Nothing sets you up to fail like trying to write a good blog post on how to write a good blog post.
Unfortunately very few of us have the skills of Shakespeare, the wit of Wilde or the drama of Dickens. We have deadlines, budgets and predetermined titles to stick to. We also lack the luxury of being allowed to write as many words as we feel like writing.
But just occasionally, it can be refreshing to throw caution to the wind.
Writing – like music, dance, or drama – is an art. Every writer is a literary artist. A story craftsman. Words are our tools. But that doesn’t make putting pen to paper easy. If you’ve been tasked with writing a blog piece for your company or someone else’s, you may feel like a literary fish out of water. Writing a blog that will draw in dozens of readers may seem impossible. The truth? It’s not. There are some elementary basics that you can quickly master to make your piece pop. Have a read and see whether you agree.
Don’t Be Afraid Of A Using A Super Short Sentence.
Like this one. Or this one. These sentences are light. Easy to digest. Fun, even! And then, when you’ve given your reader a brief respite, you can change the rhythm with a flick of the wrist – speed it up, slow it down, drag it out, twist it round. Your words are your weapons, and so use them wisely. Go for a very long sentence if you dare, but make sure that you don’t load them up one after the other for line after line. Short sentences allow your reader time to catch their breath. To learn. They add gravitas to your piece and change up the rhythm in ways that longer phrases simply cannot. Do it with enough confidence and you’ll have your readers hooked on Every. Single. Word.
You’re still here. See how easy that was?
Every Blog Post Should Have A Point.
Not just “I’ll find my point eventually, just bear with me for three pages”, but a proper meaning that clearly states from the get-go what your readers can learn from your piece. Pick your point, make it, and stick to it. If you read your piece back and discover that your ‘point’ got lost in the mail somewhere, edit your work until it has meaning once more. Don’t blog for the sake of blogging. We’ll say it again – do not blog for the sake of blogging. Make sure you have something to say. Because if you don’t quite know what you’re saying then it’s 100% likely that your readers won’t either.
I Have A Dream Martin Luther King Repetition.
In Martin Luther King’s famous ‘I Have A Dream’ speech from 1963, he says these exact four words 8 times. And it works, doesn’t it? We all know what his dream was. Repetition within any writing has a way of grounding your work and bringing it back to what you’re trying to say. Don’t be afraid of posing rhetorical questions at your reader, or finishing off your piece with a reference back to something you mentioned in your introduction. Repetition shows that you’re aware of what your argument and that your work has a traceable route to follow. Just don’t do it too much. Meaningful repetition? Punchy, exciting. Broken record? Dull, dull, dull.
Read It Out Loud.
If you’re ever wondering why your writing doesn’t seem to be hitting the mark, try reading it aloud. Properly. Yes this does mean that you might end up huddled in the office toilets muttering to yourself, but just hearing your own words in the open air might give you clues on how to improve. Writing is like music. Every sentence that your brain registers gets translated into images, memories and sounds as you go. The eyes and ears crave variety. Intrigue. Your rhythm should swing and swirl. Read your piece loud, read it proud, and you may soon realise that your problem is that every single sentence is made up of five words apiece. Go back to the drawing board, make some adjusts, have a coffee. Ready? Rinse, write, and repeat.
Stick To Language That People Understand.
Unless there simply isn’t another word that describes what you’re saying, dropping dozens of words like ‘arduous’, ‘facetious’ or ‘ubiquitous’ into your blog post is like popping a red STOP sign into the middle of a road. It’s usually the fancy words that end in ‘ous’ that tend to be the main culprits. These words jar. Your readers stop reading. They crack out the dictionary to look up definitions, and in doing so completely lose focus on what they’re meant to be learning. And suddenly, in a blink of an eye, instead of a readership that is inspired and interested, you’re faced with a bunch of blank faces and fresh dictionary tabs.
A blog post, for the most part, is not as literary as a novel, a dissertation or a poem. It is a sad truth that your work is unlikely to be analysed by classrooms of English GCSE students in decades to come. So in light of this, make it understandable, readable and above all – relevant. Just because you know how to spell a long word, doesn’t mean it always belongs in your sentence.
Check Your Grammar.
So many people wave off their bad grammar as though it’s a terrible, permanent affliction that cannot be improved upon.
“Please excuse my email, my grammar is shocking!”
“I’ve always been bad at grammar.”
Yes, your grammar may be still be as unpredictable as a two-year-old at a birthday party, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t watch out for the words that often trip you up. The main two to watch out for?
Your and you’re.
There, their and they’re.
Find a way to learn the differences and make it stick. Double check if you’re unsure, or just wave your piece at a self-professed grammar snob and see whether they start hyperventilating by the time they reach the third line. Whilst dodgy grammar mistakes are made by thousands of people every day, each time a writer uses the wrong there/their/they’re, it suggests to “there” reader that they didn’t check “they’re” work properly. Nobody is born with the innate ability to write well. It’s learned, acquired, improved upon. Stick at it, pop a Post-It note on your desk to remind you of your/you’re mistakes, and you’ll quickly get to grips with which terms belong where.
Find Your Voice.
Your writing is as original as you are. Never try to make it anything it’s not. Whilst you’ll often still have to stick to a brief when it comes to blogging, there’s no reason you can’t make it your own. Funny writers should be funny – where appropriate, of course. Emotional writers should be just that. Scribble down phrases that you admire, use the words that you enjoy using, and you’ll be able to turn even the most mundane of topics into an article that people will want to read.
So there you have it. Write the sort of piece that you’d like to read, and you won’t go far wrong.
Find your rhythm, your repetitions, your reasons.
And get writing.