Did you hear theÂ one about the blogger who sat down to write about “Writing” and had writer’s block? (What? You think I’m kidding?)
I finally realized my dilemma: There’s a gosh-darn huge amount of gosh-darn GOOD information on writing better content, y’all. The cup of knowledge overflows in copious goodness.
So why the heck would y’all want to take MY advice? I mean, other than the fact that I have such a cute southern drawl. Except that y’all can’t hear it.
Moving on…Â Without further ado, let’s talk about:
3 Tips for Writing Better Content.
There’s no denying “content is king.” The topic you’re writing about is theÂ main thing that’s going to draw the readers in and keep them there. Delivery is important, too. A good writer ties the two together – it’s what you say AND how you say it.
1. Offer useful, interesting or needed information.
Since you’re still reading (even though I just practically told you not to) I’m going to have to assume that either
- A.) You really want to know about what I’m writing about.
- B.) You’ve got nothing better to do.
I’m going to take a chance and bet on “A.”
Lest you think it’s necessary to write about blogging, traffic or writing – rest assured that “useful,” “interesting,” and “needed” have different meanings to different people and would look different for different blogs.
Useful could range from low-fat recipes to printable worksheets to cheap decorating ideas. Interesting could range from photography to the latest news to politics. Needed might look like a how-to article, information on consumer alerts or recalls, or new state or national laws going into effect.
And for us personal bloggers, yes – interesting can also mean humorous or somewhat embarrassing anecdotes about… pretty much anything. Humor is our advantage. Imagine all the other niche bloggers out there whose sense of humor is limited by their chosen niche. Humor is good. I’m just sayin’.
How do you know what to write about?
- Write what you know/love. Obviously it’s going to show if you don’t know what you’re talking about. Unless of course, you state up front that you don’t know what you’re talking about. In that case, it just might work.
- Stick to the feel of your blog/voice. It might throw your readers off if you always use proper English and then write an article filled to the brim with slang or catch phrases. Most likely, they’ll think someone hacked into your blog or you forgot to credit a guest writer. Don’t confuse your readers.
- Stay true to your purpose. Remember when I asked you to consider why you blog and what your purpose is? Your purpose in writing (teaching, sharing, community, etc.) will shape what you write about. Too much shifting in purpose makes for a less-cohesive blog overall.
- Remember who your audience is. Likewise, if you’ve created a following through all your killer recipe posts and fabulous diet tips, your readers probably aren’t going to be as interested in politics, poetry or puppies as they would be in the regular fare you normally serve them. It’s okay to digress on occasion, but you may want to mention the obvious digression.
Personal blogs tend to be less focused than niche blogs, and that’s okay to an extent. Let it be said that a little extra focus probably wouldn’t hurt. If you’ve got a hobby, a job, a facet of your life that you really love, that would probably be a good thing to write about.
2. Let your writing convey your personality.
I’m going to guess that another reason you’re still reading is because I haven’t bored you enough yet for you to lose interest and hit the eject button (or the little red X at the top of the screen.) Allowing your personality to show in your writing is one way to prevent your readers from getting bored.
How can you help your personality flow naturally into your writing?
- Leave your thesaurus on the shelf. You know how the teacher could tell when you’d written half of your assignment with the help of the thesaurus? You didn’t sound like you. If you’ve already used the word “nice” 3 times in the same paragraph, then sure, go ahead and consult your thesaurus. Otherwise, use words and phrases you already use in real life. It will come across more natural and genuine.
- Don’t be afraid to use slang. Y’ALL, I mean it. It’s alright, really. Again, if it’s something you might say, then throw in thatÂ sweet catch phrase. SERIOUSLY.Â But again, if it’s not something you know how to use and pull off, then skip it. Otherwise it’ll just stink. I’M JUST SAYIN’.
- Use font formatting, text size and punctuation to your benefit. I’m not suggesting that you over-format ever single thing you type. Your readers probably wouldn’t put up with a whole page of uppercase letters, bold type and exclamation points. On the other hand, using them to show inflection is a good way to help your written word come across the way it sounds in your head.
- Disregard what you learned about proper paragraphs and sentence structure in grade school. Again, don’t do this for every paragraph and sentence, but I hereby release you from three sentence (or more) paragraphs and complete sentences. Used intentionally, this is another good way to add personality and inflection to your writing.
A paragraph can have just one sentence and a sentence can have just one word.
- Finding Your Bloggy Identity @ Boomama
- A Guide to Becoming a Better Writer: 15 Practical Tips @ Lifehack
3. Write regularly.
The term “regularly” doesn’t mean abundantly; it means on a regular basis. Most blogs try to deliver new content daily. Some blogs deliver new content only on weekdays. A few might only publish weekly. The key is choosing a schedule and sticking to it – or at least as best as you can. Your readers are likely to forgive you if you break pattern from time to time. They’re less likely to stick around if the pattern is highly erratic or if too infrequent. Of course, if getting readers to stick around isn’t your goal, then I suppose that doesn’t matter, does it? (But then, you’re STILL reading this – so it probably DOES matter to you.)
Here’s a few tips for sticking to your schedule:
- Plan ahead. Using a calendar, a notebook, or whatever method works best for you, plan out a set of articles for the next week, two weeks, or even month. Participating in regular weekly events and offering your own regular weekly or monthly articles will go a long way toward filling in that plan!
- Write ahead. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that almost all of the really big blogs write articles in advance and schedule them to post on certain days. Rarely do they ever write the night before or the day of. Sure, they may indulge in an impromptu post on occasion, but they’re never under the gun without an article to publish because they’re ahead of the game working on future posts. Doesn’t that sound lovely? It sounds like a good idea anyway, right? I know how hard it is to get ahead of the game. If you can at least write 2 to 3 days ahead, it will save you a lot of frustration and allow you more time to spend crafting an article before publishing it. It also means that blogging is never competing with your main priorities if you’re always writing in your designated time instead of oh, say, ignoring the kids while they watch a movie and tear up the house so that you can finish a post last minute. Getting ahead of the the game is definitely the way to go.
- Look ahead. Keep an eye open throughout your day for write-worthy material. Jot things down in a notebook or on your computer. I like to create a draft with a potential title and idea for the article to come back to later. When I need something to write, I can browse my drafts folder for something to finish. It helps with the planning ahead and writing ahead processes.
- Go ahead and use writing prompts. If you just absolutely cannot think of something you want to write about go ahead and do a google search for writing prompts, like this list of 101 Post Ideas from Mom Bloggers Club. But don’t write just to write. Look for something you’d like to write about. Quantity is not better than quality.
- An Editorial Calendar Will Keep You Sane @ Blogging Basics 101
- My #1 Tip for Creating Better Content: Write In Advance @ Skelliewag
These 3 tips alone will make a huge difference in the kind of content you offer your readers. Offering desirable information, regularly, with your own voice will give your readers incentive to keepreading.
If you’d like a few more resources, check out these good articles:
- Advice: Writing Well and Increasing Traffic To Your Blog@ Blogging Basics 101
- More on Writing Content for Your Blog @ ProBlogger
If you’re just joining us in this series, catch up by reading Part 1: Creating a Blog and Part 2: Growing Your Traffic. Next week we’ll deviate from the plan a little to talk about Branding Your Blog. Don’t miss it!