Tag Archives: blogs

What Can Ernest Hemingway Teach You About Blogging?

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One of the keys to a blog post is getting to the point (and, even more important, having a point in the first place.) Sometimes I edit an article or blog post by removing words and sentences that are redundant, uninteresting, or unnecessary — and find that there’s not much left. In fact, one of the things that prepared me to create short posts for blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ was writing and editing letters for President Clinton in the White House. There’s not much room on one page (or in one tweet) to make your point, so you have to be efficient with that limited space.

Ragan.com recently republished a post I missed the first time called “Ernest Hemingway’s Five Secrets to Good Blogging,” written by Erik Dekers, the co-owner and vice president of creative services for Professional Blog Service. Dekers says that If you blog or do any writing for the web, you can learn a thing or two (or five) from Hemingway. “Blogging is the new newspaper,” Dekers writes. “Posts need to be short, punchy, and interesting right from the very beginning — all characteristics that marked a Hemingway story.” The lessons:

  1. Write and speak with authority.
  2. Avoid adverbs.
  3. Don’t write for “the reader.” “Don’t worry about what the critics and haters are going to say,” Deckers writes. “Don’t anticipate what comments you might get, and how you can head them off at the pass. Don’t avoid controversial topics just because you think someone might disagree with you. Write for you, and make it awesome.”
  4. Have a set writing schedule. “Hemingway’s schedule was to get up early, get to the typewriter by 7 a.m., and write until lunchtime. Even when he was starting out and had to work odd jobs, he would only do them after lunch. He didn’t drink until he was done writing, and he would even get up when he was hung over.”
  5. Leave stuff out. “He would omit everything he could, including background information that was not relevant to the story. Similarly, as bloggers, we need to leave things out. Don’t use descriptions of what you were thinking when you came up with a certain blog topic. Explain why something is important, and what it means to us.” Read the full post.

Make a Difference with Social Media: Start Here

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A professional colleague called me last week for advice about social media. Her nonprofit has decided they need to boost their digital presence, and her boss has asked her to lead that effort (in addition to her other responsibilities). She has a Facebook page and uses LinkedIn, but she hasn’t used social media channels professionally — and she didn’t know where to start.

My answer was easy. I told her to start with the Case Foundation’s Social Media 101.

I was fortunate to lead communications for the Case Foundation at a time when Jean and Steve Case were ramping up their efforts to leverage technology to make philanthropy and civic engagement more accessible and efficient for nonprofits and individuals. There was no better place and no better time to learn about the potential for technology to make a greater social impact — and keep up with trends that continue to shape social activism.

In my first week working there in 2005, I learned that my top priority would be to leading the development of the foundation’s first website. It was both exciting and intimidating to be asked to develop a plan and launch a site within a few months — for the founder of AOL, nonetheless. But what I learned over those months, and over the entire time I worked there, was that the Case Foundation was the ideal place to apply my experience while constantly learning new things and developing new skills.

The Case Foundation was (and is) a think-tank for changing the world in new and innovative ways. It’s a culture that expects, demands, and rewards big thinking and “swinging for the fences” (one of Steve’s favorite metaphors). As an employee, you’re surrounded by talented people who are passionate about making a difference, and all staff at all levels have a chance to contribute.

By the way, the website we launched nearly eight years ago — a robust journalistic site about philanthropy and civic engagement — looked nothing like the Case Foundation’s site today. Always looking to leverage new tools and capabilities, the foundation ‘s site is now a real-time hub for blogs, videos, and social media feeds.

Which brings me back to where I started this post. Whether you’re new to social media or are ready to take the next step, “Social Media 101” offers carefully selected articles and videos to help you “harness social media tools and platforms for good.” You’ll get helpful tips for Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Foursquare, mobile, blogging, video, photography, and more.

The Case Foundation’s website also has videos, publications, and other resources on philanthropy, social activism, and corporate responsibility. And if you’re trying to convince your boss, board members, or others about the value of social media for nonprofits, show them this video:

What resources would you recommend for someone getting started in nonprofit social media?