This post was originally published on April 25, 2008. Considering my blogging resolutions for 2010, it seems a good topic for review.
How does your writing style affect your blog’s success? Think about your favorite blogs – what do you love about them? Think about your posts that get the most comments – what do they have in common? What was the intent behind the content? Some of the factors that make a well-written post include: Personality, Balance, Interesting Content, and Visual Flow.
I’ll be the first to admit that there’s room for improvement in my writing style. It’s much too much like my speaking style. As in: too much, too fast, too scatterbrained.
My thoughts on what make for good writing come mainly from observing the success of my favorite blogs, noting the successes of certain posts in the past and considering the thoughts of others more wise than I who have already written on this subject.
All my favorite blogs have a distinctive personality, one which I find attractive and pleasing. Without “talking” over my head, these writers use their words in an interesting way to tell their tale. Through their writing style I develop a sense of that person in my head and I am able to connect with them via their personality.
In his post, Tips for Better Blog Writing, Abraham Piper lists “Be Yourself” as his first piece of advice. In a way this is greatly freeing. This frees you up be slightly goofy or scatterbrained if that’s a part of your personality. It frees you to use your favorite catch phrases and even on occasion, the intentional bad grammar for effect.
Don’t sacrifice your personality for bland, “perfect behavior” writing, for personality is what will draw your readers in to read the rest of what you write.
To be brief or not to be brief.. that is the question. Many argue for brevity, saying that readers mainly scan online articles. Others argue that this just isn’t so – readers choose when to read and when to scan. Still others argue that brevity alone doesn’t determine whether or not someone will read your post. It takes a good balance of length and interest to hold a reader’s attention.
Skellie at Skelliewag writes, “Don’t Settle for Scannable: Write Gripping Content” in which she argues against brevity for brevity’s sake. Including suggestions such as using images, paragraph breaks and subheadings to break up the content into “bite-sized” pieces, Skellie walks writers through a process to “create content of substantial depth while gripping your readers from beginning to end.”
Without abandoning ship on personality, learn the art of getting to the point for the reader’s sake, not the word counter’s sake. One thing I learned from ” 5 Killer Ways to Improve Your Writing Right Now,” (by Darren Rowse at Problogger) is to vary sentence and paragraph lengths for effect and ease of reading.
That means I may have a paragraph with only once sentence.
Or even just one word.
One thing most everyone can agree on is “content is key.” Get to the point, make it good, make it interesting. Whether your post is long or short, whether it’s about the bible, the stock market, or the kids, once you get people to start reading your post, you’ve got to keep it interesting to keep them reading.
On the one hand, we don’t want to write for the sake of garnering readership or attention, else we fall into a vain trap. On the other hand, we must be honest and admit that we’re writing so that people will read. If our goal is the enlightenment, edification, or service of others then we must write in a way to achieve that goal.
In his post, “12 Ways to Improve Your Blog by Serving Your Readers: What I Didn’t Say at Band of Bloggers,” Abraham lists a few ways we can be considerate of our readers while we write. Among other things he mentions using informative titles, having a positive flavor and being open-minded. About writing, Abraham says:
Every post should offer value to our readers, this is what it means to serve people with a blog. To be valuable, content will generally be the result of processing thoughts, not the processing itself.
In “The Beautiful Post,” Skellie writes about drawing your readers in with your words, or at least using the “tell them what you’re going to tell them” approach.
The way I see it, you’re much more likely to walk down a strange road if you know there’s something fantastic at its end: a bucket of money, a table full of food, or whatever suits your fancy.
An unmarked road might have something amazing at its end, but if you never know, you probably won’t walk down it. There are a lot of other roads out there, with more certain benefits achieved by following them, after all.
The ease with which a reader can follow through your post will have a big impact on whether or not they read the whole thing. What can you do to create a good flow from beginning to end?
- Include pictures for visual interest.
- Use subheadings when appropriate.
- Break up the paragraphs.
- Highlight key words with bold or italic lettering.
- Make use of lists whenever possible.
In addition to the four above mentioned characteristics of good blog-writing, as a Christian writer, I also strive to hold to the same rules that govern Christians within face-to-face personal interaction. Those include:
- Honor God
- Be a good witness
- Love others
- Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouth
- Do unto others as you would have them do unto you
It’s not unlike my “13 Things I Try To Do While Blogging.” After all, if the love of Christ is what motivates my actions throughout the day, it should permeate my writing as well.
As Abraham Piper put it: “We’ve been given a great platform for the gospel in blogging, how could we not take it seriously?”