It’s easy for bloggers to get caught up in community, traffic, word count, social networking, keywords and oh my gosh, the Twitter scene. You may get so caught up in the business of blogging that you might be lacking focus on the actual writing part of blogging.
I’m not free and clear either. I don’t always focus on content as much as I should, but it doesn’t make it right. There’s a lot of mucky and boring posts on the web, why contribute to that? This week; heck this year, why not focus on the writing part of blogging. Following are eight ideas to get you started.
1) Give an opinion – PLEASE!: I read far too many blogs lately that are full of posts reporting the news or discussing fresh products but the bloggers are keeping their opinion to themselves. I don’t mind news or new gear on blogs, in fact I like it, but without a fresh perspective I could have got the news elsewhere just fine. If 30,000 kids dropped out of college this year, don’t just tell readers that fact, tell them why you care – why it matters to their world – why it should matter to anyone.
2) Clean up your pet words: If I don’t keep myself in check I’ll use “pretty” and “just” obsessively in posts. “It’s pretty clear” and “This is pretty cool” and “I’m pretty much sick of this crap” – not good. For one, no one needs to hear your pet words 40 times in a post. Secondly, most pet words are non-useful. I’m sure you have a pet word or two; find them and cut them from your posts.
3) Cut weak words: My pet word “pretty” is not only an OCD word of mine but it’s also a weak word. Pretty adds nothing to the issues or items I’m discussing. It also make me sound indecisive. Look for draining words in your posts and cut them out or choose a more decisive word. Little, sort of, basically, maybe, and really are other examples of weak words – see more weak words to avoid. Below are examples of weak words in use…
- Weak – I basically hate when people don’t recycle.
- Better – I hate when people don’t recycle.
- Weak – It’s really very sad when you lose a job.
- Better – It’s sad when you lose a job / It’s terrible when you lose a job / etc.
4) Don’t write words you’ll regret: I read a good quote in a Writer’s Digest piece about blogging a while back, “When you consider that a simple Google search can turn up the dumbest thing you’ve ever written, it really pays to take a second and third careful look before you hit that “post” button.” Point taken.
5) Write like a blogger: This is not college essay writing. It’s blogging. No one is grading you on the amount of large words you use, and worse, if you excessively use fancy Nancy style writing or indulge in purple overload you’re only coming off as obnoxious. Write like you talk. If you read your post out loud and it sounds like it could be published in a scholarly journal you’re trying too hard. As I’ve said before blog readers aren’t looking for the next great American novel, they’re looking for casual and quick information they can use, fun entertainment, newsy clips, and words they can relate to.
6) Spend some time on your titles: Write better titles – make them snappy or intriguing or relate the title directly to the post so readers know what they’ll see if they click. Case in point; the only reason I ever click on a blog post in my RSS readers is because the title forces me to. Titles are what get readers to your posts a lot of the time so make them amazing.
7) Skip the clichés: Clichés are overused, boring, and good writers can relate ideas in their own way; a fresher way.
8 ) Avoid thing and it: In the past, I had a bad habit of using the word thing or it or this or that vs. the actual item or idea in question. My goal last year was to knock this bad habit off and I’ve made a lot of progress (see, last year the last sentence would have said, “My goal last year was to knock this off” – progress!) I had a college professor who always said, “If all you can think to say is thing, you’re not trying hard enough” and she wasn’t wrong. Words like thing, it, and this can usually be replaced with a more descriptive word which will not only make your post read better but it also gives you a chance to work a keyword into your post.
What’s your best tip for writing better blog posts?
I just opened my blog yesterday. This is Fantastic Advice, and i can expect nothing less from such a helpful site.
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you
Meg Grant says
Great advice, thanks so much.
I’ve been blogging for a couple of years now, but still like checking back in on the basics. Thanks for the helpful reminder.
wendy kelly says
These are truly great tips. Thanks for taking the time to really think this through.
Another tip that I wish I could better incorporate into my own blog posts is to offer something to your readers.
You guys do this brilliantly.
I find myself often *just* commenting on something I find interesting. Later, I realize that, yeah, maybe that’s interesting…but is it *helpful* to someone who may stumble upon my blog. Maybe not.
Thanks as usual for sold, well written stuff.
I’m glad you’re all thinking about the basics. They’re important but I think bloggers, all of us, at some point forget the basics matter.
@Wendy – offering something is one of the best points when it comes to the basics. If all anyone can say about your post is “so what” then you haven’t offered enough. I don’t think bloggers can be helpful 100% of the time – sometimes you just want to say, “wow I like this dress” but offering some usefulness most of the time is an excellent issue to be aware of.
Cherrye at My Bella Vita says
Thanks for the refresher, it was just so very helpful. 🙂 No, seriously it was. I also have a small network of other bloggers who have sworn to tell me ASAP if they see typos and I do the same for them.
.-= Cherrye at My Bella Vita´s last blog ..Travel Tip Tuesday: Five Budget-Saving Tips for Your Next Trip to Italy =-.
Joe Smith says
Thank you so much for addressing the fundamentals of blog writing.As a novice blogger I’m desperately searching for ways to improve my writing and grow as a blogger and I’ll definitely be using this site as a resource.
Neil Hess says
These tips are extremely helpful. I appreciated your comments on pet words. It has encouraged me to tighten up my writing and specifically my word choice.
.-= Neil Hess´s last blog ..In the news: Study links violent video games to violent thought, action =-.