OK! You’ve thought about what it means to write on-line, and you’ve sorted out what kind of post you are planning (this one’s another list). And if you haven’t thought about those things see my previous posts on the subjects. Now, here’s a checklist of 9 things I’ve learned to look out for in every blogpost, having now posted 94 of them. Please add your recommendation to bring it up to a big fat 10.
Entice the reader in, after all they have access to so many blogs. Often your hook is a question, sometimes an intriguingly presented idea. It should entice the reader and not lead to disappointment. The topic may hook readers in by itself – like this one?
2. The title
Your title may be the hook, but either way it should give the reader a clue to the content. Readers have so much choice that they may not spend time on a page, and they don’t want their surfing to be wasted by a misleading title.
3. The first paragraph
Your first paragraph is all important! It tells your reader or confirms the main theme. You can’t expect a reader to wait to the end of the post to find the rabbit in the hat. They just wont. This is true of most writing.
Hyperlinks are easy to apply and offer the reader the possibility of going somewhere they never imagined, connected to your theme. Some bloggers manage audio links as well, or links to Youtube, but I haven’t yet, and not found it necessary. I like blogs that do. ‘Links between sites are the fuel of the web*.’
I did my first writing in a world limited to typewriters and pens. Even biros were newfangled before I reached my teens. Much later I graduated to a word processor. I know almost nothing about the technology that allows such easy inclusion of images into blogs, but you’d be a fool not to take advantage of this added dimension. Watch those copyright issues however; copyright exists to protect the creative.
I’ve seen it argued that the shorter the post the better. As Bookword focuses on books, reading and writing I think I can stretch my readers to about 1500 on occasion. Anyway I often find I have that many words to write. It depends on the content – more images may mean fewer words. I always edit to remove surplus words. The post you are reading is just short of 900 words.
7. Lightness of touch
For a writer who spent 20 years in academic writing and publishing it comes as a great pleasure to be able to use humour and lightness of touch in blogposts. Of course, not every post lends itself to hilarity, or even a wry smile, but many do. I think that a blog is much more like conversations with friends than addressing an audience of students.
Lightness of touch means thinking about your readership. They are reading on a screen, want to quickly get a sense of what you are saying, absorb it in short paragraphs, without dumbing down, and with headings to guide them.
Here’s a list of points for making the text easy to scan on screen:
- Be concise and to the point
- Halve the word count of conventional writing
- Keep your sentences short, and read aloud.
- Make one point per sentence.
- Use bulleted lists for quick reading
- Emphasise keywords with bold (avoid CAPITALS, because they LOOK LIKE SHOUTING)
This list is from the University of York Writing for the Web pages which you can find here.
Wittiness needs to be without being too clever. (Most of my editing is to remove those over-worked, over-blown ideas I thought would include to show how clever I am. I am currently working on not including them in the first place!) These all help with readability. And you have probably developed your own style (that’s house-style Eileen).
8. Call to arms
Some bloggers recommend a call to arms, usually a question. I can see the point for campaigning posts (like mine on books for prisoners, which asked people to take some action about the restrictions on books for prisoners. Come to think of it, it’s as good a time as any to mention the campaign on Books for Prisoners that you can find at the Howard League for Penal Reform. At the very least you can ask your readers to subscribe to your blog. (See the couple of lines at the end of this and every recent post!)
9. A little bit of passion
A blogpost is better for a bit of passion, not necessarily splurging over the page, but readers like to know that you are enthusiastic about your topic. Enthusiasm and expertise are very attractive. The best blogs inspire one to more: links, reading, ideas, action, enthusiasm …
If you want perfection you could check out this infographic of THE PERFECT BLOG POST. Thank you Social Triggers.
And here’s the cta: please add a 10th item to my checklist.
* according to Robin Houghton (2012) Blogging for Creatives, published by ILEX: Lewes Sussex. Her book is highly recommended for novices.
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