The title says everything… or so you thought. You click on the link and it takes you to a blog that is long swathe of text, peppered with words that have longed dropped out of use, their meaning devoid and is also incredibly laborious to read.
Do your blog posts suffer the same fate? Would you like to add a ‘little something’ extra but not sure how or where to find the extra spice for your content?
Follow these 10 tried and tested tips…
#1 The story
Many blogs, sadly, lack a story. However, type this into your favourite search engine and what you will find is lots and lots of blogs on storytelling in content, but not a lot of explanation of what it actually is.
Is it an ‘about me’ page? No.
Is it about a human element within your blog? Yes. If it fits.
This comes back to why you are writing your blog post. This post, for example, came from an idea whilst reading a few blog posts that were dull. As dreadful as that sounds, they lacked the va-va-voom needed to harness interest and keep it.
A little more storytelling would not have gone amiss. So think about why you are writing the post, what problem can you help the reader to solve? What emotions are you trying to change or evoke?
Get it right and it is strong stuff.
#2 1st person, 2nd person, 3rd person, no person…
There is a lot written, debated and discussed about which voice a blog post should be written in. Some people say first person – I wrote a blog today! – but others say not to do this – a blog was written and posted on the website today.
Who is right? They all are. The voice of an article depends very much on what you are trying to achieve, the information you are giving, the field you are in and so on.
If it suits, talk to your reader in the first person; if it doesn’t, then don’t.
#3 Sparkling introduction
Sometimes when I write, I start with a few lines but then plunge on in to writing the main blog post, revisiting the introduction when I have completed the main body.
Sometimes known as foreshadowing, it is the lovely paragraph at the start that is can be in a bigger font that offers a delightful, tantalizing peek into what is about to come.
#4 Map reading
Sat Navs are all the rage, aren’t they? As you drive along, you listen to the instructions given forewarning that you need to make a change in your driving direction.
For example, Turn left in 400 yards or, at the next roundabout, take the third exit. You get the picture.
With a blog post, when you are about to change direction in your writing, there are several things you can do to make sure your reader stays with you;
• A paragraph for one idea – you had this drilled into you in primary school and it is still apparent today. When you are ready to change direction, signal this is going to happen by starting a new paragraph.
• Use headings – you know those sub-heading things? They are great for telling the reader you are about to talk about something else… and it is really interesting too.
#5 Is what you are saying crystal clear?
Or, is it a bit lost in fluffy, flowery words that mask the true meaning and clarity of what you are saying?
The versatility and calorific value of homemade soup has long been debated in academic and scientific circles. With the use of fresh ingredients, the soup is known to taste far delectable, especially as the seasoning can be adjusted according to individual taste.
So, what is this piece of writing saying? Is homemade soup better or not? (and beware wild claims – What debate? When? Really?!)
#6 Shorter is sometimes better
There is a challenge that many writers make themselves face – it is something I do all the time, to keep my writing sharp.
It is a big secret. I cannot divulge too much. Or others may become angry. Can you see what yet?
Yes, that’s right – the 5 word sentence. Bit tough sometimes, a bit like writing a tweet in under 140 characters.
Sometimes, shorter is better. Which brings me nicely to number 7…
7# Text Wall
You have all come across them. They litter blogs from reviews of books to how to change your car battery: the Text Wall.
That long, long piece of writing that is one big lump of lots and lots of words, all jumbled together to make a wall of text that can become almost too boring to even get to the end of. Sometimes, the fact that we use very long sentences makes the Text Wall even worse, when a sentence can go on and on and on, with so many commas that the reader almost falls in a coma. But, the sentence still goes on and on. And on some more and then the reader is lost. Gone forever in to the black hole that is the Text Wall.
Stop it. Now.
Short sentences and plenty of breaks in the writing. No walls. Please. Thank you.
#8 Too short
It’s all a balancing act. It really is because something that is too short is a waste of space too.
The other day, I was researching how to fillet a particular type fish. I like to read first, and then watch a few ‘how to’ videos on YouTube. On the search engine results were several articles and one looked great, with a brilliant title and I was hooked (no pun intended).
Opening the article I was disappointed to find less than 200 words on how to fillet a fish that was so short, it was devoid of the basic information I needed, other than I would need a sharp knife.
Disappointing. Thus, be as short as you need to be, but not too short. Nor too long.
#9 White space
White space is a concept in graphic design that should be used in blog posts. It is the blank space on a page, poster, post etc. where the eye can rest.
Take a look at this:
‘ROOM FOR HIRE’ or ‘Room for Hire’ or ‘room for hire’.
Any word of phrase that is written in capitals letters is devoid of shape thus, much harder on the eye to read. Use them sparingly (plus, they can also mean you are shouting!).
In other words, the eye can see and detect the shape in a piece of writing. This is done by breaking up the space, with paragraphs and sub-headings, as well as writing in lower case letters.
However, be wary of doing it too much as sometimes, a lot of gaps can give the indication that the article is somewhat devoid of detail, interest and is not a serious post on a serious subject.
Remember, informative sub-headings, maybe a bullet point list if helpful and a paragraph per point you make.
#10 Don’t use words you don’t understand
I have seen this. It worries me. Why use words that you nor your reader, know the meaning of?
If something smells bad, say so because telling the reader a miasma was apparent, will send them reaching for thesaurus. Or, more accurately, navigate away from your blog.
Otherwise there will be a right donnybrook about the whole thing, which will land you in the quagmire with the boss*.
An impressive blog is one that gets the point across in a way that if appropriate for the place where it is being posted, as well as on the subject matter being discussed. Simple, really.
About the author
Gwyneth Orford has been writing for a long time. Ghost writing for web design agencies and clients for many years probably means that you have read a lot of her words on all kinds of topics from what to look for in a wedding venue, to the history of the latex glove without knowing it.
Living in Wales, she enjoys the company of her dogs as she writes in the corner of the living room. Follow her @wordrambles.