I didn’t really mean to start writing a blog.
Back when I quit my job and began building a freelance writing career, blogging was one of the only ways I could get my writing published though.
Most of the work I then started doing for ‘real-life’ clients was simply writing a blog for them too.
And while my approach changed slightly for these posts the fundamental rules of blogging remained.
Here I’ll share with you the fundamental rules about blog writing I accidentally learned in those early days – and that still work for me today.
1. Full in love with the full-stop (period)
The full-stop (or ‘period’ if you’re from across the pond) is the King of Grammar when it comes to writing a blog. I sometimes go back over a post taking out all the commas and semi-colons and replacing them with full-stops.
I do this as an experiment thinking that I’ll change them all back before I hit publish on account of being a ‘real writer’ and all. But I rarely do.
While I’m at it I often delete words or whole sentences from a blog post. Words that meant so much to me when I was bashing them out on the keyboard but are in fact completely pointless in the eye of the beholder (i.e. reader).
Guess what I’ve learned? Ninety percent of the time a blog post will read better with more full-stops and less words in it.
2. Write with the same voice you talk in
A blog post should read like you just opened the door, flagged someone down off the street, invited them in and started chatting to them over a cup of coffee.
If you’ve read the first tip on this list you might be wondering why I didn’t go back and change all the commas in that last sentence to full-stops. The simple answer is BECAUSE I DON’T TALK LIKE THAT!
NB: Shocking reveal #1: When writing a blog you can start a sentence with ‘And’ or ‘But’ if this is how you would speak the sentences.
Shocking reveal #2: Yes I really do talk like this blog post reads.
3. Write a killer title
The title really must draw people in from the street and get them to come and sit with you a while.
We could go through all the elements that make up a good blog post title here but Jon Morrow sort of steals the limelight with his free Headline Hacks report. Download and absorb this. It will cover more than I can tell you here. Plus he’s much, much better at this than me.
4. Don’t ask permission and stop apologising
There’s a time and a place to be bashful and writing a blog isn’t one of them. Not by a long shot. Using sentences like ‘in my opinion’ or ‘I tend to think’ means the ideas in your blog posts will pack much less of a punch.
This particularly applies when writing your own blog. In my opinion you should either stop apologising or stop writing.
(I’m kind of dead set on this writing thing now so I would rather stop apologising.)
5. Love the white space
Probably the most well-known of all the tips on the list.
Over any other medium writing a blog demands line breaks and white space for weary readers’ eyes to rest.
Do you read blog posts or website content that is small and all bunched up into just a couple of paragraphs? Do you enjoy deciphering text that looks like one round blob of grey ink splattered onto the page?
Didn’t think so.
Split up your blog posts into manageable chunks.
Even if it makes absolutely no grammatical sense to do so.
Trust me – your readers will thank you for it.
So there you are. Hey, feel free to break the rules on a regular basis if you see fit. Some of the best blog posts are the ones where the writer has clearly read the rules but then taken that trusty rule book, torn it into a thousand pieces and made it into bedding for their pet hamster.
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photo credit: Kristina B via Flickr.