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.
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.)