I’m jumping straight in because, honestly, introductions that serve little to no purpose are a massive faff that I can’t be bothered with. When I’m reading a blog, I am looking for specific information and the fluffy intros are annoying to have to scroll through (oh, if my secondary school English teacher could see me now!).
- Pick a subject you care about – at least a little bit anyway. As a writer, and a reader, it is glaringly obvious when someone writes about something they clearly aren’t interested in. The language is often disjointed, sentence structure fragmented and tone of voice passive. Of course, people can, and do, spend a long time editing to avoid this, but you can save time and effort if you are dedicated to what you’re writing.
- Use short concise paragraphs – I’m talking 4-5 sentences absolute maximum. Lengthy walls of text are overwhelming and intimidating. The only people I know invested enough to read dense text are students, and half the time they’re not that willing either.
Don’t take my word for it, take a look at Jonathan Wilcock’s blog post in which he shared 37 tips from a career in copywriting. Each paragraph being only a sentence but still delivering the purpose. So succinct, I forgot I was reading to be honest.
- Easy on the jargon – I’m slightly on the fence about this one. This is highly dependent on what your blog aims to achieve as there will be some exceptions. I know that a few specialist phrases here and there make me sound (and feel) like I’m an expert, but to the point where it’s difficult to make heads or tails of what’s being communicated, readers will give up and find information elsewhere. Reading articles stuffed full of technical lingo reminds me of that scene in Friends where Joey uses a thesaurus on every word in his letter to the point the meaning is lost.
- Catchy + optimised wording for search engines = successful title – In short, the entirety of a blog has to be readable for search engines but more importantly, humans. This includes the title. I find that the best titles answer popular questions asked via search engines. However, your work also needs to stand out amongst your competitors. Titles that I find memorable have included puns, tongue-in-cheek and wit.
As soon as I started writing this point, I immediately knew who I wanted to evidence. Dave Harland, whose weekly newsletters can be so outrageous I have to read them the minute they arrive in my inbox. Try this one on for size. Not a newsletter, but a blog post with personality and humour. My two favourite things.
- Find the perfect length – again, this does depend on what the purpose of your blog is, however my general rule of thumb is: not too short that the blog fails to fully discuss the subject and not too long that the blog waffles on and loses reader interest. I always aim for around the 800-900 mark but that is because by that point, I have said what I needed to say and should then shut up. However, studies show that posts with between 1,000 – 2,500 words rank better on search engines because there is more information available. So, maybe take this point with a pinch of salt.
- Please make it original – Has it been done a million times before? Am I likely to have seen very similar articles published by Buzzfeed? If yes, then don’t do it. Can you add new information or approach the subject from an alternative angle? If not, re-consider the relevance of what you have to say amongst the other 100+ similar articles posted on the internet.
- Be specific – Nothing annoys me more than reading a whole article, eagerly awaiting that golden nugget of information. But it never comes. If I were to read ‘How to be a successful masseuse’, I would be expecting precise information on pressure, techniques, oils, wouldn’t you? But quite often I am greeted with vague text that lacks context. Not very helpful.
One of my favourite bloggers who delivers on posts every time is Elna Cain. Her how-to guides are always backed up with links to research, resources, job adverts and statistics. That’s probably why she’s one of the best freelance writing coaches in the business.
- Receive criticisms with a pinch of salt – arguably the most important. Of course, advice and guidance should be welcomed in abundance, but you will always have the Negative Nancys that want to rain on everyone’s parade. Just forget about them because the more you write, the better your skills become (obviously).
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