With an exception of those dedicated solely to audio and video, the heart of most blogs lie within the written content therein. The blogger’s ability to captivate their readers’ interest, and engage them through their written word can make or break his or her success—so in other words, if you’re a blogger, taking steps towards improving your writing ability is an essential move that you simply cannot afford to skip.
This article will explore the things you can do to improve your writing in general, as well as specific steps you can take to improve each individual article you write. After reading, I challenge you to go through your “already published” works to see if you can improve a thing… or two.
Your Daily Writing Quota
The first step to improving your writing is to write regularly. Nobody was born an awesome writer; they had to work at it, and so do you. A great way to accomplish this is to set a daily writing quota and make sure you meet it everyday. 100 words a day is a great starting point, and can work wonders for your writing ability over time.
That doesn’t mean you have to publish a new post everyday, but at least write in a journal, work on a draft post, or participate in some creative writing exercises. Whatever you do, write everyday and over the course of a year, you’ll be a much better writer than you are today—even if you’re already awesome at it.
Mary Jaksch wrote a pretty extensive list over at Copyblogger on becoming a better writer, which may be worth your while to check out if you want some more general advice. As for now, I’ll get on with the specifics…
Simple, Effective Outlining
Next I’ll cover the little gems that’ll make up a large majority of your blog posts: your individual articles. The easiest way to start a piece of writing is to begin with a general outline of the entire piece.
The first and last paragraphs (or mini-paragraphs) will obviously make up your introduction and conclusion, so what I’m really concerned about here is the “stuff” in between. Write down anywhere from two to four things that are related to your title and these will be the sub-points your article will cover (the main point being the title which should encompass the whole thing).
Ask yourself, what individual things need to be addressed to fulfill what the title of my article promises? That should provide a good starting point to coming up with good sub-headings for your article.
Get Your Ideas Down
From there, you’ll start by writing an introduction for what they can expect from the article—but don’t give away too much. It’s best to engage your readers by adding a little suspense to your introduction. Keep them guessing.
Next, simply go through your sub-points and elaborate on each one. This is what will make up the body of your article. The point here is to not worry so much about things like spelling and grammar and just get your ideas down. The beauty of having words on a screen (or page) is that they’re not going anywhere (granted you save often!), so you can always go back and fix the spelling and grammar later (which you WILL do).
Once you’ve fully elaborated on your sub-points and feel like the problem that your title imposed has been solved, write out a conclusion to your article and engage your readers one last time by asking them a thought-provoking question to encourage comments and discussion.
Congratulations! The “hard part” is over (mostly).
The Art of Formatting
This takes me to the next aspect of your writing that might not “make” your article all on its own, but it can certainly break it—and that is the presentation of your article via formatting. Fortunately, formatting is very simple, and taking the extra time to “discombobulate” your writing can mean the difference between your visitors staying to read what you have to say, or clicking away due to an overwhelm of TEXT-IN-FACE.
The easiest way to format your work is to turn the “sub-points” you made within your outline into short, consumable headings that encompass the sentences and paragraphs below them. Break your paragraphs into 1-3 sentence “chunks” (separated by blank lines) and make good use of bold and italic text to emphasize key points in your writing.
The bottom line is, formatting makes your content more readable. It’s an art, but that doesn’t mean it has to be complicated. Think of it as art… in 2nd grade. Not so hard now is it?
Finalizing Your Work
This very last but crucial step is the icing on the cake, the tip of the iceberg, the polish on the shoe… whatever you want to call it; just know that it’s very important.
Once you’re done writing and formatting your article just the way you want it, you need to go back and proof-read it for spelling errors, grammar mistakes, sentences that just don’t make sense, etc. And then do it again until you feel like your article is perfect. If you’re really serious about producing the best quality article possible, you’ll set the whole thing aside and do this step over again later.
And that’s all there is to it! If you make a concerted effort to write everyday (100 words a day isn’t that much) and use the simple-but-effective article writing strategy I just described above, not only will your writing continuously improve on a regular basis, but you’ll be captivating your readers in a way that makes you stand out far above most bloggers—which is essential in today’s growing blogosphere.
Let’s Talk About You
What is YOUR current strategy for producing amazing content? How does it compare or contrast with what I just presented to you? There’s always room for improvement, so I encourage you to share your knowledge and opinions in the comments section below.
Jonathan Beebe is an online entrepreneur who writes at Make Money Online Work, a blog about entrepreneurship, online business, and day job exit strategies.