Sunday, June 1, 2014

4 Major Mistakes to Avoid When Writing Blog Posts

By Karen Cioffi

Writing is a craft, a craft that needs to be learned. With that being said, there are many successful bloggers who had no writing training.

You might consider writing as being doubled sided. There are research papers, resumes, articles for medical and scientific use, business and health content, and even short stories, children’s books, and novels.

To write for these genres, you need to learn the craft of writing. Depending on the genre you write, you need to know how to write dialogue, how to reference quotes in a nonfiction article, and how to write POV (point of view). You should know the difference between a comma and a semi-colon, and how to use each. You get the idea.

On the flip side, there is web writing: blog posts and writing copy. In these niches there aren’t many rules, aside from grabbing the reader and making your content engaging and shareable.

While there aren’t many rules for blogging, there are four mistakes you should avoid:

1. Avoid aiming for perfection.

If you wait for the perfect time, the perfect circumstance, the perfect topic, the perfect anything, you’ll be forever waiting.

While you do need to be a responsible writer and respect your reader by providing quality content and doing the best you can, you shouldn’t wait for everything to be perfect. There’s nothing wrong with learning as you go along.

I love what George Fisher said about perfection: “When you aim for perfection, you discover it's a moving target.”

2. Avoid confusing and unfocused content.

The quickest way to lose a reader is to make your content confusing. If you’re topic is ‘allergies,’ don’t go on a rant about the latest clothing styles.

Blogs posts should be in easily digestible pieces of information that are focused. From the title to the concluding paragraph, keep it on topic.

In addition, you want to lead the reader down your post. In the beginning let the reader know what to expect, what’s in it for him. This will motivate him to read on.

3. Don’t write long paragraphs.

We all lead hectic lives. We want to get targeted information as quickly as possible. For this reason, your content needs to be easy to read and written in short paragraphs. This is especially important for skim readers.

Keep your content clean and leave plenty of white space. White space is the space between paragraphs, between words, and such. It’s the blank space on the page.

4. Don’t use grandiloquent language.

Here we go back to the premise that people are in a rush and along with this, most people don’t want to have to look up words to get the gist of the article. This is another quick way to lose a reader.

Keep your writing simple. Write how you would normally speak.

In addition, choose your words with care. C.S. Lewis knew the importance of this when he said, “Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say 'infinitely' when you mean 'very'; otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.”

Following these ‘four mistakes to avoid’ will help you write blog posts that readers will appreciate and will want to share.

Original Article Source: http://www.karencioffiwritingandmarketing.com/2014/01/4-major-mistakes-to-avoid-when-writing.html

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29 comments:

  1. Karen, this is great advice. I keep my blog short and simple for reason #3. People are far too busy to read lengthy posts.

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    1. Kathleen, how true. I've been offline for several days due to my move - just way too busy. I appreciate 'short and sweet.'

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  2. I also like the bit about not aiming for perfection in a blog.

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    1. LOL, none of us would write a word if we all aimed for perfection!

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  3. I also like the bit about not aiming for perfection in a blog.

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    1. Melinda, that's certainly an important one!

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  4. Great advice, Karen. I enjoyed your quotes.

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    1. Thanks, Linda. I love quotes - they can say it all in a few words.

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  5. Hmm ... I disagree that these four things are major mistakes. They can trip up a blogger if she/he doesn't pay attention, certainly, but as for being mistakes, major or otherwise ... there's a lot of grey area.

    Long paragraphs and hectic lives - no, we don't ALL lead hectic lives, we are not always rushing from one thing to another all the time. Sometimes we want to read something that's more than a 'sound-bite'. Why can't a blog post be that? Not all the time. But it comes back to well written content doesn't it?

    I enjoy reading longer posts if it's something that's hooked my attention. I think there's quite a few readers out there who do - why else would Wordpress create their 'WPLongform' tag for posts that are over 1000 words if not for an existing market?

    Perfection - highly overrated, yes, except when not aiming for it is an excuse for sloppy editing.

    Keep on topic – this is another ‘yes, but’ ... If you’ve set up the tone of your blog right from the very beginning to be about a very specific and narrowly defined topic, then that is what your readers will expect. It’s also OK to mix it up every now and then because meeting expectations all the time can be a slippery slope to complacency both for the blogger and the reader. Most people read blogs to engage, not only with the content itself, but with the blogger as well.

    Big words – I do agree with this except for this bit, ‘Keep your writing simple. Write how you would normally speak.’ I think this is more about writing succinctly, but use your own ‘voice’. Some people have a vast vocabulary that they use in everyday conversations. That’s part of who they are.

    and ... there will always be words that the blogger will use that someone won’t get. Language is a constantly fluctuating. Most of the time we can get the gist of a word by it’s context. Bloggers don’t need to be afraid to use the words they want to use because someone out there might not ‘get’ them.




    I enjoy reading longer posts if it's something that's hooked my attention. I think there's quite a few readers out there who do - why else would Wordpress create their 'WPLongform' tag for posts that are over 1000 words if not for an existing market?

    Perfection - highly overrated, except when not aiming for it is an excuse for sloppy editing.

    Long paragraphs and hectic lives - no, we don't ALL lead hectic lives, we are not always rushing from one thing to another all the time. Sometimes we want to read something that's more than a 'sound-bite'. Why can't a blog post be that? Not all the time. But it comes back to well written content doesn't it?

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    1. Widder, thanks for the additional insight! It's so true that there are varying opinions, likes, and dislikes. And, there are no hard fast rules for blogging. When reading titles though, in regard to marketing, they need to be taken in a 'marketing light,' as long as the content is relevant to the title.

      You certainly gave me food for thought on the "no, we don't ALL lead hectic lives, we are not always rushing from one thing to another all the time." I have to remember this and not write solely from my own 'hectic' life. :)

      LOL, I should include a little phrase in the posts, like "this is just a generalization."

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  6. Sorry about that double bit at the end ... don't know what happened there ... must be interwebz dragons playing tricks. :D

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  7. I like Fisher's quote too. Good tips, Karen. Thank you!

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  8. I have to admit to really liking (as a reader) longer and more involved blog posts (Monbiot.com for example, is one of my favourites - I read every word and often have to look things up that he references - even the occasional vocab word - I'm busy but never too busy to learn something new). Blogs can provide more than just light tips - they can provide serious intellectual insight, and beautiful well-crafted prose the worth of any bound book. That said, Karen your tips are certainly worth bearing in mind and for most blogs (certainly ones aimed at a general and varying audience of skimmers), they're spot on.

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    1. Maggie, this is true. When I'm aiming to learn something, I like involved and detailed reading. Aside from that, I'm usually a skim reader. I think a good idea for blogging then may be to take one item from a topic and write about that within 300-400 words. The blog for general purposes has more in depth information, but isn't long.

      As I mentioned to my comment to Widder, I need to take a step back when writing my posts. :)

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  9. Excellent advice, thanks for sharing it. It'll be helpful to many authors.

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    1. Thanks, Deanie. I'm so glad the tips are helpful!

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    1. Sherry, you're very welcome. Thanks for stopping by!

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  11. I appreciate your "general" advice on blog posting and like all good writing "rules"--you first need to know the rules and then when appropriate break the rules.

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  12. Mary Jo, how true. That's of all writing. Know it well before you try to break it!

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  13. Thanks for this, Karen. I have to admit that where I don't like (or usually read) long rambling posts, I also have a problem with short-short posts. An article that promises to tell me how to create an interesting blog post (as a random example) and then gives me five points leaves me deflated. I want to say, "You mean you only have five suggestions? Maybe I should write the post for you to read!" Having said that, I agreed with your recent post on your site re cutting long posts in half. I have done that, but only when each half is worthy of standing alone.

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  14. Shirley, I agree. I've read posts that have great titles, but the content doesn't fulfill the title's promise. Article marketing Jeff Herring has a good point - give them an inch deep and a mile wide.

    Take one small element of a topic and knock it out of the park. Then repeat with another.

    The problem though is you can't give away the farm if you have products or services your offering. It's quite a balancing act. :)

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  15. Karen, great tips...appreciate the reminders...

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    1. So glad you found it helpful! Thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment!

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  16. Great article. Good tips. I'm just getting back to writing after over a year away. Good reminders. I'll watch out for the big words.

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  17. Hi, Marge. Glad you're getting back to writing and glad you like the tips!

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