Most of us surf trough a lot of web pages in a normal session on the internet without stopping to think much about what makes us stop and read one and just cursorily scan another. For the writers of those pages though what makes people stop and read is vital information.
Good writing is the essence of successfully communicating the message that the writer has for the reader and taking the time to produce a well written article is the difference between capturing a new reader and letting them slip away to the next blog. Recently I read some of the work of a fellow writer and mentioned to him that I thought that his writing would benefit from being looked over by a professional editor. He is an academic and his style has developed habits that are suited to communicating with other academics which is fine but his latest work is aimed at a popular audience yet his style hasn’t changed to accommodate that. I took one of his articles and gave him a quick editorial opinion and, being an intelligent fellow, he was glad of the insight that I gave him into the process of writing which, until this time, has served his main activities rather than been their focus. This made me think more about my own writing habits and how I have developed them consciously to tailor my style to a popular format like this blog. After all, I have been blogging for quite a while now and writing for even longer, and in that time I have developed a few habits in my writing that might even be useful to other writers out there.
Most importantly the writer has to include the readers, put them into the context of the article and make a connection with them that makes them want to read on. Try starting by describing how your topic is commonly experienced by everyone. Something like “we all hate those tele-marketing calls that come at dinner time” is going to be more inclusive than “tele-marketing aims at a domestic market and so it’s peak call out times tend to be around the time of the evening meal”. Boring! We all get it, so use that commonality to establish a rapport with the reader right from the start.
Even when it is just a short blog post it is important stick to the proper format for a piece of writing. I am always falling back on my high school grammar lessons, subject and predicate rules, correct essay construction and so forth. Start your piece by introducing the topic and indicating the direction that it will take and if possible, how it will get there. Then, in the body of the article do just that, develop your point and finally tie it all together in a conclusion. I find that a concluding line or two is what is most consistently missing from most blog posts.
Keep sentences as short as possible and stay on topic. For a new topic start a new sentence. Don’t introduce a topic unless it is relevant and you have something to say about it. If you drift off half way through your article so will the reader- on to the next blog.
Express your personality in your writing. Use your own voice when you write and let your readers get to feel as if they know you better. Don’t be shy, step up onto the world stage and show yourself off. So many bloggers have really interesting material but don’t tell us what they feel about it. Express your passion, readers love it.
Keep paragraphs small. Long blocks of unbroken text look daunting on screen and are harder to read. Don’t use 500 words to say what you can by using only 300. As always, the basics of good grammar serve best. Choose the topic of the paragraph, explain your points in concise and precise sentences and then move on. (I am still trying hard with this one!)
Be entertaining whilst you are getting your message across and it is more likely to be taken on board by readers and remembered. Even when writing a re-hash of some old or cliché topic entertaining writing will hold a reader to the end and maybe even make them want to read more. An engaging topic articulated intelligently that is amusing to read will always grab an audience.
Write regularly and blog as often as possible. Writers can never get enough practice and every article or blog post is an opportunity to explore new themes and styles and to experiment with new ways of using words. Constant practice will also develop good writing habits and regular posting will improve the SEO of your pages. If it is the aim to gather a following of regular readers then regular posting is essential.
Communicate with other bloggers and other writers as well. Read their blogs and take note of what makes them great, good or bad. Get involved in the blogging community and writer’s groups, comment on other people’s posts, encourage them and they will encourage you in return. Even just clicking on the like button can be a fillip to another writer and a great encouragement when your post gets one from a satisfied reader. Often these sorts of interactions suggest new and contemporary topics that can be explored.
Use relevant images that support your writing and don’t use pictures that are off topic. An image will set the scene in the reader’s mind before they look at any text so make sure the image backs up what you have to say. Great images can be the perfect finishing touch to a blog post but it is better to have no images at all than to use a picture that confuses the context.
Finally, write with passion. Write about the things that you know and love, whatever they are and you will be sure to find an audience to enjoy your stories. If you don’t enjoy writing then don’t write.
What are your pointers to a good blog post or article? What good habits have you developed in your writing techniques and styles? What do you hope to achieve with your writing?