The good news is that writing is a skill that can be improved, and, contrary to popular belief, it’s not something that only a select few are born with.
Yes, some are naturally born writers, but if you’re not part of that club, with a little coaching and a lot of practice, your writing can significantly improve.
Not only can your writing improve, but your blog post writing can improve as well.
Writing online is different than writing in print. There are certain online writing principles that can improve the success of your posts.
For example, when writing online, it’s best to write in shorter paragraphs. For whatever reason, it’s easier to follow along and read short paragraphs on the internet.
If you need proof, pay attention to the paragraph length of your favorite online publication. Odds are good that the paragraphs are short.
They may even use one sentence paragraphs for added emphasis.
Writing short paragraphs is one of several online writing principles that can significantly improve your blog post writing. Continue reading for more tips that will improve your online writing skills. Sit back, take some notes, and get ready to become a better blogger.
Tip #1: Write the headline first
The first rule of blog post writing is to write the headline first. Even if it’s not exactly the one that you publish with the post, writing the headline first keeps the post focused on one idea and ensures that you know what you’re going to write about.
This isn’t a hard rule, and if it doesn’t work for you, toss it out. But if you listen to most experts, they recommend writing the headline first. It’s worth giving it a try.
The headline doesn’t need to be perfect before you start writing. It can always be tweaked after the post has been written. Actually, it should be tweaked because the more it is, the better it will be.
But before you start writing, draft a headline that will keep your post focused and keep it going in the right direction. You’ll be happy that you did.
Tip #2: Always re-write
There’s a saying that the essence of great writing is re-writing. You may think that authors like Ernest Hemingway were born with a pen and notepad in hand, but the truth is that most of the greatest writers are actually the greatest re-writers.
This is true for writing novels, and it’s true for writing blog posts.
Writing the first draft of a post is the easy part. After that, it’s time to polish.
The biggest mistake that most bloggers make is hitting the publish button too soon. After writing the first draft, it’s easy to hit publish immediately because the post is “so awesome.”
So much so, that it might be the best post written in 2011. President Obama will probably get briefed on it in the morning, and, if it doesn’t go viral, it’s because people didn’t find it, not because it isn’t any good.
Sorry to crash the party, but that’s not how it goes. The first pass is just a draft. If it helps you to not publish too soon, call it a zero draft. It’s a collection of thoughts on paper. Those thoughts need to be polished into a gem. So don’t hit publish yet.
Instead, start re-writing. Start with the introduction, and begin editing. Comb through the entire post and re-write anything that can be improved. Anything.
Pay attention to every sentence. Does it connect precisely with the one in front of it? Do all of the transitions fit together perfectly? Is there a paragraph that isn’t clear, or a sentence that isn’t pulling it’s weight? Can any unnecessary adverbs, adjectives, and phrases be removed?
The difference between an awesome post and an average post is re-writing. If you’re famous or your name is Chris Brogan, you can get away with stream of consciousness blogging, i.e. writing down your thoughts and hitting publish.
For everyone else, writing epic blog posts that get noticed is about writing and then re-writing. It’s ok if you’re not a great writer; you just need to be a great re-writer.
If you want to distance yourself from the millions of blogs wrestling for attention, spend more time re-writing. You’ll learn how to write evergreen posts that stand the test of time. Remember, you’re not just writing a post for today; you’re crafting something that people will read a year or two years from today.
The more time you put into a post today, the better it will be one year from today.
And always remember, the essence of great writing is re-writing.
Tip #3: Sleep on the post
Ok, you don’t need to literally print it out and sleep on it, but if you want your posts to improve, the easiest way is to get a nights sleep before hitting publish.
As a rule of thumb for publishing, it’s ALWAYS better to sleep on a post. Why? Because a post will ALWAYS get better if you sleep on it. Every single time.
After you get some sleep, look at the post again, and do some more re-writing. You’re guaranteed to find typos you missed the first time or think of better ways to phrase a sentence or two. You may even realize that an entire section can be cut out.
Whatever the case, every post will improve if you have the discipline to sleep on it before publishing.
So go ahead and get some shut eye. You deserve it anyway. (Unless it’s 8 AM. In that case, grab some coffee and get your sleep later.)
Tip #4: Write conversationally
Another difference between great writing and average writing is that great writing is a conversation between the author and the reader.
Sure, it’s mostly one way, but if you want to capture the reader’s attention, you need to speak to him. You need to write as if you’re having a conversation.
If you’re not conversing with the reader, then you’re just recording thoughts onto paper. That also happens to be the definition of average writing.
To greatly improve your writing, learn how to have a conversation with the reader.
Learn to anticipate his objections and value his time. Readers aren’t required to read what your’e writing, but if you’re having a conversation, treating the reader with respect, and entertaining a little along the way, there’s a greater chance that he’ll keep reading.
Always remember this—the reader has no obligation to continue reading. The more you can draw him into a conversation, the greater the chance that he will.
Tip #5: Write to someone
One way to write conversationally is to picture a specific person that you are writing to.
Instead of making this mistake, picture one person that you’re writing to and write the post to that person. It can be one of a partent, a friend, or someone you know that would benefit from the post.
It doesn’t really matter who it is, but if you picture one person, and the post resonates with that person, there’s a good chance that it will resonate with other people as well.
Never forget, writing is for the reader. It’s not about showing off your intelligence; it’s about making a connection with the reader. To accomplish that, make sure you’re writing to someone in particular.
These are five tips that can help any blogger begin writing significantly better blog posts. By putting them into practice, you can start writing posts that will resonate with your audience, convert readers to subscribers, and get shared across Facebook and Twitter.
What about you? Do you have any tips for writing better blog posts? If yes, share them by leaving a comment.