4 DON’TS of Compelling Blog Content
People are always so quick to tell you ways to improve on what you’re doing. Plenty of helpful tips like, blog about current events, use keywords, keep your posts under 500 words. I am of the mindset that we need balance to prevent disturbances in the Force.
For the last few years, blogging has been a certified branding staple – a way of cementing your brand and establishing credibility. It still is. I’m here to tell you what NOT to do and highlight all the ways we’re messing up as bloggers. Admittedly, some of my tips will be rooted in my rebellion against a bad English teacher from my youth. Others will be Einstein-level genius. All will be honest and helpful tools you can use to solidify your credibility through the artful use of words.
Tip #1 – DON’T go in blind
A fool is known by his multitude of words. Whether you speak them or write them, the words you choose will be the essence of what builds your digital persona. So before jumping off into your blog, identify why you’re writing and what you will write about. Are you writing because you have something to say or because the Social Media Powers That Be say you should? Don’t fool yourself. Plenty of us set sail in a certain direction because the rest of the boats are heading that way. Well, here’s a don’t for you: Don’t be a wuss. Do what is right and necessary for you.
With your reasoning in place, you can choose your what. What you blog about is fed by your own interests – things you know or would like to know. Easily identify your interests by writing down how you spend your money and time. What do you read? What periodicals do you buy? Which blogs and sites do you visit often? You’re far more likely to come across as a knowledgeable, passionate blogger when you discuss topics that interest you.
Tip #2 – DON’T complicate simple things
“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” – Albert Einstein
Don’t make your writing style complex. The truth of the matter is most blog topics are simple (haven’t come across too many rocket science blogs lately). Your blog should be simple too. A rule of thumb is your writing should be on a sixth to eighth grade level unless you are specifically targeting an academic audience. Anything too complex or wordy gets the yawn (and the gas face ).
Tip #3 – DON’T be the next guy
In recent years, the urban community (that’s code) has been saying, “Do you,” and “I’m doin’ me.” That’s where you need to live. Chances are, you will be blogging about what someone else is already blogging about, so the issue is not necessarily one of content. It’s the delivery. Perez Hilton has Perez Hilton down to a science and Marla Tabaka is on her Marla Tabaka grind. You have to do your thing because you’ll do it better than anyone else. The beauty of being an individual is that it’s your default setting. Two people can look at the exact scene and walk away with two very different stories of what happened. So what you’re writing about is important. How you deliver that information is more important. Do you.
Tip #4 – DON’T be so quick to hit ‘Publish’
I know it’s the future, but there’s still such a thing as editing. As bloggers, we do our research, write our posts and then hit ‘publish’ and pat ourselves on the back. Well, don’t be so quick to publish. It is madness to pour your heart, soul and research into an 800-word piece then have a snob like me get irritated and never got to your blog again because of a dangling participle. Granted, no one really wants to read this sentence: “I’ve not yet discovered a way in which to more succinctly designate the appropriate Meta tags.” Too la-di-dah. I’d rather read: “Haven’t quite figured out meta tags.”
Here’s my advice (to spite that English teacher I mentioned earlier): Know the Queen’s English then feel free to break the rules for the sake of your audience and communication, not ignorance. You can download grammar apps for a few bucks. Grammar Girl has one, TOEFL offers a grammar app, Cambridge offers a grammar series. Who else? Recommend more good apps for blogging professionals. The easiest way I’ve found to learn my grammar is simply reading old school books (published pre-1990). I ask myself, “What would Ayn Rand write?”
Your writing doesn’t have to be perfect, but excellence dictates that it should be your best work. When you’re done writing, your work needs a cold read using fresh eyes. If you work alone, go grab a cup of coffee (or make some tea if you’re enlightened… or British), make a sandwich, watch an episode of Family Guy then go back and read what you’ve written to make sure it’s fluid, descriptive and easily understood.
How do you determine what you’ll write about? Share. Let us shape the world together.
#1 – Don’t go in blind. Identify your reason for writing what you will write.
#2 – Don’t complicate simple things.
#3 – Don’t be the other guy. You do a horrible impression of him, but a fine one of you.
#4 – Don’t be so quick to hit ‘Publish’. Editing is still a thing.
Thanks to Valeriy Khromov for the image.
So, what are some DON’TS you try to avoid in your blog posts? Leave a quick comment below.