• Mark Iles

The Do’s and Don’ts of Writing a Blog


Many people are interested in writing a blog but don’t know how to go about it. Today we have an insight to what a blog is, with a few helpful pointers here and there. Basically, a blog is simply a regular post on an online site, and it can be about anything you find interesting.


What

I’d advise that before you set up your blog, you need to consider what you’ll write about and who’s going to read it. The Scribe’s blog, for instance, is all about writing and so we often run interviews with authors aimed at inspiring and advising our members and followers.

Let’s say you run a dog grooming business. Your blog might be about breeds or specific animals you deal with, and the treatments or procedures you use. The owners of the animal’s you feature will almost certainly read it, and so their will friends and families. Hopefully, they’ll then follow you on a regular basis. The other bonus, of course, is your interest in their beloved pet will almost guarantee a revisit.


Length

I can already hear many of you asking, ‘but how long should a blog be?’ I’ve always been told that a post should be between 600-800 words in length, but many disagree.

As a feature writer and blogger of many years standing, I also know that a magazine feature is generally between 1000 and 5000 words in length. That said, many of my blogs have hit the 1500 plus word range and my features over 7000. To put it in a nutshell, I’d say a blog is as long as it needs to be to convey what you’re trying to say. In other words, don’t worry about wordage – just write it, edit it, and then count it. As long as you’re happy with the content, then hey ho.

If you have an overly long blog, then consider whether it could be broken into several parts. The bonus here of course, is that readers will have to revisit your site to get the full story.

You could also argue that what determines whether a piece of writing is a blog, is simply the medium through which it’s carried. For instance, a 1000 word piece online could be considered a blog, but in hard copy it would be a feature.

It used to be that a blog was written in an easy to understand, conversational style (see interviews on this site), but many businesses now have blogs and theirs are more industry related, and the terminology used likewise. In other words, the once hard and fast lines are becoming blurred.


Promotion

Social media, such as Twitter or Facebook, is a great way to promote your blog. Your first readers will no doubt be friends, family, and perhaps customers – or those browsers interested in your content.

Browsers will find your blog through the use of keywords, much like a normal website. A keyword is a word relevant to your blog that Google picks up on. Consequently someone typing in ‘dog groomer, Hampshire’ would pick up all such businesses in that area.

It used to be that keyword repetition and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) were the kings here, where the more you repeated keywords the higher google ranked your site. Good SEO selects the keywords you use. Now the use of repetition is less important, but keywords themselves are still relevant.


Pointers

  • It’s been said that people read webpages in an E or F formation, namely along the top, down the left, across the middle and possibly across the bottom. Of course, many readers do this but it also depends on the content and images used.

  • Don’t present readers with a wall of words, break your blog up into paragraphs of varying length.

  • Avoid using complicated words. If a reader needs a dictionary the chances are you’ll lose them.

  • A few good quality images are important, as they draw the readers eyes. Use your own images or those from sites such as wiki commons, who offer royalty-free images. An important note here is to ensure you scroll down to the bottom, to ensure that those images are indeed free before you use them.

  • Avoid ‘weasel words', such as: might, could, possibly, maybe. Basically words or phrases that mean you could get something, such as winning a prize or the lottery, but in reality the odds are against you. In other words, they’re get out clauses.

  • Reduce image size to about 700kb. Larger images will quickly use up your contracted space, which means more expense because you’ll have to upgrade your site.

  • Be careful what you say. Remember that a negative post on social media can easily break a business, or ruin someone’s career – including yours.

  • Always have evidence to back up what you say.


How to Get More Followers:

Try to get those family members and friends to promote your site for you via their own social media, such as: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Asking those close to you to repost your blogs on their own accounts really helps your numbers climb.

With Twitter, search for people who tweet about your interests and then follow them. The chances are that they’ll follow you back, particularly if you post about such things yourself. Hashtags are great here, for instance if you’re writing about painting cars use tags such as #cars and #car-painting. If it’s creative writing then #amwriting #amreading #fantasy and so forth.


To Do

Try and blog on a regular basis, say every two weeks. When tweeting about your blog include posts on other subjects your followers might like, such as animal charities, humour and so forth. Slip posts about your blog in amidst all that other material. If you make statements about things do embed a link to where you got your evidence from, and interact with those people you’ve followed. This includes answering tweets and retweeting any information you find fascinating, or which your readers might appreciate.


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