It’s common that once you start reading around the blogosphere, you will find trends that others have been partaking in on their blogs and you may want to get in on it. You learn things people are doing to make their blog better, and more “error free” if you will.
On blogs just like this one, writing tips are provided to help you become a better writer. The typical tip would usually consist of big trends that are going on around every blog. Tips like “use short paragraphs when you write,” “write about multiple topics,” and of course, posts consisting of fixing common writing problems.
If you have been blogging for a while, you should probably have a rough idea of what things you should and should not do while writing a blog post. But believe it or not, whether you know it or not, there are still quite a few things you have on your blog that are hurting it that you don’t realize.
While no blogger is perfect when it comes to writing, I think some of the things I point out below will help some people tidy up their posts a little bit and really do some thinking about every aspect of their writing.
1. Putting a date on your posts
A few weeks ago, I decided that it would be best to remove the dates on all of the posts here at Blogussion. A few people had actually asked me why I did it, and I have been trying to answer it in a blog post for a while now. Here’s my answer.
Over time, dates make blog posts seem unappealing to others. Search engine traffic, which should be a large source of your traffic stream had a huge impact on my decision to do this. When people go on Google and search for a keyword, they hit a blog post that may have been written December 2008. They see the date on it, and just because it’s old – it looks out of date. Maybe the content was out of date, and maybe it wasn’t. The posts I try to write here are timeless, meaning they will always be relevant.
So with search engine traffic hopefully being a large source of traffic for you, is it really worth people seeing old content, but leaving just because it was posted months ago?
If you use the Thesis theme, removing the date from your byline is extremely simple. Just navigate to the Thesis Options page, and toggle off the option to display dates in your byline.
If you don’t use Thesis, look for a line similar to this one in your
single.php file and remove it:
<?php the_date (‘F, j, Y’); ?>
2. Take better care of your first paragraph
Your first paragraph is your most important paragraph in your article. Besides having a great headline to peak someone’s interest, your opener needs to be just as interesting and as attention grabbing as your headline.
Developing a hook, or something you have to say that is very interesting is important. Usually a hook is one sentence, and just has something that grabs a readers attention. They’re not easy to create, but they are incredibly important.
If there are any paragraphs you want to keep short in your post, it’s the opening one. Get to the point immediately in it, and keep it short. Have fun with it, but don’t go over the top.
One thing that makes an opening paragraph look great are drop caps, or a big first letter. It makes the paragraph look a lot more appealing, and very professional. I use it on all of my blogs since I use Thesis, and I think it just makes the posts look even more beautiful. I explained how to create and use a drop cap in a past post on HTML tags you can use to enhance your post structure.
3. The More Tag
I am still debating with myself as to which is better: using the more tag, or not. Each side comes with its own benefits, and disadvantages. I will not say that using the more tag is bad, or good. Here are the arguments for both sides:
Using the More tag
- Creates less of a scrollbar on your page allowing more people to see more post excerpts.
- It gets users clicking on more pages of your blog, and hopefully learning more.
- Creates more hype around the post, and if your introduction is good enough – you will get the “Continue Reading this post” link clicked a lot more.
Excluding the More Tag
- The full content is shown on the page requiring no clicking and potentially more views.
- More links can get clicked within your post, potentially a big boost for affiliate marketers, or if you just link to old posts a lot.
- Creates a large amount of scrolling on the page which may not be ideal.
So both sides address one main issue: readability. I won’t say that the more tag harms your blog, but one or the other may be better for you. What are your thoughts?
4. Your post structure is too weak
The key to good readability is structure. You have to balance out your posts between paragraphs and headings. Know when to use an unordered list and a numbered list. Large blocks of text are very unappealing, and unless divided by headings, bullets or other styles – won’t get read much.
There is also a thing as going overboard on your different post styles. It’s easy to use too large of a headline for a small block of text when creating a large list. It’s all about balancing things out, and if it gets too crazy, your readers will find it very difficult to read your posts and will stop reading them altogether.
5. Weak Post Footer
The information you put after your post is surprisingly important for the performance of your post. If you don’t know what a post footer is, just finish reading this article, scroll down a tiny bit and you will hit some information like “post highlights” and “recent posts.” That is a post footer, and it is very important to your blog.
A good post footer should contain the following pieces of information:
- A place to subscribe to the RSS feed, follow you on Twitter or just stay connected with you in some form.
- A box that has information about the author. Who you are, what you like, etc.
- A box with posts related to the article so people can read about similar topics and learn more about something.
- Buttons to share the post on social networks or other sites. Here we use the Tweetmeme plugin, and ShareThis.
Resources for creating a nice post footer:
- In “4 Ways I customized my Thesis theme,” I went over how to create a Blogussion like post footer. It is very easily adapted to non Thesis themes as well.
- Matt Langford described how he made his social media box on his theme in his latest blog post.
Did you know?
Did you have any idea about these possible mistakes you were making on your blog? If not, I hope you take them into consideration as you may see some great little improvements on your blog.
I hope you enjoyed the post, see you next time!
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