Are you stuck with your blogging? Do you feel your blog posts lack of personality, could use more quality, need a kick? Those who have been blogging a lot may easily find themselves fed up with it. In case you blog traffic isn't impressing, shares aren't happening and comments aren't coming in, you want to become a better blogger. To be honest, even for the best and most successful ones there's always room for improvements.
The thing is, you've already read all the advice and all the tips for improving your blogging and they haven't really helped you that much. This is why I'm now giving you six effective tips you don't usually find elsewhere. Try these out and get better at blogging.
The best way to learn writing is by writing. The more you write the better chance you have to learn better writing. You will find new ways to express your thoughts and feelings. By writing more you explore, and hopefully break your own writing limits. Writing more makes it easier for you to write your blog posts too. It gives you a certain flow of writing.
Additionally, reading is very important too. That's likely how you have learned to write in the first place. If you just keep writing your own stuff and never read anything anyone else has ever written, you writing won't improve. When you read other people's texts you learn new expressions and words. You also may learn things that irritate you in other people's writing, which helps you to avoid those things in your own writing.
You may have noticed that I didn't tell you to write or read more blog posts. Obviously I urge you to do that too. Yet, in order to really widen your blogging perspective, go on and write and read more different types of texts. Read and write books, non-fiction, poetry and fiction, short stories, long reads, blogs, newspapers and magazines, Tweets and other social media updates, and anything there's out there to read and write.
"Years back, when I started to blog, there were very little blogs out there. We were just setting up the rules of blogging, trying our own things. Some of us wrote short blog posts, some wrote long ones. Fast forward today."
And there, you lost me. Fast forward today is amongst my pet peeves of blogging. I don't know who infected everyone with it, but you every not-so-inventive blogger uses the phrase to bridge between "memory lane" and "today". You don't need that bridge. If you want to address the fact that you are moving from reminiscing to current situation, you can do it in so many other ways. There's no need to fast forward anything.
Last year Finns started to highly overuse the word "huikea". It means something like awesome or fantastic. There are many other words that could be used in its place, but for some reason this one became the one to use everywhere, in every situation. I personally could ban the whole word from Finnish language at this point. Nothing makes a word or expression to lose its meaning as overusing it.
That said, some clichés work. As an example, last year I wrote a blog post titled The good, the bad and the ugly of sharing daily selfies. The title is a huge cliché, and I inserted the theme in the article as well. The post gained lots of reads and shares, plus other engagement.
Use clichés wisely and sparingly. Beware that you may be turning readers off with them.
Speaking of clichés, we all have certain expressions or other wordings we just keep using. That's okay, because those expressions and wordings give you your blogging voice. However, sometimes your expressions and wordings start to annoy. This is likely especially when you are prone to lean on clichés and common sayings. It's useful, even important, to figure out which of your expressions and wordings are common for you and which you are repeating a lot.
I, for one, am prone to write something and then sort of counter if with "but" or "however". And I like to begin sentences with "and", even though it's not quite the grammatically approved way to write. I have other commonalities in my writing too, which I have acknowledged and accepted. I try not to use them too much. When I catch myself from utilising my commonalities a lot, I try to figure out other ways to express the same thing.
Acknowledging your commonalities doesn't mean you should start avoiding them altogether. Unless they are overused clichés, which you might like to avoid so that your blog posts will have a fresh voice. Knowing which words or expressions you use a lot helps you to figure out your blogging voice and to use those words and expressions more effectively to maintain that voice.
You are constantly advised to use more lists, one sentence paragraphs, crazy amount of subtitling, bolding and whatnot to make your blog posts easier to skim. This has lead you to write posts that are impossible to read, because they are full of interruptions, such as pointless line breaks and whatnot. Your blog posts, even the ones that aren't listicles, are formatted as listicles. I have blogged about this in longer format, but basically try writing for reading rather than skimming for a while.
When you follow the popular advice of making your blog posts skimmable, you have stopped writing well. The skimmable writing not going to get you as a published author, nor it's going to make you a better blogger.
The advice is not completely wrong. People have a short attention span (they say it's less than 8 seconds) and love to skim blog posts. When you want to make an impact, you don't want your readers to only skim and move on. You want them to stop, read, comment, share and probably read another post as well. It's a known fact that search engines are into dwell time, rather than bounce rates. Dwell time is the time a person spends at your site after clicking a link in search results. To make sure your dwell time is high, write longer blog posts which make people to spend time on your site.
Due to the fact that there are way too many blogs out there and more of them are used for business reasons, blogging has became a very serious thing to do. You must always remember to add the right keywords. Your blog posts must be insanely helpful, useful and informative. You must give your readers what they want. Blogging becomes a task, a duty. Tasks and duties are to be avoided.
Forget the tasks, forget the duty. Forget adding the right keywords, being insanely helpful, giving information. Find what makes blogging fun for you. Take that and run with it. Have fun, and your readers will feel it. They will also start to have fun. And they will love it.
The most likely reason you are reading this article is because you feel you need to improve your blogging. That's awesome, huikeaa! It's also likely that you've read a few of articles like this before. Filled with actionable advice about how you can make your blog posts better. You have read those posts that tell you how to get more readers to your blog. There has been all that outdated advice about making your blog posts easier to skim. How many tips for creating the most impactful blog post titles have you read recently?
All that advice and all those rules are helpful. They can derail your blogging as well. By following all that advice, all those tips and rules, your writing is losing personality. Your posts can't be distinguished from all the other posts written by all the other bloggers. As a matter of a fact, it's appearing as you are copying expressions and writing format from someone else. That someone else is probably more established blogger than you. Your blog has an aura of despair. When you "fast forward to today", I just think of that one blogger I first noticed loving that phrase. Did you copy it from her?
Stop copying and start creating your own rules. Take the advice in, read it through, pick the stuff that applies to you, and then discard it. Yes, even this advice I'm just giving you. Take it, think about it, and then create your own set of blogging rules. It helps you to establish a distinct voice, one that's easy to recognise even when your visual branding isn't to be seen.
What's your best blogging tip? Share it in the comments.
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I'm Mervi Emilia Eskelinen, an artist and online presence strategist from Finland. I coach and consult indie businesses and bloggers to find focus with their branding, marketing and web. I have almost 20 years of experience, a bachelor's degree and some fun certifications in everything about digital media and marketing.