Blogging 101: Credibility, Relevance, and Separating Yourself From the Hacks

CaptureOK, peeps, listen up!

That is either a terrible way to begin a blog, or a real attention-getter. I’m not sure. I’ve always been hit-or-miss with ledes, but that is not completely my fault. Of course I want to capture the reader with my title and my first five to 10 words, but there’s those pesky responsibilities like SEO, and AP Style (if it’s news writing), and the client’s message if you’re being paid to write the blog. So juggling all the rules while writing the world’s catchiest lede is not going to happen every time, but it’s oh soooo satisfying when it does.

If you’re setting out to become a blogger, take the time you need to separate yourself from the hacks. Bloggers compete with gobs of others trying to send the same (or similar) message, so you’d best make yours a worthwhile read. My first tip: never blatantly try to sell anything in a blog. Never, ever. You turn off the readers and cheapen the forum for the rest of us. Your blog should make readers interested enough to click on a link to the website that sells your product or services. Write about industry-related issues; don’t try to sell your products or services.

If you’re writing a blog to express your own viewpoint, the information you’re trying to convey should be a good barometer for the blog’s tone. If you’re writing a blog on ballet, for instance, you will want to utilize ballet terms and blog about issues that appeal to ballerinas. If your topic is Congress, guttersniping is de rigueur.

If I had my druthers, my writing voice would always be stream-of-consciousness hyperbole times a gazillion, but I rarely want to offend my readers (or my clients). So I am hyper-vigilant about taming the loose-talking voice within when it comes to writing blogs for my own website, and especially for clients’ websites. After all, I have their reputations to maintain and that’s kind of a heavy responsibility for a smartass like myself. As a thoroughly professional smartass, I behave.

In addition to taming your own inner Tourette’s, it’s important to fine tune your relevance barometer. Once you have established a topic that you believe to be oozing pertinence, please – I beg of you – write it properly. And by properly I mean do your homework and tell your reader something new and informative that they probably don’t already know. I’m serious. People who really understand whatever it is you’re blogging about – you know, experts in the field – might read it, and they will call you out if it’s wrong. Rightfully so. There is no excuse to publish incorrect or vague crap – if you need facts and resources, Google it. (I will expand on this in my next blog.)


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