10 Blog Writing Tips
1 – Plan Plan Plan!
When I first started out blogging, a decent post would take me about 2 – 3 days of work and procrastination, now it takes me only 2-3 hours. The secret to this is planning properly; if you’re having trouble writing a clear and concise blog post, it’s likely that you’ve skimped on the planing stages. When I’m planning I like to Google what I’m going to call my post and see who else has written on the subject and how well they’ve written it; usually I find the answer to that question is lots and badly respectively. I pride myself on writing the best photography tutorials on the internet and I believe this is largely down to the work put in in the planning stages.
Once I’ve seen what’s out there, I map out my ideas in a spider diagram, categorize those ideas, and then put them in order and I’m ready to write. Have a look at the photo below that show my planning for a post that took up 2300 words and was written start to finish in under 3 hours – writing is the easiest thing in the world if you know what you’re writing about.
2 – Stick To A Format
I use different formats for different subjects as it makes it easier for the readers to understand and read, and readers will recognize the format when they come back and read another post. Writing line after line with the best content in the world is all well and good, but it’s a bit pointless if the average Joe comes along, takes one look and it, and closes the page. I’ve always found it hard to read stuff online, so I write how I would like to read something online and lay everything out clearly and in an organized manor to make it all a load easier to understand.
3 – Use Anecdotes
I personally relate more to people then just a website, so putting a personal touch on your posts is a great way to get repeat traffic. It’s also a nice sly way of sneaking in another post about something you’ve written on the website to keep your visitors busy. You want to be recognized for your writing along with your website, because it will help to build a name for yourself in your niche and start to build towards your traffic. I never hurts to have an ‘about the author’ section at the bottom either.
4 – Stay Within Your Niche
I understand the desire to appeal to as many people as you possibly can, but that’s unfortunately not how it works; you’ll end a ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’. You’re much better off writing about 1 specific topic and doing it properly; the important thing to remember is that specialists always earn more money than generalists and you can always build up to more when you’ve got a good reputation for yourself. In my blog for example, I’ve got a ‘News’ section that has zero posts under it, because although I do want to start writing in there in time, I need to make sure that I’ve got a strong base and a good reputation to go from.
5 – People Don’t Read Introductions – Title Is Key!
Rather disappointingly, people don’t really seem to read introduction, no matter how clear and concise I write them. This became very clear when I wrote this post and I found that people were arguing that I was only featuring Canon gear, I actually had to go back and write in bold ‘PLEASE READ FIRST’ so people would see my explanation why. The biggest tip that I can give you in getting your post viewed (especially though people clicking in Google), is to give it an interesting and accurate title – that’s the part you’ll know they read. I do still write introductions for my posts because I feel it flows better and I need a decent excerpt to go on the home page.
6 – People Love Lists
I knew this was true before I went into blogging, as I’m guilty of scanning over a good list or two, even when better information can be found elsewhere. A good list is a great way to drive traffic to your website because they’re easy to read and you’re more then likely to get people disagree with you in places prompting them to comment and get involved. It’s also a demonstration of your writing skills and if people have read through it, found they like your knowledge and writing, they’re likely to have a look around the rest of your site too.
7 – Photos And Diagrams Help A Lot!
I’m a photographer, so photos are fairly key to what I’m writing about (although you’d be surprised how many bloggers seem to miss the point here), but they’re still important for you too. Have a look between this post and this post and you’ll see a massive difference. The first post only has a featured image, and the second had 21 images, all of which link to the website they’re picturing. A strong visual representation on a website if key to drawing in the readers interest and making them stay on the website.
Sex sells – no 2 ways about it, it just does. A few weeks into starting my website, I went out with a model to take some photos for a blog post I wanted to do called ‘How To: Shooting Into The Sun‘ and the model ended up taking her top off and doing some tasteful shots like that. I’ve posted the image below and you’ll see that it’s not really nudity, but all you have to do is post it in a couple places with NSFW (not safe for workplace) at the end of the title and you’ll see a lot of visitors very quickly. We got 200o visitors on that post alone within a couple days, which was a lot for us then. Please note, I included that photo because it worked with what I was trying to achieve, and I would never just use nudity to get visitors – this is just something I’ve learned.
If you’re struggling to get your point across, the best method I’ve found is to use diagrams. I use a lot of diagrams where I can, and although they can be a little time consuming to make when you’re first starting out, they’re well worth the effort. I made the diagram below to demonstrate focal length’s affect on perspective for my post on focal length, and I’ve used it multiple times since, throughout my site. What’s more is I couldn’t find anyone else out there who was posting diagrams like this, so this was really setting me apart.
Getting the following in the first place is the hard part, but once you’ve found some good seed followers they’ll continue to come back. The best way to make sure that this happens though is to start your social networking through Facebook and Twitter early because then you’ve got somewhere to remind your followers of new posts. Facebook is a great way to send posts to dedicated fans who are likely to see and visit it, but it’s a lot harder to get people to like it. Twitter is easy to get followers but the quality of followers is pretty poor as you won’t stay in most peoples feeds for long. The good thing about twitter though is that people are more likely to share your posts with friends through the retweet function, which helps to build on your following.
9 – Don’t Miss A Chance To Plug Other Posts
I have a plugin installed called SEO Links which will link my keywords to other posts I’ve written on the subject, which is a fantastic way of keeping visitors on your site and reading – here’s an example I’ve taken from my latest post: ‘Now, if you’ve read my post on metering modes, you’ll understand how the camera looks at a scene…’ Don’t miss opportunities like this.
At the end of every single post, no matter how small, I always include the following lines:
“If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment and we’ll get back to you. As always, if you have any photos that you feel could be used on this website, click on the ‘submit a photo’ section at the top and have your images seen by thousands. Enjoy!
It lets the reader know that although the post has come to an end, there’s still ways to interact with me on the website and plenty more to read. Never be afraid to plug yourself on your own website.
10 – Interact With Readers
Giving the readers of your blog the opportunity to talk to each other, as well as ask you questions, is a great way of making the website more interactive, and it’s an excellent personal touch on your behalf. I’ve had readers email me and comment on my website and I’ve been able to comment back and give them advice, and not just through my website, but through Facebook and Twitter too. This is based on the same basis that including anecdotes in your blog helps your reader get to know you as THE brand, and you’ll soon become more well renowned and respected within your community.
Thanks for reading, don’t forget to check out the website I run with my brother Michael at www.ExpertPhotography.com