Monday, October 28, 2013

Borrowed Wisdom: How to Use Quotes on Your Blog from Daily BlogTips

Have you ever read something – perhaps in a book or blog – and thought wow, I wish I’d written that.
While you can’t take the words and pretend they’re your own, you can use them to support your blogging.
Quoting other people is a staple of many types of writing. Journalists use quotes in their stories, magazine writers interview experts to support their piece, and academics quote research papers. As a blogger, you too can borrow the wisdom of others to inspire and support your writing.
This is also an under-used technique, so it’s one that can make you stand out:
For an entire week I read every post from five A-list bloggers to see how many of their posts included quotes. Out of 31 posts, only three did.
– Bamboo Forest, Elevate Your Writing By Using Well-Positioned Quotes, Write to Done
It does take a little extra time and effort to add a quote (or a few quotes) into your post … but if you follow these steps, you can’t go wrong.

Step #1: Find an Appropriate Quote

Quotes can come from all sorts of sources, but three of the most likely ones you’ll use are:
Other Blogs
It’s easy to do a quick Google search for information when you’re writing a post: if you find a great piece of advice, you can include it in your piece as a quote. Alternatively, you might save good quotes as you’re reading, so you can use them in future posts.
It’s fine to quote briefly from a book so long as you acknowledge the source (see Step #3). If you have an ereader, highlight relevant passages when you’re reading so you can easily find useful quotes afterwards.
Collections of Quotes
Sites like Brainy Quote list thousands upon thousands of quotes, and you can search by topic. If you do choose a quote that’s been widely reproduced, check several sites as the wording (and sometimes the attribution) may be incorrect in places.

Step #2: Decide How to Use the Quote

There are plenty of different ways to incorporate a quote into your post, and you don’t need to use the same method each time. These are some popular ones:
At the Start of Your Post
Alex Blackwell of The Bridgemaker has a quote at the start of every post he writes. This is a technique you’ll sometimes see used in books, with a quote at the start of each chapter.
As the Basis for Your Post
Barry Demp of The Quotable Coach bases each of his posts on a specific quote. Here on Daily Blog Tips, we often quote from and explain a good resource when we link to it – see The Psychology Behind The “One Weird Trick” Ads for an example.
To Support a Point You’re Making
Often, a quote from an expert can be a great way to support a particular part of your post. For instance, in Sonia Simone’s post The 5 Things Every (Great) Marketing Story Needs, her bonus – You need the truth – uses a quote from a book.

Step #3: Format the Quote Correctly

It’s often a good idea to distinguish quotes from the rest of your post, especially if you’re quoting more than a line or so.
There’s a handy HTML tag for this:

(Most visual blog editors will have a button that looks like quotation marks: this applies the

Different blog themes will have different styles of blockquotes, but almost all will indent the text from the left. They may use a different font colour or size, and might add other features like a quotation mark graphic or a line down the left hand side.
For very short quotes, you may not want to use the blockquote formatting. You can simply incorporate them into your sentence, using quotation marks. Here’s an example:
This week, I’ve decided to use more quotes on my blog. I was inspired by Ali Luke who explains, “You too can borrow the wisdom of others to inspire and support your writing.”
If you want more on punctuating posts correctly, check out 8 Tips for Using Quotes and Dialogue in Your Blog Posts (ProBlogger).

Step #4: Attribute the Quote Correctly

Make sure that all the quotes you use are attributed carefully: don’t just throw them in without a name or source.
At a bare minimum, you should include the name of the person (or where that’s not available, the website / publication) that the quote is from.
Normally, if you’re quoting from a blog post or website, it’s good to link to the source. This helps out the person you’re quoting (links are good for their search engine ranking) and it also offers extra value to your readers, who may want to read the whole of the source piece.
If you’re going to use quotes on a reasonably regular basis, work out a good standard way to attribute them. There are plenty of ways to do this. I like to have both the quote and the attribution in blockquote format, like this:
– [name], [title of post, which links to it], [name of blog]
So, for instance, if you quoted from this post, you might do it like this:
Normally, if you’re quoting from a blog post or website, it’s good to link to the source. This helps out the person you’re quoting (links are good for their search engine ranking) and it also offers extra value to your readers, who may want to read the whole of the source piece.
– Ali Luke, Borrowed Wisdom: How to Use Quotes on Your Blog, Daily Blog Tips

Bonus Step: Changing the Quote

Sometimes, you’ll need to make changes to a quote. This is OK, but it needs to be clear to readers what’s changed. For instance:
  • You might cut out a section of a long quote.
  • You might alter a word to help the quote make sense.
There are standard conventions for doing this.
Cutting Part of a Quote
Use an ellipsis (three dots) to indicate where the cut part is.
Normally, if you’re quoting from a blog post or website, it’s good to link to the source. This … offers extra value to your readers, who may want to read the whole of the source piece.
Some writers like to put the ellipsis in square brackets too, like this: [...]
Warning: Be careful not to use an ellipsis to change the meaning of a quotation.
Changing a Word in a Quote
Sometimes, a quote doesn’t quite work out of context: for instance, there might be a word like “he” or “it” or “this” that refers to something in a previous sentence.
The easiest way to fix this is to simply replace the word by putting the new word or phrase in square brackets. For instance, in our example quote, you might choose to use the second sentence only, and change the word “this” at the start:
[Linking to the source] offers extra value to your readers, who may want to read the whole of the source piece.

Your turn! Use a quote in the next blog post you write. If you get stuck or you’re not sure if you’ve done it right, just pop a comment below so we can help.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Five Ways to Connect With Fellow Bloggers from Daily Blog Tips

How do you build a relationship with other bloggers in your niche?
Whether they’re brand new, well established, or A-listers, fellow bloggers are an invaluable source of support.
If you have a strong relationship with them, they may well help you with your promotions, link to your posts, offer you review copies of their products, etc.
You might wonder, though, how to get noticed by a specific blogger – and how to build a real connection. These five ideas should help. I’ve listed them in order from simplest to most involved (but also most likely to have an impact).

#1: Tweet or Share Their Post

This one takes seconds of your time, and isn’t at all scary! Simple find a blogger you’d like to connect with, pick one of their posts, and tweet it out to your followers. Make sure you include the blogger (e.g. I’m @aliventures) so they see your tweet.
Tip: A-list bloggers won’t always notice a few retweets and shares, but smaller bloggers probably will.

#2: Leave a Comment

When you leave a comment, you’re not just helping out the blogger by adding to the discussion on their site – you’re laying the groundwork for a relationship. Try to comment on their posts over the course of a couple of weeks before moving further.
Tip: Make sure your comments are genuinely useful and relevant. You don’t have to comment on every single post, so don’t push yourself to write something if you have nothing to say.

#3: Send them an Email

In my post Nine Blogging Milestones to Celebrate, DBT reader Shawn Gossman wrote:
I think #9 [Getting a “Thank You” Email from a Reader] is the best milestone out of them all. When my readers contact me to thank me for writing articles, that lets me know that people enjoy what I have to say and it motivates me to continue.
It’s a safe bet that other bloggers feel this way too! By sending a simple “thanks” email, you can really make an impact.
Tip: When emailing someone for the first time, keep it short and simple. Most bloggers are busy people, often blogging around a full-time job.

#4: Write a Guest Post for Their Blog

Not all big bloggers read their comments or even their emails. Writing a guest post, though, is generally a sure-fire way to get your content read by them. Make sure you follow all their guidelines and submit the best piece of content you can.
Tip: Although it’s a wonderful feeling to have a guest post on a major blog in your niche, you can also get great results from smaller blogs – so don’t discount those.

#5: Write About Them on Your Blog

One pretty much certain way to get on someone’s radar is to write a post about them. That could be an in-depth review of one of their products, an overview of who they are and what they blog about, or a piece that links to and describes some of your favourite posts on their blog.
Tip: Make your post as useful as possible to them – by linking to their products, for instance, or by encouraging readers to sign up for their newsletter.

Have you used any of these methods? What’s worked well for you – and what might you try next? Let us know in the comments!