So, Sol asked about how the rules of writing for a blog are different than the rules for other kinds of writing.
Now, this is a topic that has been covered at length by better bloggers than I, but it’s a good question and one that I’ve been circling around. There are so many writing rules that apply to all writing styles, except perhaps the truly esoteric ones like legal jargon or dry academia. When stringing nouns and verbs together, what works for a novel or a business letter also works for an accessible blog entry. Maybe you wouldn’t use the same descriptive flourish you’d put into a novel, but the basic fundamentals of how you put together a sturdy sentence apply to everyone.
So, what do I think are the rules for writing a good blog entry?
- Share your voice. To me, part of the point of writing and reading blogs is to make a personal connection with the blogger. I don’t mean knowing when he or she has to run their kid to the dentist, but I want to feel that I’m hearing a real person, not an instruction manual. There are plenty of sites on the internet that can provide good, basic information about just about any topic–but if I’m reading a blog, I want to hear from the individual behind the information. I want to get a feel for the kind of person he or she is when they’re not in front of the computer. Do they have a sense of humor? Do they take themselves too seriously? Do they chat easily with their friends? If they write their blog like a textbook, well, I’d probably opt for the book–it’s more portable and I can get all my information in one, big gulp.
- Make it entertaining. You can blog about the most boring (to others) topic in the world, but if you have an engaging style, I might stop by to read anyway. I read blogs about all sorts of things–reading, knitting, writing, blogging, archaeology, sheep-herding–but the ones that I make a point of going back to are the ones that are, well, fun. Or at least, entertaining in the way they present their information. I don’t have kids, but I read parenting blogs simply because the writers keep me entertained. I don’t “do” the SEO/marketing thing, but I read blogs about that, too. But I don’t have time for the boring ones, no matter how informative.
- Provide real content. This one should be obvious–it doesn’t matter how engaging your writing style is, if you don’t provide solid information, people won’t bother coming back. Although this, of course, assumes that you’re blogging for an audience. If you’re writing a recreational, family-oriented blog to keep in touch with your loved ones, a few photos and the occasional anecdote is sufficient. But if you’re blogging to connect with the larger world, you have to provide something that makes it worth your readers’ while.
- Decide who you’re writing for. Again, it’s all about the audience. If you are blogging as an internet version of journaling–recording daily events, or tracking progress on a diet or a getting a business venture started or struggling with daily bouts of chemotherapy–that’s fine. Why not? But in that case, you’re writing for yourself, not so much for possible readers. If, however, you’re writing to provide something for your readers–tips, knowledge, diversion, wisdom–be sure to keep your reader in mind as you write. Things that are clear to you may not be clear to them, and if you sound like you’re talking to yourself, they have no reason to come back.
What other tips would YOU give? Thoughts? Comments?