Some Very Basic Things Almost Anybody Can Do To Create Better Blog Posts
This is the first in a series of posts on blogging and whatever passes for storytelling these days. I know that sounds a bit cynical, but in a world where 80% of everything you encounter in the blogosphere is crap, it’s really nothing more than a reflection of reality.
I’ve been blogging since god was a kid. Over that time, I have read literally thousands of posts, some good, some not so good, most pretty crappy.
The things I find prevalent in the majority of not so good and pretty crappy posts, besides typos, are a) Poor writing form, b) Lack of real argument structure, or getting to the point and c) Lousy grammar.
Most people writing blog posts are not professional writers. But many of them, the majority in fact, still post regularly, because it’s obviously part of the content management program they have been convinced is a good thing for their business.
But when someone looking at this objectively, as I have, sees such poor quality of communication, I have to start wondering if all these badly written and constructed posts are actually getting read and absorbed at all.
Page Views Can Be Deceiving
A lot of headhunters and business coaches write posts regularly and pull huge numbers of page views. But a page view isn’t that hard to achieve when you are talking to the majority of people out there who are either looking for their first job or a new job. They’re hungry for information and will obviously cut the writers a lot of slack for the sake of picking up regurgitated tips for success in their relentless quest to become or remain employed.
But if you read some of these high pulling posts, you’ll find that the communication level on display here is often quite poor.
This is distressing, especially because when you look at the comments on some of these poorly written posts, you see that they are even worse.
People who read blogs regularly, especially those who do so for the purpose of finding potential suppliers for the various services they need, are the harshest judges. If they see badly written, grammatically incorrect, typo ridden posts, they tend to flee and never come back.
The bottom line is that this makes these badly written posts pretty much a waste of time for their authors.
8 Things You Can Do To Create Better Posts
1. Think. No, really think. If you don’t have a well thought-out idea for your post, don’t write it. Trying to do that will simply be a colossal waste of your time, and ultimately, everybody else’s.
The posts you write are an important part of your entire marketing program. So any extra time you take to think through what you want to write about and how you want to present your ideas will be time well spent. A good post is kind of like a three act play.
A) Establish your premise and even more importantly, your point of view.
B) Present the evidence that supports your premise.
C) Wrap it up and sign off.
I’m not saying that all posts should be structured that way, but it’s a good thing to keep in mind.
2. Re-acquaint yourself with the basics. Simple things like you’re vs your, are among the most common grammatical gaffes. EG: If you’re, (meaning you are), going to write a post, make sure that your, (meaning belonging to you), spellcheck is on.
Another common gaffe is in the overuse of apostrophes. The rule is only use apostrophes when you are talking about a possessive. EG: Bill’s car, (meaning belonging to Bill), stalled out on the highway, so he needs, (no apostrophe), to call CAA.
3. Don’t write about people as things. EG John is a man who (not that) works for me and always does a great job.
4. Avoid run-on sentences as these can be very confusing and lead people all over the place because if you’re not a skilled writer these types of sentences can often become a real pain to read and ultimately only succeed in confusing people unnecessarily if you know what I mean.
Avoid Run-on Sentences. These can be very confusing. They can lead people all over the place, especially if you are not a skilled writer. Run-on sentences can often become a real pain to read. Ultimately, they will only succeed in making you look illiterate.
5. Learn How To Use A Comma: A comma, in proper English, is used to separate phrases from each other, thus helping avoid confusion about the meaning of the actual sentence you are writing.
6. Develop A Method For Proofing Your Posts, If You Can’t Have Someone Do It For You: Here’s mine. Feel free to use it. No, I insist. You can thank me later.
A) Never write on your smart phone. You’re just asking for trouble by writing stuff that only involves your thumbs.
B) Never write posts or longer comments on the site itself. Always do this in Word, Pages or even Grammarly, because those programs will show you a lot of mistakes as you make them.
C) Always spell and grammar check your posts or comments. Not only will you end up with cleaner material, you might just learn something in the process.
D) Have your word processing program read the post or comment and follow it carefully.
E) Finally and this is the most important thing…read your comment or post two or three times aloud, as if you are presenting it to someone. You will invariably see something you want to change. (I read this post 4 times and changed something each time).
7. Accept That Typos Are Inevitable. No matter how hard you try, there will always be one or two in your posts. Sometimes it’s the auto-correct that does it. Sometimes it’s you, thinking faster than you are writing. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Invariably someone will point them out to you. Or you can go back and re-read your post the next day, and chances are you will find it or them.
8. Only Write When You Actually Have Something Useful To Say, and treat what you have written with genuine respect. If you do, you will invariably find that respect, sooner or later, comes back to you.
Believe It Or Not, All This Seemingly Simple Stuff Will Make A Difference.
It’s easy to think of writing posts as something that’s a bit of a no-brainer. But the simple fact is that you are being judged on the quality of your posts all the time.
My personal belief is that everybody should always try and put their best post forward every time out of the gate. If you’re writing just to stick to a deadline that some digital marketer told you about, that’s the wrong reason.
Just remember, we’re all in this together. Writing crappy posts doesn’t just damage your personal reputation, but it lowers the overall credibility level of all blogging.
Hope you find these tips useful going forward. I’m happy to share them with you.
Jim Murray is an experienced blogger, copywriter and art director and former professional photographer. He has run his own business, (Onwords & Upwords), since 1989 after a 20 year career in Toronto as a senior creative person in major Canadian & international advertising agencies. He is specialized in creating communications for businesses working to make a positive difference in the world.
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