Welcome to 8 weeks To #ImproveYourBlog, week 5.
During this 8 week course, we’ll be focusing on one thing per week. Every Tuesday, they’ll be a new post for you to read, go away and do some tasks that will hopefully enable you to improve your blog.
If you want to see what’s coming up in future posts, then check out the introduction post where I go through each weeks topic.
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We’ve looked at how your blog looks and how you use images on your blog – now lets get down to what I think is the most important thing. Content.
I say content is the most important thing because I know what I would read a blog if it looked horrible and had terrible images if it had great content.
Great content is different for everyone, for me it’s blog posts that are either funny, relatable or teaches me something.
The previous weeks:
If you’ve missed the previous four weeks, check them out here:
- Week 1: Check Yourself – an audit of your blog and social media accounts to make sure everything is up to date and ready for the new year.
- Week 2: Learning From Others – analysing other peoples blogs to see how you can improve your own.
- Week 3: Figuring Out What You Want – being clear about your blog goals and what actions you need to take to achieve them.
- Week 4: Improve Your Images – how to improve your blog images, use props, make graphics and where to grab free stock photos.
Write great content.
This week, we’ll be discussing ways in which you can write great blog posts and improve your writing skills.
In my opinion, there are four things that make content great.
- The topic
- The style
- The use of English
So lets go through each one separately and break this shiz down *sassy girl emoji*
When writing blog posts, I like to have a nice balance between topics I love writing and topics that get the most comments/views/shares.
I’m quite lucky in that the types of post I do love to write are also the ones that get most engagement. These tend to be personal posts and tips about blogging.
I also write other types of posts which I do enjoy, but just not as much. These are reviews, outfits, events etc.
The topics you blog about might depend on the type of blog you have. Some blogs are very niche and may only post about certain things, like a vegetarian food blog, for example. It’s becoming more and more common for blogs to be a bit more relaxed about what topics they cover. I tend to see bloggers start out in something like beauty or fashion, for example, and then drift into lifestyle and share a variety of topics.
We all change over time and it’s natural that are blogs do, too. Remember, blogging is a journey – not a destination!
In theory, you can blog about anything you want as long as you enjoy it But if you’re finding you’re not enjoying writing as much, or you’re struggling for things to talk about, you might need to re-think your topics and come up with some new ideas to experiment with.
If you’re struggling with blog post ideas, here are a few that you might enjoy:
- Talk about an experience in your life that’s made your a stronger person.
- Talk about something from your childhood, like a favourite memory.
- Write about your goals.
- Write about your blogging journey.
- Write about your favourite things – food, makeup, decor.
- Write a wishlist.
- Talk about your favourite iPhone apps.
- Talk about someone who has changed your life.
- Talk about what keeps you motivated.
- Write a post about your favourite quotes.
- Talk about when you were an awkward teenager!
- Talk about your morning/evening/bedtime/gym/skincare routine.
The style of your writing, or your voice, can be something that’s difficult to find for some people.
For others, it might come a bit more naturally.
I personally feel like I’ve gone on a bit of a journey with my voice. At first, my posts were all over the place and more of a stream of consciousness than an organised piece of content that added value to my readers. Then I moved over to a more formal style of writing, much like a magazine. Next, I finally settled in what I think of as my current voice.
I honestly think you should write in whatever style you like – but I love reading blog posts that read as if I’m being spoken to, and that’s how I write my posts.
I type exactly what I’d say in a conversation. I try to put emphasis on the words I’d put emphasis on real life. I’ll try to keep it light hearted, funny and easy to read.
The way I do this, is that I write a full post without stopping to proofread. Then I’ll go back, re-read and change anything that doesn’t read right, or correct any mistakes. I find that if I try to proofread on a sentence by sentence, or paragraph by paragraph basis, then I lose my groove and the words don’t flow as easily.
If the words aren’t flowing easily, what comes out generally isn’t in my typical voice and I feel like it shows.
I definitely think finding your voice is a journey and it’s something you should experiment with – find what feels comfortable for you. Think about what personality traits your want your blog posts to convey: positive, quirky, sassy, confident, dry? Then think of ways in which you can project those traits though your writing with any sayings, words or grammar.
Although I think I have found my blogging voice, I definitely see it as something that will be constantly changing as I change and there are totally some days where I find it easier to sit and write in my voice than others!
Use of English
English can be a complicated language, with many words having multiple meanings, words that sound the same but have different spelling and let’s not even get started on how much slang words can change from region to region!
While I love using slang words to make my posts fun and more relatable, I do not like using the wrong spelling or grammar.
Nobody is perfect, you’ve got to face that sometimes, no matter how careful you are or how many times you proofread, you’re going to get something wrong at some point. Whether you say weather instead of whether or a misplaced comma makes a sentence read awkward – it’ll happen. Let’s face it, most of us bloggers are not professional writers. My study of English ended with my A Levels, apart from a few TEFL courses at University and teaching English to French kids in France 8 years ago, I’m just winging it here.
There’s been many times I’ve come back to blog posts a few days later, read them and seen a mistake that I’ve not noticed at the time of proofreading, but it’s so glaringly obvious then. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone finds a mistake in this post!
Here are some tips I find useful to avoid making mistakes in my posts:
- Proofread your posts out loud, this forces you to take extra care and get a feel for your sentence structure.
- Proofread your posts backwards, this is a great way to spot spelling mistakes by forcing you to see words one at a time, rather than skim reading and missing errors.
- Take a break between writing and proofreading. I spot most errors if I read a post a few hours, or even a few days later.
- Google it! If you’re unsure which version of a word to use (eg effect vs affect, bare v bear, wonder vs wander) then have a quick search to find out!
- Remember you’re human, I always feel a little embarrassed when I spot mistakes in my posts, but don’t be too harsh on yourself. Edit it and move on. What’s done is done and it happens!
The layout of your blog posts can do wonders for your readers retention.
How often have you gone to a website, seen a huge lump of text and thought UGH, screw this, and then chuffed off?
It doesn’t matter if the content is amazing, it’s still going to look like hard work.
You need to make your content easy to read and scannable, especially if it’s an information type post and the reader might only be interested in one or two points.
Here are some ways you can break up your content:
- Use headings to highlight different points.
- Keep your paragraphs no longer than a few sentences.
- Use images to break up text.
- Use bullet points to clearly display ideas.
- Keep your sentences simple.
- Avoid using long, complicated words that people may not understand.
- Say what you need to say in as little words a possible.
There has been a lot of debate over how long a blog post should be. Some say around 300 words is enough, as it’s believed most readers won’t read more than that. Others argue that for SEO reasons, you should write blog posts over 1000 words to rank higher and search and get more views.
My thoughts? While I think it’s important use various SEO techniques to help your blog post rank higher, you should write your posts with your readers in mind over search engines.
There’s little point in putting search engines first, attracting traffic and having them bounce right off your blog, never to return.
So, how long should a post be? It should be how long it needs to be to get your message across.
My posts vary in length and I generally write blog posts by doing a first draft and then during proofreading, here, I cut out any unnecessary information. If it doesn’t add value to the sentence or the point of your post, just cut it out!
So that’s it for this week of #ImproveYourBlog, join us next week where we’ll be talking about how to blog consistency, stick to schedules and stay motivated! Check out the two blog posts above if you’re wanting to learn more about how to improve your writing.
Let me know what you’ll be doing differently from now on and if you have any tips of your own in the comments below!