Grammar, Spelling, Coherency, and Clarity- YES, They ARE Important in Blogging

Today’s Ultimate Blog Challenge writing prompt is to offer some troubleshooting tips regarding a market or service we provide. As a professional writer and an educator, I provide writing services and do an extensive amount of my own writing. I can tell you beyond a doubt: YES, grammar, spelling, coherency, and clarity– they ALL matter when you’re blogging or presenting any kind of structured writing that you hope people will read and enjoy.

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If you want people to engage and interact with you, they need to be able to understand what you’re communicating. In a post on the Power Affiliate Club’s site, I wrote an article entitled, “Write Right So Your Readers Can Read Well.”  I invite you to read the article in its entirety, but I’ll share some small excerpts from the article and expand on them here.

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*Grammar Language arts, the typical name for the subject of grammar in school, “is a set of rules that governs how people use the written word.  It encompasses spelling, punctuation, word choice, sentence structure, parts of speech, sentence-verb agreement, and everything else that goes into creating compositions.

The mistakes I most often see in blogs and other types of writing are lack of subject-verb agreement, poor sentence construction, and incorrect word usage (such as loose instead of lose, or it’s instead of its).

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*Spelling — With the abundance of spell checkers and correction tools in word processors and online, there’s really not much excuse for spelling errors any more! The tricky part comes in occasionally using the wrong word because it IS spelled correctly. For instance, using to instead of too, or your instead of you’re, won’t set off spell checkers, yet would still be wrong if used in the wrong context.

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*CoherencyCoherency, or coherence, simply means being logically connected in an orderly fashion. So in writing, this means words should form sentences in ways that make sense. Likewise, sentences should follow one another in a logical and orderly sequence that makes sense to the reader. Paragraphs should also follow the same orderly thought process, so there’s clarity from the beginning to the end of a blog post, paper, or any other published work.

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*ClarityClarity encompasses the first three components. If your grammar and spelling are correct, and your writing is coherent, then you have a better chance of obtaining clarity overall in your writing. Clarity in writing means you express yourself clearly in style and thought.

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So remember: strive for correct grammar and spelling, paired with coherence, in order to obtain clarity in your writing so readers will enjoy your work. 🙂

 

Again, please do click and pop on over to the PAC site to read and benefit from the full article: “Write Right So Your Readers Can Read Well.”

 

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So What About YOU?

Do you think these four components are essential for good writing?

Do you endeavor to proofread your blog posts or other types of writing BEFORE publishing or submitting them? or (if you can) do you go back and edit if you happen to spot something wrong AFTER you have published or submitted something?

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Joining a Blog Challenge Is Like Using CliffsNotes

[This was yesterday’s intended post; it took longer to write than I had anticipated, and since I’m still working on recovering from a virus, I went to bed early!]

So, now yesterday‘s Ultimate Blog Challenge writing prompt was to share an imagination of what some aspect of the future might be like, or an analogy comparing one thing to another. I received an interesting comment and question from a reader (thanks, Ved! 🙂 ), asking, “What is the Ultimate Blog Challenge? How is it beneficial?”

Therefore, I decided on the second option: Joining a blog challenge is like using CliffsNotes!

 

 

If you aren’t familiar with CliffsNotes, they are study guides written by educational experts to accompany various tests and other academic works. They often include some combination of outlines, summaries, and quizzes to help you study and better understand a specific academic work better or prepare to perform better on a test.

 

A blog challenge–such as the Ultimate Blog Challenge, the 30 Days Blogging Challenge, or the A to Z Blog Challenge–likewise provide some helpful advice for successfully blogging every day of a specific month when the challenge runs.

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Here’s an overview of each of these three blog challenges.

 

ULTIMATE BLOG CHALLENGE

 

From the UBC site–Joining the UBC enables you to: “Learn why you need a blog,  get tips on increasing conversions, build your list, and learn ways to have more visitors to your website!”

 

In addition, you will receive emails with writing prompts you may choose to use for ideas on what to write about each day. AND you can join the Facebook UBC group to share your blog posts  with others and gain some readers to your own blog.

 

The UBC was originally the brainchild of awesome bloggers Michelle Shaeffer of Girl Blogger Next Door (an awesome resource in itself),and Michele Scism of Decisive Minds (another awesome resource). They have moved onto other endeavors, and now Paul Taubman of Digital Maestro and Danni Ackerman of Niche to Success run the Facebook group and the UBC. You will want to check out their own blogs, as well, for the wealth of knowledge each of them has to share!

 

Receive encouragement along the way and a virtual award to post on your blog at the end of the challenge!

 

 

While the official challenge is only quarterly–January, April, July, and October–the UBC Facebook group is active year-round and welcomes daily blog post sharing.

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30 DAY BLOGGING CHALLENGE

 

The 30 Day Blogging Challenge runs year-round and you can jump in and join at any time, any day of any month! Husband and wife team, Kevin and Sarah Arrow of Sark eMedia #FollowtheArrows, are the masterminds behind the 30 Day Blogging Challenge.

 

From their site, here’s how the joining the 30 Day Blogging Challenge can help you:

 

*Enjoy the camaraderie of other bloggers as you share your blog posts and make friends in the Facebook group.

 

*Find new blogs you enjoy and can add to your own blogroll.

 

*Exercise your writing muscle and establish a solid writing routine.

 

*Learn how to analyze data you gather during the challenge and how to implement tools such as keywords and an editorial calendar.

 

*Glean from material you have developed during the challenge and create a lead magnet, ebook, or other product.

 

*Understand how to market and promote your blog, and gain traffic and followers as a result.

 

*Receive encouragement along the way and virtual awards to post on your blog at days 1, 7, 14, and 21… at the end of the challenge!

 

    

 

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A TO Z BLOG CHALLENGE

 

The A to Z Blog Challenge is the brainchild of Arlee Bird of Tossing It Out. He began the challenge back in 2010, to celebrate his victories of reaching 200 followers and 200 posts. He decided it would be fun to invite other bloggers in writing posts featuring letters of the alphabet for each day in April, excluding Sundays, which normally comes up with 26 days (except when the 1st or 30th falls on a Sunday — then you would write on that Sunday).

 

In other words, you can exercise your creativity and stretch your mind to think of blog posts beginning with letters of the alphabet from A to Z! For instance, one time when I did the A to Z Blog Challenge on another blog, I started off with A is  for Attitude of Gratitude; B is for Blessings and Beautiful Memories; C is Care and Compassion; and so forth.

 

As in the other blog challenges, you more than likely will find new blogs you enjoy and can bookmark or add to your own blogroll; you get more traffic as other participants of the challenge visit your blog; and you exercise some creativity writing every day per the designated letter of the alphabet.

 

Arlee has a Facebook page about the A to Z Blog Challenge as well, but it is general info and not a group page for interaction like the others.

 

The A to Z Blog Challenge has attracted over 1,000 bloggers every April since 2010. Will you be one of them this coming April? I plan to participate again!  😉

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I hope this answered your question, Ved, and anyone else who may have wondered about blog challenges!  🙂

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So What About YOU?

Have you ever joined any of these blog challenges? If so, did you find them helpful?

Do you think you might join one or all of these blog challenges? Go ahead, share your gift with others!  😉

 

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Changing Behavior and Reigniting Motivation

Well, today has been a momentous and historical day, with the inauguration of our 45th president. The Ultimate Blog Challenge writing prompt, fittingly, is to discuss our opinions on a current event in the world, or a heated topic. In this case, I think I’ve had enough of controversial topics, unless someone considers it heated or controversial to have a  discussion about…

Changing our behavior in order to reignite motivation!  😉

 

 

Many times we need to engage in modifying our behaviors to in turn reignite our motivation. This is especially important if we want to accomplish the necessary steps to reach our goals. One of my goals is to blog consistently. Last year I joined an awesome new mastermind group, the Power Affiliate Club or PAC (full disclosure: that is an affiliate link, and if you choose to become a member, you would help me earn a little extra cash!)

 

One of the first lessons I learned as a PAC member is that I needed to simplify my life and cut back from the 8 (yes, EIGHT) blogs I was trying to maintain, to only TWO. Those two now include this one and my Words of Encouragement blog.

 

Another strategy I decided would help me blog consistently is to use writing prompts  and ideas from various blog groups and challenges, such as the Ultimate Blog Challenge  and the  30 Day Blogging Challenge.  (Honestly, with all the other demands on my time and creativity, I often experience “brain drain” or “brain fog” and just have difficulty coming up with new ideas to blog about!)

 

 

So one of the ideas from the awesome couple, Kevin and Sarah Arrow of Sark eMedia and the 30 Day Blog Challenge, was to share “the story of me and how I got into this freelance career.”  It’s actually a timely topic, because I am beginning my 10th year as a professional freelance writer and educational consultant, and things are really improving with even greater opportunities than in previous years.

 

I would have to back all the way up to about junior high school (MANY years ago!) when I first realized I loved to write. That passion for writing stayed with me all the way through college (the first time around, between 1976-1980), into the years I was married, and raised and homeschooled four children.

 

Then, when I had an opportunity to go back to school and pursue graduate degrees, I found I enjoyed writing, research, and ongoing studies even more. Funny thing is, I never thought of writing as a career path until I “came home” to work back in February 2008. This was after a short-lived career as a speech-developmental therapist, which I thoroughly enjoyed, but what began as a nearby office therapist position became a traveling therapist position of 350+ miles/week. It was too much for me to handle, due to some health issues, as well as the sometimes dangerous winter travel on back roads here in Maine!

 

 

Working away every day! [Source: morgueFile free photos]

         Working from home every day!
             [Source: morgueFile free photos]

 

I’m actually not sure when it dawned on me that I could write for a living, but eventually I discovered a whole new world of freelance and telecommute opportunities.  Over these past several years, I have added a Master of Education degree and have attained doctoral candidacy with my Doctor of Education degree and ABD (All But Dissertation) status. I am now offering writing and educational consultant services. These include such specialized writing services as instructional design, course and assessment writing, and curriculum development.

 

I have also stopped settling for pitiful minimal pay–we’re talking less than 1 cent per word or less than the equivalent of minimum wage–from clients and companies that, honestly, take advantage of freelance writers. Now, depending on the client or company, I often receive as much as $30 – $50/hour or thousands of dollars per project. I have found that the more education and experience I gain, the better my opportunities are. I’m looking forward to achieving my ultimate goal of becoming Dr. K. Lee Banks, hopefully within the next couple of months, and seeing what new career doors will open to me.

 

I’ve lost track of the exact number, but I have somewhere around 3,200 published articles online and have two books published; one I authored, Fatherly Reflections, and one I co-authored with Dr. Christine Mason of the Center for Educational Improvement (CEI) entitled Heart Beaming.  I have also authored, co-authored, or reviewed numerous courses. These projects varied from creating individual sample lessons, to entire courses, from scripts and storyboards to full online course content and instructor guidelines.

 

I also write English Language Arts (ELA) reading passages and assessment/test items and content for various clients, mostly for middle through high school students. I have also served as an English Language Arts Subject Matter Expert (SME).

 

My goal, once I become Dr. Banks, is to add online instructional facilitation to my services.

 

So there you go – “the story of me and how I got into this freelance career.” 🙂

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So What About YOU?

 

Do you write for a living or just for fun?

 

Do you have a job outside the home?

 

Have you thought about pursuing additional education or training to improve your career opportunities?

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My Bucket List: Short-Term and Long-Term

So today’s Ultimate Blog Challenge writing prompt is to share our Bucket List–you know, those things we hope to do before our time on earth is over. I have been pondering this idea since I first read the email suggestion for today, and have come up with a few things on both a short-term and long-term basis.

 

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My Short-Term Bucket List Goals

*REALLY de-clutter our home! I mean, fully, completely, de-clutter, reorganize, and reduce the related stress that accompanies a cluttered living space! That alone should help with one of my long-term goals! Check out this related article:  The Link Between Clutter and Depression.

 

*Become Dr. Karen Lee Banks! That’s within reach… hopefully within the next couple of months! It has been a long journey of over 7 years (since November 2009), but I’m almost there!

 

*Obtain a long-term high-paying freelance position! I would like one that uses my degree, knowledge, and experience, preferably within the instructional design/curriculum development field.

 

*Adopt another puppy–or two! Yes, we already have 2 – and 8 cats – but we seem to have a heart for adopting rescue animals, and it seems like time for the next rescue pup. We’re thinking of a German shepherd or Husky. Maybe both…

 

*Continue with lifelong learning! Other areas of interest I would like to pursue are: 1) grant writing, as another niche area I could develop and use for educational purposes to help especially non-profit educational organizations obtain funds; and 2) life coaching, to add to my current skill sets and offerings (also coincides with my original plans from way back in my early 20s, when I earned my degree in psychology and hoped to become a counselor some day!)

 

*Learn some new crafting/sewing skills! One I’ve waited on for awhile–even have the supplies and tools to get started–is the old-fashioned rug hooking with a hoop, fabric, and pieces of wool, along with the punch tool.

Another is to increase my basic crocheting stitches to more complicated ones, and on to more complex projects.

A third is to learn to use the embroidery machine I’ve had for a few years, yet it has sat alone, sadly neglected all this time. 🙁  It would be nice to add embroidered touches to various projects and now to THREE granddaughters’ clothing! 🙂

A fourth is to begin using my AccuQuilt Fabric Cutter!  It’s supposed to cut fabric into various specific sizes using dyes–making the cutting job quicker and easier. Sounds like a good idea and why I haven’t used it yet, I don’t know!

A fifth, for now, is to master my Flynn machine quilting system so I can start machine quilting my own projects, instead of just hand-tying them.

*Go back to Punta Cana with my hubby! We were there in November 2013 for my middle daughter’s wedding. We went to the Excellence Resort and it was truly excellent, and would be worth the return trip as a delayed honeymoon for us that we never had back in 2006 when we got married!

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My Long-Term Bucket List Goals

 

Here I’m thinking 5 years and beyond.

 

*Buy a house in and move to New Hampshire! That’s my home state, and the one where my two youngest daughters and their families live (including my three granddaughters!) I have two siblings, extended family, and friends who also live in NH, and my parents are buried in the Veterans Cemetery there, so it really is a heart desire to move back there. I’d love to see this one in the short-term list… but we’ll see and God only knows!

 

*Pay off all debts–even the mortgage! I’d also like to put this in the short-term list, but we’ll see. That depends on a lot of factors, including my opportunity to fulfill that third short-term goal — or to hit an unrealistic goal of winning any of the big money payouts (lottery, sweepstakes, etc.)!

 

If THAT happened, the related Bucket List goal would be to not only pay off our debts and mortgage–but to do the same for my kids and their families, and for other loved ones in need. In addition, we have discussed how much we would love to have a big house, a lot of land, and run our own rescue for mostly abandoned or “death list” dogs and cats rescued from high kill facilities (I refuse to call them “shelters,” because they are NOT deserving of a word that means ” “). 🙁

 

*Travel to see wonders of the world and other fascinating places! This is something my hubby Dave would especially enjoy. He has taught me a lot about places I never even knew existed, like the Coral Castle, Easter Island, Puma Punku, Stonehenge, Machu Pichu, and of course the ancient pyramids, the Sphinx, and other wonders of the world.

 

*Live to a ripe old age and bless as many people as possible along the way! I endeavor to be a blessing NOW… but as I’m approaching 59 in a couple months, I know I’d like to live at least another 41 (yeah, make it to 100!)

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So what about YOU?

Do you have some Bucket List ideas?

Are there some things you know for sure you want to accomplish while you have the time and ability to do so?

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Need some ideas? I happened to come across this blogger’s excellent list of 101 Things to Do Before You Die!

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Dream Quenching or Dream Fulfilling? Option 2 Please!

Here we are at another midweek day, over halfway through January already! Today’s Ultimate Blog Challenge writing prompt was to talk about dreams, such as those we had as kids about what we wanted to do when we grew up. Or perhaps our dreams now, for the future. I actually wrote an in-depth post about this last November, so I’m going to re-publish it now, since it’s quite relevant for the topic! Would you prefer to focus on dream quenching or dream fulfilling? I’ll take the second option, please! 😉

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What are your dream quenchers?

What is getting in the way of you reaching for your dreams?

It’s important, first, for us to identify our dreams. Then, to honestly evaluate what gets in our way of realizing those dreams, and finally to determine a strategy to overcome the dream quenchers or barriers to help us move forward toward fulfilling our potential.

dreams

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My Lifelong Learning Dream

First, one of my primary dreams is to complete my Doctor of Education (EdD) program and officially become Dr. Banks! I am now within a couple months of realizing that dream, which has been more than a 7-year journey so far, as of November 2016. Obtaining that degree will open up new career opportunities and greater earning potential. Since my study is now underway, if all goes well, I will hopefully reach my goal by my birthday at the end of March. What a gift that would be!   🙂

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My Career and Entrepreneurial Dreams

Next, I guess I should identify what some of my dreams are regarding my career goals in freelance consulting and my K-Lee’s Kreations business.

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In my freelance consulting and writing :

*  Continue to build up my portfolio of writing samples and educational materials.

*  Continue to gain professional experience as an instructional designer, curriculum developer, and course/assessment writer.

*  Continue to hone my niche writing areas and related skill sets.

*  Gain enough confidence to raise my rates and define terms for work, rather than always accepting the terms that clients tell me.

*  Continue to maintain writing in my two blogs consistently (this one and Words of Encouragement), to gain faithful readers and followers, and establish a good reputation in the blogging world. This includes monetizing my blogs, more consistently promoting my blogs on social media, commenting on other blogs, and replying to all of you who take the time to leave comments for me here! 🙂

* Add content to my new pages on this blog, eLearning 4 Life and my Health and Fitness Journey, which I am developing as alternatives to having multiple separate blogs.

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In my K-Lee’s Kreations business :

* Set up my related sites, and get them up and running as soon as possible, to supplement / complement my Etsy shop and Bonanza booth (currently working on one through Vistaprint).

* Consistently market my business, including promotion on social media.

* Create an inventory of ready-made items to complement my custom orders, under the new label, K-Lee’s Kollectibles.

            January K-Lee’s Kreations Special!

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My Health and Fitness Dreams

Another goal for me is to lose weight and get healthier. I have about 50 lbs. to lose, per my doctor’s recommendation. Some health issues and related medications, combined with my age and stage in life, all make this endeavor even more challenging. However, I’m “sick and tired of being sick and tired and overweight,” so I need to do this first for my own health and well-being. But I also want to be around longer for my hubby, my kids, and my grandkids. SO…my health and fitness journey is officially ON!

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What is getting in the way of me

realizing these dreams and achieving these goals?

After some soul searching and honest introspection, I have to admit that two of my biggest weaknesses are poor time management and lack of self-confidence.  These are compounded by some legitimate health issues, but the unfortunate results are distraction, brain fog, fatigue, inconsistency, lack of follow-through, procrastination, and sometimes missed deadlines.

On particularly bad days, I really need an attitude adjustment, because I have a very difficult time finding the “want to” regarding doing the things I must do. There are days I would rather take a nap, read, sew, quilt, visit with family and friends, and socialize in my various online networks. Honestly, sometimes I just want to do *nothing* other than sit and relax, breathe, think, and reflect.

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Now that I’ve identified my hindrances, bad habits, and flaws… I know I have some work to do! I’ve reached the point of being “tired of being tired” and not reaching the level of productivity I know I’m capable of accomplishing. I know I can reach my goals and fulfill my dreams * IF * I consistently move forward, pull down strongholds, and force breakthroughs to happen–all with God’s help and by His grace!

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So what about YOU?

So there’s my confession! What about you?

Do you know what’s getting in the way of you reaching your dreams and achieving your goals? Do you dare to share?