Friday, November 22, 2013

Tips and Tricks for an Effective Blog

(Don't let this be you.)

You invest your time and creative energy in it, your readers enjoy it, and your potential employers/clients require it.

Just as e-books are changing the way we read, blogging is changing the way we write—to some extent. As a freelance writer today, having a well-nourished, well-manicured, well-maintained blog is the key to standing out from the cyber crowd.

But with an influx of content creators all across the Internet, how do you know if you’re getting the words you write right?

Here are some quick tips to make sure your input maximizes your output, so you end up with a blog that’s not only successful in positioning you well, but also effective in terms of generating clientele.

1. Cleanliness, Clarity, and Consistency
Your reader is not going to stay on your site for more than a few seconds unless you keep them there.

 • All posts should be neat and well formatted
 • Avoid too many colors, distracting fonts, and pictures
 • Always include a title—titles are the first thing a reader will notice, and probably the only thing they'll retain
 • Break up large chunks of text, and use lots of white space
 • Offer your contact details clearly—if someone wants to speak to you, they should know how to get in touch
 • If you’re using your blog as a portfolio, organize different writing samples under headers, tabs, or tags

 2. Establish Your Brand and Quality Control
Whether you’re writing for the general public or are hoping your website will impress potential clients, your blog is a part of your brand. Make sure it represents who you are. 

 • Know your subject matter, your voice, and your structural style—and be consistent with it
 • Always (always, always) edit what you write before you post it
 • Be conversational and casual, but make sure you don’t sound inarticulate or unrefined

3. Frequency and Variety
Posting regularly is a great way to establish reader loyalty. If someone likes your blog, but sees no new posts when she checks in back next week, you will probably lose her. 

 • Set weekly goals for how many new posts you'll write—and stick to them
 • Plan for a series of posts or come up with themes for different weeks
 • Be creative with the ways you present or curate content

 4. Call to Action
Pushy salespeople are often instantly disregarded, so don’t demand interaction from your readers. Try to generate responses in other ways.

 • Do include a comments feature, but don’t pressure your readers to participate
 • Create easy-to-answer polls or comment and request feedback on other people’s blogs

5. Further Reading
For more tips and tricks on blog writing:
 • "10 Secrets of Professional Writers Every Blogger Should Know" by Jeff Bullas
 • "The 10 Commandments of Blogging" by Stanford Smith
 • "Blogging Statistics Per the Wall Street Journal" by Mark Penn
 • "How to Avoid Common Beginner Blogger Mistakes" on WikiHow

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