In May 2008 I started a weekly series I lovingly referred to as the Blog Tip Sharing Project. At the time, I was pretty much in love with all things blogging and wanted to share some of the things I’d learned along the way. Also at that time, I really felt like I had a pretty good handle on the blogosphere and where I fit into the mix.
It’s now a year and a half later and I’m not as enamored with all things blogging and I don’t really feel like I have any idea where I fit exactly in the blogosphere, except that I do own a miniscule slice and adore those who come visit me. So very much has changed since I first wrote the series, that when I look back and re-read them, they are almost comical.
Nearly every week those tips are linked to or I get an email from someone asking about something they’d read in the series. This is why I’m going to be editing and re-publishing them. I know people have found them to be helpful, but they also contain things that are no longer true. I feel bad when I check my stats and see that someone has spent an hour reading outdated blog tips.
I’m going to continue to call the series Blog Tip Sharing Project, but instead of just ME sharing, I’m really hoping that YOU will help me. The whole idea is “SHARING,” me with you, and you with me. This series will only be published on Saturdays, though I’m not making any promises that it will be EVERY Saturday.
Blog Tip Sharing Project Redux: Writing Tips
Disclaimer: In NO WAY do I feel qualified to give any sort of advice when it comes to writing improvement. My grammar is sketchy and my vocabulary is limited to words like “totally” and “awesome.”
Welcome back to class everyone! Did you all find a comfortable chair? You there…in the back? I don’t bite, you can sit right up front here! I hope that if you took this course before you’re happy to be back!
Before I begin, I just want to say that I have read posts about WHAT people SHOULD and SHOULDN’T write on THEIR own personal blogs and almost all came off as pompous and arrogant. In NO WAY do I want to seem pompous or arrogant. These tips are merely things that have worked for ME.
Let’s begin! *clap, clap!* I think for easiest information digestion, I’ll just put these tips in list form. These are the things that I’ve done in relation to my writing that I think have helped.
1. Shorter paragraphs, with breaks between paragraphs, are easier to read.
I cannot digest posts without paragraph breaks. Large blocks of text make me constipated.
2. If you’re seeking comments, talk about things that people relate to, include your readers in the conversation, ask them questions.
I like to think of Playgroups are No Place for Children as a sort of community blog. It’s not often that I write a post that is “deep,” but rather I write things that lots of parents would like to discuss also. Many of my posts ask questions or spur conversations, which I feel like creates an atmosphere where people feel comfortable commenting.
3. Let readers into your life. Be real, write from the heart with honesty.
Highlight the good in your life, but don’t forget to be real and occasionally admit that your life isn’t perfect.
4. Along the same line as letting people getting to know the real YOU, include pictures with your posts.
This certainly doesn’t apply to you if you would rather not post photos of yourself or your kids. Dooce wrote a great post that convinced me that posting pictures of my children is no worse than taking them in public to the grocery store where they’re exposed to LOTS more people than see this blog. I used to put a watermark on every photo of my children so that they are less desirable loot for picture stealing jerks, but I quit. Instead, after a post is no longer on my first page, I delete the photo from the post.
If you’re uncomfortable using photos of your children, you can always become a creative photographer, capturing the back of their heads or just their feet. You can also use non-human images that somehow relate to your post. Flickr is a great place to search for images, just be sure to check the Creative Commons information to see if it available for use.
5. If you choose to use pseudonyms for your kids’ names, use a real name versus a cutesy name. It’s easier to relate to and follow their stories.
I have received quite a lot of positive feedback about changing my kids’ pseudonyms from Peanut and Shel to Carson and Ella. It’s very difficult to keep straight the “characters” on your blog if their names sound like something you’d name a poodle.
The reason I use pseudonyms isn’t because I don’t want you to know my kids’ names. I just don’t want my kids names to be Google-able. When they’re in 5th grade and their friends Google their names, I don’t want them to land on my blog where I talked about them playing with tampons or smearing poop on the wall.
6. Post frequently enough. Do not post too often. More than once a day is too often.
I’ve read some opinions that say you should ONLY post when what you’ve written is truly worthy of being read by others. Meh. I don’t necessarily agree. I’m well aware that all (most) of my posts are not award-winning works of art. It’s my blog and if there are some days that I don’t feel like honing my writing craft, but instead want to write a silly post, then I will.
I also think that since so many people use feed readers or Twitter to click through to blog posts then you’re free to post as infrequently as you want. People will see when you’ve posted or when you’ve sent out a tweet about your new post, no need to worry about being forgotten if you haven’t posted in a week.
7. Write about a variety of subjects, but also know your readers.
I try to write about my kids one day, myself and my interests on other days, marriage occasionally, and anything else that strikes me as funny. I really do put thought into WHAT I’m going to post about, so that I don’t have twenty posts in a row about recipes or arguments with my husband.
The topics you typically write about will determine the type of reader you’ll attract. If you don’t normally use profanity or write about trigger subjects like politics, parenting practices, and religion, but then you suddenly write a tirade on Obama, co-sleeping, and Scientology, filled with f-bomb sentence enhancers, you’ll need to be prepared for backlash. I’m not saying that you can’t or shouldn’t write something outside of your typical genre, only that you need to understand that your readers could be shocked when they get something they weren’t expecting.
If you have any writing related tips to share with the class, please leave them in the comments section. Oh look! I found this great post with 12 writing tips from Write to Done.
Please…I beg of you! Please refrain from comments that sound like “Well MY biggest pet peeve about certain blogs is….” or “I’m too important to read about what you had for lunch!” Those kind of comments will piss me off.
Quick reminder…Blogging? It’s a hobby, no? We are allowed to write however and whatever we want on our PERSONAL blogs, right? Take these tips with an entire MINE of salt.
Is that the bell I hear? Class dismissed.