Here’s My First Five Tips For Writing Better Blog Posts — What Are Yours?

Ever had one of those days where the words just refuse to behave? Where it feels like every word you use is the wrong word? And you continuously rewrite the same sentences.

Worse Still! You finally finish the post believing it’s your best ever only to find no-one comments.

The unfortunate fact of blogging is writing good blog posts is more than just the words. Spend time observing probloggers and you’ll see they use various strategies to make each post count. If you want to use blogging for your personal learning you need to be effective at engaging and having conversations with readers.

So here’s my first 5 tips for better blog posts:

# 1 Use Short Paragraphs

Image of toes and fingersI can’t count on all my fingers and toes the number of posts I’ve tried to read that are just one paragraph! One incredibly long paragraph. What The? And many of these were written by educators.

Posts with really long paragraphs are really hard to read making it less likely for your post to be read and/or your readers to miss the point of your post.

Very simple:

  • Break your posts up with paragraphs
  • The more paragraphs the better!
  • Short paragraphs are better than long
  • Make the first sentence of each paragraph make me want to read the rest of the paragraph!

Photo adapted from Flickr photo uploaded on December 14, 2006 by wiccked licensed under Creative Commons ShareAlike 2.0.

#2 Use Headings!

Use headings and where appropriate bullet points and number lists to break up the post into manageable bit size chunks.

WordPress, which Edublogs uses, provides Heading Styles. Use them! Which you use will depend on your theme.

Trial each heading style to select which visually looks the best:

  1. Write a test post
  2. Use each Heading Style
  3. Click on Save and Continue Editing
  4. Click Preview to see what each looks like in a post

Heading 3 works the best with my blog themes.

#3 Remember to Hyperlink

Image of LinksIf you write about an article or another blogger’s post link to it! Why? Because your readers often want to check it out in more details.

When you link to someone else’s post it’s good practice to mention their name, link their name to their blog, and then link to the post you’re referring to (it’s also a good way of getting people to visit your site).

Photo from Flickr uploaded on February 13, 2006 by Rigmarole licensed under Creative Commons ShareAlike 2.0.

Here’s an example of hyperlinking (click on each to see why I used):

Larry Ferlazzo says Scribd is a great tool for English Language Learners (he’s voted it fourth best tool for 2007 for ELL). Why? Because he gets students upload their papers and illustrations, and Scribd immediately also converts it into audio so, in addition to seeing their story, they and others can hear it, too.

Check out this example Larry created for how Scribe can be used for Talking Stories (press the play on the Listen toolbar on the bottom right hand side below categories and tags).

Here’s how to add hyperlinks:

AVOID using underlining when writing posts because your readers expect all underlined text is hyperlinked.

#4 Always Comment Back To Readers On Your Own Posts!

Image of I love commentsIf readers have made time to comment on your posts the very minimum you should do is respond back to your readers (ideally each reader) in the comments on your post. This is very important for building your blog’s community; it demonstrates that you value your readers and their input.

Commenting back also increases community interaction. Look at how Lee is interacting with her readers on “What Posts Stimulate Readers To Comment?” and while you are there make sure you leave your thoughts on what makes readers comment.

Photo from Flickr uploaded on March 26, 2008 by Morbit Photography licensed under Creative Commons ShareAlike 2.0.

PERSONAL RANT!

Image of Shame on youThere are well known edubloggers who almost never respond or acknowledge their readers who take time to write comments or link to them. Sorry but I have to say this! Shame on you. Not good enough! Your readers are part of your personal learning community and you should be showing you value them.

Please don’t interpret my words to imply I’m saying all well known edubloggers are like this! There are ones that do and the ones that don’t comment back. You also get to see some incredible well known edubloggers who spend considerable time helping and mentoring others!

Photo adapted from Flickr uploaded on November 7, 2007 by Minds Move (Mountains) licensed under Creative Commons ShareAlike 2.0.

#5 Subscribe To Your Own Blog Feed!

Always, always, always subscribe to your own blog feed using your feed reader (e.g. Google Reader, Bloglines, NetVibes)!

Your blog has two main audiences:

  1. Those who read your post on your blog
  2. Those who read your post via a feed reader

Your blog posts have to look good, visually, for both audiences. Subscribing to your own blog feed means you’ll see your posts how they are seen by your subscribers. This allows you to troubleshoot issues with font sizes, image size/alignment and removal of content (e.g. embeds like SlideShare, Voicethreads and videos are often removed by feed readers).

You’ll never know about your blog feed issues unless you subscribe to your own blog (check out this example of what can happen when your blog feed goes astray and you don’t realise).

PERSONAL RANT!Never ever, ever set your blog feed to partial feeds! With the number of posts I read do you honestly think I have time to click on READ MORE?

YOUR THOUGHTS

This post was in response to a request from Darren Draper and Robin Ellis to follow up on to provide blogging tips and etiquette for their Open PD session on using Edublogs.

It will be part of an ongoing series and since we each have a different definition of what makes a “good blog post” I would love you to share your thoughts.

So can you please tell us about:

  1. What are your 3 most important tips for writing better blog posts?
  2. What blog post recently has made you want to comment and what was it about this post that engaged you?
  3. Has a post recently inspired you to write your own post? What was it about the post that made you take action?

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185 thoughts on “Here’s My First Five Tips For Writing Better Blog Posts — What Are Yours?

  1. I am a progressive, political blogger who uses Edublogs through my school (I’m a thirteen-year-old), and I find that for opinion blogs like mine, a important thing is to sound emotional. I am more interested when I listen to someone angrily tirading a issue that they disagree with than someone just giving a bland summary with no emotion. I try to write how my emotions take me.

  2. This has been useful to me, but, I really have to say this; you need to include something about proper grammar and punctuation. At the same time, however, you need to check yours. I see a grammatical mistake. Do you?

    1. @greenmile96, proper grammar and punctuation is an interesting topic with blogging.

      Blogging is more conversational than traditional writing and it’s often common to see bloggers break every rule to make a blog post more conversation and read better.

      A grammatical mistake — I’m surprised you didn’t find more 😎

      I suggest you read the last two comments on my personal blog here – http://suewaters.com/2009/09/18/heres-my-blogging-story-whats-yours/

  3. I really like this post Sue, and have found it very useful in developing my own personal blog…something that I am invariably new to and hopefully will improve upon as time goes on.

    I am definitely thinking of incorporating blogging into my classroom practice as a way for students to continue to develop their writing and recieve feedback on their thoughts and I will definitely use these tips to help them get started.

    Would you perhaps have any suggestions as to what you might encourage students to write in their own personal blogs, or would you encourage them to write whatever they feel like? I am hoping that they will get feedback…even if it is from each other as I think that some of them may become discouraged if they do not get responses to their posts. Any thoughts from you or anyone who reads this reply are appreciated.

    1. @geordieexile, the best advice I’ve read on what students should blog about was written by a student.

      I strongly recommend you read Lauren’s post and tell others to take the time to read it. Excellent advice on student blogging from a student who has been inspired by how their teacher encourages them to blog.

  4. Sue,
    As an intern at a non-profit in charge of blogging I thank you so much for this post. I’m sure its helped a lot of people already, and has encouraged me to start commenting on other blogs.

    Alex

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