Wondering how to write a better blog? Not what to write, but how to write it.
Here are four things that I’ve learnt about writing a blog over the decade that I’ve been keeping this one. I hope they’ll be of use to you.
I’ve written about this before, but intimacy is the key to good blogging. I’m not talking about revealing every detail of your life (though feel free to do this if you so desire). More to strip back your writing ‘voice’ to its bare basics.
The easiest way to do this, I find, is to try stream-of-consciousness blogging. Write it all down exactly as it first appears in your mind. Every word.
Don’t try to edit it as you go – you can do that later. Don’t try to make it sound ‘writerly’. What you’re looking for is the essence of you. Blog the way you talk. It’s that simple.
Go closer again
The biggest mistake that many bloggers make, from my perspective, is trying to tell the whole story. Nobody needs the whole story. What they need is the one moment that tells the whole story.
The angle is important.
If you find that your posts are rambling (and, really, short is usually better on a blog), hone in on the best bits. Just tell those.
Think about your audience
While most bloggers say they blog for themselves, the truth is that there is a contract in place in a blog – you write, someone (hopefully) reads. If that weren’t the case, you’d be writing in a diary with a combination lock on the front.
With that in mind, you need to allow room for those readers. Leave some space in your posts to allow your readers to find the universal heart of what you’re writing and to share their experiences.
Proofread your work
I know the temptation is strong to simply put the full stop on that last sentence and hit Publish. But try to resist.
Check the spelling. Make sure the last sentence has a full stop. Ensure you have no extraneous words (as I often do) where you’ve changed your mind halfway through a sentence and haven’t quite deleted the earlier version.
A good blog is a clean blog. It really does matter.
Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait and you can find out more about me here and more about my online writing courses here.
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Or check out So You Want To Be A Writer (the book), where my co-author Valerie Khoo and I have distilled the best tips from hundreds of author and industry expert interviews. Find out more and buy it here.
What wise and brilliant blogging suggestions, they are going on a Post-It on my laptop right now!
Totally agree with everything you say here – espeically about the intimacy – although i sometimes wonder if i give too much of myself away – but that is what my blog is about in a way – a cathartic take on dealing with my stuff so others who relate can connect. I wrote a similar post not so long ago. Would love your feedback on it http://bit.ly/N3yjmN
Thank you for these wonderful tips !! As a brand new blogger, any awesome advice is greatly appreciated xx
Love this. Thank you so much. Just what I need right now. N x
Hi Allison, it’s Kevin, formerly known as @superdaddykw (now @skepticparent).
I just want to congratulate you on the success you are having (new book, speaking engagements and popular blog).
I don’t get to sit down and read blogs often anymore, but when I do get the chance to read blogs I check in on yours and I always find something wonderful.
Ah, Kevin, thank you SO much. I will follow your new handle. 🙂
Not sure if I’ve commented on here before, but thanks for such a great post. Succinct and very useful! If only someone could help me come up with a better name for my blog…!
Thanks Vanessa – glad to be helpful. Going to look at the problematic blog right now.
Marion Keyes is my favourite holiday read…so easy to snuggle up with her and escape. Today I published the 100th post on my blog, mamacino. I really appreciate your advice because I would like to really start improving my writing and I guess taking it more seriously…you never know where it might lead…
Congrats on your 100th post – awesome achievement!
I was just saying yesterday that a good dose of chick lit is like taking a big broom to my head and clearing it out ready for new thoughts. I struggle with the bit between trying not to presume that the reader can always read between the lines I construct but then trying not to bog down my writing with superfluous fluff. Its an ongoing battle. Thanks for your wise words.
I also love that tip about not telling WHOLE story. Probably my favourite post of yours is one of your shortest… about the one a big belly laugh and a little belly laugh. I hope I can bring some of that poignancy into my writing, both for blogs and magazines. I’m looking forward to meeting you at ProBlogger, although I am sure I will turn into a blubbering fan-girl mess – my previous experiences with meeting much-loved bloggers is not promising… (Kelly Exeter, your assistance with intros would be greatly appreciated 😉 )
Oh, I’d forgotten about that post. And I love it too! Thanks for reminding me. And am sure there’ll be no blubbering when we meet. Really. Wait til you meet me…
Welcome to the Marion Keyes love fest, please pull up a beach blanket!? (Miaow!)
You say it all so well, Al. The only thing that I would add is that it’s not just about the writing. It’s ease of use too. Have you ever spent ages trying to find the comment box on a blog? Have you ever been annoyed to have to click through to ‘finish reading this post’? Have you ever seen one of those ‘collected’ home pages that just has post everywhere and you’ve got no ideas where the hell up is?
That and keep it good looking. A good looking blog papers over lots of faults in the writing. Bit like life, actually.
Enjoy your spot at the conference… I’m sure every one there will get heaps out of it.
Yes, I completely agree with writing how I talk. I’m aware that sometimes I use too many commas, but it’s usually to illustrate some kind of sarcasm or conversational style. It’s fun! And I think it’s effective. I also try to have shorter paragraphs on my blog unlike my offline writing where I don’t really take that into consideration.
So jealous of your trip. Yay! Enjoy 😉
I’m so excited about your session at ProBlogger. Thanks for these tips. I like different blogs for different reasons…. Too many to name.
Thank for the tips – always love reading your blog. I try to use my Voice as much as possible when i write. I literally write as I think and talk and this works for me. Of course that means that sometimes the ramble gets in there too, but that’s all part of getting it out.
I am a long term fan of 1. Marian Keyes – when the lovely husband and I were courting he bought me a copy of “Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married.” I fell a little bit in love with both of them right there and then. 2. Monica McInerney…all that slick flacking between Ireland, food and the Clare Valley – what’s not to adore?! And 3. Your blog and your advice.
Have a wonderful time in Melbourne! xx
Thanks, Alison. When you’re a blogger/writer who wants to keep on improving, it really helps to read posts like these. I’m going to Pro Blogger Event myself for the first time this year and I am SO excited! The list of speakers is amazing enough, I just hope my brain will be able to absorb it all. Oh, and I totally LOVE Marion Keyes… I have a large number of her books on my bookcase.
Wonderful tips. Marian Keyes is both an amazing writer and a story teller. Her latest book was superb – such an insight into severe depression but still funny. How does she manage that?
Thanks for the link to Mr Problogger. I love what he says: ‘The first 5000 posts are the hardest!’ Eeeek. As a fairly new blogger, that hurts my eyes. As someone else once said: ‘Dying is easy, comedy is hard.’
Great tips Allison: I’m very guilty of telling too much – ie, blabbermouth blogging. And I agree with what you say on all other points, too.
Thanks for the tips Allison 🙂 As a newbie to blogging, they are invaluable.
Is there going to be a Problogger event in Sydney?
Not sure Sam – but if you have a look at the link embedded in the post above they’re offering ‘virtual’ tickets now – you can go without really going. 🙂
Super, thanks Allison. I will definitely look into that.
I’m with Kelly – nobody needs the whole story. I can ramble on with my jumbled thoughts but stripping it back works. Having said that, one of the funniest blog posts I’ve ever read was just yesterday and it was hugely long, rambling and had me killing myself laughing because it looked as if it stopped at the stream of consciousness and it was a lot of fun. Go figure!
See you at Problogger.
Agree! I’ve written some full-on ramblers in my time as well. Whatever works for the post itself. But, usually, tighter is better.
Great tips Al. I really need to work on my rambling. I know myself if I’m reading a blog, short and to the point wins every time. But I guess sometimes it just takes more words. (Sorry, just rambled on your blog now). Full stop.
LOL. Lovely full stop.
“Nobody needs the whole story”
It has taken me YEARS to learn this one. YEARS!! But I reckon it is the single major thing that has improved my writing over the years … especially when you are storytelling, as you are on a blog.
Too true Kelly!
I am very much looking forward to that particular panel. While I love blogging, it’s the writing that really makes me happy.
Oh great Tam. Me too!
Wonderful tips Allison, thanks for sharing. Looking forward to seeing you at Problogger.
Thanks Jane – it’s going to be such fun!
I love Marian Keyes! I giggled my way through Postcards from the Bed, the book could have been a series of blog posts! 🙂 Great list of tips, simple things that are acheivable for everyone. I’m not going to the Problogger training, but I wish I were! Have a blast, and I’m sure the panel will be great!
Thanks Lisa. Marian’s new book is just FAB. You will love it.
Thanks. As a newbie, these tips are invaluable. I’m looking forward to problogger so much!
Glad they’re helpful Caroline!