Picture"Sky Diver Parachute Jumping" : Image by Horia Varlan
My latest Decoded Science article, "Risk Assessment for Skydiving versus Grocery Shopping", is a direct response to a reader's question.

Decoded Science offers a service called "Ask the Expert" so people can request answers on any topic of their choice. All the articles written in response are included in a category of that same name.

While I'm not an expert on safety, whether for parachute jumping or buying groceries, I do know how to dig out statistics and make a case for one probability to be higher or lower than another.

In essence, the "Ask the Expert" feature asks readers the question, "What topic do you want us to cover? What question do you want us to answer"?

A Canadian Connection for Risks in Grocery Shopping

My shamelessly self-promoting blog article in DeHaan Services, "How Canadians Might Risk Skydiving versus Buying Groceries", runs a similar calculation using some made-in-Canada statistics.

The really remarkable comparison is the overall rate of accidental deaths between the two countries!

One Writing Tip: Ask Questions to Drive Engagement

One important metric for the success of an online magazine or blog is "reader engagement". Do your readers ask questions or leave comments? Those people are "engaged".

Advertisers favour sites and pages with engaged readers, because it's clear that those people care about the contents.

As well, engaged readers are likely to return to the site and read the next article. They may even return to see whether their questions or comments have elicited replies.

So ask questions in your articles. Go beyond "agree or disagree" polls; try "what next" or "could you do better"?

What other generic questions should you use to engage your readers?
Picture"Colonel John Graves Simcoe" image by Wanda G (Wanda Gould)
The Canadian Civic Holiday in August is called "Simcoe Day", at least in Toronto. How can a resident of, or visitor to, Toronto commemorate the first Monday of August 2013?

My answer is in "Toronto Attractions for Simcoe Day, the Ontario Civic Holiday".

In fact, my article offers four suggestions. Go ahead. Read it...thanks.

Meanwhile, the Ontario Civic Holiday in the GTA outside Toronto

It's not fair to leave my neighbours out of the celebrations, so I searched for events.

I only found two GTA ("Greater Toronto Area") events with either name, "Simcoe Day" or "Civic Holiday", on the first Monday of August in 2013.

"Celebrate the 2013 Ontario Civic Holiday in the GTA" ranges even outside the official GTA area to include an ever-popular fireworks display to mark this holiday.

Avoiding John Graves Simcoe in Toronto

Another five festivals run in Toronto during the Civic Holiday, that avoid John Graves Simcoe altogether.

Learn more in "Celebrating 2013 Civic Holiday in Toronto without Simcoe Day". Allow me to hint that Caribbean music plays a significant role in at least three of the five.

Let me introduce a bonus writing tip by pointing out that at least a week passed between writing the two "Celebrate..." articles. I didn't notice the resemblance until just this moment; even though I've been working from a text document that has all three titles fairly close to each other.

The bonus writing tip is to check your list of recent titles before settling on the next. This applies especially if you're writing a series.

One Writing Tip for Simcoe Day 2013

Regular readers know that my DeHaan Services site includes quite a number of articles for things to do in Toronto, with a focus on free events or less-publicized public celebrations.

Last year, I'd written "Ontario Civic Holiday: 2012 Simcoe Day Events in Toronto". Quite a few Toronto museums offered special programmes at that time.

My "Three Cultures Weekend in Toronto mid-July 2013", published last week, had to be quite selective. Yes, I reported on three cultural festivals; but other events would have deserved some publicity but just didn't fit into the "exotic cultures" theme I'd chosen for that article.

This year I found nothing that said "Simcoe Day" or even "Civic Holiday" in Toronto. However, there are interesting things to see and do during this August long weekend.

The writing tip is to search for and report what your readers need to know. It's better to offer "one stop shopping", even if the message is "there's only a limited supply in a few sizes". At least it saves your readers time from doing their own research.

I certainly hope that regular readers will check my articles to see what I've found. Perhaps more events will be publicized in the next week or so. If that's the case, maybe the bonus writing tip should be to time your research carefully: wait until someone makes plans before you ask what their plans are!

Thanks for reading about Toronto events for Simcoe Day 2013.
Picture"Hiking in Wisconsin" image by Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Recently I published "5 Outdoor Activities to Help You Stay Fit", by guest author Alexandre Duval, in my DeHaan Fitness... blog.

I usually publicize those fitness and health articles in DeHaan Services, but realized I could do so with a stand-alone blog post. That led to "Burn Calories by Walking or Hiking for Summer Fitness".

Four Writing Tips from a Guest Post

For once we have four writing tips blab'

First, notice that the guest article uses a number in the title. "5 Outdoor Activities..." promises that the article makes five points. This is becoming a standard for many bloggers, largely because readers like to know that the writer actually has limited his (or her) scope.

Second, I made one of the five outdoor activities the focus for my article...but doubled it to "walking and hiking" because they are related but not identical. Then I added more detail so the DeHaan Services article provides value on its own.

Third, I avoided naming the other four outdoor activities. If a reader really likes the walking and hiking article, he or she may be more inclined to navigate to the DeHaan Fitness article to see what else is available.

Fourth and finally, this is a good example of taking inspiration from another writer. In fact, the guest author and his article were suggested by a publicist; my only creative input was to ensure the article would fit the focus of my fitness blog. Once I read it, I recognized a new horizon of relevant topics for DeHaan Fitness.

Thanks for reading about summer outdoor fitness, walking and this latest set of writing tips.
Picture"Salsa Dancers in Bangkok" image by Bailaqui (Bailaqui Apps)
My recent DeHaan Services article, "The 2013 Salsa on St. Clair Street Festival in Toronto", previews the 9th anniversary of a Latino dance festival that is an annual summer free event in Toronto.

The Search for a Writing Tip

This writing tip is more about the search for a street festival.

One Reddit comment about a recent street festival on St. Clair Avenue led me on an online search. The "Salsa on St. Clair" street party was the only useful search result; but the date was in the future.

So the comment on Reddit was actually about the Corso Italia, which was part of my earlier "Five Free Toronto Events for July 6-7, 2013" article. Corso Italia did not have the phrase "street festival", so I didn't find it in that recent search. If the comment had accurately said "Corso Italia", then I wouldn't have bothered looking for "street festival".

Luckily the Salsa Festival did use that phrase, and fit right in with my theme of "free or frugal annual events in Toronto".

Today's writing tip is to change your search criteria. If I usually seek "street festival", maybe I should also look for "road closure" or "street party" or "annual event" or "outdoor festival".

If you search for a style of music, try some variations. If you want a location, change it up with "in Toronto" versus "near Toronto", "downtown Toronto", "suburban Toronto" as well as north/south/east/west variations. Go to a thesaurus for synonyms, if you must.

Certainly you may find a lot of useless results. I'd have to wade through a lot of "road closures" for street repairs before finding a "street festival". But that might be an outdoor event that I would have missed otherwise!

Varying your search helps you cover your topic more thoroughly than you could otherwise accomplish. It will also expand the number of keywords in your articles; that may translate into more readers finding you in their searches.

Much like I found the 2013 Salsa on St. Clair Street Festival thanks to a

    Mike DeHaan

    Mike DeHaan began writing professionally in 2010 as the sole proprietor of DeHaan Services.To see this information with the best background image, please refer to "About.Me",  befriend me at Facebook, or circle me at Google+.


    Circle me at Google+ with: .
    Google_+1 this post or page with:

    StumbleUpon this post or page with:

    Zoom me when it's Canadian content: .

    Friend me at Facebook.

    Tweet this article via



    Business Tips
    Writing Tip
    Writing Tips
    Writing Wordpress


    November 2013
    October 2013
    September 2013
    August 2013
    July 2013
    June 2013
    May 2013
    April 2013
    March 2013
    February 2013
    January 2013
    December 2012
    November 2012
    October 2012
    September 2012
    August 2012
    July 2012
    June 2012
    May 2012
    April 2012
    March 2012
    February 2012
    January 2012
    December 2011
    November 2011
    October 2011
    September 2011
    August 2011
    July 2011
    June 2011
    May 2011
    April 2011
    March 2011
    February 2011

    Flexible Sidebar

    Weebly's "Blog Author" widget from the Blog Sidebar's Elements menu provides a lot of flexibility. You can change both the title and the text.

    It has all the capabilities for text editing that you find in most Weebly text widgets.

    At this point, I don't see a way to code any HTML in this widget.

    The "Picture" does what you expect: it displays an image of your choice. I just added my home-made picture of "Copyright DeHaan Services 2013" as the top element in this sidebar on Jan. 22, 2013.

    The "Search Box" is a "Pro" feature; if you're paying for Weebly hosting, it may be worthwhile.

    The other widgets are pre-programmed to do what they say.

Check PageRank