It is a common understanding that they fail to teach writing in schools these days so how about a crash course in writing. You might have something to say, but how do you say it?
I recently came across an article entitled “How to Write a Blog Post: A Simple Formula to Follow.” I found it interesting that the article states:
“As marketers, blogging is essential to our jobs — but it isn’t easy. We have to come up with a topic, write something engaging, optimize it for SEO, and take a ton of other steps to make sure we are writing the best possible post that stands out from other similar topics online. There are 6.7 million people blogging, yet we have to stay original.”[Sprung, Rachel, “How to Write a Blog Post: A Simple Formula to Follow.” http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/how-to-write-blog-post-simple-formula-ht?UTM_source=outbrainwidget&obref=obnetwork]
While Rachel Sprung states that blogging is “essential to our jobs” and admits that “it isn’t easy,” she fails to address the fundamental problem many bloggers face – how to write. Sure the article provides “A Simple Formula to Follow” but how simple is that formula when we lack the fundamental foundations of writing in the first place? Of course, the article does clarify:
“Though we cannot explain blogging to a science, there are certain steps you can follow to make sure it has the essential components necessary to perform well. Here are 10 steps that can get you on the write path to blogging like a pro.”[Sprung, Rachel, “How to Write a Blog Post: A Simple Formula to Follow.” http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/how-to-write-blog-post-simple-formula-ht?UTM_source=outbrainwidget&obref=obnetwork]
Fortunately, there is no exact science to writing as it is largely subjective. There are some good hard rules to follow as a guide to getting it right. You should look for some basic resources if your writing is sub-par. There are plenty of online sources to help you review the basics of writing.
I would like to point out that you should start with a basic spell checker. Do not skip the proof reading. I am guilty of this myself. For example, check out the citation above. Unless they were intentionally using a play on words, I believe they were trying to say “Here are 10 steps that can get you on the right path to blogging like a pro.” It is important that you double check the context of words as well as the spelling. Just because they are spelled correctly does not mean that they are used correctly.
I do agree with the first step of the formula that the article lays out for readers – understand your audience. I cannot emphasize enough that you need to know your target market. Who are you writing for? If you are writing for academics you are going to take a certain tone in your writing than if you are writing for a group of teenagers. Know who the target audience is and write accordingly. This, however, does not mean that your writing should reflect the lack of education of said group, but it should reflect the seriousness of the group. You are not going to get the attention of a teenager with dry facts and figures. Likewise you will not get the attention of someone in academia with slang and chit chatty communication. Know your audience and address it appropriately.
Like with all papers or articles you need to have a topic. This should not be hard to come up with for your blog because your blog should cater to a particular niche or target audience. That niche or target audience will want to read posts about particular interests, thus your natural topic selection will be along these interests. It is not worthwhile for your to select topics that go against these interests. It does not mean that your topics will never fall outside of these areas of interest, but primarily you will address topics of interest.
Once you have your topic, your title should be something that is catchy. Remember that catchy is sticky. Sticky titles pull your readers in to find out more. Article times should give the reader enough information about what the article/post is about and entice them to want to read more. Remember that your preliminary or draft title may change after you write your post. It may even change multiple times throughout the writing process. This is acceptable and it is a natural part of the draft writing process.
The most important part of your blog post is probably the introduction. It is the first few lines that will grasp the reader’s attention. If you do not catch it in those few lines, they will click away. Internet readers are impatient and click happy. If they do not like what they see or read they will go find something else to look at or read. They skim more than they read so be clear and precise. This is not an academic paper so do not treat it as such.
Organize and write your content in a method that gives it a feeling of being the most natural and has a precise flow. Remember that internet readers are impatient. They want the information quick and they do not read deeply to get it. Do not make them think too hard, they will move on. They want to be able to skim quickly through an article to get the key bullet points of the article. Make sure your outline includes key break points for headers, lists, and break points for the article/blog post. Your content should not be long, however. This is the internet and this is blog writing. While it is acceptable to have long blog posts from time to time, the average attention span of an internet reader is probably about 2000-2500 words. That is not as long as you think it is writing out coherent thoughts. Consider a series of posts or developing the idea into an e-book to distribute. Long posts will often cause your readers to skim through your content. This could result in them missing some of the important information.
Once you have written the bulk of your content, you need to come to a conclusion and wrap it up. This need to be clear and tell the reader exactly what they were supposed to take away from the blog post. Again, let me emphasize – do not make them think. What was the whole point of the article? What were they supposed to take away from this? Draw the article to a close with a conclusion. Wrap it all up and tell them exactly what they were supposed to walk away from it. Too often articles on the internet are written with the story left hanging. It is as if the investigator did not thoroughly investigate the story to find out how it would end or figure out what would happen in the end. At the end of the article they did not tell us what the point of the article was. They just told us there was something out there that might interest us but they did not tell us why. Do not do that to your readers. Tell they why they should be interested, call them to action.
For some online writing resources:
Perdue University OWL (online writing lab) – https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/
Extensive resource from the writing process to citation.
University of Minnesota Online Grammar Handbook – http://www.tc.umn.edu/~jewel001/grammar/index.htm
Write To Done: Unmissable Articles on Writing “The Definitive Guide to Successful Online Writing” – http://writetodone.com/writers-guide-to-online-success/
The most important thing to remember when writing online is to have fun doing it. Keep it simple for the users. Keep it fun for you. If you do not enjoy what you are doing this will show in your writing. Enjoy what you do and strive to do better at what you do.