Capture your Readers: 8 Tips to Writing Engaging Blog Posts

Posted by Harshad

Capture your Readers: 8 Tips to Writing Engaging Blog Posts

Capture your Readers: 8 Tips to Writing Engaging Blog Posts

Posted: 13 Mar 2014 08:01 AM PDT

Editor’s note: This is a contributed post by Issa Mirandilla, who writes about freelancing, writing, marketing, careers, personal finance and other business-related topics. Give her a nudge on Twitter or visit her website here.

Remember how Ratatouille’s Chef Gusteau said: "Anyone can cook, but only the fearless can be great"? You can easily rewrite his inspiring words as, "Anyone can write a blog post, but only the fearless bloggers can be great."

See, a good idea or topic, decent spelling and grammar, and a strong mastery of the essay form are enough for a good blog post. But if you want to write a great blog post, or one that makes people go "Wow! I’ll share this on Facebook!" instead of "Meh, this is nothing special", you have to go further than the essentials.

Here’s how you can do it.

1. Hook Them With The First Sentence

Admittedly, this is the hardest part of writing a blog post. That’s because the first sentence should be able to reel in the reader, and at the same time, give them an idea what your post will be all about.

You can start with a:

  1. Thought-provoking question – "Do you know what a blog post and a sandwich have in common?"
  2. Quote – "Ernest Hemingway once said: ‘There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.’
  3. Statistic – "According to the Official Federation of Bloggers*, 99.9 percent of bloggers experience writer’s block."
  4. Story – "The other day, I had a Newtonian experience. That is, an apple fell on my head."

*Disclaimer: This is a hypothetical example. As of this writing, the Official Federation of Bloggers doesn’t exist.  

2. Make Every Word, Phrase & Sentence Count

Because Internet users’ attention spans are shrinking by the day, you have to work harder to hold your readers’ attention from the beginning until the end of your post. To do that, every word, phrase, sentence, and even punctuation mark must add something to your piece.

A handy trick is to read your draft out loud. If it feels like you’re explaining things too slowly, or you’re falling asleep to your own voice (gasp!), you may need to edit the extraneous bits. Your draft could possibly feel "incomplete", in which case, you can insert additional information to clarify your thoughts or strengthen your arguments.

3. Shorten Your Sentences, If Possible

In relation to the tip, here’s a rough guide to help you decide whether you should cut down a kilometric sentence.

Do your eyes glaze over while reading a sentence? Do you read a sentence out loud, and lose your breath by the end of it? Do you see too many adjectives, adverbs, and other words that don’t add anything to a sentence?

If any of these happen, shorten it! Otherwise, that kilometric sentence is probably fine as is.

4. Use Simple, Yet Precise, Words

You know how MS Word’s "Shift + F7" pulls words from the more obscure parts of the thesaurus? Well, you might not want to rely on that function too much. Readers hate it when you bombard them with highfalutin jargon. Not only do these words sour the reading experience, but they also make your blog post look stilted and pretentious.

Instead of trying to sound "smart", try to sound sensible. Use words that best convey your idea and can be understood by the layman. For example, "to utilize resources" can be shortened as "to use resources".

5. Play With Analogies

Blogging is like dating. It’s not enough that you make a great impression on the first date. You also have to show, again and again on your following dates, that you’re a person worth someone’s time, commitment, and love.

See what I did there?

6. Throw In A Few Pop Culture References

Pop culture references add flavor to your blog post. They give your readers the impression that you’re relatable, and therefore likeable.

That said, be mindful of your audience when using these references. You may think that "The Beatles" are the greatest rock band of all time, but referencing the Fab Four while writing for "One Direction" fans may not be the best idea in the world.

7. Make Your Post Unique (Even If The Idea Isn’t)

Let’s face it: coming up with 100% original blog post ideas is anything but easy. If you run your topic through a quick Google search, chances are someone else has already written about it. So, what should a blogger do in this scenario? It’s simple, really.

Find a new angle.

If someone already came up with "5 Reasons Why You Should Try Freelancing", you can write a post about the darker side of freelancing like "20 Reasons To Say ‘No’ To Freelancing". Or you can run with "5 More Reasons Why You Should Try Freelancing".

8. End With A Punchy Conclusion

So, you’re done with your introduction and body. Now, it’s time to write the conclusion, which is just as hard to write as (if not harder than) the introduction. The easiest way out of your dilemma is to summarize all your points in the conclusion. Then again, that would be boring, since that’s what most bloggers do.

Instead, you can either end with a thought-provoking question or a call-to-action; or restate your main point, and persuade your reader to care about your point.

A Few More Tips (a.k.a. Something That Resembles A Conclusion)

These rules aren’t set in stone. Feel free to use them – or not – depending on what’s appropriate for your piece. What matters is consistently writing posts that are engaging, informative, and unique enough to keep your readers coming back for more.


[Giveaway] Win $600 Coding Services By Markup Service

Posted: 13 Mar 2014 06:01 AM PDT

We’re keeping the giveaways coming, and this time around we’re featuring $600 worth of coding services up for grabs, brought to you by Hongkiat.com, courtesy of Markup-service.com. Markup-service.com provides clean, valid and optimized markup for use on popular browsers, desktop, and mobile platforms.

Work on your designs and let the professionals do all the hard coding for you instead. Should you win in this giveaway, you can order web development services such as HTML5/CSS3 markup, responsive layout, HTML email templates, or WordPress theme implementation, etc.

For more info, check out their site and available examples. Let’s check out what the 3 winners are taking home.

The Prizes

3 lucky winners will be awarded with the following prizes:

  • $300 worth of services – (1 winner)
  • $200 worth of services – (1 winner)
  • $100 worth of services – (1 winner)

Winners will get the credits deposited into their account at Markup Service. Don’t wait. Join now!

How To Win

Using the Rafflecopter widget below:

  1. Login via your Facebook account / Email Address.
  2. Like Us on Facebook (if you aren’t already a fan)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Find out how else you can earn entries (and a higher chance of winning) in the widget. [More info]


Mobile Emulation in Google Chrome

Posted: 13 Mar 2014 03:01 AM PDT

Simply said, we love Google Chrome. It runs smooth, looks simple, and has many useful Apps. From a developer’s point of view, Google Chrome is always one step ahead in terms of supporting the latest Web standard, which is great.

It also comes with a number of tools for web development, some of which have yet to be implemented in other browser built-in developer tools. These include the Viewport Emulation, Geolocation and Device Orientation Override, and Touch Emulation.

Recently, Google Chrome pushed a new feature called Mobile Emulation that enables us to see, on Chrome, how a website will react, work, and behave as if in an actual mobile device. Sounds cool? Well, Let’s see how it works.

To Be Responsive Or Not

Even though Responsive Web Design is being more adopted these days, but it couldn’t fit the needs of all types of websites. Some types may require a dedicated, separate mobile site due to the limitations of mobile devices — some elements of the site may disappear on mobile; features may behave differently while on mobile and on desktop.

Take Amazon.com as an example. When you view it on desktop and resize the viewport size, nothing will happen. Take your mobile phone, view it, and it displays the simplified mobile version of the site. Amazon takes the separate mobile site route, rather than turning its website responsive.

How it Works

If you want to do the same, build a dedicated mobile site, you can now use Mobile Emulation in Chrome to ease your job for debugging the site. This feature, at the time of the writing, is only available in Chrome Canary. It can be found under a new tab Emulation in the DevTools.

It is worth noting that the location or the name could be changed in the future once it is pushed to “regular” Chrome.

Chrome has a number of predefined devices including Google Nexus, iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, and Kindle. Pick one, hit the Emulate button.

The device specifications such as the Viewport Size, the User Agent String, and the Pixel Ratio, as well as other Settings automatically reflect the dimensions of the selected device.

Refresh Chrome, and you should now be able to navigate the site as if it is viewed on mobile. If you take a closer look, you will notice that the mouse cursor turns into a circle indicating aTouch Event. On your laptop touchpad, you can use two fingers for scrolling and three fingers for a swipe, like so.

Furthermore, you can explore this feature on some websites that have a dedicated mobile version, such as:


Integrate CRM Into Gmail Using Streak

Posted: 13 Mar 2014 12:01 AM PDT

If you run a business or are involved in sales you probably spend most of your time in Gmail, communicating with clients, customers and maybe even potential employees. Thing is, Gmail isn’t designed for customer relationship management (CRM) tasks such as organizing and synchronizing sales and customer service. Sure, you could use dedicated CRM software, but what if it were possible to integrate CRM features into Gmail and have everything in one place? With Streak, you can.


Streak is an extension for Google Chrome that integrates with Gmail, providing advanced email organisation and CRM features. Streak lets you group emails into Boxes and create Pipelines for anything from sales to employee recruitment. In addition to these CRM features, Streak also includes a number of other useful email management features to enhance your Gmail experience. Read on to find out more.

Getting Started With Streak

First off, you need to use Google Chrome. You can download the Streak extension either from the official site or from the Chrome Web Store. Either way, once you’ve downloaded it, just log into your Gmail account and you should be greeted by a pop-up asking to grant certain permissions to the extension.

Streak Permissions

Once you’ve granted permissions to Streak, you’ll be greeted by another pop-up window. This time, the window contains a list of all the preset Pipelines that come with Streak, and choosing any one of these will create a Pipeline for you. This isn’t permanent, so don’t worry if you feel that you might use Streak for other things later on.

Pipeline Presets

Streak will also offer to give you a quick guided tour. Once you’re done with the tour (or chose to skip it), you’re free to start using Streak how you please.

Streak’s CRM Features

At the core of Streak are what it calls Pipelines and Boxes. Correspondance is grouped into Boxes, and these Boxes are moved along the Pipeline as a sale, or any other business process, progresses.

A Pipeline is essentialy a spreadsheet of a particular business process. Streak comes preloaded with preset sales-related and business-related pipelines such as Sales / CRM, Hiring and Dealflow, plus some personal Pipelines such as Trip Planning. Of course, Streak also lets you create your own Pipelines, in case none of the presets fit the bill.


To create a new Pipeline, just click on the +New link beside Pipelines in the left Gmail sidebar. The previously-mentioned preset window will appear and you can pick the type of Pipeline you want.

Creating New Pipeline

Boxes are Streak’s term for containers that are used to store information about a client, customer, potential employee and so on. Boxes can store emails, files and even reminders. Boxes can only be associated with one Pipeline, and have to be tagged with one of the stages in the Pipeline.

Creating a Box is simple. Just select an email using the checkbox, then click on Boxes. You can name the box yourself or choose from a list of suggestions provided by Streak. After you’ve named the Box, you have to select a Pipeline for the box. A box will include all of the emails within the conversation, as well as attachments and contacts.

Creating New Box

When viewing a Box, there’s a sidebar where you can fill in extra information as well as select the stage that the Box is at. These fields and stages differ depending on the Pipeline. This is how the sidebar looks for a Box associated with a Sales / CRM Pipeline:

Box Sidebar

Streak’s Email Management Features

Streak also has a number of useful email management features that should further enhance your Gmail experience.

Email Tracking

Firstly, Streak has an Email Tracking feature. Email Tracking will let you know when the recipient has read your email. Streak will notify you when an email of yours has been read, and can even inform you of when, where and how many times a particular email has been opened.

Email tracking is enabled by default, and can be toggled on a per-email basis in the New Message window. It can also be disabled permanently in the Streak Settings screen, which can be found alongside all the other Gmail settings.

Email Tracking


Streak also supports Snippets. Snippets are pre-written email messages that can save you the hassle of having to type identical emails over and over. Creating a snippet is as simple as typing a message in the New Message window, clicking on the Snippets button in the bottom row and clicking Create New Snippet From Current Message.

Create New Snippet

The Manage Snippets window will then pop up. This is where you name your Snippet, set the Shortcut Text and the Pipeline the snippet should be associated with.

Manage Snippets

Send Later

In addition to email tracking and Snippets, Streak has a Send Later feature. Send Later lets you schedule emails to be sent in the future. You can also schedule email responses. To use the Send Later feature, click on the Send Later icon in the New Message window and enter the date and time. Note that you can’t activate both Send Later and Email Tracking.

Send Later

Mail Merge

Finally, Streak also has a Mail Merge feature. Mail Merge is a tool to send mass customized emails. Just click on the Mail Merge link in the New Message window. You can either upload a CSV file with a list of emails, or tell Streak to extract addresses from Boxes. Once you’ve gotten the emails, it’s a simple matter of writing out your email. If you want to customize the email sent to a particular address, just click on each email address and change the text.

Mail Merge


As you can see, Streak is a great way to integrate powerful CRM features into Gmail. The Pipelines and Boxes are great for managing all your customer relations, while the extra features such as Snippets and Send Later should help you maximize productivity and reduce hassle. The best thing is that all this power won’t cost you a thing. Yes, Streak is free. The developers will eventually implement paid premium features, but Streak will always be free to use.


Web Design Industry Analysis – Professionals vs. Amateurs [Infographic]

Posted: 12 Mar 2014 10:01 PM PDT

The web design industry in the US is worth $20 billion and is made up of professionals and amateurs. Designers and developers (the professionals), and amateur enthusiasts dab their toes into creating close to 16 million new websites every month.

This cool infographic by Webydo breaks down the web design industry in terms of what makes designers tick, the flaws of the industry, success rates of amateurs, and the industry overview. You’ll also get an inside look of what makes designers happy or not, and which web solutions takes the cake when it comes to web design market share.

If you have an infographic you want to share with us, please drop us a line here so we can credit you with the find,



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