The most important blogging trick you need to know

I work fulltime as a copywriter, which means I spend most of my day composing text. I have learned a few tricks on how to make text more readable. Often when I see other writers’ work, I notice two main problems with it.

I use Grammarly’s online proofreader because being accurate is very important to me as a writer, and I’m sure it is to you too!

Problem number one: not writing with a story arc

Often writers don’t have the reader in mind when crafting text. Your writing needs to have a point, even if that point is banal. Often when I see other writers’ writing, it drifts here and there in a sort of “stream of consciousness”, “diary-style” writing, usually without a beginning, middle and end.

Any piece of writing needs to have an arc and a point to it, unless it truly is a diary entry that you don’t intend to be read and loved by others. When you write, ask yourself “What is the point of this piece?” and when you re-read it, make sure that the writing communicates the point.

Is your writing intended to sell something, highlight and idea, argue a point? Is your writing supposed to describe something from beginning to end? Is it supposed to summarise a piece of research or explain something? Is it a collection of ideas that add up to a new idea? Often when I see unexperienced writers’ writing, they write selfishly. They write for themselves and make the reader dig through their work to get something from it. People are busy. Make it easy for them.

Problem number two: not making use of sub headings and bullet points

This is particularly relevant for people who write for the web. It’s really important to make your writing ‘scannable’ so that a reader can get the idea of what you are talking about easily. Another technique to use is to make good use of bullet points and numbered lists. These are easy for the eye to fall to and can get your point across more simply than via sentence-strung text.

The Oxford Dictionary says: “Bullet points are visually attractive and make it easy for a reader to locate important information. Nevertheless, you should try to use them sparingly: too many bullet-pointed sections in the same document will mean that their impact is lost.”

Alyce’s favourite writing tips

  1. Write with a story arc
  2. Write with your reader in mind
  3. Make sure your writing has a point, and that this is communicated
  4. Make use of bullet points
  5. Use sub headings to separate information

Why sub headings are so useful for bloggers

Subheadings help you to sort out your own information and ideas into blocks. They also help the reader locate information on a page. When I read a book, I have a slightly photographic memory. I am not special, in fact, there are some reports that up to 20% of people have an eidetic memory and that this is more common in girls than boys.

Do you have a photographic memory?

There are other reports that most of us have this skill as children, and that it fades by age 6 or so. Mine is quite weak now, but ever since I was a teenager I have felt confident that I can remember which section of a page a piece of information is located on, which really helped as back in the 90s we studied from books, not the internet.

I can look at a page of text in magazine or newspaper (perhaps I’m looking at thousands of words) and I can ‘remember’ where a particular line or block of information is located on the page. Can you do this too? It’s pretty common from what I’ve heard. I had a great memory as a kid. These days I find it hard to remember what I did yesterday!

Sub headings break up information

If I don’t have time to read a whole document, I scan it. I am a busy reader and every day I take in tweets, articles, papers, blogs, posts and books. If I’m not reading, I’m usually writing, having sex or eating. It’s a bloody good life, I tell you. I need writers to make their writing readable for me – and when they break up the information with sub headings, I can get though a piece of writing more quickly.

Helen Reimer has said: “By using subtitles in your writings your readers will be able to see at a glance whether you have the information they are looking for. But if you have one lengthy article, they will have no way of knowing whether or not you have the information they are looking for, unless they read the whole article.”

My best piece of advice for writers and bloggers

Just write with a reader in mind. Make your writing about your reader, not you. Really, I guess, this post has kind of been all about me, but hopefully you were able to get something from it too – please let me know your thoughts.

If you would like to read more about ME, I have some selfish posts for you here:

Thanks for taking the time to read this, I appreciate it and look forward to you stopping by again soon.

9 Comments

  • When I took ENG COMP I & II (sever years ago) in college, i quickly learned that my professor was a grammar Nazi. We had to follow the 20 formal writing rules (as well as MLA format, my favourite) and if we broke one or more of the rules, even slightly, he knocked our grade down. Naturally, being the perfectionist that I am, I made sure that never happened to me, and it never did. (I received top scores in both classes.) My final portfolio was 30 + pages (perfect score!) and while it initially aggravated me to no end that my professor was such a a tight &^%, I was eternally grateful in the long run: it made me a better writer. I know what you’re saying though- I read a lot of writing and blogs and such that I find lacking throughout. (I admit that my own blog is little more than a private-public diary/journal. I want to leave my children with more than a letter or card when I’m gone; that’s my whole point, really, a “fingerprint” of sorts.) I’m always mindful of my point though.

    Good write-up, Alyce. I enjoyed it. :0)

    p.s. My grammar-Nazi professor would thoroughly abhor my habitual abuse of parentheses and I’m delighted by that entirely! 🙂

    • alycevayle says:

      Thanks Monochrome- I always love your comments!

      Yep, being a copywriter, grammar occupies my thoughts daily. The problem I get, is that often people want a ‘rule’ on something to be fixed, and often in grammar, it’s down to style, usage, format and opinion. To use a capital or not? Should a colon precede a bulleted list? Are there too many commas in this sentence?

      I love breaking the rules – that’s the best thing about creative writing. But – you have to be able to justify your choices, so it pays to know the rules.

      Another problem I have is that Australian English is sort of a hybrid of UK and US spelling and punctuation. It can drive you crazy! Another thing people don;t realise is that punctuation and grammar rules come in and out of fashion. New words are created daily, too. When I was a kid there was no such word as ‘texted’ or ‘SMSed’ and these words are still jarring, but very much in common use.

      Thanks for your comment. I’m sure your awesome blog is the best possible footprint you could leave. I know you put a lot of time and effort into it.

      Thanks again and talk soon.

      Alyce

  • Victor Olowo says:

    I often read your blog via email. I must tell you that I appreciate this blog so much I had to star this particular one cos I need it. I was often distracted in class, so I learned little in English class, especially when it came to grammar.
    You hit the right spots and I will definitely implement some of your suggestions.

    Thanks.

    • alycevayle says:

      Hi Victor-

      Thanks so much for your positive comments. I only started this blog 10 months ago and my copywriting job 12 months ago (although I had some prior experience). Writing does get easier if you do it every day. Another tip I have learned recently is to use short sentences rather than many commas in one single sentence. Make writing as clear as possible. Thanks again and talk soon!

      Alyce x x

  • Thanks I found these tips very useful. What I would love to know is how you come up with your ideas? You write on such a variety of topics its really great as you always surprise your readers xx

    • alycevayle says:

      Hiya Blissful!

      Thanks for your comment! Well, I usually choose my topics based on what the readers of my blog have been reading the most. For example, I often write about weight loss and food – these are topics that I find interesting – but they are also the most sought-after for some reason. At the moment, one of my posts on “why you can’t eat breakfast” is getting a lot of hits- so I am considering doing a follow up. I tend to let my audience guide me and I write about what seems popular. Having said that, I like to rant and rave – so often if there is something on my mind – I say it – but I try to think about what someone else could get from it too.

      Thanks so much for your comment – always nice talking to you!

      A

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