Monday, June 20, 2011

Words, Words, Words! Blogging, Part Two

For part one, click here.

How much? We’re not talking about an enovel here. Rule of thumb: Assume most people with an interest in your blog are going to allow no more than three minutes to read what you have to say; some will spend as little as a minute. So make it light, breezy and interesting enough to keep them reading to the end.

Keep it around 500 words.  Now, don’t force it to be that; if it’s 400 to 600, that’s okay. As your readership grows, it’s tempting to cram more words into one blog post. Don’t.  Split your subject into two parts instead; you’ll have readers coming back to hear the rest of the story plus you’re adding another touch point. Helpful hint: Don’t plan on a two-parter, then write part one and quit for the day; part two may never happen then. By the time you get around to it, the subject may not be so interesting anymore, so no blog post. Trust me, I know!

Just spit it out. If you haven’t had a lot of experience in the writing arena, write it like you are talking to someone in conversation. Tell the story. Record it first if you have too, then play back and type it up (or use software to do that for you!). You’ll sound natural and come across as true to your readers (because you ARE). You can always tweak it a little for a bit of polish just before posting.

Paragraphs should be no longer than eight lines. Why, you ask? Anything longer than that causes a loss of interest; it's a lot to absorb, a bit overwhelming, and may result in your readers bailing. 

Keep in mind that what you publish will be in a public forum and can be searched. Will what you’re saying prevent you from getting that important job interview? Could it get you fired from your job? Or is it going to portray you as the shining, intelligent person that you are?

As you grow your content and write more, you may find that you are running into time constraints. After all, you’ve been spending time promoting that blog too, no? (that’s another subject we’ll conquer on another day.) Why not get some assistance? Ask people you know that are also subject matter experts in your area to write for your blog. Are they thinking about starting their own blogs?

Let them test the waters by guest starring on yours. One less post you need to write for the week. Ah…relief!

DO write in Word rather than directly in the blog, for several reasons, including these:
•    Easily check word count
•    Easy check spelling and grammar
•    In more recent versions of Word, there’s a built in Thesaurus
•    It’s nice to have a backup of what you’ve written.

And of course, read through what you’ve written. I’m notorious for typing “the” when I mean “they” and “there” instead of “their”; your “quirks” may differ from mine. It’s easy to overlook them yourself, after all, YOU are proofing YOU! Better yet, pass along your draft to another pair of eyes; NOT for the purpose of changing, rearranging or rewriting but just to catch those little blips.  The result: A more professional post that is (most likely) error free, thus ensuring a more enjoyable read for your readers.

Before posting, it’s a good idea to wipe out all that coding “behind the scenes” in Word before actually posting in your blog. Fortunately, it’s an easy step. Using Notepad, copy your text in. Then copy what’s in Notepad to your blog. Formatting SHOULD come out okay, but sometimes there’s a little adjusting, for example, adding space between paragraphs.

Add the title and a related picture. Pictures tell the story too and draw interest to your post. If you must use something from a page on the internet, acknowledging where it came from is a good idea.

Of course, you can add several photos to your post, placing them near the relevant copy. I like to keep it simple with one. My preference is at the top, on the right side, but whatever you are comfortable with works.

Remember, anything gets easier with practice. That goes for the writing and the process of posting as well.

Stay tuned for Part 3...

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