Five Writing Tips for Aspiring Bloggers
The critically acclaimed Nathaniel Hawthrone, writer of The Scarlett Letter and master of dark romance offered many writing tips, including the famous one-liner: “Easy reading is damn hard writing.” Hawthorne died in 1864 yet today his words ring true. As a self-confessed book and blog-worm, I have access to whole host of easy reading but in an over saturated market I have discovered that success, particularly in the blogosphere, requires damn hard writing! Writing is the most rewarding passion but also the most difficult to master. Today, thousands of enthusiastic word smiths start up blogs. What better way is there to express yourself, make contacts and take control of your own port-folio?! However, in such an oversaturated market most question: “how can I possibly stand out?”
I’ve been there myself and any writer would be lying if they say otherwise. That said, I have come a long way from my first printed article about a school visit to the fire station in my local paper circa 2007 (cringe)! I now have a journalism degree and write daily in my PR and content marketing job. Although I am still in the early stages of my career journey, I have picked up some valuable skills along the way so, without further ado, here are my top five writing tips for aspiring bloggers!
Think like a Journalist
The best reporters are those who uncover the latest scoop before their competitors!
However, in the blogging world many sites cover the same trends and content. Unless you have a unique angle, many posts tell us about a story we've read a hundred times before.
If you want to direct traffic to your blog, you need to break a big story. It sounds impossible doesn't it… but believe me, it is not! Scoop is available all the time, you just need to know how to find it.
The first step towards finding a story is to keep your finger on the pulse and make connections. Keep ahead of any news in your specialist subject and never turn down the chance to make some contacts.
Once you have made contacts, use them to arrange interviews with interesting people from within your industry. Why not interview the latest hot shot designer or conduct a series of interviews on one topic as part of an expose?
Finally, be creative when searching for information. Use popular journalist platforms like Lexis-Nexis and ask around your network. If you find a new slant then you are well on your way to creating a popular post!
Broaden your Skill Set
There is no doubt that writing in Nathaniel Hawthrone’s day would have posed its own challenges but, back then, Hawthorne and his contemporaries were expected to do one thing and one thing only- write!
In the era of the citizen journalist, the occupation of writer has lost its exclusivity. We can all claim to be the next Hawthrone, Hemmingway or Fitzgerald. With developments in technology, the industry has witnessed some fantastic changes. That said, with so many user friendly content creation platforms to hand, a way with words no longer cuts it in the journalism and blogging trades.
To make it in this industry you have to create and market your own brand, learn essential SEO skills and effectively use a whole host of social media channels. You are no longer just a writer but now a content creator for multiple platforms.
Interview, Interview, Interview
Blogs vary in topic and content- many are personal, whether it be a platform for honest tales of self-discovery or for an expression of style. However, in recent years I have noticed that few feature regular interviews.
Interviews not only create fantastic content but often, I find, they help writers to develop. Many of the most memorable highlights of my career to date have been as a result of real face to face or, at least, phone or skype interviews.
Talking to people allows you to build relationships and discover new unpublished details, which is why this unique content is well worth its weight in gold.
It is simple but this is perhaps the most important writing tip of all! If you are starting up it is easy to shy away from interviews or to assume that nobody will want to talk to you but I guarantee you will be surprised- many fashion designers, authors, scientists and researchers are keen for exposure. If not, the worst that can happen is that they say “no.”
Do your Research
The beauty of blogs is that they provide a platform for all sorts of content and, if personal, they can often be written off the top of one’s head but, that said, it is crucial to never make vague generalisations!
Again, particularly when covering certain topics, one must think like a journalist which means you must nail down every precise fact and detail. What’s more, you must remember to tell your readers where you found it! Once you do this your blog will be given instant legitimacy and, ultimately, respect.
The first rule of thumb is to find relevant research that helps add depth to your story. Government documents, market research, trade associations and organisations often provide accurate information but you must be aware of sponsored research. It is crucial to fact check and ensure that you are citing data accurately!
Once you have confirmed this, use your data to compose a balanced story- remember there are two sides to every one. Finally use data in an exciting format, whether it be using a funny anecdote or in a graphic, then you are sure to be onto a winner of a post!
Cringe, it's Character Building
The more you write, the more you will become acquainted with and confident in your style. Writing is a fantastic outlet, hobby and/or career and, with it, you embark upon a journey of self-discovery and personal growth. However, writing and cringing go hand in hand and as your style develops you will likely look back at old pieces and turn red with embarrassment.
Yes some chosen topics, turns of phrase or tastes may embarrass you in years to come but it is all part of your journey so do not beat yourself up about it. If you follow this writing tip, then cringing will help build character. Who knows, I may look back at this post in five years’ time through a critical eye but that doesn't make it any less important to my development.
Writing Tips for Aspiring Bloggers
Do you enjoy writing? How do you keep your blog current and creative! Share your top tips with us in the comments below or click here to read more of our lifestyle posts.