Before I started down the path of becoming a freelance blogger, I was a professional news writer. My job was to write scripts that the television news anchors would read on the air. Think about your local television newscast, any newscast. I was the person telling that anchor what to say.
While television news writing is never going to help me write the great American novel, it is something that has served me well in my blog writing. So, I thought I would use this week’s post to share with you some of the things that I have learned.
Write As You Would Speak
We had a saying in news, write as you would speak. In television news, just like in blog writing, you should always write as though you’re telling a story to your best friend or a close relative. The goal is to put your words down onto the paper in a conversational way.
I’ve found there are some pretty simple rules to stick to as a blogger. Don’t use big words when little words work just as well. Don’t create long, run-on sentences because you want to get out as much information as possible. Tell the story. Use action words and short sentences. Get excited. Get sad.
Imagine yourself talking to your best friend and then start typing.
Be Grammatically Correct
That said, you also want to make sure you’re grammatically correct. I try to keep words like “gonna” out of my work. “Alright” and “So” or “cuz” are also no good. While you may use the words in your everyday speech, words like “gonna” and “cuz” don’t make your writing any better. In fact, words like that can take away from one of the most important things about your blog, your credibility.
Avoid the Passive Voice
Television news is all about action. Writing as a blogger is too. You want your readers to take action. Maybe you want your readers to learn a specific action. Avoid a passive voice whenever possible. Instead, write in an active voice.
According to Dictionary.com, “A verb is in the passive voice when the subject of the sentence is acted on by the verb. For example, in ‘The ball was thrown by the pitcher,’ the ball (the subject) receives the action of the verb, and was thrown is in the passive voice. The same sentence cast in the active voice would be, ‘The pitcher threw the ball.’”
Not only does the active voice sound better, but the sentences are often shorter too.
This is something that I have found invaluable in my writing. Always give context to what you’re talking about. For example, you could tell someone that Mt. Everest is 29,029 feet tall or you could say, it’s the height at which most passenger planes fly. You could also say it’s as high as 643 double-decker buses stacked end to end, one on top of the other.
Giving context helps the reader and it often helps get your point across, too.
When I worked in news, we were constantly updating our scripts to make sure that we had the most current, up-to-date information. While that’s a little tougher when it comes to writing for a blog, updating is still important.
Take the time to review your blogs once every quarter or every six months. Focus on your highest performing ones and make sure that they’re up-to-date. Keep the information current and more importantly, make sure the links are current too. Google likes to know there are no “dead links” in a post. What that means is that you don’t have a link in your post that goes to a webpage that no longer exists.
As a blogger, keeping your information current doesn’t just reassure your visitors that they’re getting the best information, but it also helps your blog perform better in Google Search Results.
Give Credit Where Credit is Due
Sometimes you’ll write a more technical blog post and you’ll put in some facts and figures to prove your point. When you do, make sure you credit where the research is coming from. Even better, provide a link.
If you don’t offer a source, you could be seen as dishonest, by your readers. It takes away your credibility as a trusted source.
Think about this, are you more likely to believe me if I say that 50% of Facebook users fell off the monkey bars when they were 3-years-old or are you more likely to believe a study by the New York Times that says the same thing? (Neither is true by the way.)
All of these tips are things that I have done so often that they have become engrained in the way that I write. Start training yourself now and I guarantee you’ll be a better blogger by the end of the year.
If you liked what you read be sure to check out some of our other blog posts.
Written by Erika Towne