Change: A Bittersweet Day for Bearkats as They Cross the Stage

A Tragic Day for Sam Houston Statewreath

Today’s post is a bit off topic in response to the tragic fatal car accident that took place on my college campus early this morning. The accident claimed three lives and one injury to date as details are frustratingly delayed, leaving Bearkats to worry and pray and even place blame. This happened after Friday’s graduation and before Saturday’s ceremonies.

The university has announced their plans to proceed with today’s commencements. I hope and pray these victims were not students (and don’t want to think about any of them being graduates), but with the accident occurring at 4:30 in the morning it appears likely. On social media, while awaiting news, people are arguing over the appropriateness of comments and accountability—whose I’m not sure. Family and friends may disagree with the decision to carry on with graduation, and I am glad I was not the one who had to make that decision.

Is There a Lesson to be Learned?

Could this be a harsh and callous reminder to recognize just how fragile life is and how precious our accomplishments are? Not to undermine the tragedy and those suffering the realities I am not yet even aware of, but my own words echo in my head. Yesterday, as a recent Sam grad myself, I spoke to my son, who plans to attend Sam Houston next year, about college and how life doesn’t always turn out the way we plan—many people never graduate. Graduation is an accomplishment to be appreciated.

It would be insensitive for me to point out the metaphor here. People are not examples. And saying we should take this a reminder or a wake up call is cruel to those whose lives changed today. I cling to hope that I did not know the victims, but it won’t ease the hurt much if I don’t. They are still fellow Bearkats and it is tragic whether I knew them or not. I don’t know what’s worse: this occurring amidst graduation or on the verge of students returning home to their families to celebrate Christmas. I think of the gifts they will never receive, the greetings that will never happen and the people who will have to gather their belongings and experience that void every time they look in an empty bedroom.

The Bittersweet Ceremony of Change

It is difficult to realize in the midst of tragedy that life goes on, but lives are changing today. Our people lost loved ones today—family and friends, students and classmates. Today, our graduates gain their degrees and passports to a new life. This day marks change: an administration that will develop new policies and capabilities to prevent accidents and handle emergencies, a campus that will never again experience the presence of these students, a graduation of courage and community and bittersweet memories. This is a day to recognize change. The world keeps spinning, but our lives are impacted and our hearts are heavy as we celebrate our graduates and grieve our loss.

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Blogging: How to Write a Blog and Why Your Site Needs One

why meWhat is the Purpose of a Blog?

The job of a blog is to inform. Many companies are blogging, but why does your business need a blog? Websites need them to drive traffic to their pages. A good blog predicts what the potential visitor is looking for and provides that content. If your website sells a product (even your expertise), your blog should educate people on what you provide. Potential clients/visitors need to be able to find this information. That is where SEO comes in.

When a potential customer is in need of services, they type in searches such as “how to” or “ways to”. Your blog should answer that question and inform them about your services, and in many cases, lead them to other pages within your website. You want to be a thought leader in your industry, provide helpful content to your clients and gain their trust. A blog adds another page to your site which increases your internet footprint, making your company more visible.

Your website never sleeps and each page acts like a lottery ticket—the more pages you have, the better your odds. A blog is a long-term investment to engage in a conversation with the visitor. Stay informed on which articles perform best and on which social networks your visitors are using. Updated material performs best in search engines. Posting blogs two to three times a week is a good practice to train search engines to prioritize your website.

A good blog does three things:

  • Engages
  • Educates
  • Entertains

Blogs are an exchange of information. You want to educate your visitor on the subject so they can make choices. Your blog should be helpful, but you also want to entertain. Blogging is storytelling—it should be compelling. You need to engage them in a conversation—reach them at their level with content they enjoy. Give them new information: gather material for them and provide links to the pages.

Titles are Key

Your title and keywords land in the search engine’s results. Google will find the first 60 characters of your title and will prioritize updated material. Your title should zero in what a potential visitor might type into a search engine, such as “how to write a blog.” The best performing titles, according to HubSpot are “how to” and “(5) ways to”.

Subtitles help the reader ascertain if the article is relevant to their search. Bullets or numbered lists are great ways to help a visitor determine if they will get what they are looking for in your blog. Also, bolded terms at the end of paragraphs that highlight the most important points help a reader make sense of your article.

The Body: Best Practices

The body of the blog should use white space to break information up into bite-sized pieces. Keep paragraphs between two and five sentences long. The recommended length of a blog is 600 words. Use keywords and variations of them in the body with internal links to keep the visitor navigating your site. Remember to keep the blog entertaining while educating.

Call to Action: Let’s Click on It

Your blog may also include a call to action, even if it is just to follow your blog. This is where the exchange of information takes place. You educate the visitor, then they fill out a form to give their contact information. They get the knowledge they want, you get a lead. The purpose of the blog is to give a googler what they are looking for—your expertise.

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Who Pays: How and Why Inferior Content Stinks Up the Internet

 

Are words that are worth reading worth a cent, five cents or twenty cents? Was the last thing you read online worth the time to read it? Readers and writers, think before you click and ask yourself if you are perpetuating the down-spiraling of content quality. How much is your time worth?

Need for Content and Jobs Feed Content Farms

You may be surprised at writers’ rates and how little companies are willing to pay them. With the constant need for new content and updates—the race for top search engine results and page visits—you would think the writing industry would be lucrative. Wages vary widely depending on expertise or experience of the writer, the quality of the work sought and the speed of the individual who completes the task. However, with the demand for original material, the least paid, least experienced writers are paid pennies to churn out low quality content. You get what you pay for.

Fees are usually paid per project, hour or word. It is not always writers’ choice by which of these systems they are paid, especially for new, unestablished writers; however, they can choose which assignments they deem profitable. This can often mean the compensation is not necessarily monetary. When building their career, many writers take on projects that offer experience or prestige even if they do not make much profit for the time spent. Companies take advantage of opportunities to save a buck, many of them earning the title content farms. Given the abundance of people who accept this shameful pay for their time, the way they devour writing jobs, and the slop they often dish up, let’s call them content pigs.

Eating Up Poor Content

When it comes down to it, isn’t the goal to create content for readers (to attract/educate/keep/convert the visitor)? How much time and stock do you want to put into reading something that took a writer (and I use the word loosely here) a few minutes to write? There are no standards necessary for these content churners to be considered writers and the companies who pay them know the lack of quality in the work they get for the amount they pay.

The real stinkers are the people who will accept the pay. From ads offering one cent a word to five dollars a blog, there is no mystery to the poor quality of online content. How is this even worth the time to find the job, much less complete the work? Yet, there’s always someone else willing to do work for a sum writers’ consider insulting—sending the jobs overseas since nonnative English speakers from all over the world are accepting these jobs for the American dollar rate which translates to more profit for them, and in many cases, less quality for the reader.

It’s not just the nonnative writers that muddy the waters. College, or even high school students, and other inexperienced or untalented writers take the miserly scraps offered, lowering the standard of writing, the demand for quality work, and the pay companies are willing to dole out.

Refuse to Consume or Create the Rubbish

Readers establish the demand for content, so demand quality. Let companies know you appreciate those who pay for professionally written content—visit and share their pages, follow them and like them. Encourage companies to employ writers to create your content and quit stinking up the internet. Let writers know you value their craft and help them demand more. Tell them your time is worth it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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