In the previous post, “Writing for a Blog – Blog Types,” I described some of the different types of blogs and how a blog structure can be used. In this post I will discuss the structure of a blog post. A post is a single article within a blog. A blog is a collection of posts.
My blog, this blog, serves all of the personal blog components. Like a Diary blog, it is a diary, a journal, a personal history. It exists for my daughter and others who may have some interest in my past and my activities. However, I have structured my blog as a Platform blog. In addition to being a journal, it also exists as my personal soapbox, a place for me to express thoughts, concerns and ideas. I have the freedoms of a personal blog in that I can express anything I wish and I do not have to publish daily. However, I am seeking a wider audience so it is in my best interest to publish posts regularly in order to keep my audience engaged. I wish to do more than reach topic readers. I want to reach daily readers.
Since I am an individual and not a team, writers’ block can be a problem. Sometimes I feel like I have nothing of value to put forward. There are a couple of things I do to battle this. I keep a word processor file with lists of posts I have already written, but also with short notes of posts or ideas that have popped into my head. I also write posts in advance. While I publish one post a day, I may write two during that day. Over time, I generate a backlog. Being stumped or having writers’ block rarely shows up on the blog, as I am often publishing posts I wrote several days prior.
For a blog post to be engaging, it must be easily read. This can get into all sorts of formatting issues like font size, font types, page and font colors, and so on. However, I am not going to dive into that. Moreover, that is really not what I mean by being easily read.
What I am talking about is the structure and flow of the post itself. It needs to sound conversational, real and from the heart. It also should be presented in small, concise chunks. Short clean sentences, in a short well defined paragraph, with space between each paragraph. You need to give the reader a chance to stop and consider or give their attention to something, and when they return their attention to the post be able to easily find where they left off.
I have visited several blogs that provide large, seemingly never-ending structures. The entire post is a single paragraph. Sentence structure is large and cumbersome. This is a particularly sore point for Business blogs. There is no quicker way of turning away a potential customer than hitting them with a wall of text without structure. It is like facing a flood rather than an inviting babbling brook. Let me add a quick format note here, if you write in that fashion for gosh sakes use a large font.
Work on your writing skills. I strongly suggest writing your posts in a word processor and using all the tools the word processor provides. Spell checking is obvious but beyond that use Grammatik or some other grammar checker. Commas are over used. Run-on sentences make understanding difficult. Paragraphs that contain more than 10 sentences are clumsy and not a good idea in a blog post.
After writing your post in your word processor, read it aloud. If you stumble while reading something you have written, then the structure of that sentence is awkward and will be very difficult for your readers to understand. Reading a post aloud to yourself will highlight conceptual weaknesses. Perhaps the third paragraph is better placed near the sixth paragraph, as they discuss similar points.
I also suggest using a Text-to-Speech reader to have the computer read your post to you. The computer does not have any preconceptions and reads exactly what you have written. Sometimes you will find that you used the wrong word. The word you used was spelled correctly, so spell check couldn’t identify it, but what you typed was not what you meant. Maybe you meant to say, ‘were’ but you typed ‘where.’ As you proofread to yourself, you may not catch it. As you proofread aloud, you still may not catch it. After all, you are reading what you thought you typed. When you hear the computer say it, it will jump out at you.
As such, I think there are two fundamental rules for writing a blog post.
1. Write from your heart. Even if you are writing for a Business blog, be genuine in your descriptions about the products or services you offer. If you believe in them, let that come through in a personal way. Do not hype it. Everyone can smell false praise. Speak personally.
2. The KISS method (Keep It Simple, Silly). Keep your sentences short and clear. Keep your paragraphs short and clear. Keep the posts short and clear. My general rule is, if my post is more than two pages in a word processor, I need to divide the concept over several posts, as I have done with this one.
Let me close this topic with a few notes on keeping your readers coming back.
Engaging posts are a good way to keep people coming to your blog. Mix your topics up from day to day. One reader may not care about a particular topic, but if you offer a variety of topics, they will learn that a regular visit to your blog is important or they might miss a post that is of interest to them.
Ask questions or put forward thoughtful ideas. If you ask a question of your readers or put forward a thought that causes your readers to think and ponder, you have engaged them. You have made them apart of your blog, not just an observer. You are inviting them to interact, perhaps even leave a comment. People enjoy interaction and getting involved.
Respond to all comments even if all you say is, “Thank you.” If you have opened your comments to everyone, you will receive some SPAM. Delete it or mark it as SPAM. But if the comment is appropriate, reply to the commentor. The person leaving the comment took time to visit your blog, read your post, and then took even more time to leave a comment. Show appreciation for that effort. Letting comments hang unacknowledged is a sure way of turning that reader off and losing them.
Each blogger has their own approach. Hopefully their approach works well with the type of blog they put forward, and when it does a good experience is had by all.