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Help with better posting?

Why is that some posts with really good content don’t get read?

1 Your Posts are TOO Long

Have a look at this post I did a few days ago.

Two words. Information Overload.

I was really excited to do this post actually. It took me about 3 hours to do this. I gathered all the interesting quotes on blogging, organized them. Then I had this great idea of putting them down as a virtual interview. Any blogger would be interested in reading that, right?

Wrong!

Who has time to read all that? It doesn’t look anything like a blog post, but more like a report!

I got carried away and forgot the most important (unwritten) rule for writing a great blog post – one that actually gets read. It needs to be short and sweet. It should not read like a book chapter.

Which sounds more appealing to you?

      4 things you can easily do to start publishing with wordpress

     42 things you can easily do to start publishing with wordpress

I am guessing most people would quickly click and read the first one. Assuming the writer doesn’t ramble too long, it should take a few minutes to read it.

What would you do for the second post. Two things If you are interested in the topic, you might bookmark it to read later when you ‘have time’. Or worse, make a mental note of coming back to it. No points for guessing how many actually manage to keep that promise.

With me so far? Some people strongly suggest making one point per post. I think you can do a few, provided you don’t go overboard with the sub-points you are making.

Secondly, if you think you have lots to say, split your post in few. This keeps the readers happy and also keep them coming back. Happiness all around.:)

2 Your Headlines do NOT Say Anything about the Post    

Headlines are extremely important for a success of a post. You might have spent hours working on a post but if the headline does not alert the reader to what is coming, it simply won’t get read.

One of my post has always been very popular. It always gets many clicks every single day. I suspect the reason adding to the clicks could be the headline?

8 Things you did not know about Pakistani Food.   What do you reckon?

Now look at this one.

Just some book for thought. Ouch!

Bad Bad headline.

Could I be any more obscure? What was I thinking? Would you be inclined to click on a post titled as above? Do you think any of these options might have worked better? (Right off the top of my head)

Perfect gift for someone who should write their life story

Writing an autobiography. An easy guide that motivates you to do just that!

3 Your posts are Not Scannable

When I first started blogging, I would write in the usual way, you know, writing in paragraphs. That’s what our English teacher told us to do and even as adults we don’t dare breaking this rule.

Well blog writing is different and your posts should be screen friendly – if you want people reading them that is.

  • Break up your writing into smaller paragraphs than you usually would. One line is acceptable as a paragraph in blog world.
  • Add headings, bullet points, and bold important bits that you want to attract attention to.
  • Make lists.

All of these make your post easy on the eyes.

So after saying all that, what do you think makes a post really appealing? Are you doing anything differently to when you started blogging? Have you made any changes to your writing style? 

      Subscribe to join my hobby bloggers club – even if you are writing for pleasure, doesn’t mean you can’t be good at it. :)

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What makes one subscribe to a blog?

 
Every blogger wants more readers, and so when this question popped into my mind last night, as I was about to go to bed, I took notice.  As this kind of thing usually happens while I am already half asleep, I was grateful, and promptly jotted down some notes, hopefully like a true blogger!

Anyway, here are my top reasons which make me wanna subscribe to your blog, or not!

All bloggers want MORE subscribers!

 

What’s in a Name?

Apparently everything? If yours has caught my eye, then I am definitely going to click on it to see if your blog lives up to it. The hardest part is getting readers through the door, and guess what? by choosing a great name that is informative, and memorable – that’s done.

Would you check out 17000days, Men with Pens, the Happiness project, or be more with less , just to name a few?

Looks Matter!!

Never underestimate the power of the design, layout, style, arrangement of posts etc etc. In easier words, if your blog does not look professional, it’s not likely that anyone would subscribe. By professional I mean, by first glance people should see that you the author actually care about it enough to make it look presentable. Having clearly defined categories help immensely as well. Keep it simple, keep it professional.

I love the simple, uncluttered feel of Reading for Your Success, Write to Done and Copy Blogger.

Are We On the Same Page?

This needn’t be said. If I have spent a few seconds on the blog, it’s because I am deciding whether the subject matter is of any interest to me. So for instance, even if I have clicked on to a blog, if it’s a news or politics or technology or business, I am not interested, sorry guys. Its nothing personal. If it’s about fashion, celebrities, cooking, sport, sadly, I am not your target reader again. 

I also like to go narrow and go deep, like most readers. I will subscribe to blogs on writing, blogging, personal development, blogs that have quirky content. (Have you seen Lego a day?) Have a look at my blogroll, and you will see what I mean. I am actually updating that and will be sharing my newest finds with you. How is that significant for a blogger? Develop a niche and people will find you if they are interested in the topic you cover.

Every bogger’s dream, readers clicking subscribe.

 

Who Are You Again?

Most people, after spending a few seconds looking at your blog, (which covers the points mentioned above), generally go straight to the ‘about me’ section, and that is why it is soooo important. While this is not a deal breaker, it is actually quite significant.

I like to connect with people I like. And sometimes its a tad difficult when you don’t get to see the person who is behind all the fabulous writing.

A picture is often a sign of the blogger being friendly and open and – putting themselves out there – as they do with their writing. It’s not easy but it helps. Even face hidden kinda is better than no picture. Blog is not an online magazine, nor a portal of useful articles. People want to know you – picture helps a lot.

Checkout Tsh of Simple Mom here, Suzannah of Write it sideways here, and Katie of Momentum Gathering here. Gorgeous people, hence gorgeous blogs. 

Your style? I Like!

I love it when the author regularly replies back to reader comments, makes me feel needed.

I love it even more when once in a blue moon, they check out my blog, and I worship them if they actually read and comment – I know this has got nothing to do with subscribing, but I had to say that. Not sure about you-comment-I-go-over-to-yours-&-comment-back rule, but sure is nice to have big bloggers having a look at ours once eh?

Go on, click on it!

Sell Me Something?

Ok, I think it’s alright if you are offering an ebook for sale. But do I have to hire you as well? I might, except I am having difficulty finding anything of interest navigating through those 37 ads that are currently on your page. I understand blogs as businesses as well, but do you only want me as a potential buyer of your products or can I just enjoy your blog in peace?

Also, please don’t get preachy on me, doesn’t really help. Go here .. naah, can’t be this rude now, can I? heheh

Perfection is Overrated

Yes, good writing is extremely important, and so is content, there is absolutely no doubt about it. But think about it, who do we connect most with in our real life, the person who is perfect in every sense or people who are beautiful and imperfect like the rest of us? Same goes for blogs: I like to see personality, I like to see ooomph, I do not like perfection. Makes me feel ..not very good.

I am trying to figure out the direction of my blog, it is something I want to be able to do for a living eventually, something that combines everything I am passionate about – reading, learning, teaching, writing, blogging, connecting with people. So this is a ‘play’ blog for me, and while I am doing this, things evolve in their own imperfect ways.

If you want to join in the journey, please subscribe. Learn alongside me and keep letting me know that I am doing something right.

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How many times have you started reading a post and your eyes start to glaze over after two sentences..

How many times have you read the words ‘well written content’  while going through posts on blogging and scratched your head – what does it actually mean, you wonder?  

Is ‘Content is King’ web cliché of sorts? Of course, it is, but like all clichés, there is 100% truth behind these over used words.

Content is King

This post was inspired by an old favourite I recently revisited for its good writing tips, titled  ‘English Essentials- The wouldn’t-be-without-it guide to writing well, co authored by Mem Fox, world-famous writer of children’s picture books. The book is geared towards students of English, however the advice applies equally well to writing a great blog post. Here’s is what I walked away with.

How to write Great Blog posts that will leave your Readers wanting MORE

1. Good Writing Keeps the Reader in mind.

Picture one person you are writing for. Imagine them sitting in front of you while you talk to them about your ideas. Ask yourself these questions. Do they appear to be interested in what you have to say? How can you capture and keep their attention?

What questions might they have? Will they get bored if you write too long, or confused if too little. What might they already know?

You cannot write a post to please everybody, different readers require different levels of language and detail. Write for your one ideal reader. Who do you write your posts for?

2. Good Writing Captures Hearts and Minds Early.

Readers on the internet have limited patience. Hook them in quickly before they move on.

Make sure your posts are ‘scannable‘ , meaning, readers should be able to read them quickly and understand what you are telling them about.

Write short paragraphs. My earlier posts resembled a printed article style and have longer paragraphs. Now I am trying to make my posts as scannable and ‘easy on the eyes’ as possible. Am I succeeding?

Blog posts – in the manner of non fiction – can be clearly set out with headings, sub headings, lists and dot points to help your message get across. Do you do this while writing your posts?

Look at your paragraphs, there should be a smooth flow from one to the next.

How to write great blog posts

3. Good Writing has a Voice.

Every blog has a living, breathing person behind it. It shouldn’t sound like it has been written by a robot. It’s a good idea to develop your voice over time which will stay consistent throughout your posts.

When you write, let your personality, your real self shine through. Advises Mem Fox. If you are funny, be funny in your posts, if you are sensitive, then be that. If you are quirky, allow some quirkiness to come forward .. your readers will love you for it.

Your voice tells the readers that you have enjoyed writing something. It shows your passion for what you do.

I follow a person, not a blog. Do you? Checkout Four Steps to finding your ideal writing voice on Copyblogger. Highly fascinating and satisfying read.

4. Good Writing Connects with your Readers.

We learn from good writing. We FEEL when we read. We are bored and unmoved when we read something we don’t like and don’t even finish reading it.

Be imperfect, be yourself. You are constantly evolving and so is your blog. Be human and other humans will love you. Imperfection is a good thing, says Men with Pens.

5. Good Writing is Clear Writing.

If you can’t understand something, don’t blame yourself, blame the writer. Too harsh? Well this is especially true when it comes to writing a blog post. A well written post is only effective when the message is clear. James Chartrand of Mens with Pens has done a fantastic piece on Copyblogger where he says, “Tight, concise, easy-to-read pieces are heaven for readers. Long, complex, convoluted ones are just confusing.”

Unless you are writing an academic essay, stay away from writing to impress. Get rid of long words, pompous sentences and empty padding, says Mem Fox. ‘Aim to express, not to impress.’

Good writing also has well crafted endings. For a blog post, ask your readers a question and invite them to offer their thoughts on what you have written.

6. Good Writing has been Revised.

Make sure your grammar, spelling and punctuation are correct. These are good table manners of online world. Incorrect spelling puts your readers in a bad mood. It says ‘I am not serious about my work’. It also helps you to maintain your authority over your topic.

How do you define a well written post? What makes you want to stay and finish one post from start to end? And most importantly, did YOU end up reading this whole thing?  :) Do share.

Update: After revising and proofreading this endlessly, I still found a few errors … hence revising again. My apologies if you read it before I had a chance to do so.

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How I am finding my voice

Carmal Bird is an Australian writer whose book ‘Writing the story of your life’ is pretty great . And I just finished reading it last night. Following are some excerpts from her book that I fell in love with, that I must share with you. She says ..

Music and Confidence

You will sometimes hear critics, reviewers, teachers speak of a writer ‘finding his voice’. This is a rather curious expression. … ‘You must find your voice’ say some of  the teachers of creative writing. And I always think if our little cat who was not nurtured by her mother and hence very was vulnerable and dumb. One day she was accidentally locked outside on a high balcony, we looked everywhere until she was able to summon a funny little squeak and we were able to save her. She retained that squeak from then on throughout her life. It was her only voice, quite literally, because she needed it to save her life.

But as for writers ‘finding their voice’ I prefer to think about them discovering their confidence, developing their style, having the courage to run with the rhythms inside themselves, playing the music of their words. Instead of ‘voice’, I call it ‘personality’. Its is the writer’s fingerprint, the identifying hum of that particular writer. It is the writer’s style. It seems to me when people talk about a writer ‘finding’ a voice, they are succumbing to a philosophy that nothing has to be really worked for, where everything is lying around already, waiting to be found. Voice is found object. Developing a writing style usually requires a lot of hard work.

Good and enagaging prose has a rythym. It has a music of its own. Its has a personality. It sets up an echo in the mind of the reader. Yes it has a voice. It has a style that the writer has developed. You can develop your voice, but as for finding, I dont really think that is right.

A big thanks to you Ms Bird for saying it so beautifully. 

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