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So You Want to Be a Blog Writer: What You Need to Know

Being a blog writer sounds like a dream job. You write about whatever you want and people come to your website, bringing along valuable eyes for ad revenue. You can work from anywhere and set your own hours. If only it were that easy.

The truth is that there are thousands of blogs that have gone nowhere because many an amateur blog writer bit off more than they could chew. If you really want to make a career out of blogging, you need to be prepared to write professionally. Here’s everything you need to know to actually make a living off of blogging.

The Basics of Blogging

Proper Prose

While this might seem rather obvious, if you don’t know how to write correctly you’re going to have a bad time as a blogger. Native speakers of every language tend to take their writing skills for granted. We automatically assume we’re competent writers because we’ve been using this language our entire lives.

But that’s a fallacy. Good writing is a craft. Like any craft, you’ll get better the more you do it, but you also have to take some time to learn the right way to do things. For instance, do you know the difference between passive and active voice, and when to use each? Do you know when to use past perfect or when to tack on that “–ly” to your adjectives to make adverbs? Do you know how to craft a sentence without creating a misplaced modifying phrase?

Brush up on your grammar. Tools like Grammarly are just that: tools. They’re aids to writers who already know how to do it. They can never make up for a lack of knowledge and skill in writing. Brush up with a course if you need to!

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

With English out of the way, let’s talk about SEO. If nobody sees your blog, you’re not likely to go very far. Of course, it takes a while to build up a following regardless of your SEO, but clever SEO tactics can help you get seen more quickly.

People don’t always write their searches as you would expect. While Google ignores tiny words like articles and prepositions for the most part, you do need to pay attention to the terms people are using. Answerthepublic.com is a great tool. You can see exactly what questions people search regarding a topic and plan your content accordingly.

And don’t forget to check out Google Trends, which tells you what people are searching for. You can even get a timeline of trends to see which topics peak throughout the year. Obviously, Christmas-related searches will spike in November and December, so save your Christmas content for then.

Post Length and Frequency

When you have a good grasp of writing and SEO, you’re ready to start blogging. You’ll want to define how much you’re going to write and how often. Set reasonable goals and try to increase the frequency before you increase the content itself.

600 words is a recommended amount for a simple blog post. If you have a video clip or other content in the body of the article, you could bring it down to 300 words or more. Anything less than 300 words is unlikely to be prioritized by search engines.

Try to post at least once a week to start out. Consistency is important. Your followers will expect content to come out regularly, so stick to a schedule. Even the time of day that your post launches should be consistent.

Standardization and Planning

To build a loyal following, your readers need to know what to expect from your work. While you should experiment with different topics and formats, try to stick to a standard outline for a while. Consider the who, what, where, when, and why of every topic and craft an outline for your content that you can use repeatedly.

When you have a template you can consistently use, writing becomes easier. It’s almost like playing those Mad-libs games where you simply plug in words. You want to remove obstacles to your writing, and standardization does exactly that.

Planning is also extremely important. While you might get hit with a burst of inspiration and produce a beautiful blog post from time to time, don’t expect that to happen every morning with your coffee. Practice writing down post ideas every day. Record these and plan out your content at least one month in advance.

Find Your Niche

When it comes to writing, it’s all been done before. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have an original thought. You need to find your niche or your unique approach to the topic.

For example, there are hundreds of photography blogs out there. What can you do to make yours stand out? Perhaps you photograph something unique that most people don’t. Maybe it’s how you edit your photos. Or maybe you tell a story for each photo.

Try to give your content a unique twist that will make it stand out from the rest. People follow blogs because they learn something new and see the world from a new perspective when they read.

Improving Your Skills as a Blog Writer

Once you’ve established your blog, your next mission is to improve your writing. Although practice makes perfect, there are a few other things you can do to enhance your writing. Dedicate at least a few hours every week to your training and you will see results.

Read Other Blogs

This is the easiest place to start improving. If you have a blog that you follow, analyze it. What is it about the writing that you like? How does it approach topics in a unique way? Dissect your favorite blogs to see what you can do to improve yours.

Of course, you should never plagiarize another person’s work. However, you can certainly get some topic ideas from other pages. Perhaps you see a little design feature that you love on one site and you import it into yours.

Even the most successful blog writer in the world has gleaned insights from other writers. Nobody is 100% original, so don’t feel bad about looking to others for ideas.

Practice Your Writing Skills

Never assume that your writing is perfect. It could always be better. However, once you get to a certain point, you’ll realize that you aren’t pushing your writing skills. So, how do you push the envelope of what’s possible with your writing?

Several authors have published great guidebooks for writing. Consider picking up one of their books. Many of these include exercises that put your skills to the test. For example, John Gardner’s The Art of Fiction includes writing exercises like “write the longest sentence you can” or “write an entire page without using the word ‘I’.”

Practice writing in a completely different format or style. Adding a bit of fictional-style prose that paints a picture or helps you tell a story can be a great addition to your blogging style.

Writing Challenges

Consider doing a writing challenge! It’s a great way to change up your routine and pump some fresh air into your work. Maybe you set a goal of one post per day or a certain number of words per week. Whatever you do, stick to it!

Challenges like these help you develop your resilience and persistence. There will be days where you don’t feel like writing, but your blog and its readers are waiting. A challenge teaches you to power through these moments of demotivation.

Increasing Your Income From Blogging

Ultimately, the goal is to make money. So, with your blog growing and your readership expanding, how do you extract as much revenue out of your blog as possible?

Ad Revenue

When your blog grows and has a regular following, you can convert those eyeballs into dollars with ad revenue. Google AdSense is a good place to start. However, you can get more lucrative ad deals by targeting companies who would do well on your blog.

For instance, if your blog is all about living abroad in Colombia, businesses that frequently market to other expats would love to advertise on your blog. Pitch a banner ad or sidebar ad by telling the company just how many people see your site every day.

Sponsored Content

You can go one step further by writing sponsored content. Be sure to be transparent with your readers, as nobody likes a writer whose content feels bought or compromised by business interests. It is possible to write content that informs and sells at the same time.

An honest restaurant review where you got a meal for free or a product review from a sponsor is a great way to break into the world of sponsored content. Start with local businesses if possible. Once you’ve become a trusted name in the industry you specialize in, bigger companies will come knocking.

Getting Clients

Besides monetizing your own blog, you now have a very valuable set of skills that could be put to use for other people. You’re a blog writer now! Your fingertips are like expensive tools that other people can rent.

There are plenty of websites where you can offer your blog writing services to the public, including Fiverr and ProBlogger. However, these are unlikely to pay as much as a reputable writing agency would. Another option is to cold email companies directly and offer them a blog package.

If finding your own clients seems like too much trouble, but you could use some extra income, might we suggest SteadyContent? We help businesses build their own blogs by connecting them with talented writers like yourself. Go to SteadyContent today and let us know if you’re interested.

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Working With a Kitchen Designer in Coconut Grove

After you purchase real estate, the first thing you may consider is changing, upgrading, or completely demolishing aspects of your home that don’t suit your needs or style. Giving your kitchen a facelift can be a surefire way to enhance your home’s aesthetics and functionality while increasing its value. In areas like Coconut Grove, Brickell, and S. Beach properties sell at a premium. Any work done should be the highest quality achievable within your budget. It’s for that reason many people consider hiring a professional designer.

Why Use a Kitchen Designer?

Working with a kitchen designer can help you achieve a polished and professional finish. The experience they have in remodeling can ultimately save you time and money. Anything more than minor changes to your kitchen, such as knobs, superficial fixtures, etc., should be handled by a professional. Considering building codes, material costs, and access to reputable contractors all add layers of complexity to your project, kitchens are not a do-it-yourself job. You will want the finished product to be accurate, safe and insurable

Types Of Professional Designers

The designer you should choose depends on the work you need to be done and where you are getting your supplies. National chains and retailers will often have designers on staff at little to no cost. There are also private designers that work on a per contract basis. Although they cost more, they may give you more impartial advice on materials and design because they rarely have direct brand affiliations.

Locating A Designer

When trying to find a designer, seeking the recommendations of friends and family is useful. Some communities like Coral Gables and Pinecrest have designers many homeowners have used with solid reputations. There are also resources like the National Kitchen and Bath Association, which list reputable designers. No matter where you locate your designer, they should have a portfolio of their previous work to review.

Honing In On A Designers Expertise

Keep in mind; designers may be more versed in some areas. If you have a modest single family home and are not looking for opulent trimmings, picking a designer that specializes in upgrading luxury real estate may not be the best way to go. Also, some owners have unique property aspects they may want to be enhanced. For example, waterfront properties have the potential for unique design ideas like open-air walls. Ask potential designers share their design strengths and note their weaknesses.

Once you have chosen a designer, prepare yourself for your consultation and design process by:
Determining your budget
Listing the pros and cons of your existing space
Having some idea of what you would like
Maintaining flexibility about what you want vs. what can be achieved
Agreeing on a time line in writing
Knowing you can ask for multiple draft plans, and agreeing to a number in writing
Minimizing the changes you make as the project progresses

Most importantly, be patient. Doing a remodel properly is a process and there will be some inconvenience to you as your project is in the works.

Our site is your premier resource for real estate related topics in Miami Beach, Coconut Grove, and the surrounding areas. If you have a question, we likely have an answer. Check out some of our other articles, blogs, and resources.

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Is PRP Facial Treatment Right for You?

At the Osteopathic Center, we specialize in the latest PRP facial treatment technology and cosmetic therapies. We understand signs of aging, trauma, acne scarring, and sun damage can become heavily evident on your face and neck after time. Also, common issues, like dark under eye circles, can greatly change the way other’s perceive you. Fortunately, PRP facial rejuvenation can help restore and correct such imperfections.

 

Platelet-rich plasma, PRP, has been used as an effective treatment in orthopedic medicine, dentistry, and reconstructive surgery for 30 years. It is garnering mainstream popularity due to its proven effectiveness and organic approach to cosmetic improvements. Your own blood platelets are used in the procedure, rather than a host of chemicals, to renew the appearance of your skin.

How PRP Differs from Other Fillers

PRP facial treatment is able to stimulate your own collagen, promoting total facial rejuvenation rather than attempting to attack individual wrinkles. If your face is beginning to sink in from age it can add volume and youthful plumpness. The volumizing effect extends to under eye hollows and sunken cheeks. Also improved are skin tone, tightness, and overall texture.

 

This is in stark contrast to hyaluronic acid fillers that can be ineffective in many areas due to placement difficulty or the penetration of treatment. That said, our team can advise you on whether a pairing of the two types therapies can provide more pronounced results. What may be needed will be dependent on your skin’s condition.

How PRP Facial Treatment Works

Platelets are designed to help your body’s tissues heal and grow new cells. Your body responds best to its own cells, so using your freshly prepared PRP virtually eliminates the possibility of negative side effects. Each session only takes about 20 minutes.

 

During your session, a small amount of blood will be drawn. While your PRP is prepared your face and/or neck will be cleansed and prepped for treatment.The PRP that is injected into your skin will trigger the natural regeneration of damaged tissue and collagen production. Since PRP therapy is far less invasive than traditional plastic surgery techniques there is no post-procedure care time required.

 

Effects of your treatment will begin to show two to three weeks after your session and will improve with time.  Ideally, you will receive three treatments spaced about two weeks apart for maximum benefit.  Results can last for up to 18 months.  

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5 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Filing Taxes

According to data published by The Wall Street Journal, 3.7 million Americans submitted amended federal income tax returns in 2015. These amended returns were filed to take advantage of tax deductions/credits, to submit fresh financial information, and to add new income data.

It is important to note that you cannot e-file amended returns. In other words, you have to file them by sending hard copies using the USPS. The best way to avoid the extra time and expense of filing a hard-copy amendment is to get things right the first time. Here are the ways to avoid common filing mistakes:

Math Errors

Math errors are quite common on tax returns and constitute the first category of errors to be flagged, the IRS explains. In some cases, IRS employees correct computational and clerical errors.

This is especially true for paper returns, which are more likely to have missing or misquoted figures than electronically filed returns. To avoid such mistakes, double-check the figures that you provide throughout the first two pages of your returns.

Erroneous Social Security Number

This error is particularly common among people who claim a dependent exemption, because they have to list the SSNs or ITINs for their dependents. If you have dependents, you should verify all the SSNs/ITINs listed on your tax return to ensure they are correct.

One of the best ways to do this is by double-checking all the social security numbers on your tax return against the actual cards.

Alternatively, you can verify this data from the actual cardholders.

Filing Status

Another common filing mistake that you should avoid is providing an erroneous filing status. This can occur when separated couples file their returns separately while the IRS’s records show that they are still married.

To avoid having to correct your return, verify your filing status. It determines the deductions and credits you receive, and may lower your tax responsibility. Either way, make sure to use the correct filing status or you may end up with an IRS lien on your property.

Names

While it may seem absurd, many taxpayers actually misspell their names when filing their returns due to a number of reasons.

For starters, the current tax preparation software tools do not cover the entirety and cultural diversity of American names, which means they could mispronounce your name or offer a closely similar one. If you fail to verify every detail, you could enter an incorrect name on your return.

In addition, individuals who file returns on behalf of others, including tax/financial consultants may end up mispronouncing their client’s names. Divorced individuals could accidentally use the names of former spouses even after legally adopting other names.

Erroreoneous Income Details

If you are a contractor or freelance employee who receives a form 1099 for taxable income, make sure to keep detailed records of all sources of income. Also, make sure to report them correctly. Penalties from the IRS for unreported earnings are very steep.

Remember, the IRS keeps track of all legal transactions via form 1099.

The penalties for this offense vary depending on the size of unreported earnings and could include wage garnishment.

It is important to note that any federal refund, credit, or extension should be filed within three years of the original filing.

Conclusion

Every year, millions of Americans file tax returns that contain mistakes, including misspelled names, erroneous income figures, computation/math errors, erroneous Social Security Numbers, and wrong filing statuses. Avoid the hassle of amending your return by thoroughly checking your math, your status, and your name before you file.

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SEO is an Investment That Grows Your Business!

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is one part of an effective website design. If you are not already using SEO, it should be part of your marketing strategy. It can be implemented quickly and easily using the right content writer. Here are 5 reasons to implement SEO today:

It Takes Time to See ROI – Get Started!

SEO is a very effective marketing strategy and can drive thousands of customers to your website monthly. However, it takes time to see ROI, or “Return On Investment.” This means implementing SEO takes patience. A recent survey shows that 94 percent of online marketers using SEO effectively plan to continue or increase their current SEO budget. Hiring an agency to create SEO content can be expensive, but the cost is worth it. The investment pays for itself in increased brand recognition and greater search and referral-driven traffic. So be patient. You will see the return on your SEO investment soon.

Golden Age Of SEO

We are in a “Golden Age” right now, where black hat tactics and manipulation are no match for SEO. There was a time when competitors could displace their competition using these underhanded strategies. Now, however, SEO reigns and your company can benefit greatly. This is the time to invest in SEO, before digital assistants and immediate answers take over the search engine territory.

Reap Greater Rewards By Compounding Returns

With every word of content you post, every link you establish, you are increasing your search visibility. This is called “Compounding Returns.” Essentially, you are building your reputation one post or link at a time. The more you put your business out there, the more authority you have on the web. The longer this goes on, the more you will reap conversions and referral traffic. The sooner you start building your reputation and compounding your interest growth, the sooner you will reap rewards.

Don’t Let Your Competitors Pull Away

The longer you wait to start utilizing SEO, the more you will lose out on high-ranking positions for lucrative keywords. Your competitors will build their defenses around their positions, making it harder to get in. They will add more targeted keywords and increase their rankings. The best way to avoid missing out is to get in now. Start using SEO today.

You’ve Nothing to Lose. Give It a Try

Don’t be intimidated by agencies that try to convince you to sign a six-month contract. There are SEO agencies out there that will work with you to accomplish your goals. Talk to professionals. Establish a budget and get started. Results will take time, but you can tweak things as you go. The sooner you get started, the better ROI you will see.

Don’t let the competition win because you didn’t join the race. Start using SEO and maximize your web exposure today.

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Fund Your Retirement with Real Estate Investments

We are all familiar with the standard types of accounts when it comes to later-in-life financial planning. However, in the current economy, these accounts will only guarantee you the minimum standard of living. If you’re looking for a little luxury in your later years, consider funding your retirement through real estate investments. Real estate has been used for years by savvy individuals, and it’s your turn to join the ranks of the successfully retired.

Passive Retirement Income

Investing in real estate allows you to enjoy the benefits of a passive income. Passive income is achieved by investing in properties that will generate cash flow beyond what is needed to sustain the investment. In other words, any money you make after you pay the mortgage and upkeep the property goes into your pocket. These funds will pad your retirement, allowing you to leave the workplace and enjoy a comfortable lifestyle.

Multifamily Properties Maximize Passive Retirement Income

A MDU, or multi-dwelling unit, has two or more dwellings underneath one roof. Each unit has a kitchen, living area, bathroom(s), and bedroom(s). An example of a MDU is an apartment building. Investing in one or more MDUs can maximize passive income, which we already discussed above, by providing multiple revenue streams from the purchase of one property. The income from each unit is independent of the others, meaning the loss of income from one unit will not automatically cause the loss of income from the other units. Investing in an MDU is a smart way to maximize your return, since purchasing one apartment building is easier than purchasing several single-family homes. An MDU can also guarantee you have a place to live during your retirement, since you can reside in one of the units while turning a profit on the others.

Benefits of Investing in Multi-family Properties

There are several benefits to investing in MDUs, or multi-family properties. Beyond creating passive income, let’s look at what makes MDUs especially attractive as a retirement investment.

Multiple Streams of Income
As we stated above, a multi-family property will be occupied by several, separate tenants all paying rent independently of each other. If you lose a tenant, you still have others paying rent while you fill the empty unit. There’s no such guarantee of income from a single-family home. If a single-family home is empty, it’s not generating revenue for your retirement. The same could be said for multi-unit office spaces, if you’re looking for a higher-dollar investment. Multiple units equal multiple ways to make money.

Less Expensive to Manage
When you purchase a MDU, you have the option to hire a property management company. The overhead to hire the company and manage the property will be significantly less than the overhead to manage several single-family homes. A management company will handle things like rent collection and soliciting tenants, allowing you to relax and enjoy your retirement.

Invest with Less Risk
Even in a down economy, multi-family properties usually have tenants. This means your risk is less when investing in these types of properties. You should be able to draw passive income even in harder economic times. Also, having multiple dwellings means your revenue streams are not dependent on each other. This also equals less risk.