Blogging? More Like Boring!
One of the single most important epiphanies I have had, is that not everything that I write is fascinating to others. Writers, of all manner of materials, like to think that people will hang off their every word.
This is an untruth.
In fact we in the blogging community are not that interesting.
More specifically, we in the marketing and business end of the blogging community are not that interesting.
Too many times I have encapsulated my thoughts in 1500 words, when 500 would have done. We get caught providing too many details in an effort to make ourselves understood. We double and triple check our thoughts, insecure that readers may find fault in us, or that our customers may misunderstand.
So does simplicity.
The blog world, specifically the business blog world, has its share of discerning readers. Nonetheless the primary importance of a blog is that it be read and the average viewer is going to care less about syntax and more about the crux of the content.
Readers want to understand your key points.
They want to understand them quickly.
The natural habit of our society is to skim, to glance, to look for a hook to grab our interest and reel us in. Many modern professional authors have moved away from writing in the classical literary form. If you compare Tolstoys “War & Peace” to Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” you can see the difference in form.
Studies indicate that this tendency to skim arises from several areas:
- The internet contains such a heavy amount of content, people do not want to take too much time attempting to discern whether to commit to a specific article.
- Blogs generally exist to communicate a specific idea – often a large one. As such, they can be intense to read. Viewers need something to pull them in, few are willing to commit to a long read.
- Blogs are almost always an optional read – like a newspaper and unlike a contract. There is no necessity for anyone to read then.
- Too often in an attempt to create “skimmable” content, posts are structured in a ridged and predictable form and simply do not work.
One of the single best tips we have ever come across for blogging successfuly, is to write in an “AP” (Associated Press) style. While a good start, that is not quite enough. Here are a few tips to assist you along your way.
Tips To Healthy Blogging:
1. Understand AP Style & Apply It.
The AP style appeals to the “reader with no time”. It is intended to convey clear information concisely and quickly. The opening paragraphs immediately provide the key concept, with following paragraphs subsequently examining the specifics.
This is, by far, the first thing every blogger should commit to understanding.
Here are a few quick AP style tips (Source):
- Numbers: One through nine are generally spelled out, while 10 and above are generally written as numerals. Example: He carried five books for 12 blocks.
- Percentages: Percentages are always expressed as numerals, followed by the word “percent.” Example: The price of gas rose 5 percent.
- Ages: Ages are always expressed as numerals. Example: He is 5 years old.
- Dollar Amounts: Dollar amounts are always expressed as numerals, and the “$” sign is used. Example: $5, $15, $150, $150,000, $15 million, $15 billion, $15.5 billion
- Street Addresses: Numerals are used for numbered addresses. Street, Avenue and Boulevard are abbreviated when used with a numbered address, but otherwise are spelled out. Route and Road are never abbreviated. Example: He lives at 123 Main St. His house is on Main Street. Her house in on 234 Elm Road.
- Dates: Dates are expressed as numerals. The months August through February are abbreviated when used with numbered dates. March through July are never abbreviated. Months without dates are not abbreviated. “Th” is not used. Example: The meeting is on Oct. 15. She was born on July 12. I love the weather in November.
- Job Titles: Job titles are generally capitalized when they appear before a person’s name, but lowercase after the name. Example: President George Bush. George Bush is the president.
- Film, Book & Song Titles: Generally these are capitalized and placed in quotation marks. Do not use quote marks with reference books or the names of newspapers or magazines. Example: He rented “Star Wars” on DVD. She read “War and Peace.”
2. What Is In A Name?
The name of your post is crucial. As with the subject line in an email, the title will make or break blog success.
If it does not sound interesting, why would anyone bother? No one has the time to waste.
Consider the target audience when naming the article – what would grab their attention?
3. The First & The Last.
We have all done it. When skimming content, we avoid large paragraphs, paying attention only to the first and last sentence. If those two sentences do not do their job, then the rest of the content is lost.
4. Keep It Short.
Short paragraphs are more likely to be read. As above, the average reader is not going to pay much attention to anything but the first and last sentence, the shorter the paragraph, the easier – and therefore more likely – it is to be read.
5. Poke The Bear (Provoke).
Controversy and conflict generally generate interest. When writing, position your content in a way that takes a side, or questions a situation. Create that emotional connection with readers – they may disagree with you, but they have to read it to do so.
- Go ahead and take a side on issues.
- Force readers to consider the new, or the other side of a situation
- Provide conclusive opinion and provide the evidence to back it up. Engage your audience in thought and conversation.
- Ask the hypothetical’s – What if Google really is evil? What if Government is in big businesses back pocket? What if “Hello Kitty” is a metaphor for classical neo-nazism?
6. Punctuate For Effect.
When punctuating consider what will grab attention. Draw attention to specific key phrases and portions with your Bold, Italic and Underline options. Adjust font size and font style, however do so in moderation.
Alternatively, question marks naturally draw attention. It engages readers and indicates an area of importance.
These tips won’t make you a top notch blogger, they do however, offer the stepping stones for success. To paraphrase Paul in his letter to the Philippians “What you have learned and heard, put into practice”
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