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How to Write Your First Roundup Post and get More Traffic

How to Write an Amazing Roundup Post

Have you ever seen a roundup post?

Round up posts are essentially “roundups” of great content in a particular industry or topic area. For example, “10 Brilliant Blogging ‘How-To’ Posts You MUST Read” would be a roundup of, well, 10 blogging how-to posts that other people have written.

Other examples are my roundup post: “9 stupid things speakers do on stage” or “21 Traffic Building Tips from professional bloggers” on this site.

Roundup posts are a little more work to create, so let’s start with the big question…

Why write a roundup post?

Unlike, you sharing your opinion on your blog site, a Roundup post aggregates many opinions and gives your readers a broader set of solutions. But there are more advantages than just a better post:

  • You can build relationships with other bloggers or authors.
  • The people you quote are motivated to share your article with their followers.
  • You position yourself as an authority in your niche.
  • You are leveraging other people’s content — less work for you!

If this sounds good, let’s clarify the two main approaches to writing your first roundup post:

Use existing content. You put on your Columbo trench coat and start collecting tips, tricks and insights already published on other blogs.

Interview experts. This second approach takes a bit more work, but will result in new content that you “own.” For example, you could interview authors about their advice on publishing your first book, or financial experts to get their best advice about saving for retirement.

In this post we will focus mostly on the first method: collecting great content into on themed post.

Steps to Write an Amazing Content Roundup Post

Alright, let’s go over the basics first.

Here we go…

Step #1: Find some great posts

You can’t write a roundup without great content to share. You probably already read other blogs in your niche – start with those. I like to create a quick spreadsheet format, starting with my favourite blog posts listed down the left-hand side.

From there, you can branch out a bit. Search well-known blogs in your industry for their best stuff. Use a tool like BuzzSumo to find articles with a high share count.

You can also use a tool like Klout to find popular articles.

 

Roundup Content Using Klout

 

Remember: Quality > Quantity.

You only want a handful of truly great articles.

Start with StumbleUpon or Quora to discover the questions people are asking about your topic area…

To help find posts in the future, set up a Feedly account, and follow blogs in your niche or topic area. Feedly makes it easy to scroll through the latest posts from each source and allows you to jump to the author’s site or share the post.

Feedly is a great tool for quickly scanning dozens of blogs

Step #2: Write the post and cite the authors

When curating content like this, you want to make sure you cite the authors. After all, the whole purpose is to get them to (hopefully) share it with their followers and bring you traffic.

Don’t just say “this post” or “a post I found.” Instead, say “This post by XYZ author talks about how to do XYZ.” Say the authors’ name or the blog’s name, and link to their homepage if available.

Remember: The better you make the author look, the greater the chance they’ll share the post.

For example, look at how Chris Garrett gives loads of credit to Digg – even so far as using their name as a header.

Content Roundup Example

 

Step #3: Be consistent

While you don’t have to publish more than one roundup post, an ongoing blog post every week or every month is the most effective option for growth.

In fact, consistently publishing roundup posts not only helps keep your existing readers around, but it brings new ones in, too.

If you do a weekly roundup, publish it at the same time every week. Your followers will begin to expect it and come back.

Hey, we know how tough it can be to keep up with publishing new content. We can help with that.

Step #4: Reach out to the authors

After writing your post, don’t forget to tell the authors about it. You can send them an email or tag them on social media.

When writing an email, try something like this (customizing the brackets):

Subject: I loved your blog post

Body:

“Hey, [Name]!

I’m writing to let you know I really enjoyed reading your post, [Post Title]. I particularly enjoyed the part about [something you liked about their article].

In fact, I liked it so much that I added it to my [weekly] roundup on [roundup topic]. You can check it out here:

[Link to roundup post]

I’d love to get your opinion on it!

Cheers,

[Your Name]

P.S. Here’s a handy pre-populated tweet if you’d like to share it.”

Note: You can create the pre-populated tweet using Click to Tweet.

Another option

Who said there’s anything wrong with a little self-promotion?

If you’ve got a bulk of content on your own blog on similar content, go ahead and create a roundup of your own posts.

Here are just a few reasons this is a great option:

  • It helps reduce your bounce rate (that means how many visitors navigate away from your page after only viewing a single page)
  • It demonstrates your expertise on a subject
  • It’s a good way to let new followers or readers get to know what you’re all about

If self-promotion isn’t your thing, we can help promote your blogs, too. Here’s how.

Content Roundup Post Examples

Finally, here are a few examples of big blogs using content roundups to help give you some inspiration:

Conclusion

Content roundups are sometimes seen as a cheap way to get views. But doing them right gets you authority and traffic, hands down. As long as you only deliver quality content and actually handpick the content you show, you’ll do just fine.

Will you start writing content roundups now? Share them in the comments to help inspire other readers!

If you liked learning about how to create an amazing roundup post, check out more posts on creating great content:

How to Guarantee Your Blog Posts Look Amazing on Social Media
21 clever ways to attract more readers and boost blog traffic this year
10 surprisingly simple tune-ups to make your blog sexy (and get more blog traffic)

This article was originally published in February 2017, but we’ve updated it in May 2020 just for you.

Attract more readers to your blog today!

7 tips on how to get people to read your blog

So you’ve started a business along with a blog, You’ve worked on building an audience, but maybe you’ve reached a bit of a plateau, and you want to know how to get more people to read your blog.

Or you’re not getting the type of readership you’d expect given how much you’ve expanded your network. 

It seems that not so many people are reading your blogs these days, which may leave you wondering… 

Am I doing something wrong? 

Chances are you are doing everything well enough. But staying on top of Google’s ever-changing SEO trends is a challenge. 

Not to worry, though! Read on for a few tried and true tips to help you understand how to get people to read your blog! 

Track the Right Metrics 

If you’re posting blog posts just for the sake of “getting something out there,” you might want to stop and reconsider how you can craft content to support your key business goals.  

Given that Google’s algorithms are almost always moving towards supporting higher quality content, consider re-evaluating your content strategy based on questions like:   

  • What is the value you’re offering to your readers?
  • How well are the blogs working to engage and convert customers?
  • Where in the sales funnel am I placing my content?

Step away from the actual numbers (for instance, how many “likes” a blog gets), and try to hone in on why they are how they are.  

Here are some tips on how to track blog performance

Use Relevant Social and Blogging Platforms 

Do you want “more” readers, or do you want to attract the right readers? 

If you want to know how to get people to read your blog, you have to look at the entire process of creating and sharing it. That means that there could be a flaw in your marketing process.  

For instance, if your business is B2B, you’ll likely want to be taking advantage of LinkedIn where you can easily share posts. 

Medium is a great platform for sharing posts in a personal or business account. You can also follow and submit to niche-specific publications — or even start your own. 

The main thing here is to not spread yourself too thin. Focus on channels where your target audience is most likely spending time. 

Create Great Headlines 

Headlines are key to attracting attention, and sometimes even changing a single word can make or break a person’s decision to click on an article. 

Check out our article 11 Insanely Powerful Words for Your Blog for headline inspiration. 

Focus on Value, not Going “Viral”

Of course, you want to know how to get people to read your blog and boost traffic to your website or landing page. 

But what’s happening after people find your blog? 

Checking your metrics is not just a numbers game. These numbers tell a story and they can help you figure out exactly what the content is doing for you — and them — in the long run. 

Are readers sticking around long enough to engage more with your brand? Are they clicking over from your call-to-action? 

Is your blog actually bringing the right target audience to your website or getting people on that mailing list?  

This is the kind of quality that google will “notice,” too. 

Oh yes, and this is very important: Don’t be boring! 

Count on Keywords

If you want to know more about how to get people to read your blog, you should definitely be on top of your keywords. You need to use the right ones strategically to ensure that Google “likes” your blogs. 

And the right ones should also be of interest to your readers! 

There are plenty of free tools out there, such as Google Adwords Keyword Planner, which can help you with this. 

Make sure to not over-optimize though! Search engines will see right through you if you put too many keywords in your blog. And make sure your language flows naturally. This will ensure that both crawlers and real readers will follow it clearly.

If you want help with SEO and keywords, contact us for a consultation

Write Longer Posts Less Often 

Niel Patel is constantly pushing the long-form blogs and recommends blogs of 2000-3000 words. We don’t always work at this level, but we definitely encourage you to build blogs that are around 1000 words rather than 500. 

And just to clarify: publishing consistently is key, but you want to have a balance between quality and consistency. This will vary from business to business. 

Longer form blogs have the potential to perform better SEO-wise and will be more useful to your readers.   

Strategic Planning for the Win   

If you plan and organize ahead of time, you can learn to create content that not only performs better traffic-wise but is actually more useful for readers. 

Consider creating a handful of blogs ahead of time and scheduling them out with an automated tool like HubSpot

But if you have too much on your plate, you can always hand the planning, strategizing and writing over to a professional. 

We can help you more people to read your blog with all these things, and more!

Enjoyed this article? Here are three more to help you:

21 clever ways to attract more readers and boost blog traffic this year
How to Leverage Video Content on Your Blog for SEO
How to start a blog post – 5 examples that really work!

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

How to increase your blog conversions with a test drive

The blog is not dead.

Sure, your blog might not be as sexy as Instagram stories or slapping a cool video on YouTube, but…

your blog has something that no social media has.

Your blog makes people stop, look around and test the waters.

We call it the Test Drive Effect.

In this post, I am going to be talking about what is conversion on your blog and how to get more of it!

Before I get to that, let me tell you a story.

Once upon a time…

No…not THAT story. I want to tell you the story of my first speaking experience.

Long before I was invited to stand on the main stage and deliver a keynote speech, I delivered workshops, mostly in meeting rooms at my client’s building. 

A pretty safe gamble.

I would be given a room full of employees who HAD TO BE THERE. At the time, it was perfect for a not-so-good amateur like me.

Then I was invited to the big game – my first speaking engagement at a conference. I was to deliver one of 5 concurrent workshops in the 10:30 slot leading up to lunch. 

Now, the stakes were higher…people had a choice—5 “break-out” sessions all happening at once.

Here’s what happened. 

I noticed that when people arrive BY CHOICE (just like when they choose to read your blog) the energy is different. They were more interested in learning and applying what they were learning.

And they stayed longer, asked questions and wanted more information.

And when I offered my book, more people bought my book.

I call it the Test-Drive Effect.

The Test-Drive Effect

Here’s how it works.

When people come to your website, on average they only stay for about one minute (that’s pretty typical of all our clients’ sites). But when they go to your blog posts they stay for 4, 6, even over 10 minutes! 

“When people stop to read your blog they are staying for 4-10 minutes – that’s a big opportunity.”

Just like the break-out session at the conference, they are test driving your solutions. They don’t get the full solution they might if they hired you, but they begin to understand how you think, how you solve problems, your style and most importantly, how you can help them.

When people read your blog they are test driving your solutions and your business. Click To Tweet

You are giving them a test drive.

To increase blog conversions, you need to first appreciate what is conversion and then there’s one more thing you need to do…

What is conversion?

Now imagine people come to the break out session and there’s no offer? No call-to-action? 

Sure, they might have learned something, but they weren’t invited to take the next step. It’s no different from your blog—if you don’t ask you won’t get. People might stop and give you 6 minutes of their time, but if there is no reason to take another action, they’re off checking Facebook.

You have to ask for the next step.

In Robert Cialdini’s brilliant book Influence, he describes the principle of consistency “People like to be consistent with the things they have previously said or done.” When you ask for a small action – like joining your mailing list – you are one step closer to a big action – like a purchase decision.

Why? Because when people take that first step with a small “yes” they are that much closer to saying “YES” with a big purchase. 

When people take that first step with a small “yes” they are that much closer to saying “YES” with a big purchase. Click To Tweet

Just like test driving a car. When you take the car off the lot for a spin around the block the salesperson knows that if you come back saying all sorts of wonderful things about the experience you are much closer to saying “YES” to the car purchase. You are motivated to be consistent with your behavior.

That leads to increased blog conversions.

What small ‘Yes’ can you can ask for? It could be as simple as:

  • Invite them to read a second, related blog post
  • Ask them to join your list and receive future blog posts directly to their InBox.
  • Direct them to see your services or products.
  • Suggest they download a special report or one-page cheat sheet you created.
  • Send them to a self-assessment test.
  • Invite them to book a consultation or coaching call.
  • Give them 2 chapters of your new book.

Now it’s your job

Now it’s your job to put your blog to work. Sure you can fiddle away trying to get more Instagram followers or likes on Twitter – all good stuff – or you can convert blog readers to sales. It’s your choice.

When we work with small business owners we always start with the end goal. Just like a break-out session at a conference or test-driving a new car, there is always an end goal.

From there we design blog posts that get readers to stop and make a decision. There has to be a next step (I’ve given you 7 above).

Once your reader takes the first step (the test drive) it’s always easier to help them take the next, bigger step. And that leads to your ultimate goal: increased blog conversions.

Enjoyed this article? Here are 3 more articles all about putting your blog to work:

10 surprisingly simple tune-ups to make your blog sexy
5 brilliant ways to start your blog post with a bang
9 blog topic ideas your audience will love

How to Leverage Video Content on Your Blog for SEO

Picture of webcam used for video content

Unless you’ve spent the past few years under a rock, you’ve come across advice to integrate video content into your blogging efforts.

Heck, Hugh and the Blogworks crew even gave you a very thorough guide on how to get video into your blog — more on that later.

But if you’ve been avoiding that advice, I don’t blame you.

Blog husbandry is hard enough. Creating an entirely new content stream in a new medium might seem like more work than you want to take on.

At the start of 2018, I decided to test using video content to drive traffic to my blog and grow my audience.

The test project was straightforward enough — I would interview experts about different communication issues, load the video up on YouTube, and embed it in my blog.

As simple as the project was, it would still take time – time normally given over to blogging. And search engines can’t crawl video, so I couldn’t not be creating written content.

What’s an overworked content creator to do?

A content lightbulb moment

The lightbulb moment came courtesy of a fellow speaker. I was chatting with her about my project, both bubbling with excitement and moaning about the difficulty of generating the videos while trying to keep up with my blog writing.

The genius of her recommendation was belied by her off-handed manner:

Make sure you get a transcript of the interview, then post both the video and the transcript to your blog. Google can search that text and it’ll give you a big SEO boost.

I could leverage video to create written blog content at the same time AND it was good for SEO?! Let there be light!

Dipping my toes into video content via interviews

It’s easy to go off the deep end when getting into video, and I wanted my foray to involve minimal headaches. That was why I started with an interview strategy.

Interviews are probably the easiest content to create and have several advantages:

  • Having a conversation with someone is a lot easier than staring into a camera and babbling to yourself
  • You just need to plan the questions and the overall flow instead of taking time to write out a full script
  • Interview videos are forgiving – you don’t need to use lots of fancy cuts and audiences don’t expect you to edit out every stammer or awkward statement
  • A 20-minute interview can net you thousands of words of text for some serious Google and SEO juice.

One of my earliest interviews was with Hugh himself. Check it out here, and you’ll see what I mean about the ease and enjoyability of conversation (and how you don’t need to worry about editing out the occasional stammer or non-sequitur).

Getting going with video doesn’t need to cost a lot

You don’t need to break the bank to try the video + transcript combo on your blog.

Here’s what I use:

  • Video conferencing software: I use Zoom for video conferencing and recording.
  • An HD webcam: Don’t get sucked into the pro vlogger DSLR camera vortex. Get thee a good HD webcam and call it a day. I use a Logitech C920. It cost about $100
  • An external microphone: Don’t rely on the webcam microphone or your computer’s integrated microphone, but don’t go crazy here, either – a cheap lav mic ($10 – $25) or even the headset that came with your latest smartphone will probably do. If you’re feeling more gung ho, or already know you want to do a lot of these, you can spend more. I use an ATR 2100 USB mic ($120)
  • Lighting: If you have access to a room with bright, natural lighting, great – you might be able to skip this part. But my office is a dungeon. I solved the lighting headache with a $125 Neewar ring light I bought from Amazon. You could also cobble together your own lighting from what you have on hand, as long as you can get it good and bright.
  • Video editing software: I do very little editing in my interview videos. I splice in a pre-recorded guest intro and some branded intro/outro clips, and chop out the first few minutes of chit-chat that always happens. You can likely do most of this with freebie video editing software, but I prefer Camtasia. You can also go totally hands-off and outsource the editing.
  • A transcription service: Transcribing the interviews is the one thing I always outsource. Rev.com gives high-quality transcription with quick turnaround at $1 USD/minute of audio.

A simple process for distributing video content across multiple platforms

Uploading videos on YouTube is easy – there are a million video tutorials out there, and BlogsWorks has a great guide on how to put your video into your blog.

I’ve discovered doing everything in a certain order makes it all much easier.

Here’s my posting process (after I’ve recorded and edited the video):

  1. Do the video stuff: Upload the video to YouTube. Enter the title, description, and put in a whole bunch of relevant keyword tags. Publish the video.
  2. Then do the blog stuff: Start a new blog post. Re-use EVERYTHING from YouTube in your blog – the title, the description, the tags. Except for minor tweaks, don’t re-invent the wheel, just copy/paste it all into your blog. Embed the video, then copy and paste the transcript right under the embedded video. Hit ‘publish.’
  3. Last, the newsletter stuff: Copy and paste the title, description, and a link to the blog post containing the video and transcript into Mailchimp (or whatever newsletter system you use). Hit send.

Boom. Done. I’ve got the whole process down to less than 45 minutes.

While we’re on the subject, here are some other tips for writing blog posts better and faster.

Audiences and search engines love the video-text combo

Once I started posting the interviews (and later expanded to Q&A videos) along with the transcripts to my blog, 4 things happened:

  1. My website’s organic traffic started to go up
  2. My click-through rate on my newsletters went up
  3. My social media engagement went up, especially on Twitter and YouTube. Granted, YouTube is where I host the videos, but the video posts generate more likes, shares, and comments across all my platforms than my text-only blog posts do.
  4. My newsletter subscribers told me that they liked the videos and really appreciated being able to skim the video transcript on the blog. They were getting the best of both worlds.

Yes, creating the interview videos take a little more time and resources than writing text-only blogs, but I find the process feels easier and more satisfying. Especially when I record the interviews in batches and create several months of content in a few days.

Videos + text + blog can create some real magic. Don’t worry about being perfect, just give it a try and see where it takes you.

Lauren Sergy (@lsergy) is a self-described public speaking and communication wonk. She’s professionally obsessed with helping people level up their speaking and communication skills. Click here for more communication-related insights.

 

Liked this post? Got another 5 minutes? Here are 3 more of our most popular posts all about video content for your blog:

The ultimate guide to adding YouTube videos to your blog
How to increase blog traffic by almost 30% in only 90 days — a case study
How to drive traffic to older blog posts

 

How to increase blog traffic by almost 30% in only 90 days – a case study

Busy street symbolizing an increase in blog traffic

At BlogWorks we love to see results.

Especially when the results are fast.

And we really, really love seeing client results when we’re using one of our favourite techniques.

What we call re-loving old posts.

The idea is simple…

If you have been blogging for a while, your inventory of posts will have been indexed by the search engines. In other words, Google will have decided how to “rank” your blog posts against all the other posts about similar topics.

This is why some of your posts show up on the first page of search results and some on the 13th page.

Updating old content can fix that.

Let’s start with why updating old posts works.

Why you need to update your old content to increase blog traffic

The strategy of updating old content to increase blog traffic works best if you’ve already published at least two dozen blog posts. This post explains in detail how to use this strategy.

Here are the most important reasons why we love this strategy. Book a call today to learn if this can work for your business.

1. Better click-through. When you update that old content you improve your click-through rate – the volume of people who choose to click on your article – simply because the date is more current.

2. Google likes fresh content. One of the many factors Google looks for in posts is how fresh is your content. When you update your old posts you also will update the publish date. More recent equals more results.

current dates in search engine results page
In this example, 6 of 7 search results were posted in the last 12 months

3. Improve your title. Your post title tells readers what the article is about but also should attract and intrigue the reader enough to want to jump in. Now is the time to turn that boring headline into a killer question, or use any of the 5 techniques described in this article.

According to Convince and Convert, a great title is clear (what will I get if I read this?) but intrigues the reader to dive in. Remember, you are competing with everything else on their phone or laptop – you need to get and keep their attention!

blog post title matters
The best headlines are about 8 words and 70 characters

4. Fix grammar and spelling. Updating your old posts gives you a chance to catch those spelling mistakes or tighten up the grammar. A quick improvement is to remove the word “that” – it will make your sentence read better and improve the flow of your post.

5. Link to “revenue” pages. Here’s a quick test: in the first third of your article does you post link to at least one “revenue” page, like a product or service page? When you update the old post, also update internal links to your site.

image of internal links in a blog post

6. One less article to post. Updating an old post takes a fraction of the time it takes to write a new one. Many of our clients combine one new article (we do that as well!) with one updated article each month.

Now that we’ve looked at the reasons, let’s look at an example of how one BlogWorks client used this strategy.

The Speaker Exchange

Like many small business owners, Brittanny and Julie at The Speaker Exchange were aware of the value of content marketing, but needed an outsourced solution. They had been using newsletters to stay in touch with their audience.

They reached out to BlogWorks for a solution.

Home page of The Speaker Exchange

The goal was to create consistent inbound traffic using original blog posts targeted to the event planner audience. At BlogWorks we have a team of local writers, each with specialties.

We write blog posts for a wide variety of wonderful clients ranging from leadership authors and public speakers to cyber security experts. And in this case, we have writers who know the speaking industry.

The BlogWorks solution

The BlogWorks solution was to write one original post and to update one older post every month, plus promote the blog through social media. In the first 90 days, site traffic was up almost 30%! Even better, Sessions and Pageviews were both up over 20%.

Image of analytics showing increased blog traffic

A part of the solution was more consistent blog publishing, but the biggest results was from updating old content with better keywords, headlines, and content.

The client example we shared in this post could be yours(!) Contact us today to learn how to increase your blog traffic by updating old posts.

Liked this post? Got another 5 minutes? Here are 3 more of our most popular posts all about writing blogs:

How to start a blog post – 5 examples that really work!
5 brilliant ways to start your blog post with a bang
9 blog topic ideas your audience will love

 

21 incorrectly used words that can make you look dumb

A typewriter with a page that reads "Words Have Power";

Many of the words you use in your blog could be, well…

wrong.

Should you use advice or advise?

How about affect or effect?

Then there’s everyday and every day.

Aaaaaagh!?!?

Dear reader, instead of running off to Google every time you’re unsure we have scoured the lexicon library to help clarify, demystify, enlighten and sort through 21 words that often get misused and abused.

Here we go with our list of incorrectly used words…

1. Advise and advice

First, advise is a verb – the act of giving, while advice is a noun – what you give. A quickest test is to say your sentence out loud, like: “I went to the coach to get advise.”

2. Affect and effect

Not only do these two sound similar they are very often confused (fortunately most people don’t know the difference.) A simple distinction is to use effect if you are making the change happen and affect if you are helping make the change happen. For example: “The CEO’s decision effected a major change in direction.” And “What she said affected my decision to go ahead.”

3. Everyday and every day

This is an easy one to mix up. Doing something every day means you do it every single day, like drinking coffee in the morning.

Meanwhile, everyday means commonplace or normal, like hearing sirens is an everyday event.

4. Along and long

This is an easy one to clarify. Along means moving in a constant direction, like “I was moving along the highway.” While long means a great distance or duration, like “The highway was long and boring.”

5. A while and awhile

This is a tricky one. First, the difference between while and awhile is easy to spot. While refers to a period of time “We talked for a while.”

The word awhile means for a period of time “He waited awhile for his appointment.” Whereas a while can only be used to replace while – a longer period of time.

6. Any way and anyway

Anyway means “nonetheless” or “regardless” as in: “I knew I had to get work done, but checked Facebook anyway.” You can also use anyway to connect a story that’s continuing: “Anyway, I was describing how to write a better blog post…”

Any way means a variety of ways of doing something, or in any manner. “I had so much to get done I tackled my list any way possible.”  

Anyway, let’s get onto #7.

7. Fewer and less

Here’s a trick for this one: use fewer when referring to items you can count, like “fewer homes” or “fewer car sales.”

Use less when referring to items you can’t count, like “time”, or “income.” There are some conventions with fewer and less: we tend to use less with time, money and weight.

8. Insure and ensure

This is an easy one to remember: insure refers only to insurance. Ensure means to make sure. So you might want to ensure you are insured.

9. Irregardless and regardless

This is an easy fix: don’t use irregardless. You might find irregardless in text (and certainly hear some well-meaning folks use the word), but it’s not commonly accepted and just sounds wrong.

10. Principle and principal

My trick to remembering the difference between these is that my Principal at school should be my “pal” or friend, as in principal. Whereas principle is a guideline or rule: “…basic scientific principles.”

Principal can also refer to the amount borrowed on a load, the most important item in a particular set “The principal account makes up 65 percent of our revenues.”

11. Stationary and stationery

This is an easy one: you write on stationery. When something doesn’t move it is stationary.

12. It’s and its

It’s is a contraction of it is or it has. Use it’s to move a sentence along and to give a more casual feeling to your writing.

Its is about possession “The store increased its prices.” An easy test is to try removing the apostrophe and see how it sounds: “It’s raining” becomes “It is raining.” (which sounds better).

By the way, there is no use for its’.

13. They’re and their

This is similar to #12 and many other incorrectly used words, they’re is a contraction of they are, whereas their is all about ownership.

14. Who’s and whose

Who’s is a contraction that means either who is or who has. “Do you know someone who’s living in California?” 

Whose is possessive. “You and whose army?”

15. You’re and your

Here’s another contraction and one you probably get right: you’re and your.

You’re means you are and your is about ownership “Your car.” “Your home.” So, “If you’re going to your home to get your car you’re doing the right thing!”

16. Accept and except

Here’s an easy one…

These two words sound the same but are quite different: accept is to receive, except signifies and exclusion. So “I accept the offer, except I won’t want it for another month.”

17. In regard to

The only distinction to note here is that the expression In regard to is singular. To write “In regards to” is incorrect.

18. Ironic vs. Coincidental

Here’s an interesting distinction: if something happens at the same time “I was about to go see her when she showed up at my house.” that’s a coincidence. But, when there’s a reversal involved, like “When we returned from our trip to Mexico we learned the weather was actually better at home.” That’s ironic.

Comedian Ed Byrne writing about Alanis Morisette’s song, Ironic: “The only ironic thing about that song is it’s called ‘Ironic’ and it’s written by a woman who doesn’t know what irony is. That’s quite ironic.”

19. Imply vs. Infer

“The implier is the pitcher; the inferrer is the catcher.” Theodore Bernstein, The Careful Writer

To imply is to say something indirectly, like: “The host implied it was time to leave by saying she was tired.” To infer is to gather, deduce, or figure out. “We inferred it was time to leave by the host’s actions.”

The way to remember this one is: a speaker/writer implies, while the listener/reader infers.

20. Adverse and Averse

To be adverse is rarely used to describe people, but more commonly to describe events, effects, trends in the economy, changes in weather, etc: “The new medication has no adverse impacts on health.”

Averse describes people and means to feel opposed or disinclined. “We are not averse to holding another meeting.”

21. Irrespective and respective

Irrespective is not just the opposite of respective. Their meanings are completely different.

Irrespective of means regardless of as in “he continued to blog irrespective of how many readers he had.”

Whereas, respective means relating to two more more things individually”, as in “We all met for lunch and then returned to our respective offices.”

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