in your post. For example: ‘personal branding.’ For your content to be visible and picked up by search engines, it is crucial for the keyword of your post to appear in the Title/ Headline, and at least 4-5 times throughout your post.

Blogging Fundamentals – The Post

(a) Making your post ‘readable’

How your post fares on the internet is largely defined by how the post scores in two categories – No.1- If it is readable, and No.2 – If it is Search Engine Optimized (SEO).

 When we speak about readability in the context of web metrics, it does not just mean how effective the substance of the post is. It is also about how it is laid out for the reader in terms of how easy to read it is. Here are a few pointers to help make your post more readable –

  • Keeping your sentences short – Anything more than 20 words is a long sentence. Keeping your sentences short also helps the reader retain his focus on the piece, and makes your post more understandable on the whole.
  • Sub Headings – Wherever, and if possible, including sub headings lends to the readability of a post. While desirable, this isn’t a pre-requisite as you may or may not choose to write a post in a way that accommodates sub headings.
  • Paragraphs – Split your post into paragraphs to increase legibility. The size of one paragraph should ideally not be more than 150 words.
  • Use Focus Keywords – The more you use your focus keyword in the post, the more ‘visible’ on the web it becomes. Using it between 4-5 times throughout your post is a great number to ensure visibility.
    Google picks up on these focus keywords and points the readers towards what they are looking for, when they search for a particular topic. For example, if your focus keyword is ‘Personal Branding’, using it in your post a couple of times makes your post visible enough for Google to pick it up. And then it directs a reader who may have searched for ‘Personal Branding’ on Google, towards your post.
  • Include Links – Including links to the research that you may have done for your post is a great way to help increase traction for the post you are putting out. This is also a great way to share more knowledge with the reader, and a good practice to help gain visibility for good content – even if you may not have created it. Remember, what goes around, comes around. 🙂

(b) Search Engine Optimization or SEO

  •  Simply put, SEO, as its name suggests, is a way of ‘optimizing’ the reach of your post on the web to make it more ‘visible’.
  • Writing a ‘Meta Description’ for your post –A meta-description is nothing but an abstract of your post in not more than 156 characters. This meta-description is what appears under the title of your post when posted on social media sites. What you write in these 156 characters to describe your post, helps the reader decide whether or not he clicks on it and reads it.
  • Remember to include your focus keyword in the metadescription – This is a huge plus in increasing the visibility of your post.

Blogging Fundamentals – Image for the Post

The image you choose for your post is very important because in this case, it is especially true that ‘a picture speaks a thousand words’. If there were 3 things that added up to determine whether or not a viewer will click on your post, they would be the following –

  1. The title of your post
  2. The meta-description of your post
  3. The picture along with your post

Choose an apt picture to go along with your post, and as the writer, you would be in the best position to relate a picture to your post, so it is worth spending a few minutes on.

Remember to give credits to whosoever the picture belongs to. Google penalizes the web pages which use pictures which are not open source (free for all), without attributing credits to the same.

Besides the techniques of blogging fundamentals elaborated above, which will help your content gain more visibility, to help you make your content more robust, there are certain common errors you should avoid. These are what we call ‘the 5 cardinal sins for a content writer – content writing mistakes’.

  1. Not knowing your audience –
    versus knowing your audience can do a world of difference to the quality of content you put out + enhance engagement.
  2. Errors –
    of any kind. Grammatical, punctuation, plagiarism, irresponsible articulation of your thoughts (i.e., misuse of your freedom to express) – all of these contribute to making your content a recipe for disaster.
  3. Writing without a synopsis or summary –
    stick to a summary of what you are writing and exactly how you are going to tackle it – point by point. Make a short synopsis before you get started and try not to deviate. This synopsis should be drawn up at the research phase itself.
  4. Being verbose –
    It may be tempting to use big words and fancy phrases, but what use if they are lost on your readers and scare them away? This connects to what we said earlier about knowing your audience. Have a thorough sense of “who” you are writing for, and write in a simple, effective language that will put your point across. Besides, what makes a piece of writing very attractive is how simply, yet effectively it has been articulated.
  5. Not making enough use of your creative talents
    Sky is the limit when it comes to experimenting with your creativity through the content you create. Feeling like writing a food blog post on healthy summer eating? Google fruits and find out what citrus based recipes could trickle into a post on light-hearted salads and smoothies. Use analogies and make your piece truly shine, truly come alive. Try adding texture where none is possible – yes, even in that straitjacket report on the financial outcome of the latest IPO to have come to Wall Street. Make it resonate and let your words really talk.

Creating good content online is both an art and a technique. While the content you write may be absolutely great, without a basic knowledge of blogging fundamentals, you may be stumped as to why your ‘great content’ isn’t receiving any engagement. Investing time in learning about certain basic skills and techniques about web metrics, and incorporating them into your work is a certain way of gaining success in the world of content creation. Have you tried out these great tools for content writing? Give it a go! Wondering what a career in content writing would entail? Read our short guide to a content writing career, here.

6 Free Courses that will Add Value to your CV

6 Free Courses that will Add Value to your CV

2017 has just begun, and you still have a lot of time to accomplish everything and more you imagine ticking off that checklist. We are taking for granted that one of them is learning new skills, and doing what you do better. To help you pursue this goal here is a list of free courses that would probably help you, regardless of what your job is. Well, if not all of them, one of them for sure. And even completing one of these courses would not only help you become a better version of you, it will add actual value to your CV.

1. Introduction to Graphic Design, Udemy

This introductory course on graphic designing speaks about elementary things such as what sets apart appealing visual material from not so appealing visual material. And thus, what are some basic principles and elements of design that will help you be more knowledgeable about how design works.

2. Adobe Photoshop CS6 Essential Tools, ALISON

Photoshopping seems to have become an almost “must have” skill, especially if you are in the media/ management sector. Even if your profile may not require you to engage extensively with how photoshopping works, this is a great starter kit for you to pick up the basics for editing and enhancing photographs. Have a look at the free course here.

3. Diploma in Social Media Marketing, ALISON

How do you enhance customer interaction through your social media pages? Why aren’t you get enough hits, likes and shares when you’re doing everything and more? This basic course will help you decode the fundamentals on how “traffic” in social media works. Having this on your CV will make you a favored candidate for more opportunities than you can imagine.
The course has a total of lessons, and each lesson is for hours. Have a look at more details on the free course here.

4. Introduction to Public Speaking, edX

Whoever said public speaking is only for politicians and leaders? In the World of Work, acquiring the art of public speaking is just as important a skill. Be it a farewell speech, an award acceptance speech or speaking at a board meeting or an international conference. In all these areas, your public speaking skills will be put to test. If that scares you to death, well you are not alone. Fear of public speaking is a widespread phenomenon – the average person ranks it even above fear of death. There is even a word for it – Glossophobia or speech anxiety is the fear of public speaking or of speaking in general. [Read more – here].

This course is your quick fix (just 10 weeks!) to overcoming glossophobia! Designed by the University of Washington the course grooms you into becoming the public speaker you wish you were!

5. Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills, Coursera

The name of the course in itself is a skill you need to have to survive the highly competitive world of work. Well, this courses teaches you not just how to survive, but also how to thrive! With expertise from University of Michigan and the easy interface of Coursera, in 6 lessons you will have learnt the essentials of effective negotiation!

6. Secret Sauce of Great Writing, Udemy

Hang on before you jump to conclusions. This isn’t a creative writing course, far from it. This immensely popular course teaches you how to write business emails, cover letters, press notes, and also how to write effective business blogs. By the end of it, you’ll know all that there is to know about how to draft a perfect professional email, what mistakes you should be careful about, cover letter basics – and so much more!

Excited to get started? That’s great! But do remember to take on these courses when you can devote the required time. It may seem like very little effort, and compared to university it surely is. However, you still need to be in a space where you can dedicate the required discipline and attention to the course. That’s the only way you’ll finish it feeling like you’ve actually accomplished something. And that sure is a great feeling!

Planning the Perfect Gap Year – Part 1

Planning the Perfect Gap Year – Part 1

At last! The day for you to submit your final examination paper arrives. The years of piling on honors and extra classes, tutors, test preparations, community-service projects, and other extracurricular activities are now going to be behind you. While on one hand your classmates are preparing to crack the college admissions, you on the other hand have decided to take a year off. Bravo! A million questions must be swirling in your head at this very moment. “What do I do during a gap year?”, “How do I fund it?”, “Where can I stay?” and so on. While planning a Gap Year might seem like a daunting process, we are here to tell you that it really isn’t that difficult! Given below is a checklist we have created in order to help you plan your perfect Gap Year. If you can tick all the points, then you are ready to go!


There have been many cases where students at the end of their gap year simply find that they didn’t get the experience they were hoping for. Not having clarity about “Why do they need to take a gap year and what do they hope to achieve?”, is one of the chief reasons.

While a gap year is about recharging your batteries, it is also an opportunity to learn and grow in ways that will prepare you for a meaningful and fulfilling life. According to Ethan Knight, executive director of American Gap Association, “ A student might not be a good fit if he or she doesn’t have a clear plan of learning or enrichment activities during the time off, or doesn’t feel that they are academically burnt out and are looking forward to classes.” Therefore for a gap year to benefit, it is very important for you to have a clear understanding of what is driving you to take a year off as this will help you set realistic goals.

Determining the right gap year plan starts with identifying and introspecting on some burning questions that matter. Below is a list of some important questions we strongly recommend you to ponder over.

a) Why do I need to take a year off?

b) Will it benefit me in anyway?

c) In what ways do I need to learn and grow to take full advantage of college or work place?

d) What types of experiences and support will help ensure this growth?

Asking such questions will not only help you narrow down your needs and interests, but also give you a clarity on whether a gap year is the best fit for you or not.


Once you have a better understanding of your needs, interests and the goals you have set for yourself, it is absolutely essential to create a structured plan around them. The first step towards creating a plan of action is to identify the type of gap year you’re most inclined to. Broadly speaking, there are 4 types of gap years: –


A gap year is a good time to get a foot on the ladder of your future career path. Depending on what industry or sector you wish to work in, there are well established internship programs and jobs that can give you a taste of working in that sector.

While you might groan at the thought of working during a gap year, but there are many advantages that will make you see a working gap year in a different light. Not only does it help you discern exactly what types of work you would and wouldn’t like, but often it can expose you to a whole range of career options you never even knew existed. In addition to that, it also helps you earn some money, gain skills and experience and build up a network of contacts. If you choose to combine a working gap year with some travel, you’ll get to experience working in different locations, often in multicultural teams and using language skills, giving you a deeper insight into the local culture than you’d get when simply travelling through.

Also, having a productively spent gap year on your personal statement or CV can be a great way of distinguishing yourself from the crowd, as long as you can show what you gained from the time.

Does it sound convincing enough?


Spending the year volunteering is one of the best ways in which you give back to the society. It helps increase your sense of community, give cultural exposure, make new friends and help you build a network of contacts which may later lead to an offer of a permanent job!

Volunteering roles are available in registered charities, foreign-aid projects, not for-profit organizations, governments, and other organizations. Typical roles include administration, finance, fundraising, event organizing, care work and many more.

If you want to volunteer and travel places, there are lots of international volunteering placement schemes which offer short placements (from a week up to a year) across a range of career sectors. This way you can help around the world with all kinds of initiatives. All you’ll need to do is some research and you’ll be all set!


Whether it be the mystics of the far-east, the exotics of southeast Asia, the thrills of Australia, the culture of Latin America, the fun of North America or the history of Europe that calls you there are loads of great things to see and do in every corner of the world.

Students either travel around the world or locally during a gap year. This can be very rewarding as it helps them to unwind, teaches them to be independent, soak up rich cultures and broaden their horizons, widen their social and professional circle, and if lucky helps secure permanent jobs too!

So, are you ready to travel the world?


Imagine being able to study what you desire without the pressure of tests and assignment deadlines hanging over your head. What if you could learn in a brand new environment which doesn’t even remotely resemble the four walls of a classroom? Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?

Studying during a gap year will allow you to take a year out before university or work while still continuing to further your education. Today, many colleges and training centers offer courses suitable for gap year students which help develop key skills such as office, IT and business skills, or gain extra skills and knowledge in fields such as languages, art, music, drama, sports or conservation.

There are several options for studying abroad or in a different location to where you are usually based. You can take a short-term summer program, or apply for a position in an exchange program that specializes in study opportunities abroad and so much more!
Now that you have identified which type of gap year you belong to it is important for you to:

i) Select the places where you’d like to spend your gap year, and

ii) Figure out how much time is available on your hands.

Narrowing down the places will depend on a number of factors such as, accessibility, safety, whether the place caters to your learning needs and so on. As for the duration of your gap year, that will depend on what your learning needs are, how long can you finance your gap year etc.


It is no secret that funding a gap year can take a toll on your parent’s bank accounts as it includes many costs. These include travel costs, living expenses, visas/work permits, driving permits, insurance, internet and mobile phone costs and health expenses!
This was probably the biggest reason why it took your parents some time to wrap their heads around the idea of a gap year!

While planning how to raise funds is a crucial step and a laborious process, it is not unattainable. Once you have figured out your final costing, you can right away start raising funds!

Given below are some ideas which will help you in that process and turn your gap year into a reality.

a) Work before you go.

b) Work during the gap year; either in one place or while travelling.

c) Fundraise through sponsored events and activities.

d) Ask your family and friends to donate. Perhaps instead of birthday gifts you could ask them to donate or pay for completing the chores.

e) Sell some of your unwanted items online.

f) Apply for a grant or a loan from government/federal funding bodies, charities and grant-making trusts.

While these can be carried out anywhere around the world, there are some Universities in United States, like Princeton,  and Tufts University  that have begun to subsidize gap years for incoming students. Also, there are a number of low costing programs such as AmeriCorps,  City Year  or WWOOF-USA  which pay for room and food arrangements.
If until now you’ve been able to satisfactorily tick every point off this checklist, then there is just one last and final thing for you to do. Touch base with your potential contacts living in the areas you are about to visit or work, arrange your stay and book the travel tickets in advance. This way you will not leave anything for the last-minute and won’t get hassled when the day finally arrives!

We understand that it is not just the pressure of planning a gap year that can be tough. Convincing your parents and yourself is a major part of the process. We hope that once you are able to cross that milestone, this blog will help you in planning your gap year to the very last detail.

What qualifies as good content? Our two cents on it.

What qualifies as good content? Our two cents on it.

What makes you want to read something? Is it the caption? Or the promise of information or entertainment? Is it sheer curiosity that fuels a click or makes you open a page? Well, the secret of good content is that it brings in all of these elements.


To begin with, the big differentiator between good content and great content is originality. This does not merely mean passing a plagiarism test. Besides being technically original, the content also needs to be original in terms of ideas. The information may be the same as another article in the same genre, but originality can also come from a fresh look or point of view. Giving your own perspective or wording the same information differently for a different audience is what sets content apart.

The Headline

The eye-catching part and click generating part of any content is its headline, and the tag line summing up the article. This needs to be as succinct as possible with a rare twist that will draw a person’s interest and convert him or her into a reader. The headline should be short, but impactful. It should not be overly sales-y and yet, should spell out the tone that will follow through for the rest of the article. Further, one should always steer clear of making promises that the content cannot keep. Remember, the key is to draw in the audience and keep them – not break their hearts and send them packing.


This one should not come as a big surprise. Grammar was, is and will always be one of the basic pillars for good content. Understanding grammar is a matter of tedious hours spent over your “its” and “it’s”, “you’re” and “your” as well as “there” and their”. While some of these may leave the average writer scoffing at the plain obviousness of it all, the Grammar Nazis do end up having a field day with typos. Proof reading is everything as are your grammar skills. Punctuation, and the right prepositions are the very basics that take your writing from good to great. “I love correcting the mistakes in an article instead of reading and enjoying,” said no reader, ever!

Call for Action

In today’s day and age of Social Media marketing, content is THE tool with which a brand can drive, engage and build audience. Here, the writer or content creator’s job is to insert a deliberate and obvious call to action. Maybe a “like our page,” or a simple “click here” or “rate”. The key is to inform, entertain and then tell the reader what to do next. It may be as simple as asking him or her to subscribe to the newsletter for constant updates on the posts. Whatever it may be, ensure that it is there.


Information is a major part of content. Providing accurate information, therefore, is a given. Do not merely stick to an exhaustive list that looks like you have put in hours of research – make that research count. Besides wording it well, ensure that you check back and double-check to ensure that you do not commit any blunders in reporting. Plus, citing all sources of information is an absolute must and any direct quotes must be referenced and put within quotes.


The idea is to leave the reader asking for more. Creating engaging and thought-provoking content is the key to creating good content. It should leave the reader with insights, and give him or her enough reason to come back for more. You can add to the value of your content by adding images and videos or even infographics to make it more attractive and easy to understand.

Bonus Tip: Always keep your reader in mind while writing. That will help keep you on track while writing.

We hope that these tips help you in creating memorable content that will help you carve out a niche of your own. Keep writing!

The Five Cardinal Sins For A Content Writer – Content Writing Mistakes

The Five Cardinal Sins For A Content Writer – Content Writing Mistakes

Content, like many things in life, has its good days and bad days. This directly reflects on the content writer, who is the creator of said content. There are some mistakes that we can avoid to ensure that we do not end up churning nondescript, error ridden or downright, mediocre content. So here are the five cardinal sins/ Content Writing Mistakes that a content writer must avoid at all costs:

  1. Not knowing your audience:

    Before you start writing, always ensure that you know who you are writing for. Remember, the way it sounds in your head when you are writing it, may not be the same way it sounds in the head of your potential reader. Part of not losing the plot, includes knowing who you are writing for. If, for example, you are writing a blog post for a bar of soap, ensure that you know what that soap manufacturer is after. Is he looking for a piece of the 30 something, more mobile upwardly market, or the nascent, “just started earning, so have to feel good instantly” market? A short questionnaire swap with your prospect before the start of a project can do the trick.

  2.  Errors:

    Error 404 is a commonly made mistake in any content writer’s life. This can mean anything and can cover any range of errors from plain and simple grammatical to errors in reporting. Remember, accuracy is key here. You need to get your facts right before you set on writing that engaging and thought-provoking piece of news or blog post. Check and double-check to ensure that you have the facts you need on hand. Do not write a haphazard piece, or a piece ridden with ill-informed and erroneous views. You will shoo away your audience and lose all credibility. Ditto for grammar.

  3.  Writing without a synopsis or summary:

    This can spell suicide from the word get go. As a writer, you will come across many situations that distract and make you entertain multiple thoughts. This is especially true in our social media driven times, where distractions are dime a dozen and perspectives (differing, nonetheless), even more commonplace. So, to ensure that you do not lose the plot, stick to a summary of what you are writing and exactly how you are going to tackle it – point by point. Make a short synopsis before you get started and try not deviate. This synopsis should be drawn up at the research phase itself.

  4.  Verbose, much? Now, this can be a virtue:

    If you are writing a novel. Not when you are sending out a blog post into the great, big void called the Internet, where scores of people inhabiting different rungs of literacy and exposure can stumble upon your piece. So ensure that you keep it simple. Use one adjective per sentence. Do not repeat prepositions. And ensure that you use smaller, simpler words wherever you can. If you tend to go around in circles, proof read twice – once for grammar, and once to come to the point faster.

  5.  Creative expression:

    Knows no bounds. Therefore, remember to be as creative as you can be. Some content writers keep it bland – a sin like no other. It is imperative to follow your heart and do some well intended research. Feeling like writing a food blog post on healthy summer eating? Google fruits and find out what citrus based recipes could trickle into a post on light-hearted salads and smoothies. Use analogies and make your piece truly shine, truly come alive. Try adding texture where none is possible – yes, even in that straitjacket report on the financial outcome of the latest IPO to have come to Wall Street. Make it resonate and let your words really talk.

Ideas and content go hand in hand, as do various writing techniques. Ensure that you put enough tools in your content arsenal to avoid making these content writing mistakes, so that you can successfully build an author platform. Keeping these five basic things in mind while writing is a great way to start. As you grow, your own experiences will sharpen your intuition as a writer. The best trick is to keep writing!