In my ‘lessons from Problogger Training’ post the other day I mentioned that I stayed securely in my comfort zone and attended sessions I assumed to be of interest – predominantly about content creation and writing.
My favourite session by far was one by Emily Toxward – a Gold Coast-based blogger and journalist. I love her Have A Laugh On Me blog and was keen to meet her at the event. I’d also enrolled in a workshop focussed on copywriting, but found Em’s session to be far more useful, covering more than the other sessions I attended.
Other speakers provided also provided some useful insights: Colin Gray, best known as The Podcast Host talked about thinking of our blogs (or podcasts) in terms of ‘seasons’ or series (like TV) and suggested we develop several around one theme or topic, for example
Ed Dale from The Challenge talked about copywriting and the need to get inside people’s heads. Get them involved, he suggested, because involvement breeds commitment. Ed also talked a lot about the main aim of what it is we should be doing: solving others’ problems.
And the lovely Stacey Roberts (Vege Mama and managing editor of Problogger) whose session I didn’t attend, but have since caught up on, talked about the type of content we should be developing and – what particularly hit home for me was that – as well as writing content that inspires or informs readers – good content is that which both resonates and amuses visitors AND which we enjoy producing.
And then there was Emily. Obviously I won’t cover everything she had to say as you can buy a virtual ticket and access audio recordings and presentations from all of the presenters by clicking here:
Emily’s presentation about ‘blogging better’ was centred around several themes: inspiration and finding ideas; readability and content; streamlining and editing posts; finding our style and voice; and the nitty gritty: writing headlines and intros. But I’ll focus on just a few of those.
Inspiration or finding content
- Use old popular blog posts and content: recycle / upcycle them – update them; write something new based on the comments received; or write related posts
- Get inspiration from the news / online media and check what’s trending
- Find inspiration from someone else, giving credit where it’s due of course
- List posts are popular and those with odd numbers, more so (eg. 7 Ways to….)
Readability and structure
- From the point of view of a reader, the ideal post is 300-500 words long
- Introductory sentences should be only about 30 words
- Use bullet points, numbering and images to break-up the text
Style and voice
- Write consistently but not the same-ish (develop a voice and brand and stick to it; but mix up the type of post)
- Be authentic and ensure our writing reflects who we are
- On our own blogs, write the way we talk. Ensure we enjoy our own writing.
Headlines and lede sentences
- Keep headlines to 70 characters (also for SEO purposes)
- Don’t try to be too clever when it comes to the headline / name of the post as it needs to make sense to readers and reflect the content of the post
- Lede (lead) sentences need to grab the reader’s attention: with a hook; by being newsy; being interesting; setting the scene; or being anecdotal (the latter being one I tend to use more often than I should and often too tangentially).
Emily also talked a little about pitching our writing elsewhere and gave us some pointers, but I’m not sharing those with you… cos that would be giving away ALL of her secrets.
I think I do okay in keeping my writing / posts pretty real as I’m fairly sure the ‘me’ you get here is the ‘me’ you get in person. But there are a few things I need to work on. I think my posts should be shorter, sweeter and less rambling. In fact I should be less verbose in general I suspect.
If you’re a blogger, is there anything here to inspire you? If you’re not a blogger… please remind me not to ramble quite so much!!!
I’m IBOTTING and linking up with Kylie Purtell again today.