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The 12 Dos and Don’ts of Writing a Blog

Categories: Brian Klems' The Writer's Dig, What's New Tags: blogging, Brian Klems, online editor blog, writing a blog.

Thinking about writing a blog? Been writing a blog for some time now and have yet to establish any growth (and by “growth” I mean “increased pageviews”)? Over the past 10 years I’ve refined my blogging skills—that’s right, I started my first blog back in 2001 and it is so embarrassing by today’s standards that I’m almost unwilling to link to it … almost. Blogs for writers are everywhere, and there’s often good advice on them about writing a blog. There’s also plenty of not-so-good advice. It can be frustrating.

Now I currently run three successful blogs: Questions & Quandaries, The Life of Dad and this online editor blog (which I’ve begun calling The Writer’s Dig). It’s been a challenge juggling them but, by sticking to these 12 specific dos and don’ts of writing a blog that I’ve developed over my years of experience, I’ve been able to establish growth (increased pageviews). I hope they can help you learn how to write a good blog too.

When Writing a Blog Do …

Find your focus.
To do this, you must first ask yourself this question: Who are your target readers? Once that’s settled, you can home in on a niche category (like this one focuses on writing) and be the expert on it.

Be relatable, be yourself.
What sets bloggers apart from newspaper article feeds is voice. Your content is what draws them in while your personality, or your voice in writing, is what will keep them there. Let your readers get to know you.

Use links within your posts.
Whether you are linking to other blogs or websites that contain great information or linking to past posts on your own site, do it whenever you can. This will help not only increase your clicks but also help with your blog’s search engine rankings.

Include images.
While readers come to your blog for information and personality, they also need to be stimulated visually. Not all posts will lend themselves to an image, but when they do, take advantage of it. Here’s some advice on finding free online images that you can use.

Respond to blog comments.
This is an opportunity to connect directly with the people who are reading your work. Not all comments need a response, but be sure to respond to ones that do. And sometimes it’s worth just popping on and posting “Thanks for reading my blog.”

Post to Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Anywhere Else You Can.
Don’t be afraid to use social media to tout your posts. Anything that makes it easier for potential readers to find your blog is a must (and friends and family definitely qualify as potential readers).

When Writing a Blog Don’t …

Set Unrealistic Goals.
You know your schedule and abilities better than anyone else, so don’t attempt to post every day if you can’t. Start out by posting weekly and get in a groove. As you streamline your process, increase your posting if you can.

Limit your word count.
If you have something to say, say it. Readers (and search engines) prefer to get meatier pieces (500 words or more) to make clicking through worth their time. This doesn’t mean you can’t feature shorter pieces or that you should ramble on just to meet a word count, but don’t be afraid to break down antiquated perceptions that blogs need to be short. When the time is right, go long.

Make grammar mistakes.
And, if you do, correct them immediately. Folks on the Web tend to be more lenient about typos, so don’t stress about it if you do make a mistake. But correct it as soon as you can. Remember, if you ever want readers to take you seriously, you have to take yourself (and your blog) seriously. Give it the professional quality it deserves.

Be negative.
It’s generally unwise to air personal grievances publicly (unless, of course, that’s the theme of your blog). You’ll go a lot further by being positive, inspirational and supportive to the community that you’re writing to.

Write long paragraphs.
Long blocks of text are hard for readers to digest, especially when reading on computers and tablets. Break up your content into shorter paragraphs, bullet points and lists whenever possible. Also, if you can, work in some subheads.

Avoid trying new things.
It’s important to let your blog evolve over time, and the only way this can happen is if you take risks every once in awhile. Whether it’s adding infographs or personal stories or guest bloggers, never be afraid to try something new. If you feel it can add something special to your blog, try it.

Follow me on Twitter: @BrianKlems
Read my parenting blog: The Life Of Dad
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29 Responses to The 12 Dos and Don’ts of Writing a Blog

  1. Dom says:

    Hey there, I recently undertook a blog-writing exercise taking in A Twelve Day Writing Exercise, which I mashed up with the above twelve steps to help me along. I then decided to go one better and add to that list the twelve steps of addiction into the mix too!

    Have a look at my final blog entry, below, summarising the last two weeks of writing to these specs, and please don’t be afraid to leave comments, critique and flowers!

    http://dominicispalmer.blogspot.ie/2014/04/twelvesteps-writing-exercise-day12.html

    Dom

  2. mumx3sons says:

    Thanks for the good info..just a quick question…”what is a ‘positing’ ” ? (as your post states below…)

    When Writing a Blog Don’t …

    Set Unrealistic Goals.
    You know your schedule and abilities better than anyone else, so don’t attempt to post every day if you can’t. Start out by posting weekly and get in a groove. As you streamline your process, increase your positing if you can.

  3. Lauren says:

    Thank you for this it was really helpful!
    The last couple of day’s I have been thinking about starting a blog and I have now decided to!
    Thank you so much !

  4. cbrittany68 says:

    Brian,

    This is a fantastic guide for creating a successful blog. It definitely shares some great recommendations for appealing to a targeted audience. I like how you identify the importance of setting realistic and attainable goals. I have been writing a blog for almost a year (expressimpact.com) and I have learned a significant amount of information in reference to keeping the conversation interactive. I think one of the most important things to remember is to listen to your feedback. My readers often communicate how much they value the content posted on my site. Overall, it helps me to learn more about my audience and often inspires the stories I post!

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. Cathey says:

    Great advice! I will definitely keep this close at hand so I can refer to it often and keep myself on track. Thank you.

  6. islandofsand says:

    I was just wondering. Has anyone thought that all the computer networking, blogging, internet sites, and self-promotion by an author really takes away from what a great writer would do, which is to write and write and write and find a publisher that actually has a job in that it is responsible for editing and marketing. I really believe we will see terrible authors selling only because of self-promoted media. In other words media will be the content and writing will be but blither between the covers much like MTV might promote a pretty face even when the voice can’t sing and eventually make it impossible for real singers to emanate their voice, which is the only real content to the audience…I can only ask that if a publisher no longer advertises and no longer edits, what exactly is it that they do other than accept cash for that grammatically perfect piece of work that is delivered to their desk only waiting printing.

    • It’s all about balance. Writing is your job, first and foremost. But with the explosion of the internet/blogging, it’s essential to also spend some time building a platform to help sell your work when it’s ready.

      Thanks for the note!
      Brian
      Online Editor

  7. museum framer says:

    Hi Brian. Love your blog. I am actually having a web designer add a blog to my website. My business, for almost 25 years has been specializing in true museum grade framing. Though your blog says don’t be negative (and I understand that), over these years, I have seen many countless of important and rare items get damaged through a framer’s ignorance….and, even intentional (to save a buck!)

    It is a shame. Encountered a large framing franchise that mistakenly separated a woman’s illustrative poem from the text her father wrote and drew for her as a gift before he died …..you cannot take undo that unfortunate action!

  8. kidangel says:

    Hi Brian! Having just launched my blog a month ago, I’m still getting my feet wet and learning about this “brave new world.” Simply stated, I’m having a blast inviting people into the world of the central character of my “work of art in progress.” Writing can be such a lonely world – isolation is necessary in order to focus upon the work at hand, but it can also make one feel more akin to a mushroom growing from a chair positioned before a computer. Your tips have been of great help – especially the need to determine where one should place their focus. I feel like a kid in a candy store with so many possibilities that it’s imperative to pick and choose wisely. After all, as bloggers, we are being cordially invited into the lives of others, and it’s only right that we respect that privilege and their space/time. Thanks for reaching out. I look forward to learning more as you roll out new information and hope you’ll come visit the blog as well!

  9. Great post full of sage advice for new and seasoned bloggers Brian! Been years since I let my Writers Digest subscription go – but this post has not only inspired me to join the Writers Digest community again – but to treat myself to a subscription! Look forward to reading more from you. :)

  10. JacquelineB says:

    Brian, thanks for the tip and have a gr8t weekend!

  11. JacquelineB says:

    Great advice Brian, especially for a newbie blogger and author (“B is for Bully” by Jacqueline Brathwaite) like me. My blog is leaning on the side of airing grievances for purging but I’m trying to work a positive twist into it as well. Check it out here at http://www.jacquelinebrathwaite.blogspot.com. Actually, commenting to you just now revealed to me something else to help add focus into my blog. Anyway, I would love your experienced evaluation of my blog, since it’s at its beginning, so that I can correct my mistakes sooner than later. Please email me: jacqueline.books@gmail.com.

    PS: Don’t beat yourself up so much about your old blog. I thought your “Thanksgiving: AKA
    The Start Of Christmas” piece was hilarious :).

  12. illbzo1 says:

    Great advice, Brian. I’d go a bit further and say that anyone who writes, edits or otherwise maintains a regular blog should know the very basics of search engine optimization. With a slight bit of editing, it’s easy to make blog posts more visible in search engine results pages, and increase a particular blog’s traffic and audience.

  13. JM75 says:

    Mr. Klems,
    Thank you so much for the great advice. I’m really knew at blogging. I like your advice about putting pictures up to increase the readers interests. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures yet so right now I am sticking to just using words to describe my short stories. If anyone would like to read my story then please go to this site http://jm-dreambig.blogspot.com/?spref=tw.
    Thanks again for the help.

  14. anxiousgeek says:

    Good advice. Another good tip is to read and comment on other people’s blogs too. Like this! ;)

  15. tasamoah says:

    Thanks Brian,

    I recently started a blog targeting new writers and your post was really helpful. I will certainly refer to it as I find my space in the blogesphere.

  16. txtootsie says:

    Brian: Very good information. Just wanted to point out a couple things:
    1. I believe the term is “hone in” not “home in” and
    2. You have an outdated link at the bottom of your article – best advice one.

    Thanks!

  17. davnick says:

    Brian,

    Thanks for the solid advice. I’m writing a different kind of how-to book for writers, and blogging is one of the things I recommend to stay in shape. Well, guess what? At the time I wrote it, I hadn’t followed my own advice, which is pretty close to a capital offense. I’m about to change that, however, and have been working furiously to produce worthwhile articles and launch my blog.

    Your article served as a nice checklist of what I’ve tried to do and what I’ve read elsewhere that blogs should and should not do.

    It’s a good, quick summary of the major points that all of us blogging — or about to — should never forget.

    Thanks again.

    — David

    • Thanks David! I’m glad it helped. Keep me and the rest of the WD community updated on you blogging progress. I always love to hear success stories when folks who read my blog strive to reach their goals.

      Brian
      Online Editor

  18. cbaustin71 says:

    Great advice, thank you. I look forward to putting it to good use.

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