My #1 tip for blog writing on the web

45 thoughts on “My #1 tip for blog writing on the web”

  1. I not the best writer neither.

    I appreciate the tips, especially the part about the skim milk. Or something. I kinda scanned the whole thing. Now if only I could boldly italicize the nonsense I write in the comments section…

    Cheers!
    -PoF

      1. Well, I do like to have a little fun sometimes, but your tips are quite solid. With our short attention spans, we need short paragraphs, space to break up the text, bold letters, headings, etc… it makes a page easier for me to read, no doubt.

        Which I do find odd, since I have no problem cruising through a book that has none of these elements. The computer screen is a different beast, apparently.

        1. That’s true – I guess when we read a book, distractions are limited. We are mentally prepared to read a ton of words, so we naturally don’t mind reading them once they come. But on the Internet, it’s all “Wham bam thank you ma’am”.

  2. Excellent post! You also appear to be a master and making your posts scannable with the perfect phrases highlights and bolded, so kudos to that.

    Blogging should be freeing as opposed to developing a confined “style” as you put it.

    One of the chief reasons I’m still blogging consistently this year is because I do it for me. My motivating factors are internal and so I don’t get overly discouraged when nobody swings by my site on a day.

    1. Thanks Matt. I agree, blogging is something that absolutely should be freeing and enjoyable, not something that you feel like holds you down. Looks like you have the right attitude about this!

  3. I just started a blog and I can really appreciate this post. It’s important to enjoy the effort, and not turn it into a job.

    I also like the tip on keeping in scan-able. I never considered this but it makes sense in an age of short attention spans.

    Thanks for the tips!

  4. Love it Steve! I am totally on board with you. Trying to game the search engines isn’t what I am interested in at all. Sharing stories and having fun conversations with folks is what I enjoy. Thanks for suggesting we take the freedom to do what we want, rather than what others think we should do.

    1. I have no interest in gaming the search engines either. Google has a bunch of pretty darn smart people working behind the scenes developing the software, so the chances of someone like me being smart enough to outsmart THEM is next to nothing. 🙂

  5. Writing for the Web is a whole new beast. I’m learning that a lot of the stylistic things I learned in college are absolute bullshit when writing for actual humans, particularly for humans reading on mobile devices.

    I’m naturally inclined to longer sentences and paragraphs, but I’m working on it!

    1. Totally agree, Pia – it really is a whole other discipline than writing term papers, mostly because blog content actually needs to be interesting. It is much more free form than the college bullshit you’re told to write. No rules apply in this game!

  6. Great advice Steve. When one focuses on things like SEO and other analytics the writing usually doesn’t feel natural. I would much rather read an article that is written with the intent of getting a personal experience out there or something that the writer is truly passionate about. Thanks for the tips!

    1. Thanks Dollar Engineer. You’re right, it doesn’t feel natural…to write OR to read. SEO is well and good, but not at the expense of quality content.

  7. Good tips, Steve. I’m a fan of your writing style. I’ve always written with a ton of “And” and “But” sentences — and with dashes, like this one. It never earned me many points from English teachers, but I find it natural and conversational. It’s funny how many traditional writing tips we learned in school are totally irrelevant. I had to learn how to write a formal business memorandum in one business school class. WTF is that?? Never used one in the business world.

    Mark Manson is one of my favorite writers; I think he’s mastered hooking readers better than anyone else I’ve read.

    1. Appreciate the kind words, Matt. It’s interesting that you write with dashes too. I do quite a bit of that as well, and I just got through reading a couple of writing books where the author’s lament the fact that the dash (and the semi-colon) seem to be frowned upon for no good reason. They have a perfectly legitimate place in English. Your point is well taken about learning completely irrelevant skills in school so much of the time. People don’t write very many term papers outside of an academic environment. But emails? Business letters? Cover sheets? Thank you letters? Yeah, people write these – a lot! 🙂

  8. What I picked up while skimming the article was, wait, is that a pokemon outside my ofice?! 🙂

    Those are some great tips, and I try to follow a lot of them already. I have a hard time keeping stuff under 1000 words. I still aim for under 1200 though, hence the “soak, ruminate, revisit” approach. I also try to write like I talk, and at least stylistically I don’t tend to follow too many “college type” rules. I do tend to make longer paragraphs so maybe I can work on that, but I try to keep everything related to a topic grouped, so who knows how that will pan out.

    Great tips to keep in mind though, thanks!

    1. Oh geez, the Pokemon thing. I’ll never figure out how THAT got so popular! 🙂

      Aiming for 1200 words sounds like the sweet spot to me as well. That is usually enough to get your point across well, but not so much where you begin to drone and ramble, which I tend to do with that many words.

  9. Thanks for your words of wisdom. The newest blog rule seems to be that there are no rules. Just do what works for you and provide value, and care about what you write. Also care about yourself and others. Don’t be spammy, and it will all work out. At least I hope so!

    1. You’re very welcome, Julie. Yup, the rule is there are no rules. Write the way that makes you happy and the quality will certainly show through in the finished project. Very well said! 🙂

  10. The balance between writing styles and SEO is a tough one – ultimately I want people to find my site through searches. I use one of the free SEO tools and it does a “readability” check – I think it actually improves my writing (maybe because I am a terrible writer)

    It doesn’t kill my style and encourages short easy to read sentences and doesn’t beat up grammar, punctuation, etc

    Totally agree with you on the short paragraphs, blocks of text are intimidating

        1. I also have used Yoast SEO mainly for the readability check. I totally agree with Apathy ends. It does check on you to keep sentences short and maintain an easy to read style without influencing what you are specifically writing.

        2. Ah, very cool! I hadn’t updated my Yoast SEO plugin yet, but now I have and I’m actively using the readability check. This article got a green, which is good. The only problem was more than 300 words following a sub-heading, which it didn’t like. 🙂

  11. Excellent tip Steve! I’m probably not a very good writer, but I try. Thankfully, I just write what I want to write…and hopefully it comes out entertaining or informative.

    I’ve never done any SEO for my blog either. I’m not writing to attract the masses on the internet. I’m writing for a very select audience who won’t need Google to find me.

    Thanks for all your recent tips on blogging!

    1. Thanks once again Mr. Tako. I find that when we write about what we like, using whatever form fits our style, that’s when we produce the best work. And I respect the fact that you don’t much care about SEO and are in this game to produce content for people who care. Great attitude.

  12. Couldn’t agree more that writing from a place of passion and excitement will always net a better result! I used to stress that my posts were too long, but then realized, “You know what, I love writing long posts.” So now I just go with that and don’t worry about it. I’m sure plenty of readers who want short lists of bullets don’t stick around, but we each find the audience that’s right for us. 🙂

    1. Thanks Mrs. ONL. Yup, do whatever fits your writing style the best, whether that’s writing 10,000 word posts or only 1,000. It’s all good in the end. 🙂

  13. Hey is this post over 1500 words?!

    No but really good tips… I will have to consider making my posts more Scannable.

    Also great recommendations. I also enjoy reading James Altucher … but I feel like he loves to ramble. Hahah like that’s his style…. so many posts were he goes off on tangents or it feels that way anyway.

    Currently reading his Choose yourself to wealth book.

    1. Ha! It’s funny you ask that because I actually thought about that a couple times as I was writing this post. According to WordPress, this post contains 1152 words, so that’s well within my goal to remain under 1500. You’re right, Altucher does have the tendency to ramble, but somehow I even find his ramblings interesting. It’s weird!

  14. Great tips Steve. Tried to comment earlier when I’m behind the great China firewall but didn’t work. 🙁

    You’re so right about online attention span nowadays. It’s probably best to write as if you’re talking. Since blogging isn’t academic writing, lose the big fancy words.

    I think what draws people in is if you have a personality in your writing and can express your opinions. If your blog just reads like a generic blog that anyone can write, then it gets boring and people will stop reading it pretty quickly.

  15. Be yourself, right? That’s what good writing boils down to for me. Blogging is usually more conversational, so I like to imagine that this is how someone would explain something to me over coffee. I love following different bloggers and seeing their voice develop (along with their financial insights!). It’s all about authenticity.

  16. I can relate. In my last job, I would tell people that if they sent me an email, they needed to make sure that whatever it was I needed to know was in the first paragraph. Anything beyond that and I might miss it. Time is short and we are pulled in so many directions, you need to make it easy for people to absorb your work.

    I’ll check out the recommended site. I am always looking for something new (to me) and unique.

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. I like that strategy, FS. I’ve also worked at places where we were told to put the things that you actually need in the very first paragraph or you might not get them. In environments where time is finite, keeping emails short and easy to read definitely reigns supreme. 🙂

  17. I’m definitely not a great writer either, but actually I think that’s why I’m enjoying blogging in a funny kind of way. Especially because like you I try and write how I speak. Makes it much more personable and hopefully interesting!

    1. That’s a great attitude to have, and one that I share in many ways. I used to try and write “officially” by using language that I wouldn’t ordinary use in regular life, but that was no fun. Now, it’s a lot more fun to write using words that I use all the time. Simple change, huge benefit!

  18. Great points. As I’ve gained more experience writing I’ve been migrating toward a more conversational tone as well. It’s easier to write, or dictate, and more entertaining to read as well.

    I don’t always have time to keep up with James Altucher but do enjoy his writing when I do.

    1. Thanks Jack. Admittedly, I don’t always keep up either, but every once in a while I’ll have an Altucher marathon session and plow through his content. 🙂

  19. I appreciate this post!! Keeping posts easy to read and simple is by far the best way to keep readers engaged. As you say none of us have a lot of time and need to get the useful information as quick as we can. I look forward to checking out some of your favorites bloggers above. Thanks

    1. Thanks Kelly, appreciate the comment. I’m okay with people skimming my articles, because I probably do it to theirs. It’s natural. 🙂

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