Stephanie Heckman

Archive for the ‘Blogging’ Category

Five Tips to Becoming a Better Blogger

In Blogging, Career, College, Journalism on March 13, 2013 at 3:46 am

How to be professional, create better content and attract readers

Image

Now’s the best time to start!

1. Take writing courses.

If you are serious about becoming a professional blogger or writer, take courses in journalism, public relations, business writing and creative writing. If you are not in college or have graduated, consider classes at the local community college. Many are very affordable and open to the community. Just one basic journalism or media writing course will substantially improve your writing.

If you are a current college student, consider adding a major or minor in journalism, PR, communications or professional writing. Although an English major or minor can also lead to great writing ability, it’s best to take courses that teach AP style and media writing techniques. It’s not enough for your only writing samples to be literary essays and poems. I don’t regret majoring in strategic communications.

Even for those not planning to work in PR or journalism, writing skills can be applied to any career. In fact, many professionals lack writing skills and clear communication. Use that to your advantage. Learning AP style is a must. Purchase the AP Stylebook and in the meantime, learn basic AP style through the Purdue Owl. Aside from blogging, it is helpful to practice writing news, feature, online and magazine articles.

2. Use Images, videos and links.

Images, like photos and infographics, add visual interest and attract attention. Humans are visual creatures. We love looking at photos, sharing funny memes and watching videos. Because many writers are natural readers, we forget that most other people are more visual-types. Memes and infographics are some of the most shared items on social media.

Videos are another way to add visual interest and draw in your readers’ attention. YouTube is one of the most popular websites worldwide. What’s the universal appeal? We seem to be both easily entertained and informed by short, user-friendly videos.

Links are great for many reasons. They establish the credibility of your blog, create access to more information and make your blog more likely to appear in search results. Research search engine optimization to make sure that others find your blog.

3. Use a simple format and clear style.

Write shorter, clearer sentences. Keep paragraphs short and single spaced; online readers are more likely than print readers to scan. Don’t use too many types of fonts or sizes. Finally, try to use an active voice and cut down on excessive adjectives and adverbs. Use headings, subheadings, bullet points or lists to help make online reading easier.

In regards to formatting, choose a template that is simple and clean. Black or dark fonts are easiest to read, particularly on a white background. White words on a black background or colors on a colorful background are much more difficult to read. Serif fonts such as Times News Roman or Courier are easier to read, while Sans Serif fonts like Arial are best for titles and headings.

4. Become part of the online community.

Consider sharing your blog posts on Facebook and Twitter, making use of appropriate hashtags. Retweet or share others’ great works on your favorite social media sites. Also, make sure to comment with useful information or even words of encourage on your favorite blogs’ posts. By being an active reader of relevant blogs, you will only benefit yourself and make others more likely to read your own blog. Do not simply comment to spam or try to trick people into reading your posts.

If you are an active participant on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or other social media sites, make use of these networks to become involved in the online community. Twitter has a Tweetchat called #blogchat every Sunday night. By participating, you can learn more about blogging while also promoting your own efforts. Finally, if your blog posts are well-written, professional and related to your industry, consider posting a link to them under LinkedIn’s “publications” section.

5. Never stop reading!

The best writers are frequent readers. Read everything you can get your hands on. This includes: newspapers, magazines, online magazines, blogs, novels and nonfiction books. Read frequently in your industry and in your blog’s subject matter. To gain new ideas and to understand what readers want to follow, read blogs in your industry or topic every day.

Furthermore, reading general interest articles, news stories and articles on new topics will increase your knowledge and worldview while giving you interesting ideas. Follow a variety of media, industry publications and thought leaders on Twitter. Without exception, all good writers are avid readers. To not read frequently is to limit yourself professionally and intellectually.

Now get to blogging!

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