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4 Ways to Turn 'Draft' Into 'Published'

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The ‘Draft’ folder.

The folder of unmet expectations, failed dreams and crippling self-doubt. Just kidding. (But it’s true)

I have years and years of drafts of my writings, unpublished, all lined up like tortured prisoners waiting to see the sun. (These are just a few snapshots — not including the ones I have in my physical notebooks)

It hurts to think of the drafts. They’re evidence of my failure to finish things and my inability to overcome self-doubt.

But on the other hand — they’re also evidence of my many ideas. Evidence that I’m trying my best to write good things and share them with people. Evidence that I’ve already done most of the work — now they just need a little bit of polish before they see the sun.

So I choose to be kind to myself and choose to patiently polish some of these posts so that I can finally turn them from ‘Draft’ to ‘Published’. Here’s how I plan to do it:

 

1) Give yourself permission to move a draft to the ‘Trash’.

Sometimes an idea comes knocking and it seemed so good in your head. But when you actually explore the idea and start writing about it, you find that it bores you. Writing it suddenly becomes a huge chore and you’d rather mop your kitchen floor than finish writing it.

In that case, give yourself permission to quit. Stop writing and pick another topic. What you’ve writing won’t go to waste because now you’ve solidified your thoughts and those solid thoughts will stay with you (even if you delete the draft). Or if it feels to drastic to delete, archive the post and stop feeling bad about it.

I’ve given myself permission to only finish writing on topics that I’m actually excited about. This is my blog, why the heck should I bore myself?!

In the words of cute petite tidy Japanese lady, Marie Kondo, “does this spark joy?” If the answer is no, say thank you and move on so that you can finish a draft that you actually like.

 

2) Narrow the scope of your writing to one person only.

I have a confession. I haven’t been posting as much because I felt that whatever I’ve written, is NEVER ENOUGH. Yep, I’ve fallen into the trap of trying to please everybody and feeling scared that I’m not good enough to please everybody.

This is a struggle that a lot of people share. Instead of trying to write about what YOU experienced, you start thinking of other groups of people that might read the post. Oh, I have to give these examples for people with children! Oh, I have to make sure that teenagers feel included! Wait, must make my examples applicable for both genders! What if the readers don’t like this genre/style/cuisine?

OVERWHELMING! In the end, you’re not gonna finish writing because you can’t cover everyone and you’re in despair.

Don’t worry about trying to be relevant to all kinds of people. Focus on one person: YOU. Your readers will find their own meanings in your words.

I’ve realized that writing becomes helpful and therapeutic only if you look and listen inwards. Once you focus too much on other people, your inner voice becomes distorted and your writing won’t feel like you anymore.

 

3) Speed through it, no time to second-guess.

This is one of my favourite methods to use when I’m stuck like a fat cat. Doesn’t matter if it’s an Instagram post, a blog post or even a work email, I find that speeding through it is the best cure to finish writing a draft.

Why speed through? Because you’re racing against that self-doubt. Before it sets in and makes you question every single line, finish the writing. Get the words out of your head and into the page and leave the worrying to later.

Once you’re done, 1) you’re actually DONE and 2) you’ll discover that your first draft is actually more than enough, more than WORTHY to be published.

The result is that you build confidence in your own writing. You discover that you can, in fact, crank out words like a factory.

Oh, did I mention my favourite free tool to help me speed through? It’s called The Most Dangerous Writing App. I swear by it.

 

4) Tell people about the draft, and promise publicly that you’ll publish.

Whenever I need that one final push to edit a draft and publish, I like to make promises to my followers.

”I’ll send you the link to my blog post on xxx tomorrow!”

Not saying I always keep my promises! But 60% of the time, I follow through in publishing the draft because I’ve said something to my followers. The way I see it, 60% is better than 0%.

Why does this work? It’s easier to let yourself down than to let other people down. If it’s just you and your draft, you can just say “tomorrow” 200x times and nothing will change.

But if it’s you + draft + other people, you can’t run anymore. You have to stick to your word or else bruise your own pride. This is called public accountability.

Full disclosure: I tried doing this for my weight loss goal. Didn’t work. I think weight loss is too multifaceted to rely on this method alone.

For something that’s not multi-faceted like a blog post draft though, this works fine.

Sometimes you feel like it’s impossible to finish and you have no idea WHY. I get it. There’s an invisible roadblock in front of us, like a thin layer of clear plasma in sci-fi movies. You just need a good last push.

 

Wanna know something amusing? This post, the one you’re reading right now, is a draft from November 2017. It’s been well over a year but the perspective I have now is: Good ideas don’t expire.

If you have a few, now’s the time to take them out for a polish and publish them. If there’s hope for me, there’s hope for you! :)

Do you usually go back to old drafts or start new ones? Leave a comment!

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The 3 Types of Content You Should Be Creating For Your Brand

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Picture this situation: You have a product or service that you want to promote. And you know that being active on social media like Instagram and Facebook is GREAT because you want to reach potential customers.

But when it comes to creating the content that you want to post -- it feels like you’re posting the SAME THINGS over and over again.

It feels like you’re just using synonyms at this point. “Amazing”, “excellent”, “high quality”. What to do at this point?

The normal things that people post on their brand’s social media, website or blog are usually things that actually revolve around their product or service. Makes sense right? When you have a product or service, you need to be talking about it to promote it and make money. If you don't talk about it, people won't know and won’t buy.

But, does that mean that you have to talk about your own product/service ALL the time? The answer is no.

A brand that only talks about its products or services is like a person who only talks about themselves. That kind of person doesn’t care about others, so it’s only logical that others don’t really care about them too.

If that’s how your brand has been operating, it’s time to look at what you post on social media and create content a DIFFERENT WAY.

Let me walk you through the THREE types of content you can create for your brand.

 

1) Promotional content

Promotional Content is content that is 100% about your product or service.

Examples:

  • SALE! 50% off for all tops

  • The CNY 2019 line of skirts

  • Buy 1 free 1 for website purchases only

These are called Promotional Content because you'll be promoting your product/service and inviting people to BUY. There's no secrecy or hidden motives here. It's all transparent.

Note: Posting Promotional Content isn’t a bad thing. But that’s not all you can post...

2) Informative content

Informative Content is content that won't mention your product/service AT ALL. 0%. Nada. Zip.

You may be thinking: Nowwwww why would I do that? Doesn't make sense at all to talk about other things. I thought I have to be *focusing* on my brand?

You thought right.

In Informative Content, you're not going to talk about your product or service, but you'll be focusing on your BRAND.

What does your brand mean to you, in 3 words? (Humour me for a bit)

For me, the Narrativity brand is about passion, fun and learning. Regardless of what I sell, this is what *my* brand means to me.

Products come and go, but brands are forever. Think about it. This year's line of products won't be the same as next year's -- but your brand will hopefully last for years and years to come.

That's why Informative Content will focus on what makes your brand special for your customers. So instead of promoting your product/service in this content, you’re going to be promoting your brand.

What happens is that your customers don't only USE your product, they LIVE with your brand. They don't only buy one product and forget your brand, but they'll be returning for repeat purchases and become a lifelong fan. They’ll be telling their kids about your brand!

So how do you create Informative Content? You need to go one step further than the average brand, focus on what your potential customers care about in relation to your industry, and create content about THAT.

For example, you sell blouses so you're in the fashion industry. What do your potential customers care about in relation to fashion?

  • They care about looking fashionable without draining their bank accounts before the next payday.

  • They care about buying quality clothes that will last them more than 6 months.

  • They care about maintaining their clothes and being able to wear them regularly.

There’s so many aspects of fashion that they probably care about, which means you have plenty of material to create content with.

Your Informative Content can be something like this:

  • How to determine if the clothes you’re buying are high quality (seams, buttons, etc)

  • The lazy person's guide to doing laundry

When your potential customers see and read this kind of Informative Content (which they’re interested in, btw), they’ll see that there’s MORE to your brand than *just selling another product that other brands are also selling*.

You’re differentiating your brand from other brands.

And because you won’t promote anything in the Informative Content, they’ll see that you’re giving away the valuable information for FREE. People like free stuff, man.

 

3) Hybrid content

If the promotional post is 100% about your product/service, and the informative content is about your brand, the hybrid content will be a little more subtle…. It’s going to combine both.

You'll basically start out with an Informative Content, and include your product/service as a PART of your Informative Content.

For example, you want to write about your special sambal paste that you're selling.

Your Hybrid Content: A blog post about the 5 Ways Busy People Save Time Cooking:

  1. Always wash dishes right after cooking your last meal.

  2. Go for simple recipes unless you have time for complicated ones.

  3. Buy pre-cleaned ingredients like pre-cleaned chicken or fish.

  4. Use ready-made pastes (like this sambal paste that you’re selling… hint hint)

  5. Chop up some ingredients in advance like onions and store them in the fridge.

See how your product is mentioned naturally in the blog post? By doing this, you're giving valuable information to your potential customers AND making them see that your product will fit right into their lives.

Side note: these are all tips I’ve implemented in my own kitchen! Haha.

When you want to create Hybrid Content, keep in mind that your product/service is only a part of that content. It’s fine if it’s just a small part. That way, you’re not limiting yourself to the kind of Hybrid Content you can create AND still mention your product/service.

 

How will all this info translate into, you know, actually creating those content?

I have a 2-Week Content Calendar that you can follow for 2-weeks worth of posts for your brand’s social media!

What do you usually like to post on your brand’s social media?

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How to Structure Your Blog Post to Make It Flowy & Understandable

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In some places around my website, I created mini surveys that would help me figure out what people ACTUALLY want to read about. So about a year ago, I received this response to one of my surveys:

What’s your biggest problem when it comes to writing blog posts?:  How to structure a blog post to make it flow and understandable for the audience.

What’s your biggest problem when it comes to writing blog posts?: How to structure a blog post to make it flow and understandable for the audience.

If you’re wondering why it took me that long to write about this topic, well, the answer’s gonna make me look bad. I just completely forgot about the responses to my surveys. It was like, “Oooh! Somebody took the survey!” and I never thought to actually write blog posts on what they were asking.

(Yes, you have my permission to look disgusted.)

Anyway, I thought, better 13 months late than never! Plus, it’s also a very popular question that I still get from my readers and newsletter subscribers from time to time. So, still helpful to discuss now.

 

How to structure a blog post to make it flow and understandable

It was an anonymous submission so I can’t ask the anon to clarify, but I think I understand what they’re asking.

If you’re already a blogger, or if you love writing, writing itself may already be easy for you. (Most of the time)

What’s hard is converting that writing into something that readers can understand and enjoy. Editing, refining, and sometimes re-writing what you wrote in order to make it ‘publishable’.

Case in point: I wrote the points for this blog post in about 2 days, but editing the blog post to make it understandable took more than a week. It wasn’t easy.

 
 

Is it hard to look like you ‘flow’?

Let me tell you a story. Of how I performed when asked to do a presentation in front of the CEO of my company, Heads of Department, and also two impressive and respected experts in my field — during the first 6 months of being hired there!

The summary: I screwed it up.

How I screwed it up: First of all, I lost my voice. Whenever I get nervous, my voice dies in my throat. I don’t mean a sore throat — I mean my voice disappears eventhough I’m speaking. So imagine how awkward it was when suddenly at the end of the sentence, no sound came out!

Secondly, I started to ramble. Eventhough I had slides ready, I completely messed up the flow of the presentation. Should’ve just followed the slides but noooo. My smartass brain thought it could do better. I could see my supervisor looking all eyebrow-raised but semi-amused at the same time.

Thirdly, I didn’t get to say what I came to say. The side effect of rambling is that I completely missed certain points. Because when your mouth is busy saying things, it’s hard to suddenly stop yourself and say “OK, that’s not exactly what I wanted to say.”

So. My presentation wasn’t structured, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t understandable, and I most certainly DIDN’T FLOW. In front of people I wanted to impress. It was a cringy moment even nearly 2 years later.

 

You want to impress your readers with your flow.

You may be thinking: How is your story relevant, Aina? Presenting is a whole different thing compared to writing.

OR IS IT?

Let me tell you something. When the reader is reading your blog post, they’re reading it out loud inside their head. Or rather, they’re hearing your voice inside their head.

Your readers are reading your blog post out loud in their heads.

So if your blog post is as messy and rambly and awkward as my presentation, the effect is the same.

I completely understand why ‘the flow’ is so important to writers/bloggers. When you have that flow, your blog posts are easy and enjoyable to read. Your blog posts become natural to read. And you’ll look effortless.

We want our writing to be cool but effortlessly cool. Not like we’re trying too hard to be James Bond. Ya get me?

But writing naturally and achieving that flow takes some strategies. Which are exactly what I’ll be discussing with you in this blog post.

 

First strategy: Paint the big picture by writing a general introduction.

Don’t be that friend who starts the story with the tiniest details and then you have to ask a million questions to get the full story. That friend is a horrible storyteller.

What you need to do is to make your writing UNCOMPLICATED to follow. That means starting from the big idea and then zooming into the small ideas.

That’s the structure that you want: BIG CONCEPT > SMALL CONCEPTS.

Quick example. Let's say you want to write about the benefits of argan oil for your face. Sure, you can dive straight away into the benefits. 1st benefit, 2nd benefit, 3rd benefit…

But then about halfway through, you feel like it gets harder and harder to explain the benefits. You have to deviate from your current track to explain about things in general. In short, your thoughts become messy and you don’t see how to finish writing your points. You feel like you’re swimming through seaweed.

How to fix this? Zoom out of the points you were focusing on and start again. Firstly, what the heck are face oils?

Face oils are oils that you put on your face to moisturize and hydrate your skin. They’re like the face creams you usually put on before bed, but are in oil form instead. (There, that’s a good general introduction.)

You may think, isn’t it cliche to talk about general things? Plus it’s so unnecessary because the general points are usually too basic. I don’t want to write a school essay.

I hear ya, but here’s the thing:

  1. Not everyone that reads your blog post knows everything (or even ANYTHING) about the topic you’re writing about. You can't assume that you are writing for people who have the same level of information that you do.

    So, rather than leave the beginners totally confused and abandoned, a general introduction will equip them with the right concept and terminology to properly understand the rest of your blog post.

    (If you had skipped the explanation of face oils, people who have never heard of face oils would think it’s crazy to put oil on their faces.)

    BTW, for readers who already know the general stuff, they'll just skim through that intro part. It won't be an issue.

  2. Even if you’ve explained the general idea in a different blog post before, it’s NOT REDUNDANT to write about it again. You can’t assume that your reader has read that particular post before.

    The readers who are currently reading right now may be totally new to your blog. So it doesn't hurt to re-explain stuff for their convenience.

    It doesn't mean that you have to explain it from A to Z. Just briefly explain AND link that part to the previous post. You can add, "I've talked about face oils and why they're actually good for your skin in *this post*."

Making your writing easy to follow may mean that you have to write a little bit more before diving into the points, but it's better than confusing them!

When your writing is easy to follow, no matter if your reader is a beginner or otherwise, it’ll just flow better.

 

Second strategy: Make it conversational by including your friend.

A blog post is NOT supposed to be a lecture. And you’re not a lecturer.

The best outcome of writing is when your reader feels that you’re speaking to them, and there’s a conversation flowing between you and them (for the whole blog post!).

If you want your reader to be your friend, write as if they're your friend.

When this happens, your writing will be conversational. The words that you use are more informal (and casual) and you phrase your sentences differently. It’s the difference between writing “There are several varieties of face oils in the market” and “You can check out a few different face oils in the market”.

(OK, maybe not a perfect example there, but you get what I mean)

But how to make it conversational when you’re writing on your own? You can’t always have your friend with you to help you write.

Well, you’re gonna have to work double-time and cover for your friend too. Basically, write AS IF you’re having a conversation with your friend.

If your writing still doesn’t feel conversational enough, no worries. It’s time to edit. (My writing rarely turns out conversational enough the first time — I usually need to edit in the conversation)

Here's how you edit in the conversation:

1) Take whatever you've written. Look at it in front of you.

2) Paragraph by paragraph — read it out loud. It has to be out loud. Not just in your head, OK? You have to hear what you’re writing for this strategy to work.

3) Read it in the best intonation possible, as if your friend is in front of you. Like you're telling your friend something.

4) Occassionally, switch roles and become your friend for a bit to ask questions. Like, suddenly, you'll be the friend who asks, "Wait, I thought it's bad to put oils on your face??" This will be a good opportunity for you to include the questions as well as the answers.

When you write as if you’re having a conversation with your reader, you’ll hit the natural flow of the conversation. What question will your friend ask first? How will your friend react to this or that? You’ll KNOW, because the conversation is happening inside your head! Now you just have to put them into words.

 

Third strategy: Relate to your readers by finding out WHO they are.

The way to REACH inside and GRAB your reader’s brain is to understand this: WHO is your reader?

Day after day, when you’re tapping away on your laptop, or scribbling away on your notebook, who do you imagine you’re writing to?

If you say you’re writing to Anyone or Everyone, that means you’re not PERSONALIZING your writing enough.

Structure is important, but knowing who you write to is even more CRUCIAL to making your blog post understandable.

When it’s not personalized, it means that it’s general. Like it’s not intended for anyone. Your reader is reading and he/she isn’t feeling special, because it’s not personalized to him/her. Your writing won’t flow the way it’s supposed to in his/her head.

At work, there’s usually a few talks every month that everyone is supposed to attend. And I’m REALLY bad at listening to talks. I either fall asleep (despite my good intentions) or play with my phone. The talks are usually too… General. And general = boring. So I don’t pay attention.

To get my attention, the speaker would have to speak as if they’re speaking to me PERSONALLY. They have to mention things that relate to ME. Not the person beside me.

Make your reader feel special by making the blog post ABOUT THEM.

That’s how it works in writing too. You need to personalize your writing based on who your readers are (or who you WANT to write to).

Here’s a few things you can find out about your readers:

1) Gender: male, female, others

2) Age: school children, teenagers, young adults, 30 year-old adults, mature (40+ and above)

3) Occupation: student, SAHM, executives, freelancers, business owners, office jobs, retail jobs

4) Level of interest in the topic: hobbyist, freelancer, business owner, professional

Those aren’t the only things, but they’re a solid place to start.

Let me give you an example. If you’re writing about budgeting money and your audience are teenagers — then tips like how to apply for loans and financing from banks won't be relevant to them (yet). Teenagers can’t apply for loans and financing.

So not only do you personalize the content, you also personalize your examples, writing style, and also language.

I have another tip. The thing about bloggers or writers is that they're usually sharing things that they themselves have experienced. So they share with people who are similar to them. So another way to understand your audience is to look at yourself.

Your own age, gender, occupation, etc all plays into how you write and personalize your writing.

 

Fourth strategy: Have mercy on your readers by embracing learning aids.

Learning aids are those things you can find in a school textbook. Diagrams, charts, etc… Learning aids make learning easier because you’re not just reading TEXT.

OK, so I’m writing about writing, but I’m telling you to use things other than words. Seems funny, right?

In my first year of university, reading law, I made this meme:

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Why? Because everything was just ENDLESS text. Paragraphs upon paragraphs with no end in sight, and I was just supposed to digest everything by reading? No way jose.

I like reading, but reading to understand something is a whole lot different than reading fiction.

So would you, as someone who’s passionate about educating your readers, inflict on them the same kind of pain? There are things, ideas and concepts that MERE WORDS cannot explain.

There are points that you can more readable and understandable with learning aids like diagrams, etc. Takes more effort for you to prepare a blog post, yes, but your readers will understand what you’re writing. I’d say that’s worth it.

Here’s a short list of learning aids that you can use in your writings:

1) Photos. Ohhh boy. If you can insert photos into your blog, I would really recommend it. Especially if you're writing tutorials. Sometimes it’s better to SHOW the steps rather than tell.

2) Videos. Videos are a bit difficult to produce and let's face it, video-editing is something that most people just don’t have time for. Me included. BUT, make short videos. Even if it's without any voiceover or captions or fancy editing, it can still be useful.

3) GIFs. If you don't feel like videos are your thing or they’re just too hard to produce, use GIFs! GIF stands for Graphic Interchange Format and it's like a hybrid between a photo and video, that will play on loop. I've used this before my Ultimate Guide to Microblogging on Social Media using a free tool called LiceCap. I know, weird name. But it works great!

4) Diagrams. Examples are the Venn diagram, flowcharts, pyramids, etc. Sounds a bit nerdy to make diagrams about argan oil or the best way to pack electronics or cupcake frosting, but WHAT ELSE ARE YOU GOING TO BE NERDY ABOUT? Tip: You can use the SmartArt on Microsoft Word and screenshot from there, or use a graphic design tool like Canva.

5) Analogies. Analogies are when you compare Concept A and Concept B. Concept A is the one you’re trying to explain, Concept B is something that your reader is already familiar with. For example, an analogy that I've used before is to explain the concept of a website:

  • A website is like a house.

  • The pages on the website are like the rooms. A blog, which is a page, is a room inside that house.

  • The About Me page and the Contact Me page are also other rooms in the house.

  • The domain (or the link that you type) is the address of the house.

If there's something you'd want to 'nerd out' for, it's your blog!

I use all the above (except for videos, still working on that), but my personal favourite is using analogies. I find it easier to create diagrams and graphics when I have a visual idea of what I want to explain.

 
 

Bonus strategy: Accept that there is no such thing as a perfect, 100% flowy blog post.

Even after all your editing and getting to know your audience et cetera, you will never achieve the 100% flow. And here’s the thing: it’s NOT IMPORTANT and it’s NOT REQUIRED.

I'm not saying you shouldn't try to make your writing flow nicely. I'm just saying, it matters less than you think. What matters is actually conveying your message/points/lesson/tips to your readers.

So if you’ve gone through all the strategies and there’s still something not quite perfect, LET IT GO. There's no need to force it. Your time is better spent writing another blog post!

Let me know in the comment section: How much time do you usually spend on your blog post to make it ‘flow’?

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The Ultimate Guide to Microblogging on Social Media

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Let's get real here: Blogging is a HUGE commitment.

In terms of how easy it is to publish stuff, blogging isn't exactly top of the list. It's so much easier to publish content on social media. You can do it from your phone and there's not a lot of steps to go through.

Social media: Grab phone > Tap on the app > Choose a photo > Type a caption > Post!

Blog: Turn on laptop > Log in laptop > Open up browser > Log in blogging platform > Click new post > Type > More typing > Add photo > Format post > Publish!

So if blogging is a bit of a hassle -- why then do some influencers with 500k-1mil followers STILL blog when they already have so many followers on social media? The main reason is SPACE.  

On your blog, you can do so much more to fully express your ideas. There’s no word limit and you can add multiple images. Not to mention, you can format your text too. (All the bolding and italicizing and underlining helps when you want to emphasize points.)

BUT... The fact that there’s so much space is what makes blogging so DAUNTING. There’s so much space to fill up but you don’t feel like you have enough points. 

Is it okay to publish a blog post with just 1-2 paragraphs? I only have one good photo. That’s too short. It’s going to be awkward if I post it. 

You feel worried about the blog layout and design and a million different other things that it seems easier not to blog.

So basically, you have something to say — but blogging is simply TOO MUCH for now. What’s the alternative?  

Something you’ve probably already done before... MICROBLOGGING. 

 

1. “What the heck is microblogging on social media? Explain.”

Microblogging is basically blogging on a micro scale. (“Aina, please try harder.”) 

OK, so if in normal blogging you’d usually write more than two paragraphs, for microblogging, 1-2 paragraphs is the perfect length. 

And BECAUSE you're not aiming for too many words, social media platforms are the perfect space for you to microblog.  

  1. Instagram. 
  2. Facebook. 
  3. Twitter. 
  4. (Or any other social media that I’m not hip enough to know) 

”Then isn’t microblogging like... posting on social media with a long caption or status update or whatever?”

Yes, that’s exactly what it’s like.

”Then why do you have to give it a fancy term like microblogging?”  

The reason why I differentiate between microblogging and posting on social media is how you prioritize the captions.

(Note: When I say captions, I mean any space that you can put text in.) 

When you post on social media like you'd normally do, the focus is on the VISUAL. If you’ve invested time in taking those great photos or filming a cool video, the captions are secondary. (“Like, let the pictures speak for themselves.”)

But with microblogging, the captions are priority. It's what you use to FULLY communicate your thoughts, ideas and beliefs. Photos and videos are great and all, but sometimes the written word communicates better.

For example, you could post a photo of the paint brushes you use for watercolour painting — but you’re going to want to explain why you like ‘em too, right? So basically, when you microblog, you get to explain more.

 

2. "Well, should *I* microblog then?"

If you’re already sharing your ideas, thoughts and experiences on social media — you’re probably already microblogging. 

But microblogging is especially awesome if you’re in these two types of situations: 

(a) You want to start blogging, but it's intimidating, you don't have time or you're not sure what to write.

and/or

(b) You want to start expressing yourself and build a brand, business, reputation, following, etc. 

Because microblogging is on a smaller scale compared to full blogging, it’s way less intimidating. You don’t need to wait until you could write 1000s of words, and even sharing one small idea/thought is enough for a post. 

And along the way, if you’re sharing your stuff consistently on social media by microblogging, you WILL build a reputation, brand, business, etc. 

OK, imagine this. 

You looove watercolour painting, and you microblog consistently on watercolour. You post about techniques, tips and tools and are NOT stingy with the explanations. Your posts are informative and fun. 

Over time, your friends and family will know you as the ‘watercolour girl’. (When it’s your birthday, they buy you painting supplies) 

And when someone they know looks for people who can paint, they’ll recommend you! This is how you get CUSTOMERS.  

Your microblogging posts will allow you to share your journey in learning watercolour -- or any other passion or skill that you have -- with potential customers. They'll eventually trust your skill and want to PAY you to make something for them.

So it's not so impossible to turn 'hobby' into 'business'. That consistent, concentrated effort is the RIGHT effort for you to create a future that you love.

 

3. “What’s wrong with the things I already write for social media?”

OK, what you’re already doing isn’t wrong. But I have to be blunt here: it’s not very effective. 

Writing a vague sentence or two, using long hashtags and an assortment of emojis may be OKAY, but it won’t be AS EFFECTIVE as microblogging.

Compare it to texting with a new friend. Are you guys really going to be the kind of friends who would go to jail together if you just send her a few emojis and hashtags every three days?

😝💁💅 #yaaas

 (“Wait. What kind of example is that?”)

Nope! Emojis and hashtags are fun and all, but they're not enough if you want to convey your ideas, experiences, beliefs and opinions. You can't tell a story with just emojis.

Your captions are prime real estate to express yourself and build a brand. Don't just use emojis and hashtags.

For example, let's look at Nina Tailles, one of my Instagram friends who does Instagram styling. What’s the impression you get when you read her Instagram posts?

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(“Instagram expert!”) Yes -- exactly! It's not just about the photos. The captions contribute to the kind of impression you want your followers to have about you.

 

4. “What kind of social media platforms can I microblog on?”

Instagram 

Oh hey that's my micro blog post on Instagram

Oh hey that's my micro blog post on Instagram

Instagram is my favourite social media platform to microblog on. It has the perfect layout for you to show off your photos and write your captions too!

The standard way of microblogging on Instagram is to post a photo with a caption, but you can also go for Instagram Stories if you want. (Just remember to download the Stories when you’re done!)

Facebook (Account or Page) 

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I personally don’t use Facebook (other than for remembering birthdays), but it's definitely a strong platform if you want to use it to build a reputation. 

  • If you’re using your personal Account: You can microblog using status updates or publish a post on the Facebook group that you’re part of. For example, if you’re part of a travel Facebook group, you can post your travel tips directly on the group itself. (This Road to Japan Facebook group is one I've personally referred to!)
  • If you're using your Facebook Page: You can microblog using post a status update as usual or use the 'Write a Note' option for your longer posts. (The Note even looks like a blog post!)

Twitter

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OK, call me crazy -- but I definitely think that Twitter has potential as a microblogging platform. Yes, the 140-character limit makes the micro blog post even more micro, but what I've seen people do is:

  • Use the 'tweet threads' concept: Basically, a series of tweets posted one after another on a particular topic. Each subsequent tweet is a reply to the first tweet, so when you click on the very first tweet, all your subsequent tweets will also be displayed. (This can get technical, so check out this official guide from Twitter on how to create tweet threads!)
  • Post screenshots of text: Most of the examples I see are people writing on a Note app, taking a screenshot of the text, and posting it on Twitter. (Like the example I have above) This way, you're not constrained by the character limit and can explain your thoughts better. You can even go one step further and create nice graphics with text to post!
 

5. “What do I microblog about? “

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Even if you're microblogging, it can be slightly difficult to think up WHAT to microblog about. Like, what is interesting enough to post about?

This is something I've talked about a lot, but I cannot recommend this enough: The most relevant and most interesting kind of content is always HELPFUL content.

Helpful content is about sharing information that helps people (obviously) and makes their lives easier. In any aspect of their lives, be it cooking, exercising, organizing, styling clothes, or whatever that YOU like. Ask yourself: What do I know that could help people?

When you start asking yourself this, you're approaching it from the customer's point of view. (Or follower) This is great because you're still sharing what you love, but you're considering their interests. Followers dig this man.

Here's some super easy and relevant info that you can post:

  • Best tools to use for _____
  • Do’s and Dont’s of _____
  • Comparison between ____ and ____
  • Best practices for ____
  • Common misconception about ____
  • Did you know that ____
  • Mini tutorial on ____
  • What to do if ____

Just insert the related words into the blanks and that's your post idea!

 

6. "Won't it be pretentious if I write about things that I only know a little about? I'm not an expert."

So basically, you don't feel like you're qualified enough to talk about your interest/passion/stuff? ("Yes. I'm not an expert.")

Let me tell you what I think. I think that you don't need...

  • A master's degree, PhD or professional certificate
  • Years and years of experience
  • 100s of customers

...before you can start talking about what you love.

Look, it's not like those things are unnecessary. They're great. But if you don't have them, it doesn't bar you from sharing info based on WHAT YOU KNOW.

Microblogging is about sharing what you already know. It focuses on your personal experience, thoughts and ideas. So it's not about you pretending to know more than you actually do.

OK, let me give you an example. You went on a trip to Morocco last October. You're not really a frequent traveller. Does that mean you can't share YOUR tips on travelling to Morocco....?

  • Your total flight time was around 15 hours. ("I guess I could write about what to do during the flight.")
  • You went there during winter. ("Maybe I can write about my packing list.")
  • You tried a lot of Moroccon food. ("Oh yes. That's easy enough to write.")

See? Even if you could only help a few people with the tips -- it would be worth it. And trust me, you know more than you think you do.

 

7. "How do I start planning what to microblog?"

OK, so one of my favourite strategies for planning content is to use THEMES. Once you've chosen a theme, all your posts for that particular week or month should revolve around the theme.

For example, if you're an aspiring fashion designer, your theme for November could be on 'Jackets & Blazers'. All your posts in November would be about jackets and blazers...

  • Week 1 : How to choose the best jacket for your body type
  • Week 2 : Tips on accessorizing your jacket
  • Week 3 : The difference between a jacket and a blazer
  • Week 4 : 5 different types of jackets

So when people view your profile, they'll definitely go -- Oooooooh. Interesting.

 

8. “Any tips for a new microblogger?”

> It’s OK if your post isn’t super funny or witty — be genuine!

One of the things I've heard most often is this: "I'm not a good writer. I'm not funny or witty enough."

I don't call this having low self-esteem. I call this having a misconception. You're under no obligation to make people laugh. Crack jokes if you want too, but comedy is definitely NOT a required skill.

As long as you're genuine, your writing is good. Over time, you'll see that you're able to write more naturally and effortlessly. Even the jokes will come naturally!

> Be specific with the information you share.

If you want to be helpful, you can't be stingy with the details. If you're talking about tools or brands you use -- tell your followers the exact name. If you're posting a mini tutorial -- your steps need to be clear. Get what I mean? Say no no to vague captions.

> Focus on communicating one small point at a time.

Since microblogging is sharing on a smaller scale, you don't have to worry about fitting ALLLL your points into one post. For example, if you have 5 tips on how to do X, you can post one tip at a time. (One tip for each post)

This so that you can explain each tip more, AND, you get ideas for more posts too!

> Treat your microblogging platform like a mini portfolio.

One of the things people have told me is that setting up a blog/website for their art/skill/interest/passion feels like too much, too soon. Like they're going overboard with the whole thing.

I totally get that. When I first started sharing my first passion (hand-lettering), I only posted on Instagram and Facebook. I didn't set up a blog or website for it.

So the microblogging platform you choose is perfect as a 'mini portfolio' because it feels more casual. You'll also be able to reach more followers and potential customers too because of the existing audience on social media.

> It's going to feel awkward before it feels natural.

Are you scared of being vulnerable on social media? I know I am. It's not easy to share what you love with acquaintances and strangers because it's like you're showing them a part of the 'real' you.

There's so many times I've decided not to post something because...

  • ...Oh man that sounds too obnoxious. I don't want to be annoying.
  • ...What if someone comments mean things about this?
  • ...Maybe I should post this later when the time is right.

I can't offer you any new advice for this one. It's simply something that all of us will have to work through. That feeling of awkwardness and posting-while-cringing will be extreme at first, but it'll eventually feel more natural.

Push through the awkwardness because microblogging is worth it. You'll feel like you're building something concrete for your future.

> Rotate between 2-3 topics for best results.

If you want to build a reputation, brand, business on FOOD, you have to be microblogging about FOOD. Not other topics. If you have a FASHION-related goal, you need to talk about FASHION.

That's why it's important for you to stick to 2-3 chosen topics rather than random topics. Those random topics may be fine on their own, but they don't contribute to the overall impression that your followers and potential customers will have of you.

For example, if you've chosen styling and flatlays as your topics and are consistent about posting on those topics, your followers will see you as someone who's specialized in styling and flatlays. (Rather than someone who just posts random stuff)

 

9. “What tools do I need to start microblogging?” 

You can start microblogging without any of the free tools I’m gonna mention below — but they definitely help you microblog in a more consistent way.

1st tool: Schedule your micro blog posts in advance using Later

Most of the time, microblogging is like an on-the-go thing. You do it when the idea pops up. It’s instantaneous.

But if you’re looking to be more consistent with your posting AND make the process of typing your posts easier, you can try scheduling apps like Later.

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Later is a social media management platform. So what you essentially do is write your captions in advance and schedule them together with your photos to be posted whenever you want. For example, I could write 4 posts and schedule them to be posted every Monday at 12 pm. And I'll be done for the month!

And since you can do this on your computer, say bye-bye to accidentally deleting your captions when you’ve already typed a long one. Oooh boy. That happened to me more than a few times and the rage was indescribable. LOL.

I personally prefer Later, but you can also check out Buffer and Hootsuite to see if you prefer their interfaces. 

2nd tool: Design graphics for your micro blog post using Canva

Canva is a web-based design tool. Which means that you don’t need any fancy software to start designing. You only need a browser (not Internet Explorer please). And yep, it’s free.

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What are these? I call these your micro blog graphics. They're the images you post along with your captions for your microblog posts.

You can make square graphics for Instagram, horizontal rectangle ones for Facebook and Twitter, or vertical rectangle ones for your Instagram stories like the ones I have above.

These graphics are awesome because...

  1. You don’t have to wait until you have the right/related photo before you can write about a particular topic. Just design a graphic with your topic as the title! So they sorta act as your writing prompts too.
  2. When your followers view your profile, they’ll immediately see that your account is a ‘helpful’ account! Which means that if they’re interested in your topic, they’ll definitely going to hit the Follow button.  
  3. The graphics can be branded according to what you want your brand to be. Based on the three graphic examples I made above, which one fits YOUR vision best? You can then design MORE graphics like it to give your profile a consistent branded look. Looks way more professional.

(“Aina, I’m not a graphic designer.”)

Well, you don’t have to be a graphic designer because 1) Canva is really easy to use, even for non-designers and 2) these graphics are super easy to make. They’re basically text on a coloured background and not some complicated design.

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See? 

You can brand your graphics by choosing the colours and fonts you like. As long as you keep your colours and fonts consistent (as in, don’t use wildly different colours and font combos each time), your graphics will be perfect. I havea blog post on branding basics you can read to get started.

(“Is it important to make the graphics every single time? Like for Facebook, I don’t have to post a photo along with the status update.”)

Oh yeah, the graphics are not mandatory. You can definitely microblog without ‘em. BUT, they do make your micro blog post look more professional. The graphics instantly differentiate your posts as helpful content (which people are interested in) and personal content (which people may not always be interested in). 

("What if I already have related photos to go with my captions?")

If you have real photos to go with your captions, prioritize those! It's OK to mix real photos and graphics together on your feed.

10. "If I microblog, does that mean that I don't have to do full-sized blogging?"

Microblogging is awesome, but it has its disadvantages.

  1. You'll be microblogging on crowded social media platforms. This means that your posts are side-by-side with other people's posts. Your followers could easily be distracted from reading your posts. It's hard to stand out from the crowd.
  2. Your posts are at the mercy of the social media platforms. When Instagram changed its algorithm and started displaying posts differently -- there's been a lot of upset. Because unless your followers have a habit of interacting with your posts, they'd probably never see your posts on their feed.
  3. You can't brand everything on your social media profiles. Because there's limited space, not everything is open to customization. Which means that you won't be able to express yourself fully in certain parts -- like the 'Bio' or 'Description'!

So the disadvantages of microblogging are the advantages of blogging. On your blog, there's only you. Your posts are displayed however you want them to be. And you can brand your blog like it's your HQ.

But despite that, I still recommend microblogging! Because it takes time to feel comfortable in expressing yourself, your microblog is the perfect space to practice in. And once you want to enjoy what blogging can offer, you can set up a blog. No worries.

("But when I decide to have a blog, what do I do with the content on my microblog?")

All your microblog posts will be useful again when your blog is set up. You can COMPILE your microblog posts into one big blog post, or EXPAND a microblog post into a regular blog post. (I have a tutorial on how to convert your Instagram posts into blog posts!)

 

11. "How do I find the time to microblog?"

Because each microblog post isn't too long, you can try to squeeze in some writing time in these situations:

  • While waiting for your food in restaurants.
  • While waiting for your train.
  • In the train -- if you have both hands free.
  • While you're stuck in a traffic jam and the cars aren't moving at all. (Safety first!)
  • Right before bed.

At most, you need 5 minutes for each post! Keep the content short and sweet so that you can post more regularly.

What also helps is if you could plan what you want to write AND make your graphics in advance. For example, if you're planning to post on M-W-F, you could make graphics for all 3 posts the previous Sunday. This way, you can just grab the photo, type the caption and post!

I usually keep the graphics I've made on my phone on Google Photos and Pushbullet.

 

Phew! I've covered the most regular questions I've received about microblogging, but if you have other questions, let me know! I honestly feel that microblogging is something that anyone can do if they want to build a reputation, brand or business. It's more low-effort compared full-sized blogging, especially if you're just starting to get comfortable with sharing. Keep it casual, short and fun and you'll be a natural before you know it!

BTW, are you considering microblogging over full-sized blogging? Why?

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Become A Motivator, Write A Motivational Blog Post

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Your readers are not happy. At least, not completely happy. There’s some area in their life that they wish they could be better at, and it’s making them feel…

  1. Discouraged. Like the struggle that they’re having is pointless and they should just give up.
  2. Insecure. Like they are so much worse than everybody else.
  3. Weak. Like they’re overall a terrible person for not being able to do this one thing.
  4. Alone. Like they’re the only one who has the problem and everyone else is fine.

They feel all of the above and more.

BUT, what if your blog could be that positive voice inside their head? What if you could create a space where they could feel heard and understood?

It’s good to have a blog that provides solutions to other people’s problems. It’s BEST to have a blog that provides solutions with empathy.

Your readers and potential customers deserve your empathy and sympathy. They don’t just have a problem, they FEEL that problem. Their feelings are affected even if they can’t find the words to express it.

If you created your product/service to solve a problem -- which I think you did -- you KNOW how your readers feel.

You can put yourself in your readers' shoes and answer this question: How would I feel if I had the same problem?

Let me give you an example.

Your brand provides cleaning services.

Your readers may be this person: A lady who feels like a horrible mother because her house isn’t 100% clean 100% of the time.

What could she be feeling?

  1. Discouraged. Why bother cleaning anything at all when her house is going to get messy and dirty endlessly?
  2. Insecure. Other people’s homes are clean and tidy, like in the magazines.
  3. Weak. She’s a bad mother because she lets her children grow up in a messy home.
  4. Alone. She can’t admit the fact that she’s struggling to anyone because she feels like she'd be judged. Other people can't relate because they have nice clean homes.
 

How will writing a motivational blog post benefit ME?

You don't write motivational blog posts because you want to manipulate readers' feelings into buying your product/service. You don't write motivational blog posts because you want to mention at the end, "Buy my product/service!".

That's COMPLETELY not the point.

The point of writing motivational posts is to create a safe space for your readers. A place where they KNOW they can come for solutions without feeling totally inadequate.

It's like if you had to choose between asking about a problem from...

  1. Someone who's nice and understanding and makes you smile, OR...
  2. Someone who bites your head off for asking in the first place...

Which person would you choose? Everything boils down to the easy answer.

When you create this nice and safe space for your readers, they'll remember your brand as a GOOD brand. A brand that totally understands and cares about their customers.

So eventhough you won't mention your product/service at the end of the blog post, the effect is the same -- Your readers will trust you. And you'll feel good about helping them too.

 

What you just read above is an excerpt from my latest e-guide to blogging titled Blog for Profit. It's designed to help you write SEVEN different types of blog post that will convince potential customers to buy from you. I'm so excited to be working on it and can't wait to share it with you.

If you'd like to get a notification when it's ready, sign up below with your email! I'll give you a heads up. :)

Holler at you when the Blog for Profit is ready?

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