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10.15.2015

Series: Tips From a Newbie (#1: Perfecting Your Posts)


These posts were written in celebration of Edge of Night's 1 year blogiversary to share some of what I've learned during my time blogging. While I love to give advice when I can, this isn't my niche and this is not what I usually post. But if you'd like to read more, be sure to check out my other posts in this series!

- Perfecting Your Posts
- Managing Your Blog
- Your Sphere
- The Pretty Little Details
- Wrap-Up
                                                 


Perfecting Your Posts

Perfection doesn't exist. There's always more to learn, something to improve upon. In many cases, perfection is also subjective.

But while it's impossible to attain true perfection, you can work to aim for it. To achieve your best.

Blogging gives a lot of freedom to express yourself, in both written words and in design. That's part of what makes it so great - the ability to make your little space your own. Everyone does it differently, and there's really no right or wrong way to go about it. You can be as casual as you like, without worrying about structure, schedules, proper formatting, or any of that.

But if you're really itching to get people reading your posts, then there are some things that you may want to pay more attention to. Things like making your posts not just sound good, but look good, and making sure that you care about your content and understand the effort it takes to build up your readership.

Being the new(ish) blogger that I am, I can only give you the very basics. The most common offenders that you will hear about a lot (for good reason!). But these are things that will drive many of your visitors away, so you must at least be aware of them; even if you don't follow the advice.

Let's get started!


Text Basics




- Use a simple typeface.


I know how tempting it is to use those elegant cursive scripts. They add a beautiful flair to your words. But I, and many other browsers of the Internet, groan when we stumble upon a blog with a typeface meant to look like glorious handwriting.

There's a reason people stick with simple typefaces like Arial, Verdana, and Helvetica. Headers and little details like that are fine to style, but how many times have you had difficulties reading someone's actual handwriting? It's the same issue when you use fancy fonts in the main parts of your text, except that it's on a screen and ten times worse.

Basic typefaces like the ones above are easy to read and they're a lot more universal. Not every typeface works across all platforms and computers. I learned the hard way that copy/pasting your work from Microsoft Word brings with it a bunch of extra code, and many of Word's special fonts were only visible to people who had that kind of font on their device.

Most devices, however, have the regular generic fonts/typefaces. So it's really just best to go with a simple sans-serif (a typeface with no fancy flourishes or lines, called serifs, on the letters).



- Expressing yourself is great, but don't do it through the colors of your text.


Rainbows. They're beautiful, but they don't belong in your text.

The majority of your visitors are going to cringe if they open up the page and see posts in dozens of different colors, many of which are often bright and induce headaches. Titles, short words or phrases, sidebar details, and things of that nature are, again, exceptions to this (assume that this is the case for all points in this post). But stick with good ol' black or gray for your main body text. 

Gray is actually more preferred than straight black, but don't go too light. Just keep in mind: If I have to highlight your words to read them, I'm probably not going to read them.



- Also, watch your text size. 


Can you imagine reading an entire post like this?

You will see this advice everywhere you go when looking for tips. That's because, along with cursive fonts and colorful words, text size is a constant issue.

A lot of blogs have super tiny text that is very hard to read. Don't be one of them. Similarly, please don't make it incredibly huge. Find a good balance! (For the record, my own text is on the smallish side.)



- Look over your posts multiple times. Make sure they aren't littered with mistakes BEFORE you publish them.


Via imgflip.com

Everyone makes and misses spelling or grammatical errors, and no one is perfect. I'm far from it myself (looking at you, commas). But there's a difference between making the occasional mistake or not knowing a rule and simply not putting in enough effort to make sure that you're writing to the best of your ability. It's amazing sometimes what gets published out there - and when it's obvious that you didn't proofread, no one is going to take you seriously. Your credibility is shot.

So just take a little time to make sure you have everything in order before you hit that "publish" button. Spellcheck is your friend.


 Writing Your Post



- Understand that your posts are going to be scan-read.


People are busy. They want to make sure that your post is what they're looking for, or if it interests them or not, before investing a ton of time into it. That means that the majority of people will scan your writing instead of read it word by word. This is normal, and doesn't reflect the quality of your content.

I admittedly don't format my posts specifically for scan-reading. If you're a scan-reader, you probably noticed that and are cursing under your breath at me this very moment. But I really just prefer to write as I feel like writing without thinking too much about, "Can people scan this easily?"

Nonetheless, if you want your posts to be easy to scan, make use of
  • Headers
  • Lists and bullet points
  • Short sentences and paragraphs
  • Bold and italics to make words/sentences stand out (use sparingly)



- Don't write like the valedictorian. Write like yourself.


Be yourself! Give a conversational tone to your writing.

This can be harder than it sounds for some. For me, it's like a reflex; I automatically start writing in this oddly formal tone and attempt to use words that I rarely ever use in day-to-day conversation. You can probably tell that I'm still working on not doing that.

A little bit is fine, and hey - sometimes that big, obnoxious word just conveys your point perfectly. But try to avoid writing your entire post like that. True skill is where you can write professionally and still sound relaxed, relatable, and informal!



- Your content must matter to you.


Readers can tell when you aren't passionate about a topic. And if you don't care for the subject, why should anyone else that happens upon your post?

If you pick a theme for your blog, make sure it's one that you enjoy. There will always be times that you don't enjoy it - no matter what you choose. Times that you don't feel like writing that post. If you're not a strict blogger, you can veer off once in a while to a different topic for a change of pace. Or maybe you're burned out and need to take a break.

It's your blog. Do what you need to do to stay motivated.




- Have patience. The heavens are not going to just open up and rain people down upon you.


And finally, have patience when writing and publishing posts. This is why so many bloggers don't make it past their first few months. It takes a long time to get anyone to read your work - and even more so to get them to comment on it.

I'll go into greater detail about this in Your Sphere. But understand that the blogging world, like most of the real world, is not a "write it, and they will come" sort of deal.

Be prepared to work for every reader.

                                                                              


Summary:
  • Use a simple sans-serif typeface. Avoid fancy, cursive fonts.
  • Use black or gray for the text in your posts. Don't use bright colors.
  • Don't make your text super small or super large.
  • Proofread your posts before publishing them. Reread them. Spellcheck.
---
  • Be aware that your posts will likely be scan-read.
  • Keep a conversational tone.
  • Write about things that matter to you.
  • Have patience. It takes time and effort to build a readership!

9 comments:

  1. As a newbie myself, I actually struggle with point 4, 5 and 6.
    I would read my post over and over again to make sure it flows and that there aren't any spelling, grammatical errors. But sometimes i still find them after i published my post.. I would just go back and edit, then update the post. But i guess that happens to everyone..

    I also struggle with rambling on my post!! Sometimes i love the book so much i would just go on and on! I feel like a long post would actually drive readers away. Few would actually read word-for-word. But then despite the long texts, i try to use paragraphing to make it easier for readers. I don't know if that helps though. But i personally like reading in paragraphs!!

    Lastly, I actually just type what's on my mind about the book when i'm writing a post. I feel that my posts are very casual and i try to keep the i use words simple. I don't know how people feel about that. I would like to be a little more 'professional', but I don't know how to go about doing it. :/

    Anyway, these are really great and useful tips!! They actually made me reflect about how i presented my blog to readers! Thanks so much Eve! :) Look forward to your updates!!

    ♡,
    Yuki - http://utterlybooks.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly, it happens. You're going to miss a few errors once in a while. In fact, a little embarrassing story: I worked on this post for about a week and I reread it a dozen times. (I really didn't want there to be any obvious typos in a post that mentions proofreading.) So, I thought I caught everything, posted it, and immediately noticed that I left out a couple of words in the first beginning sentences. D'oh.

      I'm always periodically returning to old posts and rereading them because of things like that lol. But it's really just when a post has typos in every other word that it becomes an issue, so don't worry.

      As for rambling, yes, some readers prefer shorter posts and they'll run if they see a big wall of text. A lot of people don't mind, though. So I'd say feel free to ramble if you need to ramble! Make your posts as long as they need to be to tell the story.

      From the posts of yours that I've read, I didn't notice any rambling. I thought they were good lengths, actually, and I found them very easy to read. But if you think you need to make a post shorter, you can always write a "part 2." And paragraphing definitely helps. It's a must.

      The majority of people actually prefer simpler words and more casual writing. It's more relatable, and makes it easier for readers to focus on your point instead of deciphering your words. Again, I think you sound just fine in your posts!

      Thank you, Yuki! I'm really happy to hear you got some good out of these tips. :)

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    2. Thank you for getting back to me with the feedbacks!! Appreciated! :)


      ♡,
      Yuki - http://utterlybooks.blogspot.com/

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  2. Great advice!! I just started recently so I know I still need to work on like my colors, text font, and that kind of thing. Great post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you liked it, Erin! There's always room for improvement. I know there's a few things I personally want to improve with my text. But it's readable, so I'm being slow changing it lol. I have no problem reading yours, either. Very easy text size, and your colors, while on the brighter side, don't cause a problem.

      Thanks so much for reading!

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  3. This is great advice, even for someone who has been blogging for more than 3 years! I've followed your blog and looking forward to more awesome posts!
    Mind checking out mine?
    Z.
    www.myhopefulpencil.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Zelus! I truly appreciate your kind words and follow. I've stopped by yours and followed via GFC and Twitter! :) Glad you liked the tips.

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