So you’ve decided to start a blog. Congratulations. You and a zillion others. Might want to try and make yours attractive to read, otherwise what’s the purpose of writing one? But how to make a readable blog? There are no rules about what a blog should be, that’s part of the fun of blogging. What to do? Well, keep on reading this one, for starters.
While I have some writing experience and training, I am not claiming to be a Master Blogger. I do have a huge amount of reading experience so I am something of a Master Reader. Since its your blog we’re discussing, you’re the one who decides what it looks like, what you write about and how often (unless you maintain a company blog or something similar, in which case its a different story). So I won’t try and tell you what to do. I can, though, give a few tips that might be useful.
Firstly, the opening sentence of your posts needs to be catchy. It is surprising how many bloggers start each post with “So I went to Rome last weekend”, “So this is what I think about the dairy consumption in the Mid-West”, “So here is the final proof there’s life on Mars”. In all these sentences, “so” is absolutely unnecessary. Try reading them without the “so” – the meaning is still there. “So” is just an example of “burden words” people use. When used in speech they can be annoying enough (think about all those times you heard “like, you know”) but there is absolutely no excuse for using them in a written text.
Secondly, the length of your posts should be reasonable. Of course, nobody can tell you how long your blog posts should be. There is some common sense to it though. Personally, I prefer posts that are column-size, 300-800 words, readable in a couple of minutes. Doesn’t mean you can’t write shorter or longer posts, but if you always write a couple of sentences, why not stick to Twitter? And if you write posts of thousands words every other day, are you sure they are meant to be read and enjoyed by others and are not just a form of therapy? A bit of diversity in your post length is fine, but keep the readers (and their attention span) in mind.
Thirdly, you may want some pictures in your blog. Yes, the ones that mean a thousand words. A couple of well-chosen pictures can make a good post excellent. But putting dozens of photos in every post is just unnecessary – its a blog, not Instagram. And if you put up a picture a day with a few words – that’s Twitter stuff! Blogs are primarily reading material, so use pictures to illustrate your writing, not as core material. Unless you blog about photography, of course. Every now and then I submit a photo post myself, but I try not to make a habit out of it.
Fourthly, your blog should have a topic. Writing about whatever comes up in your head is fine, but to attract readers that would come back, its nice if they can follow a theme in your writing. Doesn’t matter what your topic is, as long as you write interestingly enough it can be as narrow as the genetic diversity of moths at the Isle of Skye or as the history of democracy in the Arab world. On the other hand, your topic can be as broad as marine biology or as small European countries. Just write with the (non-specialist) reader in mind, and try to transmit your enthusiasm about the topic!
Fifthly and last – post regularly. Personally, I am rather put off by bloggers that are posting daily. Partly its jealosy of them being able to write so frequently but partly because I don’t believe that one’s topic can be that inspiring day after day. Posting regularly does help gather followers. If I have to wait a month between posts, I lose track (and interest). Once per two weeks is the lowest acceptable frequency I would say. I try to write at least weekly, myself, and would be very happy if I could pull off two posts per week. Reminds readers you’re still alive.
And that’s what I can do for your blog. From now on you’re on your own. Happy blogging and remember:
- Don’t start every post with “so”
- Be brief, but not too brief
- Use pictures wisely
- Choose a topic you like
- And post regularly!