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Why Great Writers Win Out in the Blogosphere—And How to Join Them

This guest post is by Ali Luke of Writers’ Huddle.

Is your writing holding you back?

If new visitors never stick around, if you rarely get retweets, or if there’s tumbleweed blowing through your comments section, this might not be because you’re getting anything wrong in terms of promotion.

There’s a chance that your writing isn’t quite up to the high standard required for blogging success.

Of course, the ability to write isn’t the only skill you’ll need as a blogger—but it’s a crucial one, and perhaps even more important than being able to market your blog well, or handle the technical side of things.

Here’s why.

Text is still dominant online

Podcasts and video blogs are great ways to get your message out there—especially if you know you come across well when you’re speaking, but you struggle to put your thoughts in writing.

However, text certainly isn’t dead:

  • Text is much faster to consume than audio or video. A post that takes five minutes to read might take fifteen minutes or more to listen to on audio. This means that many people still prefer to get information through text.
  • Text downloads much faster than audio or video files. For people on slow connections, or on phones or tablets with limited data plans, this is a huge benefit.
  • Ebooks are a huge growth industry, and that’s only going to continue. Even if you’re not writing ebooks yet, you might well do so in the future. (For instance, you might want to bring out your blog posts as a cheap Kindle ebook.)

And, of course, writing is an easy way to get started online. You don’t need any specialist equipment to write, whereas the cost of a good audio or video setup might put you off, especially if you’re a new blogger.

Simply choosing text as a medium, of course, isn’t enough. Your writing needs to be good too—after all, there are plenty of other blogs and websites that readers can turn to.

Readers want to enjoy your posts

What should a blog post do? Some bloggers think it should give information, or report on breaking news. Both of those are great starts, but if you want readers to stick around, your post should also be enjoyable.

That doesn’t mean you need to pack in jokes, or write in a literary, highbrow way so that people marvel over every word.

It does mean you need to write in a clear, accessible way so that readers aren’t left struggling to understand your message.

It also means you’ll want to put in some personality, rather than making your post sound like an essay for school.

What great writing means for bloggers

Perhaps you’re realizing just how important good writing is … but you’re concerned that this isn’t your key strength.

There’s a good chance that you’re already further along the road to being a great writer than you think.

Great writing is about every aspect of the blogging process:

  • structuring a post with a strong beginning, middle, and end
  • crafting an attention-grabbing title and a gripping introduction
  • writing in a clear, easy-to-understand, and friendly way
  • using subheadings effectively, to act as “signposts” to help the reader
  • rounding off the post with an effective call to action.

That might seem like a daunting list, but the good news is that these are all things you can learn, if you’re not already working on them.

Seven tips to put into action this week

Whether you’re already a good writer and you want to go that bit further, or you’re a brand new blogger with very little writing experience, these tips will help.

Each should take you about 10 minutes to put into action, so try one every day this week, and see how your writing improves.

Tip #1: Plan your next post

If you don’t plan your posts before you begin, get into the habit of doing so. You’ll improve the structure of your posts, and you’ll find it easier to write them.

Tip #2: Read your post out loud

One of the best ways to spot typos, spelling mistakes, and clumsy sentences is to read your post out loud. This forces you to slow down and hear the rhythm of your words.

Tip #3: Change “I” to “you”

Does your post include a lot of your personal experience? Try switching things around so that you’re focusing on the reader instead (at least most of the time). Imagine you’re writing to one, single person.

Tip #4: Craft a great title

Your title is the most important part of your post: if it’s weak or confusing, the rest of the post won’t get read. Can you make it more compelling? (Try looking at post titles on ProBlogger or Copyblogger for inspiration.)

Tip #5: Write a call to action

A call to action tells the reader to do something. It normally comes at the end of your post, though it doesn’t have to. You could ask them to comment, ask them to subscribe, or ask them to check out your new product or service.

Tip #6: Analyze another blogger’s post

Find a post that was a good, enjoyable read, and print it out. Go through it slowly and figure out how it works. How is it structured? What hooks keep you reading? What’s the writing style like?

Tip #7: Choose three areas to work on

You might be aware of some weak spots in your writing. Perhaps you struggle with titles, or you often muddle up words like your and you’re. Choose three areas to work on, and plan to tackle at least one of these next week.

I’ve worked with dozens of bloggers over the past couple of years, and I’ve found that everyone can improve, whatever stage they start at. You can too.

Best of luck with your writing and blogging! If you’ve got a great writing tip to add (or a question to ask), just leave a comment below.

Ali Luke runs Writers’ Huddle, a community/teaching site for bloggers and writers. This fall, she’s offering her popular Blog On course for Huddle members: 10 weeks of step-by-step teaching to help you write great posts and pages for your blog. You can find out more out Writers’ Huddle here. (Move fast, as membership closes on 12th October.)

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Comments

  1. Write to you’s. Your audience grows fast.

    Love the tips Ali! If you simply address your audience you will have more of an audience to address.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Ryan

  2. Ti Roberts says:

    You give some really great tips here. Writing is the one thing that I feel I’m really great at. Even in school I always got A’s on my papers. Writing for a blog is certainly different than writing essays, not too mention how much more fun it is, lol.

    What I love the most about blogging is the freedom to be myself and the ability to write about whatever I want, in whatever style I want. I would say that providing world class content and infusing personality into your posts is really the key to blogging popularity.

    I’ve just recently started to “let loose” on my blog and really let my true personality shine through and the response has been amazing. I’m having a blast blogging now and I’m extremely excited to see where it’ll take me.

    Thanks again for sharing your tips with us, it’s much appreciated!

    Ti

    • Ali Luke says:

      Thanks, Ti! And congrats to you on your great grades in school — though I agree that blog posts are a lot more fun than essays. :-)

      I think the freedom of blogging is a huge attraction for so many of us writers … no agents, no editors, no publishers, no teachers, no one to approve / reject our work.

      It’s great to hear how well your blogging is going — I think one of the big benefits of blogging for me, as a writer, was that it helped me find my voice, and it sounds like that’s been the case for you too. :-)

  3. LA says:

    Thank you for a post that has helped me with my writers block that I am suffering with today after the first time in 6 months – I don’t know why this helped me, but it did.

    Thank you ;)

    • Ali Luke says:

      Thanks LA — I’m so glad this helped. I sometimes find that reading about writing (or even just reading anything) can help me on a bad writing day.

  4. Mi Muba says:

    Most importantly you should write with the heart not with the keyboard (don’t take it literally), your post must reflect a sense of proximity as if your each reader is sitting in front of you and you are feeling his or her occasional grunts after each sentence of your post.
    Nice post and nice tips dude, well done

    • Ali Luke says:

      Thanks Mi, and that’s a wonderful point about writing with your heart. Yes, imagining the reader sitting there in front of you can be a great way to get the right tone into your writing. :-)

  5. Herman says:

    This is a brilliant post Ali, I have taken a printout of these seven action steps and i am going to follow it Thanks

  6. Kylex says:

    Nothing new, except a tweak over the title. Still, Great post, Ali.
    I’ve myself seen a lot of readers asking for a Transcript over the video and audio podcasts.

  7. Nick says:

    These are some great tips, Ali. I will be using them in my future articles!

  8. This is great advice. It may seem overwhelming to beginning writers, but the more you practice these kinds of tips, you’ll find yourself doing these things naturally. But focusing on a few things at a time, as you’ve stated, Ali, is a great tip for beginners.

    • Ali Luke says:

      Thanks, Sarah. I absolutely agree that all of this gets easier with practice — and indeed, becomes second nature.

  9. Shelby Roth says:

    You are a great inspire Ali. I just got what I needed and I’m thankful for that! Writing is for real one thing that I feel being attracted and great at; it really gives me a break-through on what is next and I like that. Keep up the great job! thanks for encouraging and inspiring me once again!

  10. I love the seven action tips above Ali; really encouraging and helpful. You really hit the nail on the head! I actually had no idea about winning out in Blogosphere and it sounds quite a good idea to ma, I look forward into applying the same! Thank you Ali!

  11. The tips are nice Ali. They are a combination of creativity and consistency. I like the fact that they are targeting the reader.

  12. Reed Nixon says:

    I love the tips, @ Ali. Nice post.

  13. Carl says:

    Personally I find it best to post at regular intervals, unfortunately procrastination isnt an Olympic Sport yet and I sometimes lack the time/discipline or motivation to compose an interesting blog post, its especially difficult to write blog posts about somewhat dull topics

    • Ali Luke says:

      This might seem a silly question, but can you pick more interesting topics? :-) If your niche does involve some quite dry subjects, can you look for ways to make them more exciting to write about (maybe with a clever analogy, or some funny images…) If you’re bored writing it, you risk the reader being bored as they read it.

  14. Kenny Fabre says:

    Ali

    I think the whole thing here is there is a big need for information o a whole different variety of markets on the internet. That is the biggest advantage that we have.

    • Ali Luke says:

      Information is definitely very important, but the way in which we present that information also matters. You could have some good information in a poorly-written post … but it’s unlikely to get shared so much as good information in a well-written post.

  15. Paul Sisco says:

    I am striving to become a better writer, and articles like this one are just what I need. Finding that line between being terse and rambling is difficult sometimes. I’m working on planning ahead, because I think that’s the biggest bang for the buck for me right now. Thank you!

  16. Richard says:

    OMG. They were such nice tips. I really liked he tip where you said to convert all the I’s to You’s. I guess I need to revisit my blog again.

  17. Brandon Yawa says:

    Bad writing on the internet is like going to a job interview with food stains on your resume. However, I’m not the under the impression people cannot write. Instead, most people have forgotten how to transform topics they are genuinely passionate about into “text”.

    In wanting to sound so “cool” we lose sight of who we are. And in that losing of sight, we lose the very passion that would make our post special. Passion is the invisible spark that lights a sentence, a paragraph, a blog into a fire that burns inside the reader.

    Each sentence you write does not need to be cool, but the post should create a burning urge in your reader, and you do that by being yourself. You are already special; there is no need to add anything more. If you truly believe that, then your writing will reflect it. Stop over compensating.

    Brandon Yawa DOT Com, over and out

  18. Tom says:

    Of these the two tips which I will start using from now on are to read the post out loud and to change “I” to “you”. Great, great ideas. Thank you!

  19. John says:

    Awesome post.

    I’m new to blogging and welcome your tips. I have spent much time searching for suggestions, techniques and how to approach the subject matter. Woo hoo! Found it, tiip 2 is one that I am very familiar with and have put in practice long ago.

    Like Herman, I have also printed the seven action steps and will use them as my guide.

    Thank you Ali. ;-)