Writing can be a formidable opponent. There are times when an author feels as if he’s battling to position his words in the most inspirational way. Each word raises a sword in an effort to draw the blood of another and take a stronger position in a sentence or paragraph. The word that wins will influence the next word, which will influence the next word, and the next and so on.
By proper positioning of one’s words the tone remains under control. Get the combination wrong and you lose your reader. For example: Whenever I read something that is highly opinionated and filled with scornful remarks my mind tends to drift and I lose interest. It feels as if I’m being yelled at by the author! Remember what it felt like to get lectured by a parent? After a while you stopped listening to the words and all you heard was the tone, which usually was indignation on the parents part for your poor behavior. The continuous attempt for the parent to drive home their point caused your mind to get lost in the weeds of better times and better decisions you’ve made. Writing can take on the same essence. Although, with a reader they can move on to another blog, another webpage, or just click the red “X” in the upper right of the browser and be done with it.
“Whenever I read something that is highly opinionated and filled with scornful remarks my mind tends to drift and I lose interest.”
It is imperative to keep your reader throughout your piece. If you can keep your reader until the end there is a fair chance they may return for the next essay, article, or blog. Taking into account the lecturing parent again: Whenever your parent decided to reserve their harsh tone and righteous anger and instead fostered discussion or dialogue with you, I imagine a better response from you. More than likely, you not only took what they said under consideration, but if there was a difference of opinion you at least felt respected by your parent for creating open dialogue with you. Again, writing can take on the same essence. If I write something that isn’t too heavy or too light, that makes my opinion obvious but without anger or malice, that maintains a discussion as opposed to dictating or soap-box ranting, I will keep my reader’s attention. Also, I may have a chance to get them back the next time I post.
I’ve written pieces for this blogging site that took on tones that were either too harsh or too cynical. I’ve read many blogs on WordPress.com that lean one way or another. They were either written with a long venomous rant or they were written to discredit or disparage others when forming a discussion or debate may have served them better. I don’t disagree that some people need disparaging due to their irreparable behavior, but to stick with that theme or tone alone consistently in an author’s blog can weigh a readers desire to return. Eventually, we all get sick of the lecturing, yelling, angry parent. We get it. The issue being bellowed in type is important. However, maintaining a discussion with your reader, challenging them to see your perspective, and opening up debate will keep your readers interested. I can’t stress that enough.
My father stated many times before, “Your first paragraph will not be your best. It’s when you rethink and edit your original written word your paragraph gains its genius.”
Once you have dedicated yourself to blogging in a way that generates discussion as opposed to one-way conversation, it’s time to work on the quality of your posts. Unlike quantity, quality will leave an impression on your reader. My father stated many times before, “Your first paragraph will not be your best. It’s when you rethink and edit your original written word your paragraph gains its genius.” The key word in my father’s advice is “edit”. Unlike tone, I will not go on about editing, save to write this: Devote at least three readings with plans to make changes. The first time through edit your wording and spelling(There, their, and they’re for example). The second time through edit the positioning of your sentences (You may find that a lead-in sentence is better served in the middle and so on). The third time through get a sense of your tone and flow and make necessary adjustments according to how it makes you feel. This can be tough to do since most people have a hard time reading their own work from their audiences perspective. This third time through can also be dedicated to economizing your language: Say more with less. Wordiness can be a problem. Have enough self awareness to know when your tone is a turn-off and you are too wordy.
“With as many bloggers who write a few paragraphs, don’t take time to add pictures, and don’t edit their writing, it can be beneficial for you to add some spark to your page and show additional effort.”
Personally, I think pictures throughout a post, video if you can find it and it supports your message, and other supportive content can help positively separate your blog from other blogs. I personally like the “Block Quote” insert. You can take a single quote from your own writing and place it in the body of your blog (Preferably in the gaps between paragraphs). With as many bloggers who write a few paragraphs, don’t take time to add pictures, and don’t edit their writing, it can be beneficial for you to add some spark to your page and show additional effort.
Utilizing some of the methodology I’ve described can be helpful to increasing your foot traffic. Granted, writing consistently can also help. As I’ve hinted above, consistency is good, but blogging for the sake of blogging can
be harmful to future progress. If you don’t have something to say that is meaningful (Even if it’s only meaningful to you), well written, and has supportive content, then avoiding the trap of the daily blogger might be approach. I’ve tried the “Post A Day 2011” challenge. I feel it’s extremely beneficial in motivating bloggers who don’t have a determined, practiced approach to writing. It helps form the discipline needed to write. In order to call yourself a writer, you must write. Writer’s write because they must. They have something important to say, insight they feel is persuasive, or a story that is both personal and special. To look deep inside yourself for important, insightful stories every day with elements of proper tone, well-written, content filled posts is challenging. Personally, I think the “Post A Week 2011” challenge is more fitting for someone striving for quality work. I am switching to that just so I can focus more on my message and content as opposed to frequency for the sake of frequency.
I have found some tidbits online that also help in deciding the importance of when to post your blog. According to lorelle.wordpress.com, here are some of the best times to post based on their testing for the last several years (link provided below–1):
- The highest traffic in a month comes in the first and third weeks of a month, with more hits during the end half of a month.
- The highest traffic days of the week are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday.
- The highest traffic in an average day comes during 0800 – 1400 PST (1600 – 2200 GMT).
- Most comments are posted between 0900 – 1400 PST (1600 – 2200 GMT).
- People are more likely to comment on a post on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.
I have personally used these timeframes with my blog and they do work in some respects. It isn’t dramatic by any means, but it has gained more foot traffic for me on some of those specific days and times. However, if you read the post on lorelle.wordpress.com, you will find updated information for 2010, which is the most current information due to their testing and has some changes.
A daily blog may not be a good blog. Your readers can become accustomed to uninteresting babble like, “I ate today. It was good.”
On blogsessive.com, they have some good tips and pointers on “Writing Reader Engaging Posts”. It covers some of the same information I have, but it covers other ideas I did not. I recommend giving it a thorough reading. Here is an excerpt (link provided below–2):
- Community growth – Obviously, writing quality posts has the power to turn casual visitors into loyal readers, as long as you maintain a good flow;
- Social media exposure – The more interesting and better written the post, the more people will want to share and recommend it across services like Reddit, Digg, StumbleUpon, Mixx and so on;
- Conversations – A good post is more likely to entice readers to engage in commenting. This is a great way to further develop the topic or even generate new content ideas;
- Networking – Engaging posts are great ways to network with other bloggers in your niche. Write something appealing and you’ll surely make their link-round-ups;
- Quality traffic – Of course, all of the above are great ways to generate either a great deal of traffic or quality traffic.
In conclusion, it is important to know your tone and have a clear message. You can write without having a theme as long as you have creative content that is engaging
with each post. Make sure you check your blog carefully for errors in spelling and structure. Add supportive information, pictures, videos, or links that can help demonstrate your engagement of the subject matter. Don’t get caught in the trap of blogging for the sake of blogging. A daily blog may not be a good blog. Your readers can become accustomed to uninteresting babble like, “I ate today. It was good.” Find out when the best time is for you to post. Finally, be prepared to do a lot of reading. Not only should you familiarize yourself with current topics on best practices for blogging, but you should also be prepared to network with other bloggers in order to create cross traffic.
By following all of these steps, you can reach an audience that will truly be interested in reading your material. For a writer, a willing audience stacks high on the list of personal desire. Best of luck to you in your personal essay journey.
Additional Resources and Annotations:
http://bit.ly/hKemBW (WordPress.com “Blogging Tips” Search)
http://bit.ly/7zwglv (Wikipedia on “Blog”)