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Paul’s Eight Edible Tips for New Bloggers

SUMMARY: Eight tips for new bloggers.

(About a 6 minute read)

If you’re like me, you have noticed that most people now and then say exactly the opposite of what they really mean.  This is no where so true as when people accept excellent advice.

At least, when accepting it from me, they usually say things like, “That’s the worst advice I’ve had since my fiancé’s dad’s on prom night!”, and “Paul, if I had wanted to die young, I would have asked you straight-forward how to die young.”  Meaning, of course, “Thank you for the superb advice!”

Although, by all accounts, my advice is almost always excellent, one of my goals in life is to as seldom as possible offer it.  I feel that offering advice undertakes great responsibility, a responsibility I’m increasingly less comfortable undertaking as I get older and perhaps a little wiser.  However, habits of speech die even harder than habits of mind sometimes, and I have yet to wholly figure out how to write in ways that don’t sound like I’m telling people what to do.

This post, however, is clearly an attempt on my part to provide new bloggers with good advice.  Advice so good, in fact, that mediocre bloggers such as myself seldom follow it themselves.

New bloggers wishing to take this advice would do well to think it through to see if it fits them though.  I may have begun blogging over a decade ago, but that doesn’t mean I make shoes that fit every size foot.

With that said, here are my tips for new bloggers.

BE AUTHENTIC

Before we get into the concrete things to do, let’s start with one intangible.  Be authentic. Also known as, “Be true to yourself”.  In my opinion, this is the key to just about everything, from having fun to avoiding writer’s block.

In practice, it often comes down to writing primarily for the kicks of expressing yourself, rather than, say, to impress anyone.  Remember when you were a kid and you did things just for the fun of them?  Try to be that kid again.  It’s the best way to stay true to yourself.

MAKE IT PERSONAL

The person who got me into blogging was my therapist. I’ve blogged about just how he got me motivated to blog here. He thought it would be good for me to express myself by seeing how many cases of PTSD I could inflict upon my long term readers.  He was also the person who gave me the best advice I’ve had when it comes to blogging.  Make it personal.  Or, as he put it:

“Tell stories! Illustrate your points with your personal experiences! Put some ‘you’ into your posts! A lot of ‘you’. And when you are not talking about you, talk about others. Tell their stories! People are interested in people. We all are. Everyone likes to read about people.”

So, at least start your posts — when you can — with a personal story that illustrates a point you’re going to make.  Failing that, talk about someone else in a way that illustrates that point.  And failing that, start with a story — any story — that is related to your point.  If you can’t do any of those things, at least start off,  whenever you can, with, “If you’re like me….”

WRITE INCLUSIVELY

Some bloggers make the mistake of writing in ways that unnecessarily exclude, and might even alienate, certain readers or categories of readers, such as women, liberals, conservatives, or elephants.  Elephants especially are sensitive to unnecessarily exclusionary language, which in my opinion is why you see so few of them reading blogs these days.

If your actual intention is to exclude and alienate people, then go ahead.  That’s your business.  But if you wish to include people in your audience, rather than exclude them from it, then avoid unnecessary slurs, slights, and insults.

Say what you mean, but say it in as fair-minded and non-judgemental way as possible.  After all, 98% of the things we criticize others for doing are things we ourselves have done — the difference at most is usually just a matter of degree.

KEEP YOUR PARAGRAPHS SHORT

This is the number one mistake of all bloggers and cannot be over-emphasized in my opinion.  People do not read blogs like they read essays in books.  They tend to find long blog paragraphs daunting even when they would breeze by the same paragraph in a book.

USE SECTION HEADINGS

Most bloggers — including myself — seldom use section headings, but they really do help people.  Folks tend to skim blog posts, looking for points of interest.  Often, they do not read them lineally, but rather dip in and out of them — sometimes more or less at random.  Section headings can both help them do that, and can also call attention to your key points.

BLOCK QUOTE YOURSELF

Another thing most of us don’t do that would accommodate the skim-style reading that most people do is block quote ourselves.   To do so, simply pick out your key points and quote a statement you make about them in the main text.

It’s a good idea to block quote yourself even though most of don’t do it because people skim read blog posts and it lets them know where to dip back into your post.

It’s a good idea to block quote yourself even though most of don’t do it because people skim read blog posts and it lets them know where to dip back into your post.

DON’T CHANGE FONTS TOO MUCH

Some bloggers change their fonts and the color of their fonts frequently through-out their posts. This probably is not a good idea.  While often intended to emphasize key points, the effect is to make everything look important so that nothing sticks out as important.  I think it also makes things harder to read.

SUMMARIZE

In conversations with blog readers, I’ve learned that many of them read the first paragraph or two, then jump to the summary at the end of the post to get an overall idea of the post before going back to dip into the post here and there.  So it’s a good idea to summarize the post at the end when you can do so.  It helps to sustain people’s interest.

SUMMARY

To recap, the eight tips are:

  • Be authentic
  • Make it personal
  • Write inclusively
  • Keep your paragraphs short
  • Use section headings
  • Block quote yourself
  • Don’t change fonts too much
  • Summarize

I ain’t claiming I do all of those things myself.  Just claiming they are all good ideas.

Questions?  Comments?

9 thoughts on “Paul’s Eight Edible Tips for New Bloggers”

  1. Great advice! Knowing myself, I probably won’t follow most of it, but one thing worth mentioning is that I have recently been noticing that my writing is becoming more personal. Now that I think about it, that started to happen at around the time I started reading your posts, so it’s reassuring to know that I’m learning from the best of the best.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You hit on all the key points. I try to create a blog in a way that I would read. I keep the overall work count at around 600 words – give or take. Short paragraphs and so on.

    The easier on the eyes the better. That is the key. Most of all my goal is to make it personal. I want you to read it and see yourself in it. If I can do that my goal is achieved.

    Excellent as always, my friend.

    Like

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