Each and every blogger shares a common goal — we want to write great posts that resonate with our readers and spark some sort of reaction, whether via comments, social media or otherwise. We all know that the path to greatness has many ups and downs. But there are a few basic principles that we always must keep in mind while writing. Because let’s be honest; even if some people try to tell you that blogging is not the same as journalism, for many of us, it involves just as much research and dedication as a standard position at a news desk or a national magazine.
Whether you’ve been writing for years or are just getting started, there are several basic rules you need to follow to take your blogging from ok to great.
8 Ways to Write Better Blog Posts
- Find your passion — People start blogging for many reasons. But I think those that have the greatest passion for what they are writing about tend to have the most success over time. Yes, a lot of times we achieve greatness because we are in the right place at the right time. But that greatness is often actually the result of a passionate person stepping forward when they hear about an opportunity and just going for it, instead of heading for the corner. If you are passionate about your blog and your life, and you don’t let fear hold you back, you are certain to achieve success.
- Speak with your own voice — If they wanted to read a manual about how to do something or why life is the way it is, they would buy a textbook (which would likely promptly put them to sleep). Don’t feel that you have to be overly formal or become someone you are not just to become a great blogger. In fact, those that are honest and show their true selves are generally some of the most successful bloggers today.
- Use the tools available to you — Bloggers are only human, and we all make mistakes. But if you habitually misspell words, have horrific grammar or just write in a way that is painful to read, even the most devoted of your friends will eventually lose interest and stop reading your blog. Thankfully there are many tools available like spell check plugins for your browser and you can even do a grammar check of your post if you’re just not sure those sentences sound right.
- Make it useful — While it’s all well and good to write a blog as a journal to document something going on in your life or share with others about certain experiences, what people really care about and what helps them the most is when you relate to them how your experience and knowledge can help them improve personally. When I started blogging 7 years ago, I wrote a lot to inform people about our dog or our farmhouse. It wasn’t until a year or two later that I realized I wasn’t actually helping anyone with my posts by just giving a recap of the day. Instead, it was far more useful to explain how things were done, why we were doing certain things and how others could follow suit.
- Formatting is your friend — There are few things more boring to read than a massive block of text that fills your screen. Break up your posts with headings and lists to guide the eye through your post. Create multiple paragraphs and try not to make them too long so that the flow of reading is easier and posts can be skimmed. Also make sure you do the following…
- Add photos — Great photos can hugely influence the tone and popularity of a blog post. If I’m not able to take a couple of pictures myself to go with a blog post, I start looking online to find something that will work. NEVER just go to Google and grab something that fits from the image search. You are just asking for trouble. Some of my favorite places to get free stock photography are:
- Photo Pin – One of my absolute favorite sites for high-quality stock photos, this website combs through the Creative Commons files on Flickr and assembles photos in an easy to search and use format. You do need to source your photos from them (which is just good practice & spreads the happy blogger karma, even if you got them from a free site) but they give you a simple HTML code to use in your caption field which makes it super simple to use.
- SXC.hu — You’ve got to make sure you look out for the little while circles instead of the black ones by the photos (black means you have to contact the publisher for permission to use it) but there are often some very good stock photos available on this site and I have used many of their photos in the past. You will usually need to save them and resize them, though, as the downloadable images are high-res.
- MorgueFile — The photos here can be a bit more obscure, but from time to time to I find some really great ones.
- Keep it fun — Above all, regardless of what your blog is about, whether you make money from it or how long you’ve been doing it, it’s extremely important that blogging remains fun. While I’d like to say that I think every person should have fun in their jobs and lives, enjoying each moment as much as they can, blogging is often one of those things that people do in their spare time, or in between the real moments of life. When it starts to become a chore or dreaded task that MUST be completed, you need to take a break and possibly even just stop blogging. I would be lying if I said that every day when I sit down to write, it all just comes naturally. Every blogger goes through days, weeks and even months when nothing just seems to come together on the screen. And it’s at that moment that you need to step back and refocus on what is important — and find the fun. Because with out it, not only your blog will suffer, but more importantly — so will you!
- Ask for interaction — One of the best ways to get responses from people is simply to ask questions. Writing controversial posts also gets a lot of reactions — but not necessarily positive ones. 😉 So if you close your posts with questions or invite suggestions, comments, sharing and so on from your readers, you will be more likely to get it. Perhaps it’s a bit of that “the squeaky wheel gets the oil” principle.
Ok bloggers, what do you do to create better blog posts? Did I miss something crucial? Have any insights to contribute? And blog readers, what keeps you coming back to your favorite blogs??0