Now that Broadside is closing in on 18,000 followers worldwide — eight years after I started writing it — it’s time once more to remind newer readers who exactly they’re reading!
Based in Tarrytown, New York, a gorgeous little town on the east bank of the Hudson River 25 miles north of Manhattan, I’m a published non-fiction author and career journalist, with staff experience at three major daily newspapers, several magazines and numerous digital outlets, from Reuters Money to bbc.com.
Here’s my website, with sample articles from my thousands of published stories — in outlets including The New York Times, USA Today, Washington Post, MORE magazine, Marie Claire, House Beautiful and many others.
I’m always seeking new clients with a clear sense of what they need and a budget to support a high level of skill and experience
A two-time author of nationally reported non-fiction, I also teach other writers and bloggers, through specific webinars of 90 minutes, (30 minutes reserved for your questions), at $150 and individual coaching, also arranged at your convenience, at a cost of $225 per hour, payable in advance through Paypal.
Broadside now has more than 13,000 readers worldwide, and adds new followers daily.
I enjoy blogging and really enjoy the wit and wisdom of those who often make time to comment — ksbeth, modernidiot, ashokbhatia, rami ungar, kathleen r and others. It’s gratifying to converse globally with such interesting people.
I also teach others how to blog (and write) better…
Here are five of the 30 tips I share with the students in my webinar, “Better Blogging.”
I teach blogging at Pratt Institute, a private college in Brooklyn, and love helping others to achieve their goals.
I offer my webinar scheduled at your convenience; paid via Paypal, it’s $125 for 90 minutes via Skype or phone which allows time for your questions as well.
I also do individual coaching at $200/hour, with a one-hour minimum; please email me at email@example.com.
Use photos, videos, drawings — visuals!
I wish more bloggers consistently added quality visual content to their posts. Often, a well-chosen, quirky or beautiful image will quickly pull in a curious reader.
Every magazine or newspaper, and the best blogs and websites, uses illustrations, maps, graphs and photos — chosen carefully after much internal debate by skilled graphics and design and photo editors and art directors, each working hard every single day to lure us in.
A sea of words is both daunting and dull. Seduce your readers, as they do.
Think like an editor
When you write for an editor, (as every journalist and author does), your ideas, and how you plan to express them, have to pass muster with someone else, often several. Their job is to ask you why you think this story is worth doing, and why now. (Just because you feel like hitting “publish” doesn’t mean you should.)
Who is this post — and your blog — written for? Have you made your points clearly?
Would your next post get past a smart editor or two?
Your readers are busy, easily bored and quickly distracted
All readers resemble very small tired children — they have short attention spans and wander off within seconds. Grab them fast!
Woo me with a fab headline
Magazine editors sweat over coverlines, the teasing short sentences they choose to put on their magazine covers, hoping to make you buy that edition. Newspaper editors know they need powerful, succinct or amusing headlines to catch our eye and pull us into a story.
Have you ever studied some of the best heads? “Headless body found in topless bar” is a classic. This is an excellent headline as it immediately made me read the post — it’s bossy, very specific and focused on a place I know well. Sold!
For those of you fairly new to Broadside, welcome!
A career journalist, winner of a National Magazine Award, author of two well-reviewed works of non-fiction, each on complex national issues, I now offer webinars a few times a year, designed — after consulting you — to offer the skills you’ve told me are most helpful.
I taught journalism to adults at New York University for five years, and find this individualized approach fun, and practical. If you need more information on my background and journalism credits and credentials, please visit the about and welcome pages here, or my website, caitlinkelly.com.
Students signed up for my fall webinar series, and individual coaching — thank you! — from Australia, New Zealand, London, Chicago, D.C., California and Connecticut; one student saw her blog’s page views and followers increase as soon as she made the simple change I suggested; more testimonials here.
Even if you enjoy only one webinar a year, ($10.41/month), your sharpened skills can markedly and quickly improve your productivity, audience and satisfaction.
My classes are also friendlier, more affordable and much more personal than sitting in a classroom or the cost and hassle of attending a crowded conference. (I also coach individually whenever it suits you — by phone, Skype and/or email.)
These are the six 90-minute classes, each priced at $125:
May 10, 10:00-11:30 a.m. ET
This practical, lively seminar offers more than 30 steps you can take — right away — to boost your blog’s engagement, views and followers; Broadside has more than 10,000 followers now, and grows every single day. To win writing jobs, freelance or full-time, your blog is your best marketing tool. Broadside has been Freshly Pressed six times and chosen as one of 22 in “culture” by WordPress worth reading. Let’s do it!
You, Inc: The Business of Freelancing
May 10, 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm ET
I’ve freelanced full-time since 2006, this time, for local, regional, national and international clients. You can too! In this super-focused, tips-filled webinar, we’ll discuss how much you really need to earn, negotiating, how to find (and keep!) clients and how to maximize your productivity. My clients include Cosmpolitan, Ladies Home Journal and The New York Times and on-line sites HGTV.com, Quartz.com, reuters.com and the Harvard Business Review blog.
Learn to Think Like a Reporter
May 10, 4:00-5:30 pm ET
If your mother says she loves you, check it out! This class teaches the tips and tricks I’ve gained from working as a staff reporter for three major dailies, including the New York Daily News — and freelancing for The New York Times since 1990. What’s a stake-out? A nut graf? A lede and kicker? Every reporter knows these basics, and if you hope to compete with them — whether you’re blogging, or writing for on-line or print or broadcast or video — this is the stuff you need to know.
Conducting a Kick-Ass Interview
May 17, 10:00 a.m. to 11;30 a.m. ET
No ambitious non-fiction writer, blogger or journalist succeeds without knowing how to conduct probing and well-controlled interviews. I’ve interviewed thousands of sources, from an Admiral to convicted felons, Olympic athletes, cancer survivors, duck hunters and ballet dancers. How to best structure an interview? Should you tape or take notes? What’s the one question every interview should end with? My 30 years’ experience as an award-winning reporter, author of two-well-reviewed books of nationally reported non-fiction — one of which included 104 original interviews — and frequent New York Times writer will help you ace the toughest interviews.
Crafting the Personal Essay
May 17, 1:00 p.m – 2:30 p.m. ET
From The New York Times to Elle and Marie Claire — to Thought Catalog, Salon, the Awl, Aeon and Medium — the marketplace for personal essay continues to thrive. How to sell this challenging genre? How to blend the personal and universal? Every essay, no matter the topic, must answer one key question, which we’ll discuss in detail. Having published my own essays in the Times, Marie Claire, Chatelaine and others — and winner of a Canadian National Magazine award for one — I’ll help you determine what to say and in what voice.
Finding and Developing Story Ideas
May 17, 4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m ET
We’re surrounded every single day by dozens of potential story ideas. Recognizing them — and developing them into salable pitches — is the topic of this helpful webinar. And every non-fiction book begins with an idea; developing it into a 30-page book proposal means “saving string”, collecting the data you’ll need to intelligently argue your points. This webinar will help you better perceive the many stories already swirling in your orbit and determine who’s most likely to pay you (well) for them.
Feel free to email me with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me in New York at 914-332-6065.
Sign up and further details are here; I won’t be offering these again until fall 2014, possibly in October.
With 4,180 people now following Broadside, and 1,360 posts here to choose from,
— a tour guide in Ghana
— a medical student in Lebanon
— a journalism student in New Zealand
— a Toronto interior designer
— a translator in Berlin
— a mother-of-six in Australia
— an American father-of-five
— a Canadian woman living and working on a remote Australian sheep farm
— a Manhattan cinematographer
— a high school student in Paris (salut Hanae!)
I enjoy this diversity — although it’s tough to satisfy all of you!
I began my career when I was 17, when I sold three photos as the cover of a magazine in Toronto, so you’ll find posts about how to freelance and how to find work and how to deal with it once you’ve got it.
Many of you, like me, have traveled widely, and/or are currently, or hope to be, or have been ex-patriates. We’re people who share a deep curiosity about the rest of the world and have explored it firsthand. My second husband is both American born, and of Hispanic (Mexican) heritage, so I also live some of these cross-cultural challenges in our marriage.
Some of the things I blog about:
How to live an ethical life?
What are our best “next steps”? And what will we do if they don’t work out?
What contributions, paid or volunteer, can we make to the world?
How can we and our families live (well) in a time of income inequality and restricted access to good jobs?
Can I really produce art — writing, music, dance, design, film, video — that touches people? How?
What drives creativity?
What does it take to make friendship, family or marriage thrive, or wither?
What is success and (how) can I achieve it?
Making a home beautiful — on a budget!
As a twice-married Canadian who has lived in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, London, Paris, New Hampshire, Cuernavaca, Mexico and now suburban New York, I know we each see the world through glasses colored by race, gender, sexual preference, education, socioeconomic class, nationality and religion, (or none), just to name a few.
I’m amazed, and dismayed, by how few bloggers consistently add visual content to their posts. A sea of words is daunting and dull. Magazines and newspapers know they must seduce readers into their material, not simply subject them to an unbroken and wearying sea of type.
You thought more like an editor
When you write for an editor, your ideas, and how you plan to express them, have to pass muster with someone else, often several. They usually ask you to explain, a little or a lot, why you think this story is worth doing now. Blogging offers writers tremendous freedom of expression — please don’t abuse it.
You remembered that your readers are busy, easily bored and quickly distracted
Journalists are taught to use the “inverted pyramid”, in which the most essential information in any story is at the very top, usually within the first sentence or paragraph. We do it because readers are like very small tired children — they have short attention spans and wander off within seconds. Grab them fast!
You wooed me in with a fab headline
Magazine editors sweat over coverlines, the teasing short sentences they choose to put on their magazine covers, hoping to make you buy their edition over that of their competitiors. Newspaper editors know they need powerful, succinct or amusing headlines to catch our eye and pull us into a story. Have you ever studied some of the best heads? “Headless body found in topless bar” is a classic. This is an excellent headline as it immediately made me read the post — it’s bossy, very specific and focused on a place I know well. Sold!
Don’t force readers to scale a huge unbroken block of copy! It’s lazy and editorially rude. They’ll just click away, irritated. And I see this a lot.
You posted more frequently
A blog that shows up every few months is the sign of someone who just isn’t that into blogging. Yes, it’s a lot of work. Yes, it takes time. Your readers are there for a reason. They want to read what you have to say! Don’t disappoint them.
You posted less frequently
True, dat. Some bloggers, giddy with the delicious freedom of being able to hit “publish” after every little thought flitting through their head, post constantly. I know that some bloggers relish the writing challenge of producing a post a day, but do your readers have that much time or interest?
We’re not writing for ourselves, but our readers’ pleasure.
You had more of a sense of humo(u)r
The best blogs have some lightness to them. They’re not a laugh riot all the time, and can often be serious. But being earnest all the time ? We usually shy away from that in real life, so why would we choose to read it? Mix it up a little.
You remembered I don’t live nearby, and don’t get your points of reference
I live in a town north of New York City, and most of my readers also live in the U.S. But I also have readers in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Korea, India, places where a reference I might make to a local politician or cultural figure or news story may mean nothing to someone who’s never heard of them. Add a link to help your readers far away better understand what you’re talking about.
You didn’t mistake a public blog for a private journal
This is the single greatest mistake I see in too many blogs. I really don’t want to read someone whining: “I don’t know what to write.” A blog is a public document, visible in perpetuity to anyone who finds it — your friends, family, employer, future employers. Make it lively, interesting, compelling and intriguing.
You didn’t underestimate the power of a great blog
A few bloggers have won paid writing opportunities, or more, thanks to their terrific blogs. A well-written and illustrated blog, with smartly-chosen links and consistently compelling material, is a fantastic way to showcase your design, thinking, ideas and insights — far more effectively than any resume can.
If you’re a current high school or college student, fresh grad or work-seeker, consider creating a blog strategically. It’s your very own billboard.
You understood that it takes time to grow an audience
Some fortunate few find thousands of followers within weeks, but more likely this will take months or years. Broadside has almost 4,000 followers now, but it began in July 2009, has more than 1,300 posts, (archives help), and has been chosen for Freshly Pressed six times, each time bringing in thousands of views and new followers. (My best-ever day, thanks to FP, brought in 7,606 people.)
Tried using bold and italics once in a while
A sea of unbroken copy is bad enough. Readers need breaks! We need to know when and where to pay extra attention. Read books and magazines — even their on-line versions — to get a better feel for this.
Linked to and quoted others
Readers are hungry for well-curated content. What else are you reading or listening to?
You revealed more of yourself
Readers are hungry for authenticity. We don’t need all the gory details, but we want to feel we “know” the people who are asking us for our limited attention.
Some bloggers beat us to death with detail. Why is what you’re posting of compelling interest to others?
You introduced yourself
There are far too many blogs where the writer hasn’t even bothered to fill out the “about” page. Every single magazine includes an editor’s letter and their photo, in addition to “our contributors” pages, with their photos and mini-bio’s. In a world of competing voices, why should we listen to yours? Who are you? Where do you live? Have you any specific experience or credentials that add authority to your posts? Don’t be too cute or coy. The blogosphere is a public space and staying totally anonymous means I have no idea why I should give you my very limited time and attention.
You leave me wanting more
Don’t overshare. Many bloggers bury readers in minutiae, a level of detail about their kids or cats or classes, super personal stuff that’s too internal and not focused on me, your reader. Make me hungry to hear more, not covering my ears going lalalalalalalalalalalalalalala.