Blogging comes naturally to me. I kept a Lisa Frank diary when I was a little girl, and had a LiveJournal as a teen before moving to the world of professional blogging. I do recognize that blogging isn’t an easy task for everyone, though. And okay, I’ll admit it: sometimes I stare at the computer screen and wonder what to write.
Which isn’t quite as bad as those moments when I stare at a post I’ve already published and wonder why I thought it was worth publishing. Hey, it happens to the best writers!
Today, I wanted to go over a few basic writing tips that I’ve learned over the years. These tips can help you improve your blogging skills, but remember: the very best way to improve is to actually start writing. Practice, practice, practice, and you’ll be better at anything!
Without further ado, here are my best basic writing tips.
1. Be ready to write whenever the mood strikes you.
As I’m writing this post, it is 1:30 AM, and I need to be up in *number of hours redacted because it is way too depressing* since I have family coming into town tomorrow for a long weekend visit. As much as I need sleep right now, however, I couldn’t stop tossing around this idea for a blog post. And so, I’m sitting at my computer, typing away, and jealously listening to my boyfriend snore.
Even if you don’t go as far as getting out of bed to blog (hey…I don’t have a problem…I can stop at any time…), at least keep a notepad or a phone with a notepad app or a Lisa Frank diary by your bed and with you when you travel. I saw a great quote once: The greatest lie we ever tell ourselves is that we’ll remember something for later. Jot down the basic outline so you can go back and write it later.
Similarly, when you aren’t feelin’ it, step away from the computer screen. If you force a post out of yourself, it won’t be your best work. It’s always better to publish fewer high-quality posts than more mediocre posts.
2. Outline your thoughts before you start writing.
Any writing task won’t seem quite so gargantuan if you break it down into smaller chunks. I like to use this template for an outline:
- Opening paragraph with thesis
- Supporting point
- Supporting point
- Supporting point
- Wrap up
So, let’s say that I was writing about the best way to treat hairballs in cats. I might outline it like this:
- Why hairballs suck – and how to fix
- Story about my cat’s problem with hairballs
- DIY solution
- Why DIY is better than medication
- What to do if DIY solution doesn’t work
- Call to action to buy my book about cats
Then, I would write a paragraph or two about each. If I asked you to write a 900-word post about cat hairballs, you would probably groan, even if you happen to love talking about cat health. But if you write just 150 words in each of the above sections, you’ll hit your 900 words easily. Eat every elephant one bite at a time.
3. Speak your posts.
My boyfriend is not a writer, and whenever he wants to send out a professional email, he asks to advice to make sure it sounds okay. I always say to him, “Well, tell me what you’re trying to say.”
He can’t write the email, but he can speak it to me.
If you find writing to be a total road blog for you, dictate your blog posts. You can invest in software that will transcribe your spoken posts, or you can send audio files to a VA for manual transcription. Either way, you’ll likely have to do some tweaking to the final project, but this can help you get away from the mental challenge of writing.
4. Write your title first.
I find that new bloggers tend to jump around a lot in their posts. Sometimes it works, but more often it does not. By writing your title first, you know the true goal of the article, and you can make sure every sentence you write relates back to this topic. For example, this post is about basic writing tips to help you start blogging, as I’ve mentioned in the title. I’ve already scrapped a few sections that were more about starting a blog (but not writing) and more about writing (but not about blogging). I’ve also deleted some sections that were a little too advanced to be called basic.
As you write, always keep you title in mind. Be brutal with the red pen to ensure that your posts have a clear topic and point of view. Remember, you don’t have to create comprehensive posts about broad topics. Focus on sharing a single thought with the reader, relating back to your title.
5. Keep your paragraphs short.
Long paragraphs – ugh. This is one of the biggest mistakes I see new bloggers making.
Each paragraph you write should only cover one idea. If you are covering several ideas in a single paragraph, you need to split into two paragraphs, even if that means your paragraphs are very short. It’s better to have shorter paragraphs than longer paragraphs. Remember, writing for the web is not like writing for print sources. If you’re still abiding by the writing rules you learned in college, it’s time to update your style.
In addition to short paragraphs, make sure your blog posts are visually appealing by adding images, bullet points, headings, and other “breaks” in the text. This makes the post more easily scanned, and because it looks less intimidating, more people will stop to read it.
Okay, what are you waiting for? Stop reading and go start blogging!