There’s nothing worse or more frustrating than losing readers or subscribers. I think we can all agree that, when we check our stats, we’re hoping for an improvement, not a dip in clicks or visits. It is for this reason that we, as writers and bloggers, always need to be our own worst critics? How else are we going to improve the quality of our writing?
If there’s anything my experience in academia has taught me, where the standards are inhumanly high and never attainable, we must be willing to admit when our work is not up to par. Thankfully, the blogging world is much more forgiving and welcoming!
However, the cut throat world of academia has taught me several harsh lessons, which I’ve taken to heart and applied to my blog. Here are a few of the rules I follow.
If Content is King, then Grammar is Queen
Wait, hear me out! I can see your eyes starting to glaze over. I promise, this will be short and sweet.
You want to make sure that your brilliant blog post attracts as many readers as possible. Don’t let your ideas get lost in a sea of comma splices and run-on sentences.
Your post doesn’t have to be absolutely perfect; remember, you’re not composing an article for a conference on physics. However, make sure it flows and that, above all, it makes sense! We all make mistakes, but let’s try to catch as many as possible before pressing the “publish” button.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to bore you with the nitty-gritty details of subject verb agreement. The library and internet are fantastic resources for answering all your grammar related questions!
Keep it Fresh
I know, sometimes we’re not in the mood to be creative. I’ve been there. On days when writing is the last thing on my mind, I struggle to think of something interesting to write about.
Unfortunately, in the blogging world, we don’t have any time off. We’re constantly maintaining the quality of our content. Is it current, relevant, and interactive? Am I just repeating myself over and over again?
Try to avoid regurgitating old posts and information. Put a new spin on a previously published post or respond to a thread of discussion. Ideas can get stale if re-used too often and your readers will inevitably lose interest in your blog.
An easy way to avoid repetition, both in your words and ideas, is to brainstorm. Break out the good old Thesaurus to find random, odd words to spice up your post. I can’t begin to express how handy a Thesaurus can be! It’s a great source of creative prompts and quirky synonyms.
No Raw Cookie Dough!
I know it tastes good now but, after all that uncooked egg has settled into your stomach, it’s kinda gross. That goes for your writing as well. Half-baked ideas are tricky. There’s a fine line between being innovative and confusing. I’ve learned some of the toughest writing lessons this way. Believe me, after submitting a few essays with lackluster, bland, or incomplete arguments, the resulting grades were enough to kick me into overdrive.
Procrastination is my number one vice. Tomorrow is always better than today. Not anymore! If you’ve procrastinated, can your readers tell that you wrote your blog post at the very last second? Is it obvious that you haven’t put a great deal of effort into it?
Your readers are very intelligent and are armed with a supremely accurate BS detector. They can tell when you’re not putting forth 110% effort. I understand, life get’s in the way and your blog ends up at the bottom of your priority list. I hear ya!
When I was in university, I wrote a few essays under the gun and suffered the consequences of my poor time management skills. It did, however, teach me to buck up and learn how to plan ahead.
I just recently discovered the WordPress feature that allows you to write now and publish later. So, when the creative juices are flowing and in abundance, I can hammer out four or five posts and schedule for publication later in the week. Easy peasy!
Make Some Noise
Read your blog post out loud. You might feel silly or weird, alone in your room or office, talking to yourself, but it works! If you’re tripping on a sentence, then your readers would most likely stumble on that sentence as well. It’s an effective way to catch any awkward word choices before you go to press.
Cut the Fat
I’m not talking about a fad diet or calorie counting. In this case, the cellulite is of a linguistic nature: unnecessary words. Edit! Edit! Edit! I can’t stress this enough. After having this rule drilled into my head since high school, I’ve become a perpetual editor. Anything that’s redundant has to go! You have to be absolutely merciless.
Sometimes it’s difficult to edit our own work. If you think it might be helpful to have a fellow blogger or writer look over your piece, to catch any errors you may have missed, go right ahead! Two pairs of eyes are always better than one.
Over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that writing persuasively is like presenting a case in court. Without evidence, I don’t stand a chance of winning. So, it is my job to collect the proof that will convince my reader that my idea has merit. There are a few questions that I always ask myself before submitting an essay or publishing a blog post.
- Why should the reader care?
- What’s the point?
- What’s the weakest part of my argument and how can I improve it?
Of course, the reader may disagree with your perspective but, in the end, respect you for presenting such a solid, well-organized case.
Photo by kaylacasey