In the early days of blogging, many educators, business professionals, lawyers, doctors, and more clutched their throats and said, "This is awful! This is terrible! This will never last! Don't do this!"
Educators thought the natural writing, conversational style of blogging would warp their students minds and ruin good writing and reading for centuries to come.
Business professionals thought the whole thing was a waste of time and money, given blogging was just people blathering on the page, so to speak. Don't do it, they told their colleagues. If they were nudged to do it by their marketing team, they laughed and said, "I'm not crazy. Why would I write a blog?"
The lawyers and doctors were more introspect. They worried about HIPPA privacy laws and not being able to convey anything useful in a blog. They insisted blogging was for other professions, not theirs.
The problem is - not everyone is blogging effectively.
What does that mean?
It means people sometimes just throw up on the page. Ack! What an expression! We say that in writing because a lot of new writers, untried writers, just getting started writers, do that. They write garbage. Not because they mean to. Not even because they think it's good - well, mostly. Some of them think it's good and then they come to me and I disabuse them of that idea.
What I'm saying here is that writing is a skill. A talent. Like dancing or fencing or swimming, you can learn to do it well. If you are blogging, you should learn to do it well. You should be concerned about how professional your blog writing is. The topics, writing style, and information you share will leave a good impression, or a bad impression.
Good impressions encourage engagement and reaching out to learn more about you and your business.
Bad impressions just make people go away. The issue here is that they may go away and tell other people about the bad blog they just visited!
If your blog writing left no impression at all, that's worrisome. At least with a bad impression there is the recognition that maybe that person is just not a client for you. If people just shrug and go away, it means you left no impression at all - you're essentially invisible.
No one writing a blog wants to be invisible.
I have some suggestions for writing good content on your blog. Faster and easier and more quickly.
One. Read. Read with purpose. This means when you're taking the time out of your day to read something, make it count. Don't spend time reading newsletters that no longer apply to what you're doing, or that you open only because you liked one article two years ago and it comes every week now and you think you should open it.
Read books with purpose. Underline. I give you permission to write in your books - jot notes in the margin. Be aware of what you're reading. Give everything you read a purpose - business or pleasure. Know why you're reading.
As you can imagine, I read a lot. I read online. I read print books. I read billboards. I read anything put in front of my face. I don't, however, waste time digesting billboards or other kinds of marketing ads. My time is valuable to me. My reading time is valuable to me - because I know how powerful words are.
How does this help you write better, faster, more quickly? By reading with purpose, jotting notes in margins, underlining, you both increase your vocabulary and you create a 'cheat sheet' of ideas for articles and blog posts you might want to write. Those notes jotted in the margins become quotes in your post.
Two. Plan your day. The easy answer to "have you read so-and-so's book/blog yet?" is, "I don't have time to read."
Cop out. I'm calling all of you on this. You do have time to read. You have time to have coffee, don't you? You have time to watch Netflix, don't you? You have time to drive to work or to meetings, don't you? (I won't get into the time you spend on Facebook or Pinterest or Instagram, though I should.)
Those are things you consider necessary in your life. Reading is the same. It's necessary. You need to read. You need to plan each day out and put in at least 20 minutes for reading. I'm talking about reading other people's work, not your own.
Reading improves writing skill. I learned how to use dialogue and quotations from reading books, not from any schooling. I learned how to create plots before I even knew what they were, by reading.
I'm heavy on the reading here because reading is necessary to writing. If you read well, you learn to write well. Plan time in your day for both - read, and then write something. If you have a blog post to write, plan out the topic and flow a week in advance. Some will tell you do this three months in advance but with the net being so immediate, I think a week in advance is enough. Read. Then write.
Three. Understand how to pause.
Make the reader think.
Don't throw up on the page!
Four. Write as if you are having a conversation with the audience.
Then, edit. Do not write the blog post or article or presentation or book as if it's a conversation, then send it off to your printer. Edit. Edit. Edit. Edit not only for typos or grammar mistakes, edit for content. Edit for message.
Did you say what you meant to say? Read the content out loud - how does it sound? Yes, words have sound, even unspoken words have sound. Keep like phrases together. Tell me what you want me to know, then go back and make sure you represented yourself properly.
Many people let content sit overnight before they review and revise. You might be surprised by what you discover missing or that you want to remove, if you write it and let it simmer overnight on its own.
Five. Create a writing group. This could be on Facebook, where so many people create groups, or it could be a monthly Zoom meeting. The purpose is to inspire each other to write more often. Writing more often increases both comfort level with writing and skill.
Don't pack the group with fifty people. Keep it manageable. You will be critiquing each other's writing, so choose members wisely. Don't choose only members who 'like' you and that you 'like'. Choose people who read and want to write better. Be kind to each other, but be productive, also.
Six. Write a book on a deadline. There's a group out there for this - NaNoWriMo. It's primarily for novel writers. But, how fun would that be? For you to write a novel! If you work with this group, you could do that, and in doing so, you could learn to write better, faster.
Seven. Become a mentor. Nothing teaches us how to be better at what we do than mentoring someone else to do it.
Whether you mentor high school students how to write better presentations, or you mentor entrepreneurs from a networking group you belong to, guiding them on setting up their business, the act of mentoring will teach you patience; it will give you insight into yourself and your business; it will connect you to new people for your book readings; and it will help improve your own writing skill.
All of these involve reading. You may have noticed that. In order to write well, you must read. In order to read well, you must be aware of what you're reading, how you're reading, and why you're reading.
Be that person who takes charge of her life and doesn't let old, high school memories of having to write 'stupid' term papers keep her from becoming someone who writes well.
Yes, some people find it easy to write. I find it easy. But, writing is a skill you can master. Do it now and you will reap the benefits forever.