Thursday, June 11, 2009

10 tips for writing better blog posts

Some of them are common sense, some you wouldn’t necessarily think of – but here are my top 10 tips for writing better blog posts (in no particular order)...

10 – Stay on topic

Readers (and search engines) will feel cheated if your post title has little or nothing to do with what your post is actually about.

9 – Check your spelling

Come on, how hard is it? Just use Blogger’s built-in spell check feature.

Besides everyone knows how easy it is to run a spell-check so the fact that you didn’t means that:

(a) You were in a great hurry or
(b) You don’t respect your readers

Unless you can prove otherwise most people will assume it’s reason (b).

8 – Avoid the wall of text

When confronted with a massive block of text many readers will feel daunted and run (or click) for the hills.

Break your posts up using short sentences, images and paragraphs.

7 – Use lists

If something in your post lends itself well to the list format then convert it into one. People tend to skim through text on web pages and the human eye seems to be naturally drawn to lists.

Which brings me to my next point…

6 – Sub-headings make text more readable

Most people read from the top of a page and from left to right. It’s also a widely known fact that text readability is greatly increased using well placed sub-headings.

5 – Involve your readers

Do you want to be some kind of demented preacher flinging your righteous posts down upon an unworthy audience?

Or do you want to engage your readers in a meaningful dialogue and encourage them to contribute to your blog with valuable feedback and insightful comments?

If you chose the latter then write some posts which proactively ask for your readers’ opinions. Don’t be afraid if no-one responds at first, eventually someone will.

4 – Try to write one ‘extra special’ blog post a month

Ok I realise that “extra special” is a bit vague but by this I mean a blog post that you put a lot of effort into.

Some of these will miss the mark but the ones that don’t will go on to become your blog’s audience builders.

Without a doubt the most popular post on this blog is my 3 column Minima tutorial. I put a lot of effort into making this post really easy to understand and it has paid off in the long run.

3 – Lose the flab

There’s a line from the book Cold Comfort Farm where the lead character tries her hand at writing - very poor writing as it turns out.

In an effort to be poetic and grandiose she writes something to the effect of “The golden orb slowly climbed into the azure blue sky…”

Translation – the sun rose.

Don’t make the same mistake. Unless your blog is concerned with poetry and literature always make your point as quickly and concisely as possible.

2 – Edit your posts

Stream of consciousness may work well for the likes of Robin Williams, but for the rest of us it’s always wise to go back and check our posts before we publish them.

Do they make sense? Are they bloated?

1 – Always nurture your post titles and leading paragraphs

Regardless of how entertaining or informative the main body of your post may be, no-one will ever feel inclined to read it unless your post title and, to a lesser extent, your leading paragraph hooks them in.

To this end make them relevant but make them catchy and impactful.

Did I miss something?

Well that’s my 2 cents worth but if you have more to add then feel free to speak up.

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