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23 Top Tips to Make Your Blog Posts More Conversational

This guest post is by Marya Jan of Writing Happiness.

Let’s face it; most blog posts that are currently being put out are simply b-o-r-i-n-g.

Dull. Unexciting. A big fail when it comes to keeping our attention.

The blogger is writing about a worthwhile topic no doubt, but the writing does nothing for the reader. It fails to engage, or draw you in. Even when you are supposed to be paying attention, you really aren’t. You keep on thinking about what else is out there. Your mind is wandering.

The writer is unable to form a connection and you end up clicking away. Hardly surprising, is it?

A tiny number of people are getting it right, though. They open their posts with a bang. They are spot on with their calls to action. Before you know it, you have read every single word and you wonder what happened to logging off for the day.

People like Jon Morrow, and Sonia Simone, and Darren himself. They are masters of engagement. They are talking directly to you. Only you.

How on earth do they do it? How do they make you stay put even though your pots are boiling over and your kids are screaming for dinner? Turns out they have quite a few tricks up their sleeves.

Let’s take a look, shall we?

Write like you talk—only better

You have probably heard this advice before, but we will take it up a notch here. Dig a little deeper. What does exactly it mean to write like you talk?

1. The most important word in blogging is “you”

Address you audience. Imagine you are sitting across the table from a really close friend, and write your post for them. You are allowed ask rhetorical questions, but cut down on ums and ahs. It makes for poor talking and appalling writing.

2. Mirror their responses

Say things like, “so you feel like nobody’s paying attention …” or “I know crafting effective calls to action can be really hard.”

What have your readers been telling you? Use some of their language to reflect that you are paying attention.

3. Use contractions

Some people hardly ever use any. They stay proper, but that’s not how you talk to a friend. Use don’t, isn’t, it’s. Make it less stilted. Make it flow better and sound like human speech.

4. Be bold with exclamatory phrases

By this, I mean things like “Oh no!” and “Holy cow!”

Psst! Watch some reality TV or reporting shows. See how they keep you glued to the set with exclamations.

5. Ignore your high school English teacher—within reason

Your old English teacher was right when she told you to choose the right word, make it vivid and interesting and add adjectives to your prose.

This is not something you should mess with. You can, however, get away with breaking some rules of grammar. You just need to know which.

5. Use fragments

Like this one. Believe it or not, it is fine to use them even if you are not actually saying them out loud.

6. Start your sentences with a conjunction

But that is not grammatically correct, you say. Well, this is one of those rules.

7. Stay away from adverbs

On most occasions that add nothing to your writing. Most of them are redundant like scream loudly, sigh sadly. Use sparingly.

8. Don’t be afraid to use a bit of slang, but don’t go overboard

Dig?

9. Use exclamation points when necessary

Cut back on the usage though. Dramatically.

10. Write at an eighth-grade reading level

Reader’s Digest does it. So can you. Keep it simple.

11. Avoid being formal

Instead of saying however, moreover, or furthermore, say but, so, or then. We are aiming for conversational here. Get a dialogue going.

12. Avoid jargon

Corporate lingo, marketing speak, gobbledygook. Call it what you want, if it is unintelligible, it has no business being there.

13. Use short words

Leave the thesaurus alone. Stephen King suggests picking the first word that comes to mind (in most cases). That’s gold.

14. Don’t be wordy

Notice how eyes begin to glaze over when it happens in face-to-face conversations?

Same is the case in the virtual world. Keep it tight; nobody likes people who ramble.

15. Don’t use the passive voice

Consider these options:

  • A decision was made vs. I decided.
  • Your email has been received vs. we have received your email.
  • Your response is appreciated vs. we appreciate your response.

Which sounds better? You decide (or, it has to be decided by you)!

16. Avoid monologue (keep paragraphs short)

You are not really having a conversation, we get it, but does it have to come across like a lecture? Keep your paragraphs short. Talk to readers, not at them. Don’t preach.

17. Forget about being politically correct

“He or she” is fine. Nobody will say anything, I promise.

18. Show off your personality

Pretend you are writing an email to a close friend. What’s different about this writing? It’s more authentic, more genuine, more you.

19. Don’t use words that you won’t use while talking

Is it something you’d say to somebody’s face? If not, it might be a good idea to skip it.

20. Use phrases that only you would use

Put your unique stamp on all your writing.

21. Ask hard-to-answer questions

Exercise tough love. Make their brains hurt!

22.  Watch your tone

Snarky, inspirational, flippant, self-deprecating, tough … how do you want to come across? Carry it throughout your piece. Be consistent.

23. Take a stand

Say what you mean. What’s the point otherwise?

You are writing for the most important person there is—your reader. Do you want to be clever or engaging? The choice is yours.

Marya Jan is a blogging coach for solopreneurs, small business owners and start-ups. Find more of her stuff at Writing Happiness. Don’t forget to grab her free ebook ‘9 NEW RULES OF BLOGGING – How to Grow Your Business with Little traffic, No connections & Limited hours’.

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Comments

  1. Wonderful post. I am tweeting it now.

    (One small error. In #6, I think you meant “contraction,” rather than “preposition,” correct?)

    • Hi Michael,

      You are right about the mistake. However, it should be a ‘conjunction’. Is that what you meant? ;)

      (My 9 year old just confirmed it!)

      If this was a tweet, I’d favourite it for sure! Many thanks for sharing. LOVE your blog.

  2. Mindy W. says:

    Great suggestions! I struggle with finding my voice on my blog. I’m actually a very funny person but my blog sounds like I’m an old school marm… ::sigh::. I guess it’s the “good student” in me that makes it so hard to write conversationally instead of properly.

    Thanks for sharing this. It was perfect timing :)

  3. Michaela says:

    I really enjoyed reading these tips and thinking of how I can add them to my writing. Reinforcement has been key in improving my writing and blog posts. I’ve noticed that the more comfortable I become with my audience, the better I write and the more the post sounds like a conversation.

    I’ve also noticed that less is best when it comes to writing. Allow the readers to fill in some blanks, and you’ll keep them more engaged.

    Thanks!!

  4. Helpful. I need to work on a few of these tips, like if I wouldn’t say it aloud, don’t write it. Thanks for the advice=)

  5. Good stuff. I don’t totally disagree about writing at an 8th grade level, but I think it boils down to writing to your audience. Good copywriting follows a lot of the suggestions you’ve listed here, and some people think that good blogging should reflect a good conversational copywriting style. I’m especially taking note of 11 and 18…

    • Writing at an eight grade level is what the folks over at Readers Digest do. This is one should do if you want to appeal to a wide audience. Of course it would be different when writing for a highly specialized (high register) audience such as the one reading Harvard Business Review. That’s all I am saying. :) Thanks for your comment Michael. :)

  6. John says:

    Hey,
    Excellent post. I think that if you write quality blog posts then people keep on commenting on your posts and if the post is good then you can get quality comments, In this way you can reply to them !
    Most of the times the comment increase content on your posts. :)
    Thank you

  7. Rahul says:

    very nice post these tips very helpful for us that make our post very good and get more attraction to others thanks for sharing..

  8. Eric says:

    This is hard for me to take. Because everywhere else I have read states very clearly not to write like you talk. I believe your dead wrong on this matter! While you do share some nice points that I can apprecaite. When it comes to stating that you should write like you talk though I would have to argue with that statement.

    Thanks for post,

    Eric

    P.S. I think the last point is the best and that’s what I am standing by!

  9. Jatin Sharma says:

    Good Tips. A must to make your blog post stand out from others. As today there are thousands of post published on the same topic.

    Thanks for the share.

  10. Hi,

    I absolutely agree with all of the points mentioned in the post. Addressing your audience & writing in a manner as you speak is something I follow from my heart. And it’s pays me well.

    Keep posting such awesome content.

  11. Angie says:

    I love this post! Thank you for the reminders. I definitely have some things to improve upon.

  12. Eric says:

    This is a very interested post. While, I may not fully agree with everything that is written I can appreciate several of the tips that you do have to offer. I feel like taking a stand is a very important point. No matter what take a stand and stick to it, but don’t be afraid to continue to learn and grow from others as well.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Eric

  13. you blog and you engage your visitors is something like creating “what next” kind of interest and this is not an easy task what to say more of it. Blogging relates with creativity and your imagination as you present your favourite topic in front of wide audience. remember they are there to gain something out of your blog and whatever is presented should add value to them otherwise bouncing off is the best option available to them. great article thanks…

  14. Ocha says:

    Dang! These are some good points. But I sometimes forget to write this way. Oh well. Maybe next time. Cool.

  15. Marya,

    There aren’t very many newsletters from bloggers who blog about blogging that I’ve subscribed to because they can get spammy and there’s only so much blogging-knowledge that I can take in and remain sane. Problogger is one of the few that I have chosen to read, and I just added your site to the list too (and “Liked” your Facebook page)!

    Thank you for such a great article and I look forward to reading more from you!

    • Rachel, I do write about blogging but there is a lot of personal development stuff on my blog that goes with it. This is why I think it is different to all blogging blogs. I like to look at the whole picture. Why you blog? What is your motivation? What is stopping you from success? What success means to you and so on … Thanks so much for subscribing. I look forward to connecting with you.

      Have a great day! :)
      Marya

  16. Ehsan Ullah says:

    Nice reading Maria, The interesting thing is that these tips can be applied to every niche.

  17. Delia says:

    Love these tips, starting right off the bat with #1: In fact one of the things I’ve been doing is to give a read of older blog posts after a few days and see places where “I” can be easily replace with “YOU”, it makes such a difference, yes!

    #3 Contractions – I love them! Just have to remember not to edit them :)

    #5 Ignore my English teacher – a bit hard for me to to because I’m not a native English speaker and I tend to overdo some things ;)

    #18 Show your personality – I’m working on it!!

    Thanks for the great list!

  18. Dustin Small says:

    I’m very guilty of writing in the passive voice. I do a lot of business writing as part of my day job and it’s hard to break out of that mold. Thanks for the tips!

  19. Amy Hagerup says:

    So many of these tips were all about, well, writing like we talk – only more so. Thanks for the details and reiterations and examples and everything! Well done.

  20. MaAnna says:

    Super tips, Marya. I especially enjoyed the suggestion to use contractions. I write scripts for my video tutorials and have noticed that I write without contractions and have to go back and edit them in as I read it outloud because it sounds funny to say it as written. Maybe I should read all of my posts aloud too for the same reason.

  21. Valter Sousa says:

    Tip legal. I’ll use these 23 tips in my videos too. The Internet belongs to the people and we should use the language of the people.

  22. Omar Habib says:

    Some of the tips are important. I will follow some tips.

  23. Great post,

    I’ve surely been the culprit of replying with ‘formal’ comments in the past, I think it’s got something to do with the way I write really. Have you got any tips for writing more, I don’t know – ‘relaxed’?

    • Yes. The biggest tip is to imagine you are writing an email to your best friend. And then see what happens. You might have to tweak organization of ideas, yoru sentence structure but overall the tone will be much more personal and relaxed. Also follow the tips I have mentioned in my post. Hope this helps.

  24. Rob says:

    Excellent post, this is the way I’ve tried to write but never seem to get it spot on. It ends up as a mix, sadly this is the way I speak; must try harder!

    Great stuff

    Rob

  25. Matt Hayden says:

    You can also make your writing lively by varying the length of sentences greatly. A very short sentence (or even a one word exclamation) really jumps out at you if it follows a long and convoluted one.

  26. Glenn Drew says:

    I like number 5. I have been doing that since high school. Being to proper doesn’t express a lot of people.

  27. I wish I’d had access to this post several years ago. I was doing a church newsletter and the person who reviewed the newsletter before it went out wanted it to be like an English paper. We went round and round about it. One of his complaints was that I ended a sentence with a preposition. Yes, I did. But the way I said it made the most sense. I know grammar rules – it’s just that you have to bend the rules sometimes – readability is more important than following the rules.

    Love this post! I’m especially fond of contractions. I think they make an article much more readable. I’m surprised at the number of writers who don’t use them.

  28. Harshad says:

    Pretty interesting points there, Marya! These things will also help blog grow over the period of time.

  29. Ismo Tammi says:

    This is a good short-hand to keep close by. Nice reading Marya. This is so general it can be applied anywhere.

  30. shani says:

    Interesting blog, it really set my mind whirring. I do have some randoms thoughts on what to write in a blog, but I hold back because I’m not so sure the big wide world would appreciate them. Your advice to blog as yourself as you would chat to a friend makes sense. Following this advice would mean letting potential customers into my random world & thoughts is that a good thing?

    Do you have any advice on how much of being yourself is enough to gain interest or an audience. I suspect the answers will be random, varied and somewhere between friendly and proffessional.

    • Shani, you have to be yourself but you also have to be a little bit stratgic. Share personal details as long as they are relevant and end on a positive note, or a lesson learned. Don’t share things for the sake of sharing. Also, your audience will let you know. You will see which posts get the most reactions and get really popular with your readers. Hope this helps.

  31. LOVE these! #8 cracks me up.

  32. Moda says:

    I am having some hard time with creating conversational posts. I will take these tips into consideration. I hope they will help :)

  33. This is a fantastic list, Marya! I have to agree with what you shared. Most of us are blogging in a very saturated niche and it’s hard to stand out. One thing that is unique is our own voice – by branding our blog AND ourselves we can have a chance to stand out in the crowd.

    Thanks for making such a great list. I’m sharing it all over!

    Kimberly

  34. I like your advice to write the way you would talk to someone on a one to one basis Marya, that really makes sense to me. I come from a business background where writing generally needed to be more formal so your tips will definitely help me to adopt that more conversational tone.

    I like your blog by the way, I’m just getting started with writing copy for other people so it’ll be a great resource to help me along the way.

    Many thanks for your interesting and useful list Marya.

  35. Awesome short tips on blogging.

    Do you them Marya as a summary 1-sheet I can paste to my wall in front of me…?

    Since 1994, my market is helping travel, tourism and hospitality operators and destinations grow their business. Do you have any top examples of travel bloggers or travel providers/destinations who rock at blogging you can share?

    Love to see what you know that is working in travel and hospitality.

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    Best, Tourism Tim

  36. Jeremy Binns says:

    I feel like I’ve just been given the permission to be me. :) Great post!

  37. You were talking in your post. Good share. Thanks. Thoroughly enjoyed the conversation.