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Sandcurves Statement On Blog Content Best Practices

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Posted on October 29, 2010

This post simply takes a broad swipe at blog content creation best practices.  There's a lot of stuff here, and to a certain extent it is a bit thrown together.  You might only read a little bit of it, that's fine. 

I think there's stuff in here that is useful.  That's because I learned everything from hundreds of other blogs that I have read or glanced over.  I'm simply the student, writing up my homework - a little summary of what the process of producing good blog content might be like. 

As such, your input would be so useful.  This is one blog post I intend to keep editing from time to time as I learn.  So read a bit of it, and tell me what I am getting wrong or what you found useful. 

Becoming A Good Blog Post Writer

There's so much emphasis on little tips and tricks to make your blog zoom up the success ladder, but I honestly feel that this advice is often left out.  Master the art of writing

Make a project of improving your own writing.  That's what I have been doing for the last couple of weeks, and plan to continue working on… for a while! 

How would you do that? 

266/365 Reading on the loo
[ Image by Stuartpilbrow | License ]

I think the best place to start is simply to practice.  Write a lot.  Re-read your stuff a while later and see what you would have done differently. 

You could also collect some good blog posts that others have written and analyze them.  I've been doing this and find it's not only educational. It's fun as well. 

Another thing I recommend is reading books.  You know, those paper things. 

Try to read some fiction and a variety of styles.  I don't think you need to read 'War and Peace', read the fun stuff. 

What To Write

The most important question to ask yourself is - "would I read this?"  Is it fun, informative, educational, strange, naughty or in some way worth reading? 

One good way to approach writing is to tell stories.  A good story pulls your readers into your content.  If a post starts with a story you often read more just to figure out how the author's going to make their point. 

You need to make sure your post is relevant to your readers.  This can vary very much - here on Sandcurves I've got much more freedom to write about all sorts of things. On See-namibia (my other website) relevance is crucial. 

Your credibility to the subject matter is important as well.  If you don't know that much about what you are planning to write about, do some good research (and give some link love to the important info sources). 

Focus on your readers.  You could look at old comments to give you ideas of directions for new content. 

It's useful to think of your readers more as friends than as "clients".  Keep it rather informal.  They don't have to read your stuff, they've got lots of choice on the web. 

Focus on your reader rather than focusing on search engines on your first draft.  You can always come back once your copy reads well and add 'keywords' if you really feel in necessary. 

Write what humans what to read, and stick to that. 

Invite interactivity.  If you want a good readership you need to keep those comments coming in to give you some credibility down the line. 

How To Write

Limit each paragraph to a single idea

Write by hand first if you've got the time.  I've been doing that with all my posts recently and find it is so useful - it forces you to have at least two drafts. 

How long should blog posts be?  I think aim for 350 to 500 words.  I manage to hit somewhere around there on the See-Namibia Blog.  On Sandcurves I'm way over that…

Don't practice what I preach, keep your posts short and you'll be able to grow your blog faster.  If you want to write longer posts, make sure you write less frequently - I'm aiming for two times a week. 

Loose the insider jargon.  I know that's a hard one.  Remember that many cleaver readers may not be first language English speakers. 

Write good headlines that pull people into your blog post. 

It's a good idea to create an outline first.  That way you can create the structure early and only worry about the details when you write. 

When you're working on an outline, try to think of the blog post as a series of short scenes in a play.  Imagine each bit and how they'd fit together best to make a story that logically flows as the reader moves through it. 

One way to improve your content is to collaborate with others.  This is very broad, but could include a spouse that proof reads to another blogger you communicate with. 

Because of the way people read online you need to keep your best information near the top of the post.  You could do this with a lead in summary or introduction, and then elaborate later in the post. 

Learn all the rules of good copy writing, and then sometimes ignore them and just have some fun writing. 

After your header, you could include a lead in line.  Make sure this line also draws readers in as much as the header. 

Pre-Post Review

Write at least one draft.  Edit that draft until you've caught most of the typos and bad grammar.  You also need to be very sure that you've written something that makes sense. 

Ask yourself those same questions you did at the start - is it interesting, fun, informative…

Lastly, try to read it aloud at least once.  That may sound silly, but if it reads nicely aloud, it'll be much more natural to read. 

Learn from the real experts:

I'd love to hear your thoughts. 

I'll post again around Monday night, probably something about headlines.

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