The trouble with writing blog posts is you need to unlearn some of the skills for creating polished written communication that have taken you years to hone. A sense of casualness, or a bit of an “I just dashed this off on my way to a meeting” mood, is what readers expect from blogs. Posts that are too smooth—like some perfectly groomed supermodel—strike blog readers as fake or overly corporate.
Of course, sloppy writing is bad in a blog post, just like it’s bad everywhere. The definition of informal writing shouldn’t be stretched to include “littered with typos, run-on sentences, and weird stream-of-consciousness thoughts.” The trick is to dial down the corporate tone a bit, while still writing a clear and engaging piece. Keep the following qualities in mind if you’re directing a colleague on how to write a post, or you’re penning your own.
Brevity: People don’t come to blogs to read novellas. You don’t need piles of context, background and tangents. It will not be appreciated in a form where the audience expects to read a quick hit, then get out. Think somewhere around 400 words max, and don’t be afraid to write even shorter—no one ever criticizes bloggers for writing too short, but they’re quick to complain if you blather on.
Informality: Blog readers expect conversational writing, so take advantage of the opportunity to split a few infinitives and use some slang (no swearing, though). Try reading your post out loud: Does it sound like you talking—or delivering Senate testimony? And remember, being informal doesn’t remove your obligation to be crisp.
Focus: Limit your post to one overarching idea or takeaway—okay, two at the most. If you try to cram several concepts into a post, it will be too long and too confusing (see “Brevity” above). If you have that much to say, split the content into two or three posts.
Engagement: Blogs are supposed to encourage feedback. Invite participation by posting questions to readers, or by taking a stand on a key industry issue. And if you do get feedback comments, jump in and respond and keep the conversation going.
There, that’s 366 words. I’ll stop now.