Writing is an art.
There is more to good writing than stringing a series of words together. We expect words to convey meaning and sentences to support that meaning. We expect paragraphs to form complete thoughts and lead us into whatever comes next. We expect information to be worthwhile when writing is involved.
Blog posts are a unique form of that art. Many people who frequent blogs expect easy to read information in a short format: bulleted points, paragraphs that might be one sentence, or even one word. People don’t want to labor over the meaning in a blog post. I know meaning can be misconstrued or misinterpreted, but the writer, at least, should know what she meant. And she should do her best to convey that, using words and pictures, together.
Yes, there are blogs written in dense paragraph style by bloggers who prefer to share their message by writing extensive explanations, offering a wealth of details, lots of citations and references, and even legalese to support their suppositions. In other words, paragraphs just like the previous sentence! And they’re necessary. To those bloggers.
Generally, pet blogs are not those kinds of blogs.
Not even pet blogs reporting the latest pet food recall or detailing a new training style for dogs. When people visit pet blogs, they expect qualified information or chatty sharing; they want pet bloggers to direct them to the sites that have the deeper information on health and nutrition, for instance. They want to know that the blogger is trust-worthy–that she has done her research. They don’t want a treatise on pet health or pet food–unless the blogger is an expert in the subject or a professional in the topic. They do want opinion, just not loud, ranting accusation with unfounded insults. For those bloggers who do want that, there are plenty of places to go, both online and off.
Here, in the pet community I am part of, we respect opinion and encourage discourse. Both online and off. We do not support ranting, shouting, or incomplete information designed malign.
Pet blogs written by the average pet person are designed to get the word out, but not dictate the results. I’m talking pet blogs that want to bring more voices to the causes and charities important to all of us. I’m talking pet blogs that can spread the word of the experts and professionals by sharing opinion, thoughts, laughter, jokes, pictures, and more… with proper citation. Words the direct readers to do something. Pictures that are relevant to the content.
To that pointer, here are nine thoughts on writing good blog posts from someone who’s been there, done that:
- Start with a point, a focus, a subject that you know something about or are asking others about. Open your post with a question and invite polite discourse.
- Be chatty but not gossipy. Gossip abounds in the pet world and as an influencer you are responsible for putting gossip in its place – somewhere deep in a dumpster on Mars, I think.
- Invite comments and reply to them. Do not delete comments that criticize. Allow people to disagree as long as they are polite. (However, it is your blog; you manage the content, both your own and whatever your readers add; take charge of that!)
- Study writing to become better at it. Adopt Mark Twain’s advice, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” Shorter is better.
- Divide your paragraphs appropriately. Online, it’s advisable to create headlines, bulleted points, and one sentence paragraphs that zing your message straight to the reader’s cerebrum. Get the message out quickly and appropriately.
- Use humor when you can. Nothing inspires people as much as humor. Even gallows humor. Be careful to understand your audience if you’re using off-color or dark humor. I am not advising gallows humor, mind you. I can’t see our community liking it. But, you are likely more talented than I, so go for it, if it’s what you’re about.
- Use photographs appropriately. In this day and age, if you are not using photos and video, you are being overlooked. Learn how to be effective with your images and video. Remember to caption them.
- Words have power. They command respect. Give them your very best – use strong verbs and active voice. Be aware of how you sound. You are what you write. Paint your blog posts with artistry and color and imagination.
- Repeat, repeat, repeat. Study the masters and you will learn that they do not ‘assume’ a reader will remember something in Chapter Six that was spoken about in Chapter Two. They remind the reader of the context. Your job as a blogger is to close the circle – if you leave gaps, you lose readers.
- BONUS!!!! Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but overdone it becomes tiresome and might also become insulting. Be yourself. Make your own mistakes. Own up to your mistakes. Improve with each passing month. Join our SLC Challenges and learn from the team at BlogPaws, where your success is our primary goal.
Art takes many forms. As I sit here at my desk, I glance out my window and the perfect sunny day in Colorado beckons. The glint of gold on the snow outside makes me think of warm afternoons at the park, with the dogs. The simple act of appreciating the day, is a form of art. When you can see the art in snow or rain, in wind and hurricane, when you can embrace the heart of each moment that paints a story on your soul, you become an artist with purpose.
Whatever your purpose, remember to paint your story with words and pictures that evoke the meaning you’re sharing. Touch us at our core and we’ll respond.
Yvonne DiVita is a Co-Founder of BlogPaws. She is dedicated to storytelling and the human-animal bond. When not working on BlogPaws, she writes at Scratchings and Sniffings and The Lipsticking Society. You may contact her at Yvonne@blogpaws.com.