By Doug Langille.
Part of the whole writing gig is, well, writing. It’s pretty much a given that authors build a platform to market and promote their word-babies to the masses. Building your network with social media is great, but many opt to also use a blog as their home on the Interwebs.
However, cultivating a blog that people will actually read isn’t as easy as you think. Many blogs start strong with only a few posts and then die off because:
- they’re way more work than the author envisioned, or
- the author has no compelling ‘why’, that is, a blogging voice.
Figure that out first. Are you offering great recipes or advanced macrame tips? Sharing pearls of wisdom on naked shark fighting? Hey, that’s your business. I won’t judge. Just make sure you have a reason to blog in the first place.
The cursor is flashing. How do you write a blog post that has that special something-something that readers will flock towards?
I have no idea. But here, in no particular order, are 10 things you can do to make your blog posts better:
- Edit the damn thing. There is little worse than reading a blog post rife with spelling and grammar mistakes. I mean, really? How can you expect to be taken seriously if you can’t take care of the basics? Come on, people!
- Read it aloud (even if to your cat). Sure, you’re grammar free, but does it flow and make sense? Ideally, you’d read it to someone who can provide you feedback, but your own ears will do the trick in a pinch. Note that this isn’t quite the same as having a trusted buddy read it (though that’s good too). Reading aloud is key, because….
- Keep it conversational. Imagine you’re having a conversation with your reader at a coffee shop, drinking over-priced lattes. Now, write like that. First-person with a conversational tone connects you with your reader. It’s about them not you. Got that? Good.
- Tell a story. Humans are social creatures. Before there was writing, there were oral traditions. How did people remember things to pass on to future generations? They told stories. Great writing is about storytelling. Blogging is no different.
- Make it personal. Your reader can tell if you’re phoning it in. Share your journey and experiences along the way. Make it real for them by laying bare what made it real for you. This may be uncomfortable. Embrace that.
- Writing for the web is different. When people read online, they tend to scan quickly. Write with that in mind. Keep sentences simpler and the paragraphs shorter. Unless you’re writing a blog targeted at academics, keep it to an accessible readability level. For example, Readers Digest is kept to a 9th grade reading level.
- Remember, use minimally rigid structure. Just because it’s a blog post, you’re not excused from the basics of essay writing. You need an opener to set context and a conclusion to wrap it up. Organize your thoughts. Plotting wins over pantsing when crafting a good blog post. Outlining your post before writing is the secret ingredient in your blog sauce.
- Lists are your friend. They are visually scannable and highlight the salient points of your post. Don’t over-do it. Number your lists if the sequence matters, otherwise use bullets.
- Prettify with pictures. Many people associate ideas better with pictures than with words. If there’s a way to illustrate your idea, do it. At the very least, use a feature image for your post. If nothing else, it makes your post more ‘shareable’ and ‘clickable’. If you’re confused about images, check out this post: All About Using Images.
- Have fun and be authentic.
That’s it! You can Google your little scribbler’s heart out for other tips on better blog post writing. There is no shortage of bloggers blogging about blogging better blogs.
Do you have some tips? Sound off below.
DOUG LANGILLE is a husband, father, writer and shameless technophile living the good life in Nova Scotia. He’s also a grandfather, bird keeper, dog owner and cat butler. You can find him online at: douglangille.ca and on Twitter:@douglangille.