Some people like to talk about writing almost as if it’s a magical process. You can write that perfect blog post, but you’ll need an endless supply of tea, motivational posters featuring Lord Byron, and possibly a copy of that contract you signed at a crossroads last time the moon was full. However, the reality is somewhat less esoteric.
Writing is a craft that must be improved through practice and attention to technique. These tips are geared toward improving the craft of blog writing in particular, but you can generally improve any kind of writing by keeping these things in mind.
1. Keep it simple and informative
When we talk about a movie or a book as being “formulaic,” we’re rarely being kind. We expect books and movies to keep us guessing and challenge our expectations. However, when we read blog posts, we generally want to learn new information quickly and easily.
Learning some common blog post formulas (like this bulleted list of practices my audience will find useful) will help you make sure your posts meet your readers’ expectations.
2. Do your homework
Speaking of your readers’ expectations, it can be helpful to take some time to brainstorm those expectations and write them down before you start. This will give you a deeper, clearer understanding of the goals you are trying to achieve with your blog posts. It will also help you catch yourself when you’ve come up with an idea that doesn’t lend itself very well to a blog post.
“If there’s a post you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet – you must write it!”
3. Start with an outline
Outline your pieces before you flesh them out. This article began as a bulleted list of words and phrases between (INTRO HERE) and (CONCLUSION HERE). By working with this outline, I was able to organize the piece and delete bullet points that didn’t work before I started focusing on the words of these individual paragraphs.
4. Don’t rush it!
Don’t try to do the entire thing at once. Putting together a blog post of between 350-500 words will take perhaps forty-five minutes for a fast typist who has a good idea of what they want to write. However, it’s easy to stretch this time frame out into one or two hours if you convince yourself you must not leave your keyboard until the post is done.
Do your outline and take a break, if need be. Flesh out one paragraph and take another break, if need be. You’ll be surprised at how much quicker the writing process goes when you don’t try to rush it!
5. Analyse your competition
Analyze the writing of others – especially your competitors. What formulas do they use for their posts? What kind of style makes their most popular posts popular? Do they prefer to inform their readership or call attention to their blog by causing controversy in the comment section? This analysis is great for finding tricks that work in blogs in your industry.
6. Write down your ideas
Keep a commonplace book. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been in the grocery store or at the dog park and had an idea for a perfect blog post occur to me. If I don’t write them down on my beat-up little notepad, there’s a good chance I’ll have forgotten my great ideas before I get the chance to sit down at the computer and type them up.
“You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.” ― Saul Bellow”
7. Write your introduction last
More often than not, the introduction is the hardest part of a blog post to write. You’ve got the blank page ahead of you, a tangle of ideas in your head, and no real “road map” when it comes to writing your post. That happens to everybody, and is one of the reasons that academic and legal writers wait until they’ve written the body of their piece before starting the introduction. Not only does it make it easier for you to write the piece, but it also makes sure your introduction transitions smoothly into the body of your blog post.
Even renowned novelists and poets find that writing is seldom easy; be wary of advice from anybody who claims good writing is a matter of sitting down at a computer and simply “letting it flow.” However, there is no reason to think that improving the writing of your blog posts takes some special, hidden talent.
In order to improve your blogging, you need only practice your technique and improve your craftsmanship. Following these tips can help make sure you’re providing delightfully well-crafted blog posts to your eager readership.
Have some more tips on blog writing? Share them in the comment section below.