Writing well is a process, not an end-all result. You may be a beginner, you may be a great writer…but even the best can get better.
Here are a few little “unspoken rules” to writing for the web that you should probably be following. These tips can completely turn around your blog, just watch and see!
1. Figure out what you want to say
Ever sit down to write, with no particular topic in mind, and manage to ramble on for an entire page before finally coming around to some semblance of a point?
Ever try to read those blog posts?
Yeah, not fun (to read or write).
Before you ever sit down in front of that annoyingly white blank page, come up with your main point. This is your message.
Are you trying to sell something, explain a process, entertain with a funny story, or argue a point?
Essentially, I’m saying to find your point, and make it.
2. Stick to your topic
Now that you’ve made your purpose clear, make sure you don’t go off on some semi-related tangent. It’s hard to follow, and harder to get back on track in a reasonable length of document.
When you veer off topic (say you’re writing about taking landscape pictures, and find yourself babbling about the pretty beach you visited three years ago on vacation), you lead your readers to a different place. It takes a bit of effort and creative writing to get them back on track…and you wind up with a long, rambling blog post that really doesn’t make an impact.
There’s also the risk of “losing” your reader, as they give up and Google another place to get landscape photography tips.
3. Find your comfort zone… and leave it behind
No one will remember a blog post that gives a so-so opinion, in a non-committal way, about something non-controversial.
With everything you write, whether it be politics or toilet paper, write to make an impression. Make your readers want to send their friends a Facebook link saying “You gotta read this!” Even if you’re writing about something plain, make it pop somehow.
Don’t be afraid to stick to your guns, and give an opinion that some people might not like. Don’t be purposefully offensive, but if you feel strongly about something, put it out there. There are probably tons of people out there who feel the way you do.
And if someone doesn’t like it, respectfully reply to their comment and know that even the negative attention is still attention, and you’re not alone.
4. Don’t utilize gargantuan idioms
Sure, big words are fun, but you’re going for readable, not pretentious.
Most readers won’t stick around to pick through a wordy (not verbose) blog post (not creative-writing piece) to try and find your point.
Sure, if a big word makes your point better than any other one would, go ahead and use it. You just don’t want to make your post a college-level bore to the average reader.
5. Do use adjectives
While you shouldn’t make your posts tedious with unnecessary big words, you shouldn’t scrimp of describing things adequately. Go ahead and paint a picture for your reader to imagine while they’re there.
“Lots of cats,” gives readers an idea, but “37 cats of all colors, sitting on every available surface,” really puts them in your world.
Describing things gives your post an atmosphere, a mood, and a setting. Instead of letting your reader assume things, you’re telling them just what you want them to see.
6. Break it up for the web
Just to explain to you how hard it is to read something on the web that’s all run-together, with no breaks, no real formatting, and nothing to “save your place” when you look away from the screen, I am going to write this paragraph in one big chunk. I want to show you that a big block of text without breaks, headings, and other “pauses” can be quite tedious and seem to run together. You see, even this small paragraph seems to take longer to read than the previous ones, which are actually about the same length. Now imagine an entire blog post written just like this. It would be tough to get all the way to the end. I for one, would probably take one look at it and skip on to the next, no matter how compelling the title and topic may be. So, remember to take advantage of the simple paragraph break to make your texts more readable. Just for the record, if I wasn’t trying to make a point with this section, there would have been four paragraph breaks… and would look so much better!
That one really needs no explanation. It also goes hand-in-hand with the above section.
Blog posts just look better when they’re broken down into paragraphs, have catchy subtitles, things in bold and italics, and are on a nice, even plane.
Justify your edges, bold your titles and subtitles, and make conversations (or afterthoughts, or inner dialog, or anything) stand out with italics. Add some bullet points, or play with fonts to make your text stand out from the crowd.Just make it pretty!
8. Don’t be redundant and repeat everything
This one really doesn’t need much explanation, does it?
When you’re writing, don’t explain everything in every available way…readers are smart people. They’ll understand you without hitting them over the head with it. Four times.
9. The writing rules you learned in school
Their was a good bunch of people at uncle jacks house last saturday and there were all eating bar be que and dringking beer and throwing the ball around momma thought it was the best cause all the whole family was together at the same time for the first time cents for years ago.
The whole family gathered at Uncle Jack’s house last Saturday, for the first time in several years. After a barbeque lunch, we threw a ball around and had a few cold ones. Everyone had a great time, and Momma was happy to see the whole group together again.
Ok, that was an extreme example, but I think it makes my point!
10. Close powerfully
Make your last statement a bold one (both figuratively and literally), with a call to action. This is the last thing your reader will see, and likely will stay on their mind if it’s intriguing enough.
Spend some time, and make sure your final statement does justice to the rest of the post.
How about you? What super-secret writing tips do you live by to make your own blog stand out?