Writing tips: How to write a better blog

I’ve got writing on my mind this week. I’m doing one last read-over of the new, revised and fabulous manuscript for my novel. I’ve been reading Marian Keyes, who always makes my writing heart quicken a little. And I have the new book by Monica McInerney sitting pristine in a Dymocks bag, awaiting my attention – I love a good story.

But I’m also thinking about blogging. This Thursday I fly to Melbourne for the Problogger Training Event, where I’ll be speaking on a panel with the awe-inspiring Valerie Khoo and the amazing Kerri Sackville, all about how to use your blog to create paid writing opportunities. I. Cannot. Wait.

While I’m in this writing/blogging frame of mind, however, I thought I’d take the time to put together some writing tips for bloggers. Not what to write, but how to write it. These are things that I’ve learnt over the (nearly) three years that I’ve been here at the Fibro, and I hope they’ll be of use to you.

Get closer. 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.

What do you think is the secret to great blog writing? Which blogs do it best as far as you’re concerned? 

PS: You’ll find more tips on writing a better blog, from the Problogger himself, here.