15 – Giving blog advice

I was recently approached by a friend from secondary school who asked me to read through her first attempt at a blog post and give advice on how to improve it.

As a journalism student, I shouldn’t be so surprised by this request, but the thought of someone actively seeking me out for advice on their writing completely blows my mind.

When I was at school I was one of the ‘smart kids’. We had our reasonably small group of friends and that was it. Most other people just left us alone, a few tormented members of our group, but we mostly just kept ourselves to ourselves.

Sixth form broke down the cliques, and I started to become friends with some of the people who had done their best to ignore me for the last few years.

Some of my new friends asked me for help with their work, or understanding a concept we were learning, so this request for advice should be fairly familiar to me, but something about it seemed so alien.

Helping someone with their maths feels different to helping someone with a blog. There’s always a correct answer to a maths question but a blog can mean so many things to different people.

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Blogging statistics, full infograph here.

Perhaps the passion and raw energy that I put into these posts is what makes this blog special to me. In my first drafts I write out everything I think and feel about the subject and edit it into a (hopefully) more coherent piece before it’s published.

Whilst the words and ideas expressed change along the way, to me, my emotions remain intact and each post can make me relive a whole rollercoaster of feelings.

In my opinion, this is one of the most important things for a successful blog. My friends can read my posts and feel something because they were involved in the experience, but connecting with people reading a post for the first time is so important because I can be seen as a person, instead of a chunk of text.

If you’re thinking of starting a blog, there are no words to explain how much I want you to just go for it. You can write about anything you’re passionate about and, even if you only have one reader, you will be giving something to the people who share your passion.

If you want to write a blog, I would suggest;

  • Short paragraphs – each one should be no more than four or five lines long. If it looks like it’s getting too large, split it up or take some words out.
  • Be friendly – keep it casual, but don’t overuse slang either. Using words that people may not understand is an easy way to drive away a reader.
  • Try to start a conversation – it doesn’t have to be a serious one, you can just try to encourage readers to share their experiences with banana skins or freakishly scary soft toys. Attempting to engage readers into leaving a comment will make your blog more of an inviting place to be.
  • Use pictures – a huge page of text is off-putting, see if you can add any pictures to make it easier to digest. Your blog is also 94% more likely to be viewed if it has images! (Point 4)
  • Tell a story – make your readers want to follow the blog. Give them a taste of personality and try to show them who you are, even if the post isn’t actually about you.
  • Have fun with it – these rules are all well and good but if you stick to them too thoroughly then you’ll never express yourself properly. A blog is all about having fun, if you don’t enjoy it then your writing will be forced and hard to read.

I don’t always follow these guidelines (as I’m sure you can tell) but thinking about them will definitely help to make your blog a better place.

At the end of a post, sit back and decide if you would enjoy reading it. If the answer is no, then you may want to go back to the drawing board for a redraft!

Asking for a helping hand can be hard to do, not everyone will ask for help when they truly need it. Use any spare moments you have to show kindness to someone, whether you help them with a project, carry their shopping, or even just say hello.

A simple act can go a long way, and the smallest of gestures could really help someone in need. It takes nothing to be kind, but the reward can be plentiful.

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