Great blog writers make it look easy, and probably make it seem like anyone can do it. But it only takes reading one or two bad blogs to remind you that blog-writing takes skill. Even bloggers who have great topic ideas can head off in the wrong direction. Improve your blog writing skills by following these suggestions:
1. Write Your Personality
In fact, the more you can develop your written voice to sound like a human personality (rather than a textbook), the more likely you are to effectively draw in readers. Use descriptive words and phrases to enliven your copy. In real life, you probably use body language or facial expressions to communicate the meaning in your words. In your blog, you only have the words and a few graphics. Make your words count.
2. Choose Words Carefully
Many people giving blogging advice say that you should write “the way you talk.” And that’s good to a point. But sometimes words that sound really clear when spoken become confusing when written. For instance, words that are spelled the same but spoken differently can create confusion.
This sentence, for example: “Are you content with your content?” This might make perfect sense when spoken, but creates confusion when read. Unless you are intentionally using this for wordplay, use a different variation, like: “Are you happy with your content?”
3. Avoid Academic Language
If you have just gotten out of college and have been writing papers for academic purposes straight out of your MLA handbook, be careful. Because that’s not how people in the real world write. Or read, for that matter. Now is the time to break all of those rules and have a little bit of fun.
You’re not writing a literary piece—it’s a blog post. You want it to be clear, readable, and effective, but you’re not hoping to win any Pulitzer prizes or journalism awards. You aren’t considering who might turn your piece into a screenplay. You simply have a message to get across in an easy, personable manner.
4. Create an Outline
Were you one of those writers in school who wrote the outline after the paper had been finished, just so your teacher would be satisfied? That might have worked then, but most people need to know where they are going when they write a blog post. In fact, you can usually tell when you are reading a blog where the writer forgot where it was supposed to be headed. It rambles. A lot.
Here’s the good news: you don’t have to use Roman Numerals. Simple bullet points will suffice. You simply need a skeleton on which to build your content—some proverbial bones to hold up the body. This is flexible, of course. If you thought you would have 6 points and it turns out that only 4 of them make sense, then go with the 4 that you have.
5. Trim and Slim
When you write the way you speak, your personality comes out. But so do a bunch of other words you don’t need. During the writing process, take time to trim out unnecessary words and phrases. For instance, you might originally write: “Now is the time to take advantage of the best opportunities to get most customers by using video in your inbound marketing plan.” When this is sufficient: “Take advantage of video as an inbound marketing tool,” or even “the advantage of video in inbound marketing.”
6. Read, Edit, Read Again
Never, ever publish the first draft of your blog. Even after using spell-check and grammar tools, you’ll catch mistakes when you read and re-read. These might be misspellings, a sentence out of place, or even a realization that your logic doesn’t flow throughout the post. So read your post, edit it, re-read it. Then, ideally, have a colleague read it too.
7. Re-Work on Your Title
Typically your working title will not be the final one. Titles usually begin as a topical idea, but blog posts often morph into something more interesting than that. Don’t be afraid to spend a significant portion of your creative time working on the title—after the blog post is fully written. Even though the title consists of just a few words, it plays a crucial part to draw readers in.
Blog writing continues to grow in importance as a critical part of doing business in today’s marketplace. Honing your blog writing skills acts as an opportunity to improve your reach and increase your impact as you draw readers through the buyer’s journey.
This article originally appeared in The Lynton Web Inbound Marketing and Technology Blog.