Supercharge your Blog! +[10 DON’Ts]
In my ramblings across the internet over the past twelve years, I’ve probably seen hundreds of blogs, all vying for an audience. With so many to sift through, the new blogger hoping to get readers of their own have to do more than write a few paragraphs and put up a picture or two; the writing has to be well done! Great blogs are engaging, they solve problems and they help others feel inspired and ready to go. And when you have blog posts like that, people will come back for more. There are lots of ways to ramp up your blog and here are some great tips to start with.
And as a teaser, most of these tips are things you were told not to do in your writing! This is the big difference between writing for the internet and writing for publishers or schools. It’s also why so many people love writing blogs.
The Use of ‘You’ and ‘I’
Well written blogs and articles are written in first and second person, not third person. This means the appropriate use of I and you (or We if the blog is for a company). The reason for this is simple: the use of ‘you’ engages the reader and makes them really think about how the subject of your blog would actually help them. The use of I/we makes the entity behind the blog seem more personal. Using personal pronouns makes the post more engaging.
Some people believe that use of the word ‘I’ makes for weaker prose, particularly in academic writing. And it’s true enough…in that structure. But in blog posts and web copy, the word I is not such a bad thing. Proper usage makes from stronger sentences and lends a more personal feel that draws the readers in.
Contractions Aren’t Bad
We use contractions when we speak, so using contractions in your writing will make your work seem more conversational and thus more engaging. In academic writing, you were probably told to avoid contractions, but in blog posts and web copy, you certainly can use them. The big reason is because without contractions, your writing may come off as a bit stilted. If you have to get back into contractions, use the Find and Replace tool to omit phrases like ‘you are’ and ‘I am’.
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Adjectives are Welcome Here
In fiction, adjectives are not your friend. They are superlative and they make for weaker writing. But in sales copy and blogs, adjectives are most decidedly welcome! This is because they work great in titles; they are attention grabbing and obvious. For example, titles such as ‘The Biggest and Best of Android Apps’ is more appealing to readers than ‘Android Apps’. So get your flowery, over the top speech on and enjoy it!
Being imperative mean giving instructions; it’s all about telling people what to do, not imploring them to do it. This is why you see things like ‘Click Here to Sign Up’ not, ‘Why don’t you please click here?’
Writing in the imperative means being quick and powerful in how you have people take action with your work. Take a look at other sales copy; none of them ask for you to join up, they tell you to! Try to emulate.
Examples in your writing make it easier for readers to understand what you’re going on about. Concrete examples allow readers to take what you’re saying and see how they can make use of it. It’s also a good way to help people learn about something they knew little about by drawing a parallel between what they do know and the new information. So don’t be afraid to come up with examples to sprinkle in your blogs.
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Patterns and Repetition
The use of patterns and repetition takes some practice, but they are important. Repetition helps to cement a message in the mind of readers and patterns helps people to know what to expect and to make your work more memorable. You don’t have to have a ton of repetition in your blog posts, but a little bit can go a long way. For example, saying phrases such as ‘you’ll learn’ and ‘you’ll see’ three or four times in a row really cements in the minds of the readers that they will derive a concrete benefit from reading your work.
Patterns include using things like sub headings and making certain that you always speak in the same tone and format. Don’t swap tenses around, avoid mixing up imperative and ‘you’ statements in the same paragraph, and keep your pattern straight. Again, this will take practice, but as you become more accustomed to writing blogs and feel more comfortable in your voice, you’ll find that it gets much easier.
Numbers in a title make it immediately engaging and obvious. If your title is Five Ways to Make a Budget Stretch, your readers will know that they are getting five tips, not six! But you can use numbers in your posts too, particularly in lists and to strengthen your claims. For example, if you are trying to make the claim that some sort of tip has built up your profits, you would say things like ‘Since I started writing posts 1 a day, I saw my traffic go up by 15 a day.” This lends credence to your claim.
You don’t have to use all of these tips, but implementing a few of them will not only strengthen your writing, but may make it a bit easier for people who always considered themselves a poor writer to get in on the action. Blog writing, web content and sales copy aren’t the same as academic or fiction writing and so they shouldn’t be treated the same. Using these tips, plus other ones you’ll pick up on your way will make for better blogs and that means greater success as an internet writer. Good luck!
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Bonus: The DON’Ts Of Blogging
Blogging can be a very useful tool for online marketing. It is a way to interact with your audience and potential customers, become better known in your specialist field and attract additional traffic to your website. But many first-time bloggers make serious mistakes, which only alienate their audiences and make it more difficult to build a good reputation.
Today I wanted to focus on a few things to avoid when starting out with your blog in order to achieve the best results.
Many people who start a blog in the interests of promoting their product/service/company see it as a perfect opportunity to push said product through various forms of overt advertising. This is to be avoided at all costs! A blog reader does not want to see millions of adverts on your blog—the want to read interesting and relevant information on the areas you specialise in. Your blog is there to connect with your customers and build a solid, long-term network, not to make a quick sale. Of course, feel free to discreetly put in a link to your website where appropriate, but don’t overload your audience with sales pitches.
DON’T over-complicate the design and layout
Making your blog too colorful and the design too bright is completely unnecessary. It will only detract attention from what you’re trying to say and will probably give some of your readers a headache. Consider the following factors:
- Colors – avoid neons and go for a simple colour scheme, three colours at most
- Theme – make the theme look professional but interesting; use one bright colour to make your blog a bit more fun, if you wish
- Font size – although readers can choose their own font size on a web-page, you don’t want to make your page look too cramped. Go for 14 pt and a font that is easy to read, such as Arial or Tahoma. It may seem like an exciting option to go for a twisty font, but this will only put your readers off.
DON’T ignore your readers
Or other bloggers. The community is very important and it is essential to build up the relationships with your potential customers through blogs and make yourself known in your chosen field. Whatever area you specialise in, visit other blogs that cover the same topic and participate in discussions. It is completely acceptable to share links to your website, as long as the owner of the blog is OK with it. Make sure you also respond to the comments made on your blog—the worst thing for your reputation is ignoring your readers.
DON’T go for auto-play
Don’t ever have music or videos on auto-play. Many of your readers will be visiting your blog page as a break from work in the middle of office-hours, so the last thing they want is the latest hit blaring from the speakers. In any case, it’s impossible to satisfy the tastes of all readers, so you will automatically be alienating some of them.
DON’T write really long blogs
Don’t write pages and pages—blogs are designed to be short pieces of writing posted on a regular basis to keep in contact with your audience and initiate discussions. If you do write longer blogs, separate the pieces of text into chunks and use headings and subheadings to make it easier to follow. If it looks neat on the page, it will automatically be more readable!
DON’T write for the sake of writing
Don’t forget that content is the most important thing in a blog! Don’t write a blog every day/week just because you’ve told yourself you have to. If you have absolutely nothing to say, don’t substitute quality for quantity. That said, it is important to maintain regular contact with your readers, so if you have a small note you wish to share, even if it’s a few lines, that’s much better than nothing, so DON’T be afraid of short blogs.
DON’T forget about the importance of social media
In our day and age, social media is one of the fastest and easiest ways to become known in a community and one of the most useful tools for online marketing. Don’t forget to add a Facebook Like button/Twitter button to your blog to allow your readers to share the content on these social media websites. This will help your audience grow and will give you exposure to different circles of people.
Of course it’s not all about avoiding mistakes and pitfalls. Blogging can be an exciting and stimulating way to engage with your readers and forces you to stay on top of the things that are happening in your community. It can also help you build a great network of contacts and learn some new things about the area you specialise in.
So the most important DON’T of blogging is:
DON’T be afraid of trying out this wonderful tool, and I’m sure you will see for yourself that it can really help you out!
Roman Viliavin is Vice CEO in Promodo SEM Company, his specialization is internet marketing and he has successfully been helping brands to strengthen presence in the internet since 2005.
Shan Ronald is a medical school graduate who is an enthusiastic blogger and holds an editorial position in UMATE a test prep provider that offers exam preparation courses for UMAT.
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