We’ve written about how personality makes the difference between one blog from another, but if your writing is poor then let’s face it your blog will suck. I’m sorry but it’s true. If you want your blog to succeed, in addition to a winning personality you need looks; looks being quality writing that is enjoyable to read. Here’s the rub though: not everyone is a gifted professional writer. That’s why we’re sharing our best blogging tips. Because you shouldn’t have to go this alone.
These are by no means comprehensive, but with six years of blogging and much more as a writer in general I’ve accrued a few bits of wisdom to share. I feel that these are our best ones, and hope that they serve you well and help kick your blog up a notch!
Start with a clear purpose
Remember back in English class? That thing called a thesis? Yeah, you still need those.
Now you won’t have to craft an essay on the decline of the post-modern world in the wake of industrialism (that actually means nothing (I think?)), but you will have to have a set purpose for each of your posts. No one likes to listen to a rambler, and no one likes to read the words of one either. For instance, this post is about ‘5 tips to elevate your blogging’. It is not about the Red Sox, my very best PB&J recipe, or why I hate cats. It is about ‘5 tips to elevate your blogging’ and each paragraph reminds you of that.
Starting with a clear purpose your posts will have a sense of direction; you’ll be able to guide the reader and present your case while delivering your point in a direct, straight-forward, and enjoyable way. If anyone ever reads one of our posts and thinks ‘What the heck was that about?’ then we’ve failed. The point of writing is to say something, with a clear purpose, or thesis, that something will be driven home to your readers.
Vary your sentence structure
Read this sentence. What do you think? Is it enjoyable? Maybe I’ll write about dogs. I like dogs. I could go on but frankly, it’s painful for me to write this way. You may not realize it but speech and writing have a rhythm to them. You can have short sentences. Or you could have longer sentences; perhaps you’ll find the need for a semi-colon, or comma, to break up the monotony and guide the reader through a word-river so to speak.
The point being, use your words and punctuation with serious intent. Now to do this effectively takes tons of practice, but even the casual writer can run a quick read before publishing to ensure you’re not committing any grammatical sins. If you honestly want my best tip, it’s to read your post aloud. Nothing catches the pacing of a post like the human ear, give your post a read and think about how it sounds–it hasn’t failed me yet.
Use quality quotes
Just like no one would trust a paper without any citations, it really helps the quality of your posts to link to other sources. Linking to other sources is more than just piggybacking off what someone else said; it’s showing your audience that you did your homework. It shows you’re not just someone blogging for fun, but someone taking the time to research a topic and add to its discussion. Not only that but using outbound links helps your blog’s SEO though within reason (too many and your content looks spammy).
Instead of shouting into the void, add your voice to the chorus. By linking to other sources you give your blog an SEO boost, and implicitly show your readers you care about the topics you are covering. It’s a win-win if I ever saw one.
A picture tells 1,000 words
Let’s face it, today’s attention span might as well be less than that of a goldfish. Whether or not that is depressing is beside the point, the question is how will we adapt? While you may have a stunningly written 1,500-word blog post, chances are if it’s not broken up into easy-to-read sections or if it is devoid of images then no one will bother to read it fully. So how do we regain the attention spans of our readers?
Draw them in with compelling images. Use .gifs to accentuate some humor in your post, or infographics to highlight key sentences and points that you want to drive home. It helps break up the text for the reader, gives them a sort of milestone to reach while reading through your post, and adds an esthetically pleasing element to your site. Not only that, but words can really only do so much in building your brand, images can reinforce a message effectively and in fractions of the time. Start using visual elements to enhance your blog and your readership will appreciate the change.
Spellcheck, spellcheck, spellcheck
Okay, this is an obvious one. But it’s important. Nothing bothers a reader quite as much, or takes them out of the rhythm you are trying to build like a tpo. Did you catch that one? Did it bother you? I rest my case.
Seriously though, as a reader typos irk me like no other, and for something so innocent and small they seriously undermine your credibility. Whether that’s fair or not isn’t my call, what is important is they are 100% preventable. That’s what makes this one of the simplest and most crucial blogging tips we can offer. There’s the old eyeball test by reading through the post, though I’ve found that reading my own writing over and over ends up in skimming as opposed to closely examining. Reading aloud is marginally better as you are forced to read every word but even then it can be cumbersome. If you want a quick fix there’s always good old-fashioned spellcheck in Microsoft Word or Grammarly which is a free Chrome extension.
Whichever method you choose, be thorough and catch all your mistakes. There are no excuses for typos given the resources available and your writing will dramatically improve once it is free of them.
Going forward: Put our blogging tips into practice
There’s no excuse now! You’ve got some of our best blogging tips as well as general writing advice, so you should be a pro now right? Well, that’s up to you when competing with writers of all skill levels and experience it makes blogging a bit less democratic than I’d personally like. But the best way to improve your writing is to keep at it, use our tips to push yourself a bit and try to shoot to improve marginally with each post you publish. In time you will see the difference as will your readers, who hopefully will feel compelled to share your fantastic writing with their friends.
Whether your goal is to reach 10 new readers or 10,000 there’s always a reason to take a close look at your writing and how to improve it. The good news is it’s never too late, so why not start today?