This is the third post in my series on websites to admire while I am starting again in a new career. I am picking these sites because I am learning things about building a website, blogging, and content marketing for my new freelance life and these websites are teaching me things I need to know. It is great fun and an exciting experiment that I think will work out fine because I am a hard worker and dedicated learner whose has never met a blank page I did not love.
As you will notice my favorite sites to admire 5 and 6 are the same one, 5 and 5, only different parts of the same website. I think this proves it is a most-valuable website to admire.
The Fifth: Discovering Something Everyone Already Knows
I first went to the “Men with Pens” blog on the advice of “The Write Life” because it was on their list of “7 Popular Blogs About Writing That Want Your Guest Post” by Danny Iny. The post was written a few years ago, but I don’t mind because it contains valuable information for me. So, here I am discovering something everyone already knows about, “Men with Pens,” and happy about it. “Men with Pens” is a website that proclaims in its “AS SEEN BY” that it has been featured on heavy-hitter websites like Forbes, The New York Times, and The Huffington Post. The site is owned and was founded by James Chartrand.
Since everyone knows about the blog, but me, I wonder if blogging is done because everyone is doing it. Is the market so saturated with bloggers and rebloggers and ideas and opinions that no will notice one more? I don’t think so, especially for the brick and mortar business that sells a product or service of substance on a real street in a real city. Some of these business owners are still wondering if blogging will help their business or if there is enough to say about their business to warrant a blog. And many are wanting to hire bloggers because writing is not their thing and it is hard to do consistently. So perhaps being a late bloomer will benefit me. Maybe I’ll pick up the second shift of blog work because everyone on the first shift is worn out.
I learned a lot about designing a website to sell a product from the “Men with Pens” guest blog titled, “The 3-Second Website Test You Should Try” by James Chartrand. I quickly learned that my website does not pass the test. I had to be honest with myself when I took the test, and I must be honest with you now as I confess. My blog does not have focus, a brand, as they call it. It is too confusing. My readers don’t really know what I am about because I don’t know what I am about. I have not put in the time finding out what it is I want to do and for whom. Humiliating, but true. Even I am confused by my site, so how can a reader figure out if they want to be there.
What am I going to do about this? I’m going to do a lot of thinking. Do I want to write for college freshman who are homesick and looking for community and tips for survival; for homeschooling moms who want to learn about crafts they can make out of reused items cheaply to build finger dexterity in their children; for business people offering commercial real-estate loans who don’t have the time or the inclination to write their own business blog or figure out what is interesting enough about their product to blog about, or for retired gardeners trying to tame nature in their backyards and sell a few tomatoes and cucumbers to their friends at church? And what will I offer, writing services, or advice in e-books? Basically, it isn’t clear what I am offering or to whom.
The next question my blog flunks is, “why am I interesting?” The most interesting thing about me is that I don’t blow off the law, but I do blow off culture bullies and endless procedures and enjoy going under the wire, off the net, and out of scope to get a job done if no one is injured (I mean really hurt not just offended). I’m not afraid to drink water from a hose to survive, and I can safely clean out a she-shed well-house full of snake skins, mouse turds, wasp nests, and spiders without getting bitten, even though a spider tried to run into the hole in my glove. Is there a customer out there interested in a rebel from the rebellion? And, am I really a rebel or just a responsible hard worker who will do the job they customer wants in an interesting way that they will never know about.
So, the most important thing I learned from this websites and blog was that I don’t need to wow the customers with graphics and visual effects, but I do need to let them know what I’m selling and quickly before they lose interest. I knew this, but I ignored it, trying to figure out how to use the technology to wow. I was figuring out the website not myself. So, now I’m finding out I’m more obscure than the social media platform.
The moral is that in order to be successful, I need to buckle down and dig deep and decide what am I doing and for whom. Valuable advice and I’m not telling you now what that will be. Probably because I’m still digging and buckling.
The Sixth: What is a List Post?
On the home page of “Men with Pens,” you, the visitor, have a choice from the “dynamiteduo:” of AWESOME blogging advice or EFFECTIVE writing how-tos. I chose today, AWESOME blogging advice.
There are five posts to choose from on the first page, so I immersed myself in “7 Simple Ways to Write a List Post That Gets Read” by James Chartrand. First, I did not know what a list post was, but I was pretty sure it was valuable.
A list post is a numbered list of something, like the best blogs or the simplest way to write a list post. Or like what I am doing here with listing 10 websites to admire as I start my career again in multiple steps. However, I did not know that this strategy is called a list or that a numeral in your title would increase the odds your blog would be picked up. I guess it has to do with numbers coming before the alphabet. Sometimes I do that with important folders so that the ones starting with _00 come before the one starting with A.
The list post, according to James Chartrand, also gives the reader short easy reads that they can digest quickly.
Of the seven ways to write a list post, I was already aware of number 1: Save your strongest point for the end. I most liked number 4: Keep your items meaty. I most needed to read number 3. Keep your items relatively consistent in length, number 5: Keep your item titles scannable and don’t be so clever no one knows what your list is about, and number 6: Keep on topic and don’t jump around. I have used number 2: Come up with more items than you need for your list. And the one most valuable to me was number 7: of course, Put extra effort into a great title.
There is so much to learn on this website, I know I will come back again, and I even bought an e-book, called “Beyond Bricks and Mortar: How to Start a Business Blog.” I noticed too, going back to my first reason for liking this site that they say right off the bat that they are about World-Class Websites and Copywriting. That is why I went there and stayed and bought something. These men with pens are very wise.