What Matters in Blogging and Writing (It May Not Be What You Think)
Unlike others in the blogging and writing world I’m not really trained to actually be a writer. I remember a few things from high school and I took a creative writing elective in college, but I never learned about journalism or even the finer points of language and writing. Most of what I know I picked up from reading. I figured if there is a writing style that appeals to me and keeps my interest then it’s worth copying the formula.
Over the last few years my style has emerged and hopefully it’s something that stands out. The one thing my writing style isn’t is standard or traditional in the professional sense. I don’t think it is anyway.
Something I’ve tried to stick with while running Ghost Blog Writers is the focus on results. For GBW and for its clients the focus is on results. That means traffic, leads and sales. Traditionally writing rules are thrown out the window because the only thing that matters is getting a result.
Here is a list of what I feel are the most important elements of a good blog post in priority order.
1. Personality (Voice)
That’s right. The personality of your blog is most important. The voice can be a person or it can be your brand. People connect with the personality of the blogs they like to read. If you go with just the basic reporting style you’re accomplishing something different. That’s reporting and it’s fine, but when people are looking for interpretation of the news they want personality. That’s why TV news anchors have always been popular. People can learn about the news anywhere, but they want to hear it from certain personalities and they want to hear interpretation.
There is a trust factor involved. Share your thoughts on the topics affecting your industry and you’ll attract certain people that will trust you and your brand. This is hard because most of us feel like we have to leave our personality out of blogging. The opposite is true. Interject yourself and your brand into your blogging.
The topic matters. People won’t read your articles unless they care about the topic. You can either write about something people already care about and realize they care about or you can go digging a little deeper and come up with something completely new that people care about, but don’t realize.
Both are difficult. Not only does the topic have to be interesting, relevant and useful to your audience, but you have to add your own personality and perspective to the topic. These are the two most important elements of successful blogging based on my experience. They each take hard work to accomplish. You might get lucky with a post once in a while. You might be able to do some creative things with social media and viral stuff, but that won’t last long if the topic isn’t interesting.
3. Measured Consistency
There is an interesting thing in the world. People seem to value consistency. We don’t like people that change their mind or change their views. We actually criticize people if they do something that’s crazy and new. Yet for some reason when someone does something entirely different and new we might criticize them at first and then come around once we realize that what they’re doing is actually making the world better than before.
That’s why I believe in measured consistency. You want people to be comfortable with what you’re providing. For you blog you want to use consistency with the way you write the formulas you use for your posts and things like that.
But the only way to improve is to change things up a bit. You could add in a wildcard post from time to time. Throw people for a loop. It’s the only way you can make yourself bigger and better than before.
You know I’m a country music fan. This concept brings to mind two, actually three of my favorite country artists:
- George Strait
- Alan Jackson
- Jason Aldean
For the most part you’ll hear country fans say that these guys are the most consistent hitmakers in the business. People perceive these guys to be artists that release good music that doesn’t really change. Yet if you listen to the music over their careers you’ll hear changes.
Most recently Jason Aldean worked in a little rap to his songs. Some people hated it and it was a pretty big risk for someone at the top of his game, but the song (Dirt Road Anthem) became the biggest of Jason’s career.
Alan Jackson and George Strait have done the same things throughout their careers.
People like consistency, but they also like new trends even if they don’t realize it.
4. Language (Grammar)
This is the one I think will surprise people. There is no question my grammar and spell checking are suspect. I break lots of rules with grammar and spelling. You can call me lazy or whatever you want, but there are other things more important with blogging than making sure you use all the right words and use commas and periods correctly.
People care about grammar and spelling, but people care more about the first three items on this list. That’s the truth in my experience with blogging. It’s also true that people will close your blog post page in a heartbeat if your post is so full of mistakes that it’s not possible to read it without your head exploding.
Place a small amount of emphasis on language and grammar. Make sure your sentences actually make sense for the way people talk in real life. Don’t get too complicated with your words and don’t worry too much about making a mistake or two.
There are more important things to worry about with your time.
I can’t tell you how many good blogs I read that have subpar design. I’m a fan of design and I do feel it’s important. It certainly helps to have good design, but I’ve been proven wrong in the past that design is absolutely necessary. It’s not.
Focus on the other four items first and then get your blog and website design in order.