You have overcome your writer’s blog and the ideas are flowing freely – so now what…
The following tips are garnered from personal experience, reading other people’s blogs, and from reading many instruction manuals about blogging. (I have read so many that I apologize in advance if I have shared someone else’s advice without attribution. If you think I copied your material, please contact me directly and I will attribute your “words of wisdom” to source.)
- Brevity – On the web, people tend to scan rather than read detail. Your blog should be brief and convey the message quickly in a paragraph or two. If it is longer, break it up with headings or other techniques such as bullets, lists, quotes. Once you have written it, read it again with the sole purpose of deleting as many words as possible without losing the meaning. A few times of practicing this exercise and your writing will improve dramatically.
- Comments – Watch your blogs for comments and respond to them as quickly as possible. In the previous blog [link], we described some of these principles under the follow-up section. While it is an important to acknowledge comments, you don’t want to start a ping-pong match with one or several readers. Find an opportunity to give your reader(s) the “last word”, If the topic is hot, start a new flow with a fresh post. What is really important is replying to questions. And remember that your reply is not only intended for the person who asked the question or posted the comment, but it is an opportunity to share additional or new information to all of your readers.
- Sharing – Once you have published, use both your personal network and social media to start acquiring a “following”. Eventually others will find you too. You can use social media to share direct links to your blog, thus driving traffic to your blog and/or website. If you send out email newsletters, send your audience to your blog.
- Content creation – Rather than writing directly in the CMS, I often write and edit off-line using MS-Word, which visually spell-checks my work. Then I copy the text to the CMS when I am ready to publish. If I encounter appearance issues, such as fonts, I copy into Notepad to eliminate hidden codes that can affect appearance. I always finalize my formatting in the CMS to avoid code conflicts.
- Synonyms – I use a Thesaurus religiously when writing, whether the built-in MS-Word version or an on-line one like Dictionary.com Because brevity is such a strong principle of blog-writing I have become extremely aware of several good writing behaviours. I try to use the” right word” to convey explicit meaning in fewer words. I also dislike the use of repetitive words in a short space, so I will search for and use synonyms such as help, assist, aid, support, etc.
- Attribution – Always acknowledge your source and be aware of copyright laws in text, video and photography. If you use someone else’s material seek permission and attribute to “source”. The beauty of the Internet is that you can include a link to the source as well so if someone likes what they see, they can go to the original too.
- Links – When I put links in a blog, I always tick the box that says “open in a new window”. That way if the reader has gone to the new item an closes their tab or browser, they can still find my blog/website. I think this is less frustrating for readers, especially if the link they clicked was placed half-way through an article they had only partially read.
- Categories/ Tags – I use categories for all my blogs because it helps the reader: a) understand what I think I am writing about; and b) find similar content in my blogs. After a short period of blogging you can generally identify a few consistent themes that run through your writing (like: product, service, technical data or maybe wine, food, decorating, etc. ).
Let us know if any of these tips have been helpful and what sort of questions you have about blogging.
What tips or hints can you share from your own blogging experience?