I apologize for not coming up with a sexier title, but this is about the mechanics of blogging, right?
What I’m referring to is the actual content of the blog post itself. I want to share some tips that will help you make the best use of the text you type into the post entry field.
Length of Post
How long should a post be? I typically advocate for shorter posts, not more than 200 words long. Another expert blogger, Anita Campbell, advised me sometime ago that longer posts don’t tend to get read as well. I agree.
John Jantsch allows a bit more leeway, but holds to the same general course. He suggests blog posts needn’t exceed 300 or 400 words. That generally is a longer post than I care to write. But, then again, I may just not have that much to say. Blogs are different than typical articles you’d find on the internet, such as you might read when visiting online news sites. You expect that commentary to be longer.
Blogs are typically thought of as more “shoot from the hip, spur of the moment” kinds of information. Something jotted down quickly at the moment you think of it. As such, they generally don’t entail quite as much forethought. Of course, that might be an over-generalization.
A blog post that’s search engine friendly does need to be at least 150 words. That gives Google and other such engines plenty of content to index.
Tone of Post
Blogs are meant to be written very conversationally, and in a first-person format. Doc Searls calls blog posts an “email to everyone.”
When I sit down to write, I like to envision that I’m speaking to one person, someone I want to get to know and who wants to get to know me. Formality of tone belies that notion and, as such, should be avoided. You goal is not merely to share information, but to engage the reader in a conversation. It’s not a monologue, but a dialogue.
If getting the attention of search engines is important to you, then you’ll want to include keywords in your post. My friend Anita Campbell suggests that you use a given keyword a couple of times. Don’t overdo it though, as search engines might actually penalize you. And you don’t want to make the search engines mad!
If you’re blogging for business purposes I heartily recommend you check for spelling. Unfortunately, not all blog platforms include spellcheck. (Typepad does, even though it’s older brother Movable Type does not.)
If your platform does not, run the content through Word first to check for accuracy. (Quick note: If you use Typepad, don’t copy content from Word directly into it, at least the WYSIWYG editor, as it will pick up the Word formatting and override your stylesheet.)
What If You’re Not a Writer
I’ve heard business owners say many times, “But, I’m not a writer.” That’s OK. Believe me, blogging will help you become one. It’s been my own experience that over the months since I’ve been blogging, my writing has gotten steadily better. That might not be saying much compared to top-notch journalists I’ve read, but considering where I started from I can tell you, it’s better.
The best advice I can give you is: Be yourself! Blogging may seem unnatural at first, but isn’t that the case with all new habits? It takes time to, as we say in blogging parlance, “find your voice.” Just stay with the stuff and you’ll get the hang of it over time. As with all things, persistence is the key.
(BTW, I did a word count on this post. It’s 612. I guess I have more to say than I thought!)