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Saturday, June 7, 2014

20 tips for writing great blog posts

Your Question:  What are some ideas on how to write good blog posts?

My Answer:  Ideas for how to write posts:  I learned in journalism school the following "Elements of Good Writing:"
  1. It is precise:  It contains no more words than necessary to make your point.
  2. It is clear:  It's easy to read; has good flow
  3. It has a pace appropriate to the content: This actually should be easy in a blog post considering they are "supposed" to be short and sweet (pithy) anyway.  The reader should use words to paint a story that is enjoyable to read.  Use unique techniques making the post readable.  Be creative.  
  4. It uses transitional devices that lead the reader from one thought to the next: These may be words such as however, and, therefore, plus, 
  5. It appeals to the reader's senses: Appeal to the sense of smell: The maggots over the patients legs had a putrid smell like rotting flesh.  Appeal to emotions: tears rolled down her eyes as she watched her father take his last breath. Appealing to senses helps to drive a person deeper into your post.
  6. It uses analogies:  These permit writers to show similarities and contrasts.  Similes show similarities by using "like" or "as."  For example, The doctor gentle hands were smooth as a pearl in a bucket of peas. After crossing the finish line at the Boston Marathon, her legs felt so rubbery they wobbled like jelly. 
  7. Each sentence is on one idea or thought: Sentences are pithy and simple and relevant. It's okay, in a blog post, to have a one or two sentence paragraph. This, actually, is preferred, and makes reading easy. It's really hard to read long, blocks of words.  Plus, long blocks of words are hard to read on many electronic devices. 
  8. A post must have a beginning, middle and end.  The first paragraph should summarize the post, the middle should provide the facts and opinion, and the conclusion should wrap it up.  The best conclusions tie in with the opening paragraph. 
  9. Keep it pithy:  Posts are pithy, generally 1-2,000 characters, but never greater than 4.  However, sometimes a long post may be necessary when there are lots of facts to share.  This is okay too. But just don't over do the long posts, and make them worth reading.
  10. Use lists:  One of the best ways to make a post pithy to to limit it to a list: The ten reasons respiratory therapy school is harder than nursing school, or the 5 types of breathing methods for COPD patients.  This is the most common form of posts that I use on all my blogs. 
  11. Precision:  Words should be used precisely.  Every word should have meaning, no word should be superfluous. 
  12. Think clearly:  Make your point and be done.
  13. Admit when you are wrong:  One of the things politicians never learn is that it's okay to change your mind and to admit to being wrong.  This is the key to maintaining credibility.  However, so long as you base your opinions on facts, or based on the words of other credible people, you should be okay.
  14. Use quotations:  Quotations are important when important people say important things, when important people say dumb things, or when someone says something unique, or when someone says something uniquely. Quotations from reliable sources adds to the credibility of your post and blog in general.
  15. Put it in your own words:  Obviously there will be times when a direct quote is necessary, although, whenever possible, put it in your own words. After all, it is your blog.  
  16. Try to be unique:  Try not to simply rehash the news, or what people already read other places.  Rush Limbaugh, to use him as an example again, did not become famous because he repeated what was in the New York Times.  He forms his own opinions, he is creative, and, most important, he is an entertainer.  
  17. Rarely write about your self, but do write about yourself:  It's your blog, so people will want to know about you.  If you experience something unique, or there is something unique that makes you a more credible blogger, do share it with your readers. For instance, I am a respiratory therapist who experiences many unique things in the hospital setting.  I also have an interesting asthma history.  At times I share these on my blog. However, blogs that are about you don't get many viewers, mainly because people don't care about you.  Yet people still want to know you. So write about yourself, but do it rarely.  
  18. Write about things that matter to you:  This is what makes your blog yours, and what makes it unique, and what makes it interesting.  Generally, if something inspires you, and is written with passion, it will probably generate readers. 
  19. Know that not every post will get comments, or will be shared by your readers:  Yet it is all important.  When your content is shared, it will make your blog grow in readership and popularity.  It may even generate some money for you on the side, if you use adsense or other form of ads on your blog (which I highly recommend you do).  
  20. Site your sources:  Use references as often as possible.  Cite where you ideas came from. This will help you maintain credibility.  You can either cite your references at the bottom of posts, or you can just link to them here. Both work, although links take up less space.  Now, the problem with links is that most will disappear in time.  So, if you want to make your blog timely, or to provide further reading for your readers, or so you remember exactly where you got your information from, references are necessary.  This is especially important if you are writing about studies, or if you are writing knowledge building articles. 
Further reading: 
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