7 ways to become a better blogger

Word count: 743 words

Reading time: About 3 minutes

Ever thought of starting your own blog? Looking for advice on how to become a better blogger? Today, I dive into the world of blogging….

I am not a blogger. Not yet. But even as you read this I’m operating like a baby duckling — appearing calm on the surface and having my webbed feet paddling madly beneath the water line. The ducks want to follow their mammas. Me? I’m trying desperately to get my own blog up and running.

My technical ability (or complete and utter lack thereof) means that this will likely take a few more weeks, perhaps even months, but when I’m finally up and running, you’ll be able to comment on my newsletter and perhaps meet some of the other subscribers. Woo Hoo!

Meanwhile, one of my current readers has asked me to provide some advice about how to be a better blogger. I’m happy to do so provided you all recognize my thoughts are based more on my reading of blogs (I follow about 20 religiously) than writing of them.

1) Post regularly. Some people say you need to post three times a week, others say daily. My original plan for my blog was to start posting five days a week. I’ve changed my mind since becoming an RSS-feed reader. (If you have no idea how to use an RSS-feed reader, be sure to check out this wonderful video-based tutorial by Colleen Wainwright.) I’m easily overwhelmed and I’ve unsubscribed from several bloggers who publish good information – – just too much of it! As well, I’m mindful that it’s better to start small and work your way up rather than start big and end with a whimper. My plan is to start by posting twice a week. I think once a week is the bare minimum.

2) Be brief. There is more information than there is time to read it. I have little time for bloggers who regularly go beyond 750 words (especially if they do it five days a week). Have they not heard of editing, I wonder? More often, I think, bloggers should aim for a concise 350-500 words with an occasional foray into the land of 750. Better to push readers away from the table when they still want more rather than forcing them to be uncomfortably full.

3) Have a point. Too many bloggers ramble on about nothing of import. Remember, your blog should have a purpose and each entry should support it. If only your friends and your mother are interested, you have a problem.

4) Tell stories. When you read my newsletter you typically get lots of information about my husband, my kids and thinly veiled accounts of my clients. I’m not saying I’m fascinating. But I do know some people who are and I hope they help make my columns more interesting. Stories have a natural beginning, middle and ending – and they’re designed so that listeners are eager to know what happens next. You can harness that enthusiasm to help impel readers through your writing.

5) Add a photo to each post. I know, this isn’t a writing tip – it’s a bit of graphic advice. But photos grab the eye, create mood and provide some relief from all the black bits of type floating on the page. Use Flickr to get some photos for yourself at no charge. (Just be sure to attribute the photographer.)

6) Make your entry scannable. It’s often been said that people don’t READ the Internet they scan it. You can make your blog more interesting and more engaging to readers with some boldface type, sub-headlines and by adding numbered lists (as I have in this newsletter) or bullets. Visual tricks aren’t just for amusement – they work!

7) Put a darn good headline on the sucker. Headlines are almost always written last, usually in a hurry. Doesn’t it seem strange to you that a blogger might spend 45 minutes or longer labouring over an entry and then devote only 15 seconds to dashing off a headline? It seems nonsensical to me (and yet I’m sometimes guilty of doing exactly that.) Be aware that a good headline might not only persuade someone to read your blog entry — a bad one can also convince them to ignore it. Ensure your headline says what the article is about (don’t try to be too cute or coy) and try to work in a verb.

Finally, (let’s call this the bonus tip), read lots of blogs and find one you really like. Then imitate the heck out of it! Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

[Photo courtesy Fitz Villafuerte, Flickr Creative Commons]

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