From fashion to travel, from lifestyle to opinion, blogging is a boom industry. Embark is growing its new-blogger client list to help writers ensure they're word perfect and help new editors explore this unique type of publishing. In this new post, Embark editor Sandra D. explains how you can help your client be a better blogger.
Photo credit: Pixabay, Creative Commons
Blogging takes work. And editing a blog post takes work too, especially as a new copyeditor who likes working with paper! Preparing content for an online audience and becoming media savvy has been a learning curve for me in many ways, which I’d like to share with my fellow Embark editors.
I have been privileged to collaborate with Brien Crothers, who blogs about his adventure travels over at Grandpa’s Gone Again? His experiences are remarkable, and he encourages readers to follow his example and experience the world for themselves. He also provides helpful training advice for readers new to adventure travel.
Showcase Your Blogger’s Voice
As I’ve embarked on this blogging journey alongside my client, I’ve found that there’s quite a difference between a grammatically correct blog post that is boring to read and one that is artfully written—that pulls in readers from the beginning. I make heavy use of Chicago, Merriam-Webster, and other editing resources as I help my client craft grammatical blog posts. However, bridging the gap from a merely informative article to an engaging one draws upon both Brien’s and my sense of verbal style and our combined media savvy.
Incorporating verbal style into a post is an aspect of blog editing I particularly enjoy. It has been fun to collaborate with my client in presenting his story in a compelling, artful way. I always try to showcase Brien’s unique voice: his conviction that the benefits of traversing the world’s many wonders (many times on foot!) is a challenge worth pursuing.
The initiation process to blogging has also taught me some things about what makes a blog “sell.” While well‐chosen words are crucial, there are other important features that any successful blog needs. Among these are an outline, a decent title, subheadings, graphic elements, search engine optimization, and a modest word count.
1. Get Out the Map
A roadmap is an important foundational step because it gives the blog a path forward that both editor and author can follow. A roadmap clarifies questions such as “What is the purpose of this blog or blog series?” and “Who am I writing for?” It also specifically defines and develops the content to be covered. Editor and author can draft an outline together. A side benefit is that a robust outline (mostly) prevents misunderstandings about how the blog series will proceed and keeps posts more focused.
2. Reel Them In
Crafting cool titles and subheadings is important. A title is the first element a reader sees, and it should be framed in such a way that it captures the reader’s attention. It’s the hook, and it matters. If the title is uninspiring or unclear, the reader may pass on by. The subheadings also need to be carefully thought out as they helpfully break up the text into manageable chunks and draw readers’ eyes downward through the article.
3. Picture This
Pictures and other graphic elements are eye candy for a blog and readers love them! Consistently including just the right photo or image can help endear your client’s blog to its readers and even create loyalty to his or her particular angle on the subject, especially if the photos are the blogger's own.
4. The Missing Link
Your client’s blog is only one of many millions, yes, millions. One recent estimate puts the total number of blogs at 152 million. That’s quite some competition for blog traffic! There’s a welter of advice for how to develop search engine optimization (SEO)--an ugly phrase for old‐fashioned paper‐lovers like me--which is code for how search engines find, evaluate, and rank a website. The techniques I’ve described so far are strategies for boosting appeal to a desired demographic. Yet, often, the biggest driver for traffic to a blog is how popular Google thinks it is! Google’s perception of popularity is determined by links. Links are the roads of the internet community: build them wisely and you will see increased traffic to your client’s particular spot on the web.
Links may be used in these ways:
5. Short 'n Sweet and Often
My final tip for successful blogging is to encourage your client to write regularly and economically. The recommended length for blog posts is 200–800 words. A blog post should address the topic its title suggests and do so quickly, giving readers what they are looking for (information, instruction, inspiration, or entertainment) in a tightly crafted, engaging blog post.
These are the strategies I use with my client in developing his blog. May you also find inspiration and have fun as you assist others in blogging well! For some more useful tips on building better blogs, check out this post from master blogger Jeff Goins.