My DeHaan Services website saw a prolific growth of four articles over five days. All revolved around Canada Day celebrations in Toronto.
"Hillbillies parading with their raccoon" image (c) by Linda DeHaan.
"Canada Day Fireworks in Toronto at Ashbridges Bay #4" image (c) by Mike DeHaan
One Writing Tip from Canada Day 2015
I'm sure I've mentioned the idea of using one inspiration for multiple articles, so that is not today's tip.
My writing tip today is to take your own photographs when you can. Sometimes I've taken as long to find images in the online photography sharing sites which have "share for commercial use" licenses, as to write the articles.
With a decent digital camera, including your cell phone, it's possible to take reasonably good quality photographs and transfer them to your web article.
Note that I've included "... image (c) by person" in the caption for each image. Publishing the image online, even in your own blog, establishes copyright by first public use.
One other trick is that you can edit the images you take with tools as simple as Microsoft Paint. For example, I cropped Linda's picture of the hillbillies. My main reason is that her camera put too many pixels into the image: my web site did not want to load such a large media file. But this also allowed me to remove a bit of background from the left side of the image. I cropped several of my fireworks photos to delete an annoying street light in the bottom right of the pictures.
You may not be able to take your own photographs to illustrate everything you write about; but it's worth taking advantage of the opportunities when they arise.
Plus, my wife and I enjoyed the outings.
Thanks for reading about my four 2015 Canada Day articles.
"Graph of Y Equals X" image by Mike DeHaan
"Graph of X Equals Four" image by Mike DeHaan
This article is still a work in progress... but here's the explanation.
While working on a series of articles about matrix mathematics for Decoded Science, I've been crafting images as illustrations.
Regular readers know that I like to establish copyright for such images by publishing them first, in one of my own blogs.
Unfortunately this Blog of Writing article suffers since it really amounts to a list of images without much text. Do you care that this image of the point (4, 0) is a scalar rather than a vector? "Vector to X Equals Four" image by Mike DeHaan
Here we see a vector from (0, 0) to (4, 0).
One Writing Tip for Matrix Mathematics
The only writing tip for this article repeats what I've said before about online copyright of images.
Your best case for online copyright of a picture is that you published that image in a web site that you control. Add a copyright notice in the footer of that site. Or include (c) in the image credit or caption.
Another option is to publish in a site such as Flickr, where you can specify the license rights that suit your needs.
Thanks for reading this preview of my images for a Decoded Science series on matrix mathematics. Again, I apologize that it is incomplete.
"2009 Santa Claus Parade in Toronto" image by c'est la Viva
Let's Promote Running in Winter, Too
Soon I also realized that the Holly Jolly Run was only one of a handful of winter running races in Toronto. Some of those are uniquely local; others are franchise events held throughout Canada.
So I wrote "Run Races to Keep Motivated for Winter Running" in my DeHaan Fitness... blog. Hopefully people will find it helpful, even if they don't live within Toronto or the GTA.
One Tactical Writing Tip
You may recall a previous writing tip that advised publicizing two closely-related articles at once, as a time-saving measure.
In this case, I knew from the start that "Santa Claus Parade" needed two articles: one for Toronto and one for the GTA.
You could argue that each city deserves its own article. Yes, true, especially if there are enough potential readers searching for their own "long-tail keywords".
One example of a long-tail keyword is "Santa Claus Parade in Mississauga". The long tail starts with the word "in". The more your article sticks to one topic, the better for its rank for search engines.
On the other hand, there just aren't that many people in each GTA city who need to search online for their local events. In particular, the biggest events will advertise themselves; or people will remember from year to year. So it's not efficient for me to research enough for that many complete articles.
Back to the writing tip. Once you recognize a topic that can span multiple articles, decide on how you will split that material. In this case, "city by city" is obvious. The other day, I discussed a different split for another publication: group some items by popular category; and the rest by date.
The rest of the writing tip is to do the planning and research in one stage. Outline all your drafts before writing one article in full. Then review your plans: do they cover everything once, but nothing twice?
That's one approach for efficient writing while covering a topic thoroughly. Hopefully my 2013 Santa Claus Parade articles were thorough enough for my readers!
"Streetsville Cenotaph in Mississauga, Ontario" image by Administrator of StreetsvilleLiving.com
One Timely and Memorable Writing Tip
Consider how long a time your article will remain important and attractive to readers.
When I began writing articles for online magazines, they advised that we write about "evergreen" topics. These subjects either have lasting value, such as "Three Reasons to Avoid Vitamin D Deficiency
", or else should offer seasonal interest.
Clearly these Remembrance Day articles have seasonal interest.
However, those online magazines preferred something along the lines of "The Origins of Remembrance Day". Such information would not change year over year; but it would attract some new readers annually.
In my case, I chose a niche in DeHaan Services
that offers "upcoming events" rather than "annual evergreen" articles. So I must write new articles each year, ensuring that the events truly take place.
's writing tip
is that you must understand the longevity of each article you choose to write. Here are three typical timelines:
- News articles limit themselves to the present moment. Comparatively few readers will ever go back to research historic events through online publications. You commit yourself to writing constantly...or at least as often as something newsworthy occurs in your chosen field. "Theatre of the Beat to Commemorate War of 1812 in Stouffville" is an example. It was the first time this play would be performed, in response to the first time this GTA city had been noted, by rather slanted history, as having supported that war with strength of arms.
- Annual events must be re-researched and re-written as novel essays. My Remembrance Day articles fall in this category.
- Evergreen articles can last a long time. "How to" topics often possess this type of staying power.
So this writing tip encourages you to understand your goals and strengths. If you hope to write once and earn forever, go "evergreen". If your blog covers sports, be prepared to write after every game.
Or, in my case, I have to mark a calendar with annual Toronto events so as to inform my
"Hiking in Wisconsin" image by Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
This summer inspired me to write several articles about being outdoors.
Hiking in Wisconsin would be a treat, but let's see what I managed in Toronto.
Hot Weather Exercise Tips
Fitness through Outdoor Exercise
"5 Outdoor Activities to Help You Stay Fit
", written by guest author Alexandre Duval, suggested 5 outdoor activities for summer fitness. Escape the gym! Enjoy the great outdoors and get into better condition while you're at it.You can enjoy most of these activities all year around. Running is pretty obvious; icy sidewalks are the main concern. You can cycle when the pavement is clear.Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, skating and ice hockey are four winter alternatives. Obviously, A. Duval didn't cover those sports for a summer article; but you can be creative!I'd also publicized both the above articles in my DeHaan Services blog, in
"Burn Calories by Walking or Hiking for Summer Fitness
Four Outdoor Festivals in Toronto for Sept. 13-15, 2013
From spring through autumn, you can't throw a Nerf ball in Toronto without hitting a street festival. We held "Four Free Events Outdoors in Toronto Sept. 13-15 2013
- Toronto Ukrainian Festival;
- Roncesvalles Polish Festival;
- The Terry Fox Run across Ontario and Canada.
Yes, I will admit that the Terry Fox run is much bigger than an annual Toronto event in the autumn. But we had about a dozen venues for the Terry Fox fundraiser, with a variety of distances for runners and walkers, and even cyclists and roller bladers.
Remember to participate in the Terry Fox Run in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) as well as other Canadian cities next year, if you can't participate in Toronto.
The New Name, Toronto Mennonite Festival
"The 2013 Toronto Mennonite Festival at Black Creek Village
" changed its marketing name this year, from "MCC Relief Sale at Black Creek
".Most of the event is outdoors. I sold
meat or vegetarian Sloppy Joe buns from the shelter of a tent. Our customers walked through the rain, or stayed dry in the quilt auction pavilion.Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) provides disaster relief services, promotes sustainable development,
and supports peace and social justice issues both in North America and around the world. The newly-named Toronto Mennonite Festival raises funds and awareness for MCC's work.We partner with Black Creek
Pioneer Village, a year-round historic interpretation site near York University in Toronto. This year their horse-drawn carriage went past the village green where we set up for Sloppy Joes. Later I learned that their usual route in the north of the village was too muddy to navigate.I can tie in "exercise" for my part at the Toronto Mennonite Festival. I'm not sure I ever sat down from 9am to 3pm or so. We had a good supply of customers despite the weather, and the Sloppy Joe mixture needs a lot of stirring.
One Writing Tip from the Great Outdoors
Many of my previous writing tips are about choosing themes or topics.
This time, let me confess that I had not recognized that I actually used one theme frequently over the summer and early autumn. My theme, of course, was "outdoor activities".
Although I had not planned to use this as a theme, it's pretty obvious now that I review what I've written.
The weather often was excellent for gentle outdoor activities, but challenging for exercise when it was too hot. Conversely, the Toronto Mennonite Festival had its first "rain all day" weather event; but it maintained about 80% of its usual revenue.
Today's writing tip is simple. From time to time, review what you've been writing over the last quarter year. What themes or topics are now obvious? Will you still be excited about them for the next quarter? Will those themes be popular again next year? Were you in a rut, or are you developing a niche?
Thanks for reading about these outdoor activities articles, as well as the writing tip.
"Twin Girls" : image by Ruth L
Yes, the title is a pun on my usual section in Decoded Pregnancy
: "Development". Let me quickly explain what I meant from a writing perspective.Usually my Decoded Science articles about math include calculations. There's nothing like explaining how to use a math formula
to people eager to understand the low probability of winning a lottery.In Decoded Pregnancy, however, the articles often deal with statistics.
My "Probability of Becoming Pregnant with Twins
" mainly relies on the USA's statistics for multiple births for mothers of different age groups or ethnic backgrounds.Later I publicized that article in my DeHaan Services blog
, where "The Canadian Chance of Being Pregnant with Twins
" added statistics from a professor at the University of British Columbia. (I like to include a Canadian twist to my DeHaan Services articles so I can promote them on ZoomIt...but that's another writing tip
Gestational Age or Embryonic Age: a Small but Vital Difference
Ectopic Pregnancy in the USA, Canada and the World
One Writing Tip from Three Pregnancy Articles
The writing tip is to adapt your style and content to what your publisher needs.
The editor and publisher at Decoded Pregnancy want to include my articles that relate math and pregnancy. However, my usual explanations and examples of math formulae and calculations do not apply to many pregnancy situations.
Although one could argue that a discussion of statistical likelihood for medical conditions is more about "epidemiology" than mathematics, nonetheless it seems to be important for Decoded Pregnancy readers. Sometimes there is a simple formula; but not often. (For example, I did not find a formula for the probability of ectopic pregnancy by age or racial background).
You could, of course, decide to avoid a publication that cannot use your particular approach. That's a lot better than doing a bad job!
But if you can find a way to satisfy readers in a niche that sits outside your comfort zone, that's even better.
I approach many of my articles for Decoded Pregnancy with two questions. First: Is this topic worth covering, that those readers could find useful? Second: What is the right approach for this topic? (In my case, should I present computations or statistics)?
Thanks for reading about these pregnancy articles; have I decoded a useful writing tip today?
"Energy Drink with L-Carnitine" image by Coolm36 (Marcelino Rapayla Jr.)
This single post must do double the publicity work for a pair of DeHaan Fitness
I'd published "Another Kick at the Can of Soft Drinks and Soda Pop
" on March 25, but was too busy to write a promotional article about the dangers of HFCS (high fructose corn syrup, known in Canada as sucrose-fructose).Yesterday, I found a news item concerning research into
carnitine, naturally found in even the leanest red meat but also in some diet supplements for weight loss.Yesterday's news became today's
"Possible Atherosclerosis Risks from Fat Burning Carnitine
My additional observation is that carnitine is promoted for the double role of a "burn fat and build muscle supplement".
A Common Source for Carnitine and HFCS
What do these two nutrients have in common?
Some energy drinks have both HFCS and L-carnitine. It's especially attractive if you want to boost your energy with muscle building supplements, and also as one of your fat burning foods.
The long-term risk with dietary carnitine is atherosclerosis. "What is atherosclerosis", you ask? Please read the appropriate article, above.
Meanwhile, HFCS carries other health risks, although they may also lead to atherosclerosis and its complications.
Publicity in DeHaan Services
Two Mindful Writing Tips
Today's first writing tip repeats something I've said before; the other may be new, or simply less frequently noted.
First, keep an open mind as you read your news sources. Both of the above articles were triggered by "new news"; but I was primed to noticed them because of previous research I'd done and articles that I'd written.
Second, develop a methodology to promote and publicize your articles. You don't need to write your own; but if all you do is tweet to followers or post updates on Facebook or Google+, then set up reminders to do so.
I log those publicity actions in a spreadsheet. The incomplete actions demand my attention, partly due to the colour difference as strong as "orange" versus "green". (Even if the "orange" text isn't very legible here in Weebly, you noticed the gap in the above sentence).
So although I was plenty busy over the last two weeks, there was no chance I would completely forget to finish publicizing the "kick at soft drinks" article. The reminder was right there, just above the "atherosclerosis and carnitine" one.
"Coat Stand Tree in use" by jacobms (Jacob Munk-Stander)
One Rather Wooden Writing Tip
Today's wooden writing tip is that the DeHaan Services article is an experiment in marketing my previous articles through a new one.
I could have reminded people on Facebook or Google+ about each of my earlier articles. Or I could have updated them and hoped that search engines would notice.
This time, however, the approach was to use keywords in the new article to make it popular enough for readers to find.
The next step for those readers should be, one hopes, to click and follow the links.
The articles might discuss wooden furniture built according to Shaker tradition or in the Mission style, but the business
"Cenotaph at Old City Hall in Toronto Ontario" image by Wanda G (Wanda Gould)
Promoting my 2012 Remembrance Day Articles
One Commemorative Writing Tip for Remembrance Day 2012
Regular readers know that I write an ongoing series of articles about annual Toronto events, with a focus on the inexpensive, unusual or under-publicized.While Remembrance Day always gets some attention in the mainstream media, certainly no-one spends a fortune advertising it. So I think it's worth my while to give it some free publicity. In a small way, it's part of the contribution I would owe. See the "...in Toronto" article for more of my own feelings.
My writing tip explains why I ventured into the GTA, when there was more than enough material just in Toronto.
Something else had reminded me to check my Alexa statistics last week. I was surprised to see that "in [town]" was rated as an important keyword, since the [town] was not "Toronto".
Yes, I had indeed mentioned that city before.
Standard SEO ("Search Engine Optimization") and AdSense (Google advertising) wisdom recommend using "long tail keywords" to drive readers and advertisers.
So I made the decision to use that type of keyword in at least the one article. I'd already researched the Toronto events, and decided that covering more would be fairly straightforward. It was not, partly because the various GTA municipalities have different sources than those I usually find for annual events in Toronto.
Nonetheless. I found enough material to make a decent, if small and far from comprehensive, article.
Here's a bonus writing tip. Although a long-tail keyword like "in [town]" has benefits, it also limits the likely audience. If you write an article using "in New York" as a keyword, you have a potential readership of millions of local residents and other millions of onlookers...and hordes of competitors.
If you use "in [town]", both the readership and competition are drastically reduced.
You can aim to be a big fish in the ocean, or a goldfish in a small aquarium. Either way you have the chance for a meal (of readers), or to be swallowed by a larger predator.
Regardless, thanks for reading my "Remembrance Day 2012" articles.
"TorontoHenge October 2011, Image #7" by Mike DeHaan
Having written two photo-essays for Environmental Graffiti
about TorontoHenge, I surprised myself by posting a blog item in DeHaan Services
to inform my readers how they could experience it for themselves.
"Look Out for TorontoHenge in Oct. 2012
" explains when and where to head to a street with a long east-west view and watch for the sun to rise or set in the distance. My first attempt, in October of 2011, was pretty spectacular even though I didn't have very tall buildings to flank the setting sun.As always, my Xanga blog (
"The Annual Autumn TorontoHenge for 2012
also publicizes my article.
One Competitive Writing Tip
This DeHaan Services blog post counts in my "Toronto Events" category since it does occur regularly and is both interesting and free to experience.
I had been intending to go back through my notes and take another set of photographs this month. However, some of my competitors, the Toronto Star newspaper and the Walrus periodical, published forecast articles.
So I decided to follow suit in DeHaan Services, rather than set out on an expedition to hunt the elusive images next week.
My writing tip is simply to remain open to notice and learn from whatever the competition may do. In a sense, the Toronto Star used one of my genres, to advise people to have the experience ahead of time. They may yet simply take an image and print it the next day; in which case they would emulate what I had done twice before.
In my view, it's really great to let readers know of upcoming events. The more publicity others generate for some annual Toronto event that I cover, the more chance of someone searching for more information...and hopefully I would have covered that base also.
That's especially true if my article actually does cover more background than what my competitors carry, especially when it comes to TorontoHenge.