Blogging 101

You’re thinking of starting a blog…awesome!

You’ve started but it feels like you’ve hit a roadblock and you’re wondering what to do…glad you asked.

I’m going to throw down some ideas for you to consider before you start and come back to if you’re ever stuck again.  These are mainly for written blogs, but might be applied to more visual blogs like interior design blogs, photo blogs, or cooking blogs.

As a side note…don’t try to use these all at once.  It’ll be a train wreck.  I use a few for each blog, but never all.  Also, these are more guidelines than hard fast rules. (reference 2)

know your audience…As you’re writing, keep your target audience in mind.  Who are you writing to?  And don’t cop-out and say everyone.  Posts that try to address everyone risk the problem of being way too long, and shallow. Go back to my first two sentences and tell me who you think my audience is.

stay focused…If you don’t, your writing will wander and you’ll lose people.  You’ll be writing a masterpiece.  They’ll be reading, “blah, blah, blah…”  If you just can’t get away from all the topics you’re shot-gunning readers with, consider writing a series of posts.  This cool cat I know named Ryan Day does that well.

there is a reason “blog” is short for “weblog”…We live in an age where webpage load times better not last more than 3 seconds, people better have their burger in 30 seconds, and we try to figure out ways to shorten short expressions even shorter – Wha?  The average blog reader stays on a blog post for 96 seconds.  Most readers want to be in and out quickly, as they say.  That is why I keep my posts at or below 500 words (except maybe this one).  If your blog is spread over more than one web page or you have to scroll down 30 feet, don’t expect your post to be read thoroughly.  This guy Seth Godin is a genius at making few words mean much!

  • To give you a rough idea, this post is twice as long as a normal post of 500 words.  Too much!

chunk your ideas…Break up your ideas into smaller paragraphs of 3-5 sentences.  It helps keep the reader’s attention.  How do you eat a large meal?  In small bites.  Breaking up ideas into bullets in groups of 3s works well for me – like in my post “Boxes“.  Bolding important sentences helps to make them stand out.  By the way, the paragraph above this one was way too long – point proven.

credibility…There is so much information and misinformation out there and people want info from a credible source.  If you’re a known expert, great!  If not, try to include links to research conducted, a quote by a famous person, pieces of reliable texts.  Credibility helps readers to accept your argument.

yes, you’re writing an argument…Recognize this fact.  “Argument” is not a bad word.  You are trying to prove a point, show someone your perspective, or get them out of their funk.  Avoid passive sentences if possible.  They weaken your argument because they’re…well, passive and make the reader work harder to understand your sentences.

consider your reader’s counter-arguments…News flash!  Some readers may not agree with you, at least not at first.  They have their own perspectives on what you’re writing about.  Have enough foresight to consider counter-arguments ahead of time and answer them in your posts.  If you can do this well, you will be perceived as thoughtful and not just some guy ranting.  Weakening counter-arguments is a strategy to strengthen your argument.  Just don’t try too hard.

if u cnat spel then git sum 1 who kan…You can imagine how much that just blew up spell checker…not trying to make fun, but wasn’t that annoying?  You’re readers will think so too and you will become less credible.  If you don’t know the difference between there, their, and they’re, then get someone who does to proofread your stuff or at least use spelling/grammar check!

write a picture for your reader…I did that in the opening few paragraphs of my post called “Personal Foul!“.  Instead of just describing something, write vividly.  Take the reader through a journey.  It makes your writing less clinical.  People won’t get bored.  Unless, of course, you’re writing a scholarly journal…in which case I would feel so sorry for you!

give a picture…Not good at writing pictures, then give one.  I almost always include a picture.  Use a picture in your post that best conveys the feeling you want your readers to get.  That’s right.  You want to connect with how they feel.  People will readily tend to remember what they see when they read something.

  • people retain 10% of what they read (reference 1)
  • people retain 30% of what they see (reference 1)

go from simple to complex ideas…It’s just logical and easier to swallow.

be positive…No one likes a Negative Nancy.  Negativity ends up costing you readers.

keep your blog design simple…I choose simple page designs that let my picture and content pop!  Check out the designs of some of your favorite blogs.  Also, beware of page designs that are too narrow in the text body.  Even short posts “look & feel” too long with these designs.

write, write, write…Every post won’t be a master piece, but every post will make you a better writer!  I’ll let you guess why I’m writing this post now!  lol

1) write, 2) cut, 3) cut some more…Seriously.  I can’t stress how much a turn off long blogs can be.  If I’m guessing right, you’re already starting to get bored with this one.  Again…point proven.

read, read, read…Similar to write, write, write.  Great songwriters listen to tons of music.  Great writers read lots of content.

when frustrated, save and come back to it later…Even if it’s the next day.  Your mind takes time to reprocess things and you’ll get a fresh look and new ideas for your post.

when you’re ready to publish, wait for someone to proof read it…Don’t use your mom.  She will always tell you that you are the greatest writer on the face of the planet.  You want someone who will look at it objectively from their perspective and isn’t afraid to tell you how it is.  Don’t get offended at their suggestions, you asked for their help.  And thank them when they do help you!  (Incidentally, I didn’t get this proof read since I’m pumping this post out as a quick exercise! lol)

Go on get out of here and start blogging. Have fun!!!!!!

references:

  1. Creative Training Techniques Handbook, Ch 4: Visual Aids, Pike
  2. A couple of English classes I took recently and my higher than normal intelligence…just kidding about the intelligence.  But seriously…
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