Thursday, July 7, 2011

Content, Content, Content...More on Blogging

This is Part 4 of a 4 Part series on blogging. For Parts 1, 2, and 3, scroll down to end of article.

Razzle dazzle and promotion won’t do a thing for you unless your blog content is of a high caliber. Sure, folks may stop by your blog, but will they return? The words you choose and what you’re saying are the most important parts of all.

Introduce your subject with a sentence that is sure to grab the reader. “It was a cold and windy night.” probably won’t do it but “After the tree crashed through the roof of the house, the lights went out.” is likely to spark an interest. Whoa! What happened? Did people make it out safely? Read on to find out.

Be clear, crisp, and concise. While a novel can use lots of descriptive, flowery language, that’s not the case with blogs. You’ll be telling the tale with fewer words.

Words! No reason to impress us with your vast vocabulary. Remember your audience is. They’ll either not know those fancy words, which may cause them to stop reading or, for the ones that do understand them, it will slow down their read. In both cases, they may bail out on you.

Your audience; who are they? Do they enjoy sports, fashion, or collecting Madame Alexander dolls? Are they rocket scientists or job seeking professionals? Retired and enjoying a more leisurely lifestyle or moving into second careers that follow their creative passions? Remember, you are writing for the people who share your interests, and relaying your knowledge, expertise, and helpfulness with them.

Short, sharp, simple. Always remember that your readers probably have very little time to spend on your blog. Okay to write incomplete sentences. They need to grasp what you’re telling them quickly. Get the point across.

Paragraphs should be limited to no more than seven or eight lines. More than that becomes overwhelming to the reader; eyes get weary at the sight of it. If there’s a point that requires more words to get across, break it into two paragraphs.

Add some DRAMA. One sentence instead of a paragraph draws considerable attention to a specific point.

Visuals. Do include an illustration, photo, diagram, chart, graph, cartoon, or short video. If you’re writing about a great band, a photo of the band or an album cover works. For a recipe include a photo of the dish when it’s fresh out of the oven so that the reader can almost taste it. Visuals can be placed above or below a paragraph near the relevant text for maximum impact.

Write in your own voice. Write it like you’re telling the story to someone. Would you use a word like “ubiquitous” in your everyday speaking? Tell them it “existed all over the place” or “was everywhere” instead.

After you’ve written a first draft, take a word count. So you’ve got 680 words and you planned on 500? Cut back.  Some of that will be easy; if you’re like me, you may tend to be rather wordy the first go-round. If you get it down to 550, close enough. Don’t get too hung up on the length; if it take 700 words to get the point across, so be it.

Writing should be an enjoyable experience. If you’re not “feeling it” that day, stop. Find your favorite time of the day to write and the right atmosphere. Music in the background or silence? Early morning after you’ve let the dog out and had that first cuppa or after the kids are tucked in and the house is quiet? Or maybe you need complete chaos for inspiration?

As with anything, practice makes perfect. Let’s take that expression loosely; the more often you write, the more comfortable and easy it will become. Over time you’ll write faster as you learn to let that creativity flow more naturally.

Remember when you learned to ride a bike? The training wheels came off, and if you were me, you screamed down the driveway and slammed into the garage! Good news: That’s not likely to happen here. Instead, ideas and words will pour from you more often and more easily. Sounds wonderful no? Don’t be shy; get those creative juices going! 

Previous posts on blogging:
Let's get started
Words words words
Promoting your blog

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