How To Write Great Blog Posts: The Kind People Will Love Reading
Your blog gifts you the opportunity to share your point of view with the world. I’m a big one for exploring possibilities and making the most of the opportunities. So let’s talk about how to do that, wordy-wise, on your blog.
Find Your Voice:
My friend Kate Forster says you should write as though you are writing to a friend and I KNOW that she’s right. A lot of the time when I sit down to write my own blog, I start writing documentary style. I have a thing I want to talk about and I try to express all the details, bit and pieces of that thing. It can come out awfully factual and I usually read back over it then and add a bit of myself back into the mix.
Other times, I sit down in a super chatty mood and a super chatty post comes out. I type my post as I would speak it, including all the nuances and expressions I naturally throw out. Those posts tend to flow beautifully and read like a conversation. That’s the kind of thing I’m going for. Perhaps it’s what you are after too?
Compelling writing really does ride on using your own unique voice.
Some bloggers devalue their work, listening to those who argue that bloggers are not real writers. This is a big mistake. Trust me. Bloggers are/can be writers of value. We just need to work on our writing very often. We need to be open about our quest to improve our writing and we need to do the work to get better at our craft.
Sometimes this involves formal study, but for me it involved informal study and lots of practise. The more you read about writing, the easier writing seems. The more you WRITE, the more you can write. I’m not saying that writing is always easy, but I do think that just getting on with it is the very best way.
Don’t let anything get between you and your writing. Here’s some reasons you might not write…
Not sure what to write about
Did not study writing
Waiting to study writing
Not very good at writing
Fear that writing won’t be very good
Scared of being inauthentic, boring, incorrect
Writing does not flow easily
Perhaps one of these has been YOUR reason at some point. I totally get that. Writing, like other creative pursuits, is easy to talk about and think about. We do that a lot. I’m not about that, though. I am about getting on with it. Being a do-er. Doing the work. I want you to try to be like that too.
My own writing is not perfect, but I’ve worked hard to get better and I think I have a strong, recognisable voice now. Here is how I improved my writing:
Read lots of books about writing. The one book I would recommend to everyone who wants to write better is Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott. It’s a really helpful guide to the mysterious business of getting the words down.
2. Write! (Derp!)
Write a lot. Write blog posts. Write shopping lists. Write songs. Write poems. Train yourself to write often because practise is really important. Make writing a daily practice. Julia Cameron has some great things to say about this (and her famous morning pages) in her book.
There are lots of blogs and sites you can subscribe to if you’re seeking better writing reminders and information. For bloggers, sites like Copyblogger can be insanely useful. If you want to go broader than writing for blogs alone take a look at non-profit writers sites like Writers Victoria to immerse yourself further (find your local writers’ group or organisation). I love this article on McSweeney’s too. Read that!
Own your writerly urges. Say them out loud. ‘I want to be a writer’ or ‘I want to learn to write’ or ‘I want to write a book’. It’s GOOD to do that. I won’t think you are a tosser. Speak your dreams out loud. Do this often. Work towards your dreams. Keep trying. Push on.
Gather the tools you need to write. Perhaps it’s a site like 750words.com? Perhaps it’s a laptop that doesn’t overheat every 12 minutes? Perhaps it’s half an hour a day where you write longhand into a notebook? Perhaps it’s some classics to be inspired by or some books by bloggers to show you that it’s possible or some songs written by someone who says it JUST the way you feel it? Surround yourself with the creative or techy tools that make things easier and more flow-y for you.
Writing For Blogs
So how do you translate this for blogging? Good writing is good writing, no matter where you find it. If you work on your general writing ability your blog writing will, of course, improve. Bloggers are lucky because they can pull a post together themselves, curating the images to suit, writing the body of the post in their own way and pulling the whole shebang together into something compelling (or at the very least, interesting!)
We spoke a bit about this in an earlier post and I think it’s good to raise it here again. Write your blog as though you are writing to your ONE VERY FAVOURITE, SMART, INTERESTED blog reader. Just one. Imagine it’s YOU and THAT READER. You are sitting down for a cup of tea and you are going to tell that reader, chatty style, about the thing they need to know. Use your voice, your expressions, you feelings, your point of view. Put ALL OF THOSE THINGS into your blog post writing.
It’s so much easier to NOT do this. It’s easier to just bang out a factual, documentary type post: ‘I went here. I did this. Here is a picture. Thanks for reading.’ But this is FAR SURPASSED by ‘I really didn’t want to go to the school fete because I had so much washing to do. Still. I pushed myself out the door kids in tow into the hazy day. I tried not to notice the smear of Vegemite on my hem as I herded the kids out the gate and up the street. We could hear the delighted chatter of a school full of voices in the distance’. Or something. My point being that YOUR point of view is what counts here.
This is one of the benefits of blogging. You don’t have to remain objective. We want subjective. We want YOU. Give us YOU. If there’s Vegemite. If there’s dirty washing. If there’s reluctant outings. Give us that.
Another thing I love about blogging is the intimacy. You really DO feel like you are speaking to your kind of people. You can reach out via a blog post, discuss how you are feeling (from the heart!) and many times someone (or many someones) will read, care and respond. This connection is super special, super valuable and totally achievable if you write AS YOU in YOUR VOICE with a bit of HEART thrown in for good measure.
Writing ‘Mistakes’ Bloggers Often Make
Are you doing these things?
Do you really want to be doing these things?!
1. Extremely short sentences
2. No proper paragraphs
3. Difficult to read text or colourful text
4. Spelling errors
5. No fleshing out or personalisation of the topic
6. Forgetting to write an intro and an outro to the post
7. Badly formatted text
8. Forgetting to edit their own work
Eight Things You’ll Find In A Great Blog Post
Are you doing these things?
Do your very BEST to do some/all of these things!
1. Authentic or chatty or engaging or compelling writing
2. Nicely formatted and edited text
3. Lovely images to break up the ‘sea of text’
4. A point of view
5. An introduction leading into main part of the post
6. Paragraphs that flow into each other
7. An outro with an invitation to comment on the post or answer a question (a call to action!)
8. A feeling of intimacy between writer and reader
This topic is a whole other blog, really. There’s so much we can write about writing, it’s probably worthy of its own eCourse! In the mean time, let’s chat more about all that we’ve covered here:
In the comments:
What makes a GOOD blog post, in your opinion?
How do you improve YOUR writing?
Do you have any BETTER WRITING books or tools to share?
Whose writing style do you admire, blogger-wise?