Writing is a nuanced art and it requires a different skill-set whether you are writing for the web, a novel, an academic paper or even a magazine article.
Nobody has the time or patience to read lengthy, academic style articles on a blog- they want information and they want it fast.
That’s why you will often see shorter paragraphs and plenty of images on blogs, with top bloggers electing to utilise a more conversational tone than you will find elsewhere.
Still, there are certain principles that hold true to any form of writing. One of my favourites is mentioned by Stephen King in his seminal tome, Stephen King On Writing:
“To Write well, you need to read a lot”
Whatever it is you’re writing, reading people who do it well is a great way to learn. King suggests trying to copy their style and tone, by doing this you will eventually develop your own unique brand of writing.
It’s something I did myself when I first started blogging. As I realised my work was very academic and not best suited to the web.
One of the bloggers I avidly follow is Neil Patel, who we interviewed on this blog a while back.
I read and attempted to emulate Patel’s style.
Patel suggests that it’s best to write in an F shape for the web as research shows people follow that trajectory when reading on the web.
This is something you won’t see in a magazine or book but on the web it’s best to keep your writing short and snappy; something Patel does extremely well.
Concentrating on something as small and seemingly insignificant as writing in a more conversational tone and breaking up your text with images can be the difference between retaining a reader and losing them.
Such tips are invaluable but it takes more than the above to succeed and If you’re knew to blogging it can be rather overwhelming.
So to help you discern the best way to write blog posts we asked 16 experts to give us their top web writing tips and techniques.
The small snippets of wisdom included in this article could help take your blog from zero to hero, so give the article a read and make sure to share your own writing tips in the comments at the end of the article.
Don’t Write For Everyone Or About Everything
Do not write for everyone because you cannot possibly appeal to everyone. Get to know your audience as much as humanly possible and write for them only. This does not automatically exclude everyone else as people from other groups might come. However, this approach almost guarantees that you will get a good reader base.
Do not write about everything either, keep your focus relatively narrow. With this approach, you will be able to actually research and understand a field exceptionally well and then write high-quality content that will be appreciated by your audience.
Streamline Your Publishing Process
A crucial factor in getting things turned around quickly is having an effective approvals process in place. Try and give yourself a head start before you’re even close to sign-off stage by:
• asking journalistic questions early
• and ensuring your internal process for creating content is as streamlined as possible
If a piece in draft has to receive input from ten people before it can be released into the world, it’s probably going to lack impact by the time it gets published.
Keep Your Audience in Mind
Remember who’s reading your content. You’re writing for them, so write in a way they are more likely to enjoy and engage with. Think of the phrase “the customer is always right” but apply it here and you’ll understand that a blogger without an audience is just someone who publishes words on the internet.
Write with Personality!
Your blog is your word – this is your chance to stand out and sprinkle some of yourself in the words you publish. A unique style is what makes one blogger preferred to another. So if you’re sticking to your niche and writing for your audience, a good, personal writing style can really help establish you as an individual, rather than just another blogger.
- Be yourself. Use your voice. They are there to read what you have to say, so write as if you are speaking to them directly.
- Do not set blog length limits. I have written some that are one paragraph long and others that would translate into pages and pages of text. It all depends on the topic.
- Split up tips into a series. If you have 5 Top Tips, share a tip-a-day.
- The minute you have a blog post idea start a draft. Type out all your gibberish ideas into the page. Then when you have time come back and write.
- Just write. So any people I know are afraid. Of what I do not know. Just write and you will be amazed at what happens, what doors open and who walks through.
Break Up The Text
First, the word count should hit between 800-1000 words to be effective as a quality article. Shorter articles just don’t make the cut or keep readership. Second, subheadings and highlighted quotes help to break up what is otherwise a very lengthy chunk of text. The reader’s eye tends to scan paragraphs for what’s important so subheadings and important quotes that are centered and enlarged within the text keep the reader’s eye moving down the page.
Lastly, when you write an article for a blog, the most important tip is to write the way your audience speaks. Every industry has its own lingo, if your article targets a specific niche, write FOR them. Strive to speak the same language as your audience, so to speak.
Bring In A Second Opinion
Read your blog aloud
Good writing appeals to the ear more than the eye. If your blog sounds good when you read it, likely it’ll be clear and effective.
Have someone else read it
When we write something, we know the content so well we may miss imperfections in the text. An “outsider” is more able to spot problems, which you can then correct.
Ask your source to review
If you blog is quoting someone–or if it’s an interview–show the draft to the person. Frequently, errors will have crept it. These can annoy your source and make the post less valuable to your readers. It takes a little time to do such checking, but the payoff is big. Not only will your post be more accurate but the person you’re working with will appreciate your effort to get it right.
Be Original & Unique
Don’t write that new blog post unless you can be first, better, or different.
The internet is so saturated with content, which means that cutting through the clutter to get noticed requires some competitive advantage. Are you the first to write about this subject? That’s the best case scenario because you’ll get the notice of readers and search engines alike without too much effort.
The next best case is to be better than the competition. See what’s already out there on the topic, then make your content more comprehensive, more timely, more emotional. Better.
And if you aren’t first, and you can’t write something better, then you need to be different. Find a new angle to write about the same subject. And if not a new angle, try a new medium: video, infographic, interview.
Utilise The Skyscraper Technique
My favorite blog writing tip is the called the Skyscraper Technique. It involves finding a piece of content that is already extremely popular in your specific niche, writing a similar article and making your piece 10X better.
You’re effectively finding the largest building in the city, and then building on top of it instead of starting at the ground floor; hence skyscraper.
BuzzSumo is an awesome tool for seeing what content about a specific keyword has recently been popular. Once you’ve created the piece reach out to the people who shared and linked to the other piece of content. If your content is really ten times more valuable, your chances of success will be much higher.
Write For Scanners
My #1 tip would be to write for scanners. A lot of people nowadays use their phones for just about everything and majority of what they do is read on social media or on blogs. The problem is they don’t want to read articles more than 800 words. They just want to know what’s important, why and how quickly can they find the info. So, I suggest creating articles that get straight to the point, are brief, around 500 words or less, and are easy for users to read.
Is the golden rule too simple to cite here? Treat your readers as you’d want to be treated: edit and proofread your work, link to sources in such a way that readers know where you’re pointing them, and be succinct – we’re all pressed for time. Use lists. Use visuals. Label graphs. Write so that someone skimming headers can get the main idea and decide whether they want to read through for details. Write so that the details provide context and depth. No matter what you’re writing about, this will make it easier to expand your audience.
Write In A Conversational Tone
Condense your thoughts, write to-the-point sentences and blogs. Attention spans are much shorter today and the average reader won’t continue reading if your message is lost in a long-winded paragraph. People simply don’t take the time to read long blogs unless they’re extremely riveting and written on a very popular subject.
Write Unique Copy
You can Google a subject to learn how many times it’s been written and rewritten, often with no new information or focus. You can find a new twist to “refresh” a subject, or better yet, do your homework and write about something new. Spend some time on places like Facebook and find out what people are talking about and the questions they’re asking. Use good, solid sources to answer those questions in your blog and you’ll become the new authority on the subject.
Jot Title Ideas Down
My best advice is to immediately write down, note or start a draft post when you get an idea of what to write about next. Sometimes it’s hard coming up with that next post topic or thought. If you’ll make a note of the thoughts when they come to you (I start a draft post with the thought so I can come back to it when I’m ready) then you’ll automatically have topics ready when you sit down to write.
Provide Helpful & Relevant Content
For too long, we’ve been pushing content first, and understanding who consumes it second. To best reach and resonate with your audience, you need to understand who they are, what they are interested in, what matters to them most. To create content that performs today, we need to flip the process from top down to audience up. This means taking an audience-first approach to creating content. Understanding who your audience is allows you to create content that you know will resonate, cutting through the noise and providing consumers with helpful, timely, and relevant content.
Make It Legible
- Write for people and not for search engines. This means that your sentences should be short and crisp. Only include 3-4 lines in a paragraph.
- Use a font size between 14 and 18 (I personally prefer 16). This would make you text look less cramped and is easy to consume.
- If possible, break your content into a list. For example, if you’re writing about productivity tips, title your blog as ‘7 Productivity Tips that will add 3 hours to your day’. Now you can create 1-2 paragraphs per tip.
Stay On Topic
My best tip for any blogger is to stay on topic! Don’t spiral onto other things that could confuse the reader. Keep your blog posts short and sweet, which will allow the readers to find the answer that they need without having to read all sorts of irrelevant stuff. The best way around this is to create blog posts for those ‘other’ topics and link to them in your blog post. That way the reader can still find out more if they wish to, but can also avoid it if it is unnecessary.
Write For The Busy Modern Lifestyle
When writing for your blog you have to rethink the way you approach writing. Unlike offline readers, online readers are usually in a hurry. So, you have to give them what they need, and fast. That means breaking up your content into short paragraphs and sentence, with well spaced out sections (using headings) that are easy to scan. It also means including as much relevant imagery as you can (images, gifs, videos, presentations) to spice up your content and keep people engaged for as long as possible.