One of my high school English teachers once told me that writing is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration, suggesting that a good writer starts with a quick burst of creativity and spends the rest of their time refining and editing those initial ideas. While this advice may seem counter-productive to bloggers who need to create content quickly and consistently, it is actually sound wisdom. This ratio of creating vs. editing time helps clarify your ideas so your audience understands your point of view.
To help you in these crucial editing stages, we thought we would lay down some important questions bloggers can ask themselves so they can make an honest, constructive and critical appraisal of their work before posting it up for the world to see. Asking these simple questions could mean the difference between a hastily written blog article that remains obscure and a well-written, influential and accessible blog that courts a loyal audience with ease.
1. How quickly can my readers understand what my post is about?
If you want your ideas and opinions to spread across the Internet, you need to make sure that your readers can understand what you’re saying as quickly as possible. Generally, most web readers will decide whether to stay or leave your blog within the first minute. Make sure you have the right content, links, images or titles in place to communicate your blog post’s purpose as concisely as possible.
2. Does my blog offer something novel or unexpected?
Does your content bring anything new to table? Will it entice readers and bookmarkers? As part of establishing your blog’s value, you should strive to find new perspectives (or blend several together) when approaching your subject matter. Be honest with yourself and question the originality of your work. If you find that there are many articles and discussions in the blogosphere nearly identical to yours, resist following and take a different approach. For instance, if you write about blogging and “how to increase traffic” is a popular subject, try writing a post on “how not to increase traffic.”
3. How helpful is my content?
While this question ties into the above point, it differs in the respect that you are trying to meet specific and current needs of your audience rather than simply capturing their curiosities. How will your post help readers? What can they take out of it and into their world? Break down your content into practical steps so readers can use it in their daily lives. This point is not exclusive to writing ‘how-to’ posts, but could be as simple as including important links, images and diagrams to better explain your points. In addition, when you make your content ‘action-ready’ it encourages others to share it amongst their peers, driving more attention to your blog.
4. Why should my readers trust me?
Readers base their judgment of your blog on the quality of your content and on how well you present yourself as an authority. This means you have to establish trust with your readers. Provide them posts jam-packed with useful, reliable information and examples from your own experiences.
5. Does my content speak to people on a human level?
You should examine your posts and see if they make any emotional appeals to the reader. How can you better connect to your readership? Many people come to blogs expecting to discover something about the writers themselves. Revealing a little about yourself will encourage your readers to do the same, allowing for more open and free discussions on your blog.
6. Is my post easy to read and scroll through?
Alluded to in the first point, web readers have little time for your lonely post – they have tons more information to scan through and are reading your post diagonally looking for reasons to read more carefully. So try to make it easy for them. Take the time to go over the mechanics of your writing and its presentation. Do you require more headings, bullets or numbers? Are your ideas clearly organized with formulated paragraphs and topic sentences? While going over structuring isn’t an exciting task, your readers will thank you for delivering your information in the clearest way possible.
7. Does my content cover what needs to be discussed or answered?
When important news breaks in your field, are you there to cover the story? Are you keeping in the know, following updates and developments for important stories? Also pay attention to the questions that frequently arise in your field. What is your readership looking for? How can you answer their questions? Pay attention to your analytics to understand why people are coming to your blog and what keywords are being used to find you. You can adjust your content according to trends and developments as they happen, further cementing the value of your blog.
8. Am I revealing enough information about my topic?
While you want to focus your posts with one central idea to help with clarity, ask yourself if your blog, as a whole, fully covers your subject matter. Are you holding back? The more information you provide, the more of a response you will likely generate with your work. Of course, there is always the danger of going overboard and saying too much. But the more open your blog appears, the more attractive it will be to your potential readership, especially those who like to link, bookmark and comment.
9. Am I fulfilling my readers’ expectations?
Ask yourself if you are being consistent with your blog’s established themes, focus, timing and style. As readers begin returning to your blog on a regular basis, they will bring a certain set of expectations regarding your presentation and depth of content. Straying too far from your established ideas and post frequency can seriously hurt the traffic you derive from loyal fans. So be sure to gauge and deliver on their expectations. Respond to comments, ask open-ended questions and even conduct polls on your blog if you are uncertain about how to establish your personal blogging style. If you openly ask for user input, chances are good that you will receive it. Act on their responses openly and honestly.
10. Am I reaching out for support?
When developing your content, it’s important that you indicate to your readers that you are an active part of the larger web community, even if it is within a specialized niche market. Seek out the advice of readers by asking them questions in your posts. You should ask yourself if other bloggers in your field can benefit from your content. Writing content with their interests in mind, as well as the interests of your readers, can help boost your blogging authority if said experts find your articles useful. You should always have an active interest in the social networking community and be willing to express it in your posts – either by explicitly mentioning other blogging/bookmarking talents or by editing your content so that it is more bookmark friendly.
Asking These Tough Questions Will Help
While asking yourself these questions may make you sweat, as a committed writer, you have to sometimes break apart your most cherished work to get down to the core points and ideas you want to get across. It will ultimately help you shape and define the style, focus and accessibility of your blog.
Be honest with yourself and mend problematic areas that may be blocking you from realizing your true potential. All this hard work and self-examination will show when your content is nicely streamlined and managed for your soon to be avid readers. So don’t burn yourself out trying to write ten posts a day when a single, well-crafted and well-edited post can do just as much…and more.