"Colonel John Graves Simcoe" image by Wanda G (Wanda Gould)
My article explains why Simcoe Day is named for John Graves Simcoe.
Publicizing my Simcoe Day Article
Writing Tip based on Simcoe Day
Today's writing tip is to take different approaches from time to time, but not so much as to upset regular readers.
In writing my Simcoe Day article, for example, I switched my focus away from publicizing one specific Toronto event, and towards the holiday on which a variety of festivities would occur.
As well, I added some background about the person behind the holiday. It's not my usual approach, but seemed reasonable since I had moved away from a single-venue, sole-sponsored event.
Besides, I actually learned a thing or two about JG Simcoe during the research, so why share some facts about Simcoe Day in 2012.
"Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto" image by machernucha (Mike chernucha)
Nathan Phillips Square will host the performances that were not postponed.
My article explains why the organizers made their decision, and what is being offered to the artists originally slated for Yonge-Dundas Square during the upcoming Simcoe Day holiday weekend in 2012.
Publicity for my Toronto IRIE Festival Article
Writing Tip from the IRIE Reggae Festival in Toronto
Today's writing tip puts the emphasis on preparation and flexibility.
I had prepared some time ago, by researching a significant number of annual Toronto events that I'd like to write about. One was the IRIE concert, which had a brief note in my Squidoo lens.
Today I saw a brief note in the newspaper about a "cancellation". I quickly wrote the main article, and kept digging for the official news release. That's the first place where the "postponement" was given a specific date.
The writing tip is to be ready to write or update the articles in your niche when news becomes available. That's how I scooped the details in my article about the 2012 TD IRIE Music Festival.
"Five Math Symbols", image by Mike DeHaan
Here are five introductory math symbols, created with Microsoft Word. A reader had asked about four of them; the "caret" for exponentiation was a bonus.
"Venn Diagrams for Union and Intersection", image by Mike DeHaan
I also drew these Venn diagrams to distinguish intersection from union.
Publicity for my Intro to Math Symbols Article
One Writing Tip for This Article
This multi-part writing tip is for those who illustrate their articles by making their own images...especially using a simple program like Microsoft Paint.
First off, consider using another tool to get started. For the first image, I immediately planned to use Microsoft Word (in the Office suite) to create the math symbols. Once I had the layout, I zoomed in on the document and made a "screen print" using the PrtScn key on the keyboard. Paste into Paint, crop the image, and the job is 90% finished.
Secondly, I used Word again for the next image. All I needed were the words in the title, but I cropped the image to ensure I had lots of white space for Paint's ovals.
Third, I added borders to the images. Many of the web sites I use, or to which I submit articles, have a nearly white background. Images like these just fade into the background, so I add my own border.
I've sometimes touched up other people's images with borders, but only if their Creative Commons license permits modification (or does not forbid it).
To conclude, it's perfectly feasible to make your own images to illustrate your articles, especially those dealing with math symbols that can be generated in Word.
"Map of Guildwood Park, Toronto" image by Mike DeHaan from Google Maps
The map is better in my main article, which also explains the directions to find Guildwood Park in Scarborough.
The article highlights some of the attractions for this weekend festival.
Publicizing my Guildwood Park Arts Festival Article
A Writing Tip from the Guildwood Arts Festival
This double writing tip echoes some previous ideas.
First, offer your reader something of value. The official "Guild Alive with Culture" web site gives the street address and mentions both the Guild Inn and Guildwood Park. This does not help anyone who does not already know the area. I marked up the map and added a lot of directions because people may need those details.
The second writing tip is to ask yourself, "Does my article or web site make assumptions"? The "Guild Alive..." site does not assume that people know the entertainers. (In retrospect, most of the festival web sites I've perused have been very good at linking to their performers' sites). However, the "Guild Alive..." site does not offer geographic guidance. Naturally, its developers knew where they were going. But might the Guild Arts and Crafts Festival attract anyone from out of town? My tip: be sure to cover the basics somewhere, and make it as easy to find as the culture festival in Guildwood Park,
"Stacks of Cash", image by 401(K) 2012
That's a sweet deal, but mathematics says that the envelope you didn't choose has a 25% higher expected value than the one you now hold.
As fortune would have it, once you switch, the newly rejected envelope becomes more valuable. This goes on forever.
My article explains the fallacy in the Two Envelope Paradox, and draws a lesson for the real world.
Promoting my "Two Envelopes" Article
The "Two Envelope" Writing Tip
This writing tip will be more Zen-like than most.
Outside the math, one fallacy from the Two Envelope Paradox is that we humans can feel regret at making a choice that might not be optimal, but we have no way of testing that choice.
In your writing, you will inevitably think "I could have used a different example. That could have been worded differently. I should have used a simpler, or more poetic, turn of phrase".
At some point, you have to finish drafting and editing. Follow your instincts or your training, press the "publish" button and set your story free.
If you're writing advertising copy, then yes, there is definitely room for A/B testing. However, each test ad is its own finished piece.
This writing tip boils down to "do your best, and don't have regrets after publishing". Unlike the fallacy in the "Two Envelope Paradox", your article won't forever improve by 25% with each revision.
"Yonge Dundas Square in Repose" image by nicblockley
Although Yonge-Dundas Square is pretty quiet in the above image, the Live Green Festival will make it, and part of Yonge Street, very busy. Read my article to learn more about the purpose and activities available to those wanting to explore green living in Toronto.
Publicizing my Live Green Festival Article
Writing Tip during my Live Green Festival Promotion
Today's writing tip is less about writing and more about promotion.
As do many online writers, I bookmark my articles in a variety of sites. Each site has written and unwritten codes of behaviour. Zoomit and Google+ seem pretty clear that their users promote their own articles or businesses.
In contrast, Reddit wants people to draw attention to good or interesting articles. Their avenue for self-absorption is the ".self." category within a topic. One of my previous bookmarks was criticized for being self-promoting. However, Reddit is a tempting site because I've had a fair number of page views from my bookmarks there.
So yesterday I put a link to the official Live Green Festival web site, rather than to my own article, into Reddit. I did not mention my article at all.
At this time, that bookmark has 1 upvote and 2 downvotes. Since my posting was an upvote, this tells me that two people decided to downvote my link to the official site. Since no-one has logged a comment, I don't know whether these people think that the Live Green Festival is a bad idea, or posting the bookmark is inappropriate.
The writing tip is to encourage you to promote your articles in the appropriate bookmark sites, while following the local customs.
"Old School Vintage Road Bicycle" image by Ha-Wee (Howie Le)
Although the official web site does a fine job of guiding competitors, it says little to the friends, relatives or curious onlookers who would want a vantage point from which to watch the races.
Promoting my July 2012 Toronto Triathlon Article
Writing Tip from this Triathlon
Today's writing tip
is much like yesterday's; it is either important or it's just at the top of my mind.Just as when I wrote
"The Two-Weekend 2012 Beaches Jazz Festival Toronto
", I took a specific point of view to write the article. For the triathlon, it seemed that spectators were not given all the information they might want.So, again, I tried to find a need and meet it. I think the appropriate approach to almost any informational article is to ask "What is needed, and by whom"?
"Beaches International Jazz Festival Toronto 2007" by beyond20khz (Josh Tidsbury)
Originally intended as a quick pointer to the official web site, this article grew because there are a number of details that people should learn easily. These details include the dates of the events, when roads will be closed, and a mention of the "secret crown jewels" hidden in the main site.
Publicity for my Article about the Beaches Jazz Festival 2012
Writing Tip from the 2012 Toronto Jazz Festival
Today's writing tip is a minor confession. I had researched the main information for venues, dates and times. My plan was to quickly draft, proof-read and publish, since the official site has so much detail.
It took longer than expected, because I came to realize that my readers might especially need the details about road closures. The readers who are truly excited about the Beaches International Jazz Festival have already bookmarked the site.
However, my target audience includes those who will say, "But I wanted to drive along Queen Street that weekend...". They won't want to explore the official web site; they need some details up front.
Today's writing tip is to focus your article on the needs of someone in your target audience, whether they are the hard-core elite, the amateurs and newbies, or those who want to avoid the jazz festival scene altogether. Meeting those specific needs might take a bit more time and effort, but should be rewarding to your readers and yourself.
"One Yellow Thrips Nymph (Thysanoptera)" image by Mick E. Talbot - Very, very busy..!!
You have to love the photographer's "Flickr" name.
Different types of thrips have very different appetites. My article explains more about them.
Promoting my Article about Thrips
Writing Tip Regarding Thrips
This new writing tip actually answers "Why bother promoting your online article in other blogs"?
There are two reasons for cross-promoting your articles.
First, the search engines notices that your article has inbound links. This gives your article a slightly higher ranking, compared to web pages that no-one else has referenced. Admittedly, it may not count for much if your blogs don't rank highly themselves; but it should not hurt too much.
Second, you might reach new readers for the article because they follow your blog. Possiby they found your blog when searching for the topic, instead of finding the main article.
Those are the effects I'm hoping for by publicizing my article about the thrips.
By the way, you writers may have noticed that all the article titles imply the ambiguity about thrips, because some are beneficial, others are neutral in certain settings, but we tend to focus on the thrips as insect pests.
"Festival of India Parade in 2009" image by Loozrboy
Rooted in a parade celebrating Lord Krishna, the Festival of India in Toronto includes both the procession down Yonge Street and two afternoons of vegetarian picnics on Centre Island.
The organizers pack a lot into the festivities!
Publicity for my 2012 Festival of India Article
A Writing Tip from the Festival of India Article
Today's writing tip repeats one that I haven't mentioned for some time.
I'm quite sure that I had read about the Toronto India Festival a year or two ago. Yet, when planning my articles for annual Toronto events, this festival did not jump out of my research efforts.
I noticed it because of a newspaper advertisement.
The writing tip is to keep your eyes open for news or new angles on whatever your writing subjects might be. You're probably reading or viewing material that interests you and that you write about. Keep asking yourself, "How could I improve that bit of information make it into my very own article"?
That's what I did for my latest Toronto summer events article on the Festival of India.