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Blogging Is About Writing

By Lorelle VanFossen of

When you visit Google, do you click a picture to begin your search? Do you face a screen full of images like in a grocery store self-checkout? Click fruits, then apples, then scroll through pictures of apples before you find the Jonagold Apples you want to buy, and select those?

Of course not.

The web is about words. No matter how visual and audible it becomes, it continues to be about the words.

Blogging is about writing. Many claim that content is king. If content is king, then the army that protects and defends the king is the written word.

Here are some things to think about next time to put your army to work on your blog.

  1. Don’t Just Show, Show and Tell: It’s time to get back to show and tell. Blogs offer amazing ways to present multimedia information, but you still have to tell us about it. You must show and tell in order for your point to be fully understood. Words may not do it alone, but a picture is not worth a thousand words when fed through feeds and search engines. You must have the words.
  2. Keywords, Keywords, Keywords: With the recent public release of the Google Patent for Blog PageRank, your keywords are more important than ever as the algorithm applies multiple content matching, content relevancy, search relevancy, and link-to-content relevancy tests to determine if the keywords match the content. Learn how to write keyword-rich content to increase your page ranking. More importantly, write with keywords to help your reader know exactly what you are writing about.
  3. Write Clickable Titles: The keywords you use in your post titles tell potential visitors what your post is about. If they don’t get it, they won’t click it. If they do click, and the content doesn’t match, they won’t be back.
  4. Make Your Point in the First 200 Words: You have less than a second to capture your reader’s attention. If the user on your site, feed, or search engine summary doesn’t “get the point” in the first two or three sentences, you’ve lost them.
  5. Blog Writing Is About Editing: A great idea does not translate automatically into good writing. It’s the editing that clarifies your writing so the idea comes through. It’s as much about the words you add as the words you take away to increase the post’s clarity and power.
  6. Make Your Words Timeless: Blog writing isn’t like words you throw out into the air and expect them to vanish. The words you fill your blog with tend to last. Make sure the words you use and the things you say are worth reading twenty years from now.
  7. Don’t Waste Words: A powerfully titled article drew me from my feed reader and I was greeted with this first sentence: “I still have to take a shower, and I’m late for work, but I wanted to tell you about this because I think it’s important, so I’ll just rush this off before I jump in the shower and head to work.” Don’t waste words. Don’t tell your readers things they really don’t want to know. Get to the point and stop wasting your time and theirs.
  8. Explain Jargon: We get so caught up in our little world of acronyms and industry jargon, we forget few outside our clubhouse know what we are talking about. Stop once in a while and explain to us what these terms and letters mean. It doesn’t have to be a paragraph, just a few words. Don’t assume we know what you are talking about.
  9. Use Descriptions in Images and Links: Blog writing isn’t limited to just the words. If you aren’t using titles in links and alt in images, you are missing out on a very valuable use of keywords and content building. You are also not in compliance with web standards.
  10. Use Descriptions for Flash, Podcasts, Videocasts, and Screencasts: If you are using any audio or visual multimedia on your blog, help us understand what we are going to see and hear. Convince us to click to play. A picture may speak for itself, but you have to do the writing for it.
  11. Present a Problem, The Solution, and The Results: Don’t present a solution before the reader understands there is a problem. Present the problem, give us the solution, and then lead us through the results and the benefits of the results. When readers follow along with the process, they better understand how it works and why it works for themselves.
  12. Just the Facts, Ma’am: Everyone has an opinion. What makes your opinion different from other opinions is that yours is based upon the facts. Wild accusations, suggestions, and analogies do not build trust and respect. Make your opinions be based upon valid facts and identifiable references and citations. Be prepared to back your word up with the truth.
  13. If You Have 100 Top Priorities, You Have No Priorities At All: If there are 40 topics you want to cover in one blog post, all unrelated, what are you writing about? As a guide, write on three points, all related, and publish that. Want to write about 40 different unrelated topics? Don’t stuff them all into one post. Publish one for each topic.
  14. Originality Will Always Win: Original content will always win over redundant, blockquoting, and echo chamber content. Even if you can’t write well, the attempt to say it in your words is always appreciated and welcome.
  15. Move The Reader Through the Story: A blog post or article has something to say. It begins, has a middle, and ends. Move the reader through the content, as well as into it. Let each word lead to the next word and the next. Make each sentence lead the reader to the next sentence, and each paragraph draws them into the next. They want to “turn the page” and consume the words as they read along. Make them want to scroll down for more.
  16. Blog Paragraphs Are Short: Blog writing lends itself to shorter sentences and paragraphs for easier reading on a web page. Web readers want information fast and in small digestible chunks. Huge bulky paragraphs make reading online very difficult, however single sentence paragraphs can make the reader uncomfortable.
  17. Use Command Verbs to Teach: If you have something to share, a lesson to teach, advice, or guidance, use command verbs to energize your “how to” words. Words, like “make”, “do”, “write”, “take”, and “build” are active instruction verbs. When people are searching, they like to be told “what to do”. Tell them.
  18. No Wishy-Washy Passive Voice: Avoid wishy-washy passive voice instructions like “If you would like to maybe you should think about checking the spelling of your post before you think about publishing it because…” Write with authority, like you know what you are talking about: “Check the spelling before you publish your post.”
  19. Use Nouns and Synonyms: When you are writing about it, you can add some of this to it to help it along. Huh? What’s “it”? If you are going to name something, name “it” what it is. Call it by its name. Use nouns and synonyms to help the reader know what you are writing about and increase the keywords in your content.
  20. Comments Are Content: Make sure comments speak well for your post, your blog, you, and your readers. Edit comments for misspelled words and obvious flubs. Your commenters will appreciate it. Clean out trash and inappropriate comments, and definitely get rid of comment spam.
  21. Visualize Who You Are Writing To: Writing to the “air” is fine for some, but most people need to know “who” they are writing to, and for, in order to begin. Visualize a person or small group and write as if you are talking directly to them. If that’s too formal or uncomfortable, imagine you are writing to a friend.
  22. Clean Up Old Posts: As your blog writing improves, go back over your old posts and clean them up. The fresh perspective will help you edit and improve the content. You might find new life in your old posts and direct more traffic their way.
  23. Write Kinda Like You Talk: It’s important to write in a conversational style because your readers will relate to you, the person behind the blog. Your writing should give the illusion you are speaking directly to the reader without including all of the stutters, “ums”, and “likes” we hear in every day conversation. Don’t write like you have a dictionary or thesaurus sitting next to you. Match the writing style with the content.
  24. Mind Reading Writing: Do you have a friend or co-worker who starts a sentence in the middle of a paragraph? Don’t leave your reader wondering why she is on this page. Make your point early. Make your point obvious. Back it up with the details.
  25. Avoid Screaming: Writing with CAPITALIZED LETTERS INDICATES SCREAMING, so don’t do it for the length of an entire post. Learn the basic rules of capitalization. The beginning of sentences and proper names are capitalized. Just because you Like a Word doesn’t MEAN you have to capitalize Every Important Word. That went out of fashion a couple hundred years ago. and writing all in lower case may look cute for a young girl’s diary or personal blog, but it is old. out of fashion. people think you are a girl under 16. stop it. now.
  26. Punctuate Properly: Use commas, quotes, and apostrophes in line with the grammar rules of your language. In English, there is no space at the end of a sentence before the period or question mark . Learn the difference between “its” and “it’s”, and while you are at it, learn “their”, “there”, and “they’re”, along with “your” and “you’re”. People will condemn writing for less. Don’t give them a chance with careless grammar mistakes.
  27. Blog Writing Isn’t About Smiley Faces: Write emotions, not emoticons. ;-) Too many :D smileys are :\ annoying and :) distracting.
  28. Teach Your Readers: Share with us your thoughts, feelings, experiences, and knowledge. Teach us, oh, great blogger, how to live and function in this crazy world.
  29. Make Me Think: If you make your readers think, you’ve succeeded in interacting with them. If you make them write, you’ve succeeded twice over.
  30. Write With Conviction and Passion: Even if you write badly, if you write with conviction and passion, then we will read you.

There are two ways to hold your reader’s interest. Show them something they’ve never seen before, or show them something in a way they’ve never seen it before.

Blogging that gets noticed and linked to is all about seeing things in a new light. A university advertising professor once told me there are “no new ideas, only new ways of presenting old ideas”. Present information from a unique perspective and writing with a fresh angle and you will attract attention.

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Comments

  1. Simon says:

    Fantastic post you’d expect from Lorelle

    However I don’t agree with number 12, with humorous blogs the funniest article can come from heresay, non factual type sources.

    Rumour on celebrity blogs can also make for fantastic reading.

    So truth and fact aren’t necesssarily paramount for some blogs.

    Great post though :)

  2. Jen says:

    Declan, you’re spot on about the blog-navel-gazing trap — but “cobblers” is surely too strong a word! I must stand up once more in defense of words as fundamental to the Internet’s essence. Okay, there’s the searchability tech thing with images, as Lorelei points out, and surely that’s only a matter of time… Overcoming the human addiction to words may take a lot longer — Just think, Declan, of your 10,000-15,000 photo viewers a day, how many feel a powerful urge to comment or discuss amongst themselves or otherwise react to what they’ve seen on your blogs? And that comes back to words… no?

  3. Andy says:

    Yeh,

    Blogging is quite easy, but its the traffic that you need.

    - – Andy – -
    http://www.allsortgroup.com

  4. Karen says:

    Great article. Thanks a lot.

  5. JennDZ says:

    Really great tips! I love writing which is why I started blogging, and I am amazed and enthralled by how many different writing styles and voices people have out there – I love the individuality!

  6. What would have made this post twice as good (and twice as scandalous) is providing a link to an example for each of her thirty points.

  7. I love your tips. I’ll try to incorporate as much of the reader feedback into our blog entries. They are great sources of blog topics as well as personalization and ‘connection.’

  8. David says:

    Really useful article. That’s obviously taken a lot longer than your average article on the web to write. And it shows.

  9. Hi Lorelle, thanks for your prolific and practical post. It’s heartening to read your emphasis on words and passionate content over techno-wizardry. Sometimes I feel like a ‘me-too’ blogger, 40-plus, living in a Spanish mountain town – media no man’s land. Then reading your points I remember that people are searching for authenticity, honesty, clean good writing with the ring of truth, and I Begin A New Post.

    Keep up the flow of wisdom,

    Regards,
    Arpi Shively

  10. Shawn Blanc says:

    This is an excellent article Lorelle. Thanks for the great read.

  11. 物流 says:

    Great blogpost. It set me thinking about how I write and what is important for a blog.I feel like a ‘me-too’ blogger, 40-plus, living in a Spanish mountain town – media no man’s land. Then reading your points I remember that people are searching for authenticity,

  12. Alfa King says:

    Lorelle, you conquered me. Your straightforward, concise and clear exposé hit right on the target. Yes, now I can understand what a blog should look like. I was under the impression that anyone could write anything in any way. I just started, some three weeks ago, and I hope to keep up with the schedule thanks to your professional advice.

  13. Neeraj says:

    Lorelle its really a great post. Really I have no words about this post may be i am a beginner in blog world but good things are good for every one.

  14. Sonu says:

    Lorelle thanks for the tips. Its a superb post.

  15. Jerlyn says:

    true they are great guidelines

  16. Lorelle,

    Thanks

    helpful and great process

  17. Jeb Blount says:

    These are excellent tips for writing. Well done!

  18. Lorelle,

    If content is king, you are royalty! Your tips are timeless and true, a wonderful benefit for all writers. Thank you.

    Best regards,
    Daniel Sitter

  19. radiohode says:

    Great post. Lots of important points, but I do not agree with #23. When we do have the chance to think for more than a sceond about what we say, why don’t we use that extra time?

  20. Mousetrapper says:

    I love point 23: write just as you talk. Better posts are just one result, but not the only one. It also helps to save time. At least this is my personal experience. If I imagine myself talking to a friend, the first sentence of my post comes immediately. And most times, it is not a bad one.

  21. James says:

    “No Wishy-Washy Passive Voice: Avoid wishy-washy passive voice instructions like “If you would like to maybe you should think about checking the spelling of your post before you think about publishing it because…” Write with authority, like you know what you are talking about: “Check the spelling before you publish your post.””

    I know Tony followed up on this, but I thought I’d add to what he said.

    As atrocious and wishy-washy as that example is, it’s written in the active voice. If it were in the passive voice it would say “The spelling of your post should maybe be checked before you think about publishing it because…”

    It is generally good practice to avoid the passive voice, but this doesn’t illustrate the problem. This example illustrates the lessened impact of unnecessary, apologetic language. The passive voice has a similar effect but for different reasons.

    UNC give good advice on recognising and avoiding the passive voice. This post might be worth an edit, one way or the other, because it’s a little misleading.

  22. I think writing is one of the most healthy activities you can do. Its a good deal harder than it seems. However, to some people it does come easier.

  23. Justin says:

    Wow that is so true and useful. at first I had posted video only on my blog about Dubai. seedubai.blogspot.com
    Thank’s and have a great day to all.
    Justin

  24. Great tips for improving blog writting skill. any blogger should very much carefuk about these fact. As for example You can see tips #25. It’s about caplitaliziation. Ge4neral do the mistake occasionally.

  25. satya says:

    I think web 2.0 is meant to help each others..so blogging about usefull tips will be best for this generation…..especially blogging about tips which u follow and your experiences……forums are blogs are web 2.0 sites.

  26. Great guest post Lorelle.
    I’ve been visiting your WordPress blog as well. I especially agree with item #2. Keywords are so important in getting your pages ranked higher.

  27. Nadia sheikh says:

    Great guest post Lorelle.
    I’ve been visiting your WordPress blog as well. I especially agree with item #2. Keywords are so important in getting your pages ranked higher.

    nadira

  28. Handiarts says:

    It is generally good practice to avoid the passive voice, but this doesn’t illustrate the problem. This example illustrates the lessened impact of unnecessary, apologetic language. The passive voice has a similar effect but for different reasons.

    Iliyas patel

  29. Mahendra says:

    Lorelle its really a great post. Really I have no words about this post may be i am a beginner in blog world but good things are good for every one.

  30. HItendra says:

    Blogging means it is a technique to write something about ourself and about any topic related to our interest.
    Hitendra

  31. Meteko says:

    Blogging need alot of hard work to be put into work. Writing is the tools that a blogger need to be equip with and the wording are the honey that attract the readers to your blog. With sweet content, blogging can be easy! Great post.

  32. Iliyas says:

    I’ve been visiting your WordPress blog as well. I especially agree with item #2. Keywords are so important in getting your pages ranked higher.

  33. Blogging need alot of hard work to be put into work. Writing is the tools that a blogger need to be equip with and the wording are the honey that attract the readers to your blog. With sweet content, blogging can be easy! Great po

  34. Its a technique to show out thinking…
    thanks
    good article.

  35. I think I should start writing my own blog (of course in polish, how can you see my english isn’t very well :P).
    Nice article.
    Thanks and greetings.

  36. zeeshan says:

    I am new to this site, i have find that it is a very goog bolg for me.
    thanks

  37. Posin says:

    Blogging need alot of hard work to be put into work. Writing is the tools that a blogger need to be equip with and the wording.
    http://www.posintech.com/career.php

  38. Smith says:

    It is generally good practice to avoid the passive voice, but this doesn’t illustrate the problem. This example illustrates the lessened impact of unnecessary, apologetic language. The passive voice has a similar effect but for different reasons.

  39. I think this list needs to be spread far and wide.

  40. anderson says:

    My vote for the most important in #14. If your blog is a copy of others you won’t get very far in ranks.

  41. Lenin says:

    Hi there, this is wonderful information indeed. I am an enthusiast writer myself, and have just started my work of promoting the best writing out there. Through my blog, posted here, I am trying to achieve high quality writing. Please visit my blog:

    cute writing: good writing tips

  42. Great posting about blog writing, i find very good information here and good tips of writing techniques.
    thanks..
    http://www.lesbtogether.com

  43. Vijay says:

    Lorelle, your tips on writing effective blogs made my day. Your blog is a good illustration of preach and practice.
    I untiringly read the whole article. All these tips on keywords help as well, while people are searching on a subject through the popular search engines, along with that the title tags are also important.
    I hit your blog through the most popular blog search engine.
    Is guerilla marketing a good ethical practice? What would be the best way to use blogs as a stealth marketing ploy if is not too harmful?
    Also do let me know if I can be of any help in doing data entry or basic writing, so that you can concentrate on writing more blogs which would be of help to others!

  44. My vote for the most important in #14.

    thanks

  45. larryedit says:

    I don’t have anything new to add, Lorelle, so I feel guilty about just saying, “Here, here!” But there it is.

    I clicked over to this article from cameraontheroad.com. I’m very glad I did! Well done.

  46. Norhafidz says:

    Another great post Darren, I agree with #30, totally agree :)

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Lorelle VanFossen is guest blogging on Problogger, stating, Blogging is about writing. Many claim that content is king. If content is king, then the army that protects and defends the king is the written word. [...]

  2. [...] Lorelle VanFossen has written a huge post over on Darren’s Problogger. It covers the fact that blogging is about writing. Lorelle gives thirty suggestions on how to work your writing to create a better blog. [...]

  3. [...] Lorelle VanFossen has written an excellent guest article at ProBlogger in which she claims Blogging is about Writing. [...]

  4. [...]   Blogging Is About Writing  [ProBlogger] [...]

  5. [...] Apparently, blogging is writing and writing is about words. I learn something every day. [...]

  6. [...] A while ago, while I was reading an article by Lorelle Vanfossen at Darren Rowse blog I found a Google advertisement with huge words saying ‘Make Darren Rowse Money’ directing to John Chow’s own blog. That’s really a good phishing strategy huh! I like John Chow’s style, I was thinking what keyword did he use on his adwords…Darren Rowse maybe? [...]

  7. [...] Write better blog posts @ problogger.net [...]

  8. [...] The point is to keep your blog interesting also following a great deal of rules. I found this article really straightforward. [...]

  9. [...] 链接 | 来源 Tag: Tech Industry News [...]

  10. [...] Para o Problogger, as palavras são imprescindíveis. [...]

  11. [...] Lorelle VanFossen of Lorelle on WordPress travels over to ProBlogger to remind us all what may be so obvious it’s been lost – the internets, she is all about the words and the writing of the words. She then kindly helps us get better at both to improve our blogging by offering up 30 tips to think about. You should go read them and implement those tips immediately. (Like how I used #17 right there?) [...]

  12. [...] I found this article by Lorelle VanFossen on Digg a while ago, about blogging being about writing. I couldn’t agree more, although blogging and creative writing have different goals and different means of getting to those goals. As I read through her 30-item list, a good number of them called out to me, having been victim/champion of those items previously. [...]

  13. [...] 30 Tips Every Blogger Should Know Lorelle Van Fossen from Lorelle on WordPress has a fantastic guest article at Problogger on 30 writing tips that every blogger should know. Basically, the article goes through 30 tips that apply to writing in general but apply especially to bloggers. I don’t follow all of these tips as many of my posts are written and edited in one session (which you should never, ever do) due to time constraints. Today, I wanted to focus on a couple of her tips. [...]

  14. [...] And finally, Lorelle VanFossen of Lorelle on WordPress has written, in my opinion, the definitive guide to what makes or breaks a blog – The Writing. She has posted a great article on ProBlogger with 30 things to think about before you sit down and write. This is a must read for any blogger. [...]

  15. [...] 호주의 problogger라는 사이트에 올라온 글이다. 외국뿐만 아니라 국내 블로거들도 참고하면 좋을 것 같다. 블로그를 하면서 가장 중요한 것은 역시 내용이지만 그 내용 중에서도 바로 글이다. 사진만 있거나, 동영상만 있거나, 음악만 있다고 좋은 콘텐츠가 되지 못한다..바로 좋은 글을 올려야 한다는 것이다. 그러나 좋은 글을 쓴다는 것이 얼마나 어려운지 모두 경험하였을 것이다. 그런 분들은 이런 가이드라인을 참고하기 바란다. [...]

  16. [...] How do you write a popular post? Well, that takes good writing, timely content, and a unique perspective on an issue. It takes keyword-rich content easily found by searchers looking for topical information to help them solve a problem, find an answer, or just to know how. [...]

  17. [...] Lorelle wrote an article for ProBlogger on the fact that the web is word based. When you’re online, you are reading. Which is why it is important to write well on your blog. My favorite point from the article was #7: “Don’t Waste Words A powerfully titled article drew me from my feed reader and I was greeted with this first sentence: “I still have to take a shower, and I’m late for work, but I wanted to tell you about this because I think it’s important, so I’ll just rush this off before I jump in the shower and head to work.” Don’t waste words. Don’t tell your readers things they really don’t want to know. Get to the point and stop wasting your time and theirs. [...]

  18. [...] Guest Blogging on Problogger: My second guest article on Problogger was Blogging Is About Writing, and appears to be a resounding success. It was dugg by Digg and has over 80 comments and, according to Technorati, 63 sites linked to the article, and Google shows 42. I checked because I wanted to leave thank you notes on the appropriate linking blogs. Wow. [...]

  19. [...] Yes, I know, I use smileys and frowns very often and promiscuously, BITE ME BITCHES [...]

  20. [...] Something many visual artists forget is that in the end the web is about the written word. Lorelle VanFossen points this out in Blogging Is About Writing and proceeds to offer 30 points to consider as you write. The web is about words. No matter how visual and audible it becomes, it continues to be about the words. Blogging is about writing. Many claim that content is king. If content is king, then the army that protects and defends the king is the written word. blogging writing [...]

  21. [...] These days, my blog is an integral part of my website. I enjoy the ritual and discipline of writing regular posts. As highlighted in this excellent article by Lorelle Van Fossen: [...]

  22. [...] Guest Blogging: Recent guest blogging events included two on Problogger, Blogging Is About Writing and Blog Translations: The Next Web Frontier, and Your Writing Persona: Who Are You? on Writing Great Ezines & Blogs from Patsi Krakoff, continuing to attract a lot of attention. [...]

  23. [...] and the best bloggers generate lively discussion with every post and frequently comment on and write for other [...]

  24. [...] Blogging is about writing (Darren Rowse) [...]

  25. On Writing…

    Results of my research into writing a good blog entry. Evaluation of two articles from problogger.net and my thoughts on writing….

  26. [...] write for many blogs, ezines, websites, and print publications. Recent guest blog posts included Blogging Is About Writing and Blog Translations: The Next Web Frontier on Darren Rowse’s Problogger, and Your Writing [...]

  27. [...] This post has a great list of twelve tips to help you write content that will really draw people in, for example “Make Your Point in the First 200 Words”. [...]

  28. [...] do the pros weigh in on the use of emoticons? Darren Rowse’s stated opinion is: Blog Writing Isn’t About Smiley Faces: Write emotions, not emoticons. Too many smileys are [...]

  29. [...] asks bloggers the question “To Emoticon or not to Emoticon“. I like the quote from Lorelle On WordPress: “Write emotions, not emoticons”. Posted Under: Distractions Tags: BLOGGING, [...]

  30. [...] I blogged about blog writing for Problogger, I had a lot of requests for more articles on writing and blog writing. Luckily, my blog features a [...]

  31. [...] Blogging is About Writing [...]

  32. [...] block of text with multiple ideas, quickly proving to readers that they don’t understand how blog writing works. The content was not well thought out, with ideas started but not completed. While the article [...]