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When to Use the Comma

A full stop indicates a complete end to a sentence; a comma indicates a slight change in direction of the sentence. A comma can also be used to break up a sentence into different sub clauses.

When to Use a Comma

1. Linking main clauses.

Keynes was an economist. Keynes was intelligent. Keynes was born in England

Each of these 3 sentences is grammatically correct, however, it makes for stilted reading. We can combine these 3 clauses into one sentence.

  • Keynes was an intelligent economist, who was born in England.

2. After an introductory element of a sentence.

Monetarism is the study of Money supply. We could add an introductory sentence to this.

  • Popularised by Milton Friedman, Monetarism is the study of Money Supply.

These introductory phrases are often known as prepositional phrases; it literally means, “to go before”.

  • One more example: In many different countries, economists often fail to predict recessions.

3. Adding a subordinate clause at the end of a sentence.

A subordinate clause is a phrase that couldn’t make a sentence on it its own.

  • Economists are very bad at predicting the future, although occasionally they get it right.

The first phrase is a sentence on its own, the last phrase adds to the initial statement, and so is a subordinate clause.

4. Parenthetical Elements in a sentence.

These involve words like “however”, “in fact”, “of course”, and “for example”. These words help to link a sentence together; they need a comma before and after.

  • Economics is termed the dismal science, however, occasionally it can be fun to study Economics.

A common mistake, however, is to only include one comma after the “however,” and not before.

  • The latest inflation news was disappointing, in fact, the Bank of England was very concerned.

5. Appositive.

This is a term used to rename a noun.

  • John Maynard Keynes, Britain’s most famous economist, died in 1946.
  • Economics, the study of scarcity, is growing in popularity.

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What Should I Write About? 10 Tips

One issue bloggers may struggle with is finding topics to write about. If you struggle to find good ideas for articles here are some ideas to give you new inspiration.

1. What would be Useful for You?

Are there any questions you would like answered? What do you wish you had known when you started blogging? Don’t worry if these things seem obvious to you now. There will be many who still search for the basic answers. Also, if you can write from personal experience your articles will have more authenticity.

2. Area of Expertise.

Some niches are crowded with similar articles. Think about areas where you have specialised knowledge. What do you know most about? What topics can you write effortlessly without having to research ideas from others

3. Comments.

Sometimes when writing comments on other blogs, I realise I could easily make this comment into an article. Don’t give all your best ideas as comments on other blogs. Expand it into your own post.

4. Get into A routine

I find that if I leave a blog for a week, it becomes harder to find ideas. However, once I start writing a blog entry I find new ideas start to flow. The more time I spend on a niche, the more ideas come.

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Would Your Writing Be Different if you had lots of Money?

I came across a thought provoking post at Problogger – Would you blog differently if you had lots of money? Darren’s post was inspired by Anne Wayman’s

My initial reaction was:

  • I wouldn’t do my blog on mortgages. But, I would continue my blog on self improvement (which doesn’t have any ads anyway)
  • I would continue other commercial blogs, but less intensely more quality less quantity. My favourite blog at the moment is my Economics Blog. I receive several questions per day, and spend time answering them
  • And I wouldn’t have to care about Google wanted at all!

This is How My Writing Would Change if I had plenty of Money

  • Titles I wouldn’t worry about Choosing SEO titles, with lots of keywords
  • Quality vs Quantity. I wouldn’t worry about quantity. I would only write where I could really offer something unique and interesting.
  • Topics I would not worry about writing on profitable keywords like mortgages, credit cards, debt, and insurance.
  • More Pictures. With more money (and therefore time) I would probably take more time with each post. I would like to spend more time learning how to use a digital camera and improve my photography. These would be used to illustrate my posts.
  • More Research. I would like to spend more time researching certain articles. i.e. some articles need more research and background reading. If you want to be a problogger, you can’t afford to take 1 day per article (I try to have 10 posts per day at the moment)
  • More Time. The first thing about having more money is that I would be able to retire from teaching. Therefore, I would have more time to spend writing.
  • Less Comments I think I would comment less on other people’s blog. (When I comment, part of the motivation is to get traffic, not all the time, but quite often)

Of course, the hope is that one day blogging will enable me to earn passive income to support myself and be a full time writer. Therefore, in the future, I might like to try and write to publish a book rather than just publishing on a blog.

Note: I have been stretched for time recently. I have been spending my time adding short comments on other blogs, rather than posting on my own. Therefore, after adding a comment on problogger, I thought – why not make it into a post.

Quite often, bloggers can spend too long commenting and not enough time posting. This was definitely the case with me last week.

Another note on comments. I like what Doug said about how his blogging would change after becoming rich

“I’m not sure but I would gladly accept a sponsor to find out! :)

Why Writing improves over Time

This post caught by eye over at Problogger – “Your first 10,000 blog posts are always the worst

Recently I was looking through an old SEO blog I had on another domain. The posts were written over a year ago, but, there was nothing that I particularly wanted to use here. The writing wasn’t particularly high quality and there were quite a few mistakes.

In the past year, I have been writing regularly every day. I can’t say writing has got much easier, but, I think the constant practise has enabled, at least, a small improvement.

If you were playing the piano, you wouldn’t expect to play your best straight off. You would expect it to take several years. Writing is not quite the same, but, there still is that element of progress.

Tips for New Writers 

  • Be Patient
  • Keep practising.
  • Don’t be in a rush to submit your early articles to Digg. Make sure they are your best efforts until you try to promote them.
  • Don’t spend too long going back to improve old posts. It is better just to leave them and go on to creating new posts.
  • Don’t expect to write superb articles at your first attempts.
  • You may find 6 months later, you can have another go at an article. This time it will be more polished because you have more experience and have developed your writing style.

Losing Blog Posts

At the weekend, I spent some time away from the internet to write several blog posts. Unfortunately, I lost them because I saved an old edition of the mac text edit document. I made the mistake of writing 4 posts on the same document. I didn’t lose the file, I just somehow reverted to the earliest edition of the document. – So all the beautiful posts were lost. – Of course, these were the best posts I had ever written :)

How to Avoid Losing blog Posts.

(notes to me)

  • Use Microsoft Word which has autosave. – It’s annoying that after spending $2000 on a mac, you still need to buy Microsoft product. (Why do I have to pay for mac mail?)
  • Have a separate file for each document, there is less chance of losing several at once.
  • Once written, back up to disc or upload to internet and save as draft.
  • I could write directly in blog which has autosave, but, I usually write without internet. In fact I feel it is a benefit to write without internet access.

What to do After losing Blog Posts

  1. Don’t hit your head against a wall. It hurts and for some reason the wall can’t help retrieve your posts from cyberspace.
  2. Try Writing what you remember. The problem is that it is impossible to remember what you said exactly, and anything seems to be inferior to what you originally wrote.
  3. No blog post is indispensable to life. Remain detached.
  4. Make sure it doesn’t happen again…

Improve your Writing Style

To write with confidence and clarity it is necessary to work hard at practising and developing your writing. Don’t expect to be a “born writer”. Even the great writers have to work at their craft; there is no reason you should be any different. For this reason it is important to avoid having a feeling that “I am not a writer” If you read exceptional writers and learn from their technique and style you will gain a lot of inspiration. From this you can develop your own style, without seeking to imitate the style of another.

How to Improve Your Writing

Independence of Thought.

Independence of thought is an essential part of developing a unique writing style. Every writer gains inspiration from other sources. But, a great writer is able to add something of his own or look at concepts from different angles. To develop independence of thought we need to be well read, but also able to see beyond the bias and opinions of other writers. To have true independence of thought we need to forget the needs and expectations of the reader entirely.

Writing for the sake of writing

When writing there is a tendency to consider the needs, expectations and even prejudices of the readers. This occurs quite often in certain newspapers. To develop our own unique style we need to be free of constraints about what people expect. We should write from the heart, because we feel it is worth writing, not because we feel it is what other people want.

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The Power of Focus.

Recently, I had a writing competition with a friend: we wanted to see how many articles we could write in a 24 hour period. There was a minimum length of 400 words, and each should be checked for grammar/ spelling. In the 24 hour period, I wrote 14 articles, Shane wrote 24.

It was an interesting experience which taught me a few things.

1. Develop Concentration.

If you focus on only one thing, to the exclusion of everything else you can really concentrate on that particular task. When your only objective is writing, you can get into a groove of writing

2. It is worth Specializing in something.

A Blogger has be good at many tasks. Design, writing, css, article promotion, commenting e.t.c. Because there are so many things to be good at, there is a danger of becoming a Jack of all trades master of none. Yet, to really stand out in the blogosphere, it is essential to stand out from the crowd. This can only occur if you rise above mediocrity and become well known in something. By spending a day on writing you can give this a high priority and help to improve the quantity and quality.

3. Focus on One Thing at a Time

It is useful to spend one day working on the design of the blog, get it to a good standard, and then leave it for a while. Another day you could spend on commenting, or promoting your articles.

4. An Article Bank

It is good to have a bank of articles, especially if you have a regular posting schedule. If you post everyday, you create a daily interest. To do this, can be difficult. However, if you have a bank of articles then you can use them whenever necessary.

5. Does quantity adversely affect quantity?

The problem with writing alot of articles is that if you aim for quantity then you may feel quality suffers; however, this need not be the case ( I hope anyway!). Sometimes when you focus on quantity, quality can be just as good.

Quick Writing Tips to Improve your Blog Posts

Before writing a post it is a good idea to have a plan in mind. If you just sit down and hope for the best, the writing may flit from one idea to the other. I try to formulate ideas for posts during the day. Then, when I sit down to write, I already have a clear idea in mind what I should be writing about.

Questions to ask yourself before writing an Article:

1. What is the aim / purpose of this post?

It is important to have a clear idea in mind what you wish to achieve with the post. Don’t try to mix several ideas, if you get sidetracked the article will lose its focus. If you have a few different angles, write different posts.

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7 Tips to Make Your Writing More Interesting


1. Add Quotes from Respected authors.

A quote is a way of setting your advice against the wisdom of established experts. A well chosen quote also breaks up the monotony of your own prose. There are many quotes on writing here is one illustrating how we should never allow a lack of talent to dissuade us from writing.

It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous.

~Robert Benchley

2. Choose an Engaging Title.

Titles are of great importance for setting up a short article, more so on the internet, than anywhere else. A Title should be clear and also catch the attention of the reader.
See: Choosing eyecatching titles

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When Good is not Good Enough.

There are many “average to good” articles on the internet. To be more precise there are billions of “average to good articles” on the internet. But how many exceptional articles are there? How many blogs regularly make for compelling reading? If you aim for churning out competent, good articles you are competing against 1000s of others in your niche. Anybody can churn out standard grade articles; but, how much do people want to read these?

If you can increase the quality of your articles by 10 – 20% you can get a much bigger % return. This is because the distribution of quality tends to follow the standard Bell curve of distribution. Most people are concentrated in the middle.

bell curve

If you can get into the top 10% of quality, the number of competitors falls drastically. If you can get into this category, you have a chance of being picked up by experts in your field, getting on the front page of Digg e.t.c. It is these articles that can push your blog to the next level.

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