Writing Effective Blogs
Once you have selected your writing platform, you’re ready to turn to writing.
Potent writing is both craft and science. We know there is a technically correct way to right – correct spelling, proper grammar, good sentence structure, and such – but we also suspect there is more to it than that.
I recall a professor of mine from many years ago who had this knack for turning the mundane into gold. I co-authored a research paper with him when I was in grad school. The paper was a review of the research methods used in the field for the most recent year or two. Yawn!
As a grad assistant, my job was to grind out the data collection and categorization of dozens of research articles from top-tier research journals. His was to make sense out of what I’d collected and report it in a way that readers would be, well, at least interested in.
When I read the paper I was struck by how he was able to make a very basic and technical topic into something informative and interesting.
Most of us are not quite that good. But we can improve. We need to work at writing, not only in some grammatical sense, but in being more potent, more effective in our use of words.
Let’s take a look at a couple of ways to get moving in the right direction.
1) The What and the Why of Your Writing
Most of us are looking at blogging as a way to get out there what is in there. In sum, we have something we want to share – with someone, even many someones. Hey, we dare to dream!
But what is that “it” we want to talk about? Maybe it’s about faith, technology trends, programming secrets, travel, or wisdom from your years of living. Whatever it is, there is probably an audience out there looking to connect with you in this conversation.
But, wait. What you write about is one thing, why you’re writing about it is another. There is really no problem writing about things that many people are interested in but you’re not. That is, it’s popular, or interesting, so you think to write on it and become famous or rich someday from doing so.
That’s fine, but these motivations are hard to sustain.
Look, most of us thinking about a blog have a half-dozen ideas for an article we can come up with, no sweat. But how about 20, or 50 posts? 100?
Ok, that’s a bigger problem. The point is that what we write should have something to do with why we write. The why is the motivation for writing. This will keep us moving forward towards our goals, our purpose for writing.
Long-term bloggers learn that they must develop a system that not only keeps ideas flowing, but the discipline and drive to push posts out on a regular basis.
We all need to be able to go to our touchstone to energize us to get going when we don’t want to. It’s for our readers – they’re waiting…
2) How Often Should You Write?
The simple answer? Write at a rate you can sustain.
I look at a lot of blogs on Silvrback. The fact is most bloggers I see starting out post too often at the beginning, and much less so later on. Quite simply, they burn out. Or find it hard to come up with new stuff to write about.
Look, each of us differs as to our life realities, and frankly, life priorities. That’s fine. However, your writing has to fit within these realities, these priorities. They will one way or the other, in the end, even if it is from exhaustion.
First of all, there is no magic formula as to how often you should post content. That being said, however, to build and sustain a readership calls for regular contact if you don’t want to become “something they can do without.”
Posting each day is often seen as the standard of a serious blogger. Not so. However, if your reader forgets they’re on your mail list, that is probably too long.
Regardless, what you can sustain is more important that insisting on a weekly or monthly post quota. There is the matter of quality of the post versus quantity to keep in mind.
So, what is my recommendation?
Contrary to what I observe, and my own experience, I would opt for fewer rather than more frequent posts, as long as it isn’t much beyond a week or two between postings. I know, I know, someone will jump all over me for this. I put a range out there – see how it fits.
The fact is that the more you want a readership, the more you must invest in providing prospective readers a reason to choose you. Bottom line. You’re competing for their attention.
3) Getting Better as a Writer
There’s no magic. Writing is work. It requires discipline, reflection, and continuous learning. Oh, and editing. And more editing.
As stated earlier, most of us need to learn more of the craft we’re engaged in. Granted, it does depend on why you’re writing. That’s a biggie. If you’re just wanting to share with the “folks back home” your travel journeys, then your aim is different than the person attempting to develop a reputation in the field of 3D printing or PHP programming.
Nonetheless, writing better reflects better on you and your blog – your content. Your message is affected by the way you write. They’re not independent constructs.
Wherever I am in my writing, whatever is good about it, has come from reading and adopting other people’s technique, eventually adapting it to my own style and repertoire.
When I read a letter, resume or blog that really struck me as potent, effective, I try to extract the technique for myself and incorporate it into my way of doing these tasks.
I am not advocating becoming someone else, but it is a recognition that there is “nothing new under the sun” and what you see as effective is not the first or last time you’ll see it. It’s around, it’s out there, and a few good souls have found these and are using them.
You should, too.
4) Get in the Zone – Writer Zone!
Yes, writing is work. It’s a pleasure as well, but it is work if you intend to do it well. Writing takes place in a context. One you should discover early on.
A workspace is that place where you get your head on to create. It may be a coffee shop table, a back deck or a table in the back bedroom.
Wherever you find your creative “zone”, it in part involves a location that becomes familiar and comfortable to write in. Mine’s a desk in the living room. My stuff is here. It is comfortable.
Getting into the zone is more than a space, however, it is also a mental state. And a process. Find your zen and cultivate it to bring out the best in you.
To sum up, some say that in blog writing, content is king – valued content. That what you write is the most important thing to get and keep readers and to grow your reputation.
Good writing makes content readable, enjoyable, interesting. Invest in your writing.