A short guide to some principles writers should think about. Offers advice for turning your blog into something larger than a personal project. Not career advice, but a little writing break.
#1 Write a good title
You have to write a good title for every post. Not just for humans. But also for search engines because humans use search engines to find content. That’s how most of you ended up here, right?
#2 Shut up and think
Dan Wieden says “if you can’t write something startling don’t write anything at all.” So don’t write 10 blog posts a week because you think your readers are waiting for some new content. If you don’t have any good to say, don’t post. One great post can make you famous. And ten bland ones just confirms what we all suspected: you are a hack like the rest of us. Edit yourself so that you only publish gold.
#3 Don’t hurt your readers
Break up your text. Writing online has many different rules and techniques. It’s different than traditional print writing. One basic tip is to divide your paragraphs. Long, big chucks of text actually hurt the eyes.
#4 Help people
When I first started my blog Selloutyoursoul.com, I thought that the most popular posts would be about my personal story. They weren’t. They were the posts focused on insights people could use in their own lives. Focus on helping other people—not talking about yourself. Your reward? Their attention.
#5 Pick a weird domain name
It makes you stand out.
#6 Tell me in one sentence . . .
What is your blog about? Say it in one sentence. If you can’t, then it really isn’t an idea or original.
#7 Be the voice of a group
Represent what other people wish they could express in writing. If it is embarrassing, says one writer, it probably makes for a good story. Be the center of a little tribe. Be their voice. Be like this. Say what others are afraid to say. Reveal.
#8 Offer something you’ve always wanted
This post, for example, is offering to tell you how to write a blog people really read. Studies show that about 75% of your visitors will find you via search engines. And people go to search engines to find answers to their problems. What problem is your blog solving? Because a blog that helps people with some aspect of their lives—whether aesthetic, intellectual, practical, or even existential—will get readers.
#9 End by offering them where to find more
Like in the book. Just go here.
Here’s an article I wrote about extending the reach of your academic blog in Inside Higher Education. “Expand your blog’s reach.”