When I was at the University of California, Santa Cruz–the days before blogs were as mainstream as they are today–I was still keeping a very tumultuous LiveJournal. Luckily I was also spending my energy at UC Santa Cruz’ press room with our teacher Conn Hallinan from the City On A Hill Press.
All the editors would sit in a circle as he critiqued each article. It was a lesson in proof-reading, editing, and most days–grammar. We were lucky to have him. It’s a luxury to have an editor.
With blogging, most of us don’t have coaches or a second set of eyes to offer constructive feedback on each post. We have to use our best judgement, and hit that sometimes daunting “publish” button without knowing if we’re on the right track. I’m happy to share the following five tips no matter where you are on your blogging journey. And if you’re just curious about the sloth reference, scroll to the anthropomorphic sloth at the bottom of the blog.
1. Open with a bang. You want to send the message to the reader straight away that they are in for a treat. Think of your blog like you’re working a cheese kiosk. If the customer takes a sample of your cheese and it’s delicious (let’s say it’s jalapeño pepper jack–yum!) it’s more likely your prospect will buy your cheese. Blogging can feel a bit like selling. You need to the experience engaging, and provide value to the reader. Win them over at first bite.
2. Don’t feel like you have to write an essay. In our ADD world we are competing with a billion other people for our reader’s attention. You don’t have to include the whole cook book in there. Sometimes Seth Godin’s blogs are only a few lines, and they’re very impactful. Size doesn’t matter!
3. Take time to get inspired. You don’t have to write about what everyone else is writing about just because you feel like you have to take a position. Good writing comes from the heart. On that note spend time outside of your head. Many of us spend way too much time in our head and not enough time in our hearts. Yoga, meditation and exercise (like running or dancing) can help get you out of your head. Try to spend at least 30 minutes a day doing something that is not cerebral. Remember our minds can deceive us.
4. Proofreading! Reread what you write. If you are too impatient to read over your work–every word–before publishing, you need to come back to your blog tomorrow. Trust me there are days I’ve felt like publishing without giving my work a once-over. But the truth is the longer you spend on the blog, the better the blog will read. The easier the blog reads for the reader, the harder the writer worked to make it that way. Good writing takes practice, patience and consistency. Watch out for spelling mistakes like “loose” versus “lose” or “there” “their” “they’re.” Misusing these words makes us look sloppy.
5. Write about something that won’t get you fired, upset your spouse, or send the FBI after you. Our blogs are the most public communication most of us will participate in. I encourage you to assume everyone you know is reading your blog. I am not saying you shouldn’t be yourself, but I am saying you should be cognizant that people will read your stuff, and you need to feel confident in the nature of the content.
And if you screw up, read this article to make yourself feel better. Fail, feel, learn and get back on your feet asap! Here’s #12 of the 33 disappointed animals.