Shawn Badgley

Shawn Badgley is a Managing Editor at BuzzFarmers. His experience in digital publishing and communications proves crucial in his successful collaborations with BuzzFarmers clients. He has written about culture – business, technology, media, health, sports, arts, and entertainment – for outlets including The Austin Chronicle, where he was senior editor. He also served as Interactive Content Manager at South by Southwest, and has worked with dozens of campaigns on messaging, media relations, and outreach efforts.

Posts by shawn


Should Your Blog Reading Level Be About 8th Grade?

Do you know your blog reading level?

Your blog reading level is the metric that tells you how easy or difficult your blog is to read. It can be increased or decreased by punctuation, wordiness, character count, and choice of words.

Writing at a simple blog reading level isn’t to insult anyone’s intelligence, it simply helps make your point quickly, efficiently, and effectively. In fact, an eighth grade reading level is recommended for most blogs. There’s room for style in writing, but substance is far more important.

Even the great Harvard Business Review finds itself in the junior high and high school zone for stretches of its website. Like you, the magazine is conveying big industry ideas and trends to the biggest possible audience. Meanwhile, genius-level blogs, according to Mental Floss, include Ars Technica and Damn Interesting!, but their audiences are far different than yours – they’re more for entertainment purposes.

Are you writing for CEOs? Engineers? Niche retail consumers who just can’t get enough of your kitchen gadgets? Your customer personas do matter tremendously, for many reasons. One of which is determining how complicated or uncomplicated your blog writing style will be.

A related reason, is attracting the right readers – and retaining them. If you lose visitors to your business blog before you can convert them into customers, your content marketing efforts have failed. You may end up doing just that if you write content at a reading level that doesn’t resonate with your ideal readers.

Again I ask, do you know at which reading level you should blog for?

For an executive, we recommend you write at or below high school level. Engineers, maybe closer to college. Most others? Well, believe it or not, about eighth grade!

Place your posts somewhere between an elevator pitch and an essay assignment in crisp language with minimal adverbs and passive voice. Write how you speak. Be concise. Don’t assume your reader knows everything you do. Your role is to inform.

Let’s look at some ways to measure your blog reading level – the tests and the principles behind them – and to improve the quality of your posts.

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Blog Plagiarism; or, the Ballad of Jerry the Jerk

Blog plagiarism is a problem you don’t want to deal with it – either as perpetrator or victim.

Want to hear about my worst three moments as a fifth-grader at Our Lady of Sorrows parish school? Thought so! All three involve the same classmate. We’ll call him Jerry for the purposes of this post. Man, was he a jerk. OK, check that, we’ll call him Jerry the Jerk.

Turd’s Eye View

The first is just vintage Jerry the Jerk, a classic – albeit creepy – kid prank, but I’ll never use a public toilet stall without thinking of it. Permanently scarred. I was going numero dos in the gym’s restroom during a basketball tournament. The Black & Gold: the event of the year for O.L.S., sort of like a March Madness in January, without the “One Shining Moment” or much in the way of actual athletic skill.

Jerry somehow clambered the side of the stall I was in. He was stealthy, but at one point I heard a rustling and looked up, only to see this little weirdo staring down at me while I did my business.

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10 Business Blogging Best Practices: A BuzzFarmers Special Edition Bonanza

First off, don’t freak out. You might see this impressive roundup of our favorite recent business blogging best practices posts below and say something along the lines of …

“As much as I’d benefit, there’s no way I can read all of that right now … I’m just one person … but it’s probably a list that they’re going to pull down soon, anyway, because it would be too good to be true that they’d just give their awesome content away in one convenient place like this … I mean, they’re cool and nice and everything, but come on … am I dreaming, or what?”

No, you’re not dreaming and, yes, as a CEO or marketing executive looking to launch an original content campaign, you can benefit from our most-read posts, listed below.

Bonus: We’re leaving them up for as long as the Internet exists, so take your time – each of ‘em free to a good home!

And thank you for calling us cool and nice … that’s all the payment we need. Unless you hire us to handle your blog, search, and social, of course, which we are totally happy to do.

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5 Social Media Netiquette Tips to Help You Connect Instead of Annoy

If you’re going to use Twitter, Facebook, and other networks as a part of your original content campaign – and you must! – do it right with these social media netiquette standards.

Fact: The world’s all-time-great master of manners had the last name “Post.” Coincidence? No way.

“Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others,” wrote Emily Post a century before the Internet. “If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.”

For our purposes, the fork is promoting your company on social media. And you need awareness of the feelings of others to pull it off with any real impact.

When you post a link, question, quote, or video, the action isn’t taking place in a vacuum. Without a receptive audience, your efforts will be a waste of time. This goes for all content, of course – if you’re not writing for somebody, you’re writing for nobody, right? – but the challenge is magnified on social platforms precisely because you’re approaching potential clients and customers on their own stomping grounds.

So, what does this mean for your content marketing?

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10 Ways of Repurposing Blog Content Like a Magician

Repurposing blog posts is a surefire way to make your audience gasp in awe and delight.

But how do some companies do it? How do they get so much out of one blog post, like they’re pulling an unending multicolored handkerchief out of their maw?

At the risk of suffering the same fate as G.O.B. Bluth with the Alliance of Magicians – that is, disgraceful banishment from the Alliance of Content Marketing Un-Agencies – we can’t resist sharing some secrets of repurposing blog content, itself a crucial best practice for successful audience development.



Let’s take a look at 10 tricks – or, as G.O.B. would prefer, illusions – to make your blog posts not just memorable, but as close to mind-blowing immortal shape shifters as possible.

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How Creative Blog Titles Can Help You Overcome Marketing Challenges

Creative blog titles spring from good copywriting, and good copywriting springs from understanding problems and solutions

Potential clients’ pain points are the problems, and the benefits of your product or service are the solutions.

This isn’t new stuff by any stretch of the imagination, but the methods by which the dynamic plays out keep evolving.

Today’s best creative blog titles share DNA with the signs in general store windows, the language of the classified listings, political campaign literature and TV commercials, Google ads, and product descriptions in the SkyMall catalog. OK, maybe that last one isn’t the best example, but you get my point.

They’re designed to draw in targeted consumers, to be the singer who seems to be singing to you.

Like many in our line of work, we at BuzzFarmers are big admirers of Seth Godin, and much of his approach is based on the assertion that marketers in the 21st century, despite the proliferation of tactics and technology at their disposal, are facing a tougher challenge than their predecessors. We see at least three reasons for this – let’s examine how they affect creative blog titles.

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Ghost Blog Writers: 5 Reasons Why CEOs Choose to Outsource Their Voice

Ghost blog writers can strengthen your website while lightening your workload.

Do you remember those days in college when you would have paid someone hundreds if not thousands of dollars to write that Russian literature paper that your semester grade was hinging on?

Well, we’ve got good news for you: You can do that now, and you won’t get kicked out of anything. In fact, you might be asked to come back and serve as commencement speaker for your alma mater, because you’re so widely regarded for your wisdom – or maybe you’re just obscenely wealthy and a generous donor.

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10 Corporate Blogging Guidelines That Will Protect Your Job

Launching or revamping an original content campaign? Start with these corporate blogging guidelines.

Anytime you press “PUBLISH” on your business blog’s CMS, there exists the potential for everything from minor issues to catastrophic events. Mistakes, inaccuracies, and typos happen, of course. Links could get broken. Omissions or clumsy phrasing can bruise egos and hurt feelings. With a really bad post, demons might shoot out of your computer, Ghostbusters-style. More disturbingly, you could get fired or have to fire someone.

We don’t mean to be a drag here. The upside of business blogging – attracting an audience and converting them into clients or customers – far outweighs the perils. Ridiculous levels of unbridled lucrativeness are on the table, but that’s a story for another post.

There are a lot of do’s and don’ts down below, but we’re not discouraging you from starting or recommitting to your business blog. Far from it! Instead, we hope that these corporate blogging guidelines will give you some flexibility and freedom when it comes time to start creating content. But do err on the side of discretion and caution. Above all, contributors to your business blog have a responsibility to your brand. If you’re giving them the keys, you’d better have some rules of the road.

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How to Write SEO Headlines That Supercharge Your Content

SEO headlines don’t compromise your posts – they empower them.

If you’re not using SEO headlines on your business blog, you might as well not use any headlines at all – which would just be weird and ungainly.

All great content is the sum of its parts – from the copy to the graphics to the design to the calls to action to the social treatment – and the conductive wire running through them is well-researched SEO. It electrifies a post and provides enough sustainable energy to help it outlast the competition in a crowded field.

Unleashing this power literally starts with the headline.

It might not be where you undertake the process – and it doesn’t have to be – but it will be what most readers will see first when they come across the finished product of that post. The catch? They might never come across it if there’s little to no SEO. Forsaking SEO headlines – out of laziness, bad planning, or even vanity – can dismantle the whole operation. All of that work you did to craft a strong how-to article or a list of best practices is in danger of going dark.

We’re here to help you avoid any such outages.

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How to Create a Blog Style Guide That Keeps All of Your Writers in Sync

A blog style guide is the closest thing your contributors can get to operating instructions.

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines,” Ralph Waldo Emerson famously said. “Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day.”

Yes, the dude was intense. Brooked no quarter. But I bet if he were writing and lecturing in the 21st century, even Emerson would cobble together a blog style guide including his craaazzyy preferred usage of “to-morrow” and “to-day.” Whichever “hard words” he might choose for content on the “10 Ways Transcendentalism Can Help Your Startup” or “Self-Reliance in the Age of Social Media” would stay true to the essayist’s voice, vision, and goals over the course of countless posts or presentations.

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