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The 12 Dos and Don'ts of Writing a Blog

Writing a blog can be fun, but if you don't know the dos and don'ts of how to write a blog, you'll never attract a bigger audience. Here are 12 essential tips.

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.

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Now I currently run several successful blogs, including The Life of Dad and this online editor blog. 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. Let your readers get to know you. Your content is what draws them in while your personality, or your voice in writing, is what will keep them there.

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, 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).

[Want to land an agent? Here are 4 things to consider when researching literary agents.]

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.

(Grammar Rules for Writers.)

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.

*****

Learn more about blogging in the online course Advanced Blogging.

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