Hope for your financial life and beyond

How to Write Great Content For Your Blog

ID-10020413The blog world is such a crowded space. How many millions of posts get published every day? Too many it seems. All that content being pumped out sure makes it difficult to get noticed.

No matter how much preparation is done before starting a blog, we all have unrealistic expectations about what those first few months will be like. Nobody (at least in the realm of us common folks) has 2,000 page views the day when that very first post goes live. Building an audience takes time, hustle and more than one publication every three months.

While social media tools like Facebook and Twitter and SEO strategies can assist the blogger in building an audience, the number one way to attract readers who will remain loyal to your blog is to write great content. Produce quality material week in and week out and people will eventually come and then continue to read.

That raises an interesting question though: How does a blogger know if the content they produce is great? How can their content begin to stand out in whatever blog space they write? That’s what this post today will address.

Am I even writing about potentially great stuff?

The answer to this question is pretty simple. Blog about your passion and your writing has the potential to become great simply because thousands of others share that passion as well. They will find your blog and demand excellence of it.

Blog about that topic you could discuss everyday for free if possible. Your passion will be evident in your writing and readers will sense that.

I’ll admit to not knowing what to blog about for the longest time. Seems silly for someone dedicated to the personal finance space. There are so many topics to cover it seems like I wouldn’t have difficulty finding something to write about. That was before I learned how to come up with blog post ideas. Since that revelation, I’ve never lacked for content.

However, there is always the temptation to go off topic and stray from your blog’s theme. This is especially a no-no for a blogger who is just getting started. Early on establish your genre and only devote articles to that topic. Once your readership is established and loyalty built, they will “forgive you” – or maybe a better way to put it is “they will give you more latitude” – if you choose to devote some time to off-topic posts.

Here at Luke1428 long time readers know they will get articles about personal finance, blogging, achieving goals, inspirational/motivational topics, and spiritual related themes. That’s pretty much it for now. Every post weaves into one of those broad categories and fits with my blog’s value proposition.

Fine-tune your passion

Once you know what topic fires up your engine, set your mind to fine tune it. My passion is personal finance but within that realm and the other major themes mentioned above, I have some go-to categories that always excite me more. They end up being some of my best-written posts because a) I know more about them, so b) I’m able to pour more effort into them.

Fine-tuning is all about finding the sweet spot inside your passion. My sweet spots are writing about the daily process of managing money (spending, saving, budgeting, etc.), rental real estate, and spiritual themes that motivate and encourage.

In addition, I’ve built up quite a list of “How To” posts that walk the reader through a particular process. I love how to manuals in general, so I’ve taken that concept and applied it in my articles about personal finance topics.

I’ll also share my adventures in blogging. These are valuable things I’ve realized along the way that I believe can help the community learn and grow.

I’ll write about any category in my primary menu, but these areas have become the most enjoyable for me to publish. When analyzed, all these types of sweet spot posts seem well-received.

Know your writing strengths and improve on them

Every blogger has writing strengths that naturally shine. Some are more into details and research while others like to be inspirational. You may like to write about the events of the day whereas others shy away from sharing any personal information. We should know ourselves enough to let these abilities come out in our writing.

The temptation I fight is trying to be like someone else who is successful at a particular writing style. For example, I may be able to pull off an entire post filled with satire but it’s definitely not my strength. It would take me hours of writing and editing to put a simple 500 word satirical post together. In the end, I doubt it would sound right simply because I forced the issue and tried too hard.

Take heart because there is definitely space for all kinds of writing styles. Stay true to your strengths.

Don’t forget the basics

The most elementary thing sometimes proves the hardest. To even have a shot at writing great, the quality of language and grammar has to improve.

I’m talking about the basics: spelling, sentence and paragraph construction, punctuation, developing coherent thoughts, writing flow, and uniqueness of material. A lack of quality in any of these areas will keep your blog from standing out.

(I know this is a “Well duh” section but you would be surprised how many bloggers fail to pay attention to details. There is a big difference in the meaning of the sentence “We invested in the stock market.” if you leave out one “T.” I’ve seen this happen  – with more offensive misspelled words than “sock” that I can’t mention here.)

That being said, nobody is perfect and I’m sure we’ve all published the occasional misspelled word. If major grammatical issues are present in each and every post though, readers will turn away. Nobody wants to waste time reading material that feels amateurish.

The good news is that all those areas can be improved with study, editing and continued practice. The best ways to improve are to keep writing and to read other well-established bloggers who are highly skilled.

I’d also advise you to develop a step-by-step method for writing a blog post. That will help catch the writing errors that can creep into a post.

How to know “your” improving

When I first started blogging, I found it difficult to know how people perceived my writing. It wasn’t until much later that I realized some things that really encouraged me:

1. The same people continued to read and comment. This let me know my writing had connected with at least someone. As more people came, the more confident I became in my abilities and style.

2. It took me less time to write and edit my posts.

3. Some started to tell me in person, in the comments section or through emails how they appreciated and valued my work. Comments like that serve as an energy boost to the blogging soul.

4. More people began to generously share my work. When this happened page views began to increase which resulted in more sharing, which brought more page views…and the cycled continued.

Writing great content isn’t easy. Many days it seems like I still have a long road ahead of me. Following these suggestions however, keeps me moving in the right direction.

How has your writing improved from the first few months of blogging? What helps you become a better writer? How would you describe your style of writing? Test your editing skills – What’s wrong with my last header?

Next Post: Stubbornness Cost Me Four Months of Running. What’s It Costing You?

Prior Post: Now That’s What I Call Love

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Comments

  1. Done by Forty says:

    With the onslaught of SEO strategies, keywords, and apps meant to optimize a search engine’s likelihood of finding your blog, it’s nice to hear an argument for writing good content. It’s the key…right?

    • It’s extremely difficult to know what the search engines want. Seems like one minute SEO is alive and well and the next minute it’s dead. This I know…If there is good content and I have the time, I’ll read.

  2. Thanks for sharing Brian. I’ve realized that my favorite posts to write are on topics I feel passionately about. Usually ones that others also have some sort of emotion regarding. I have a very hard time forcing something just because I feel like I should be writing about it because it’s a personal finance blog or something like that. If the words and topics are there, they will come to me (kind of like a “if you write it they will come” type of thing, I suppose). And I loved the header- “Your” funny!

    • I rope myself into writing the “I have to write these” type of posts when I probably shouldn’t. They take me so long, probably because I’m not 100% invested in them. Like the Field of Dreams reference…one of my all-time favorites.

  3. Student Debt Survivor says:

    Good tips here. When I write a post that isn’t “me” it takes me forever to write. When I write something that I have personal experience with and things that come from the heart they come together in as little as 30 minutes. I think my writing has improved, but it’s always a work in progress.

    • Oh…the dreaded “isn’t me” post. I’ve written some of those simply because I felt obligated to since this site is about personal finance. They are a bear to get done.

  4. You’re 100% right about not straying from the passion and focusing on the core topics of your blog’s mission. I used to have weekly weekend posts about random stuff that was happening in my life whether it was money related or not. Those turned out to be my least appreciated, least searched, and lowest ranking posts. I eventually took the hint!

    • I find I’m tempted as well to share what’s going on in my personal life. But if it doesn’t fit with your blogs mission it’s really irrelevant…and a waste of time.

  5. Great read Brian! I’m still in my first few months of blogging. Actually it was two months yesterday! I have noticed a drastic difference and growth in my writing. I was extremely fortunate to have Michele at Making Sense of Cents share my story right as I started my blog and I got TONS of feedback from her viewers. It gave me a solid direction to go. I think it helped in many ways. It gave me my first few followers that were complete strangers. That alone has given me such a boost in confidence and motivation. It isn’t just my Facebook friends reading, there are people who don’t know me in real life but still have taken the time out of their day to read my posts. It is exhilarating to be honest.

    I am terrible at spelling and grammar but I’m working on it. I always double proof my stuff and then email it to my other half who proof reads each of my posts before I publish them just as an extra set of eyes making sure I don’t make silly mistakes. I’m really grateful for that!

    • That’s great Bre! It’s very encouraging to get a lift from a fellow blogger. Michele is great, so you were very fortunate to have her in your corner early on. Most bloggers don’t get that.

      Something I do which is helpful is to write the post and then let it sit for awhile. Sometimes I’ll finish it in the morning then come back to it at night or the next morning for the final edits. I’ve added some really good insights into posts after I’ve let my mind rest for a bit.

      • Oh that is brilliant Brian!!! I like that idea because then if something gets in they way the day of, it takes the stress out of making the post in time also. Which tends to happen sometimes on my Monday Monologues. 🙂 Thanks for the tip!

  6. I tend to relate to bloggers who inject some of their personality into their writing. I think once you relate to someone, you want to keep following their story, good and bad. I don’t mind the occasional 5 Ways to Save Money post but if that’s all there is, I generally don’t feel the need to follow.

  7. You’re. 🙂 I hope my writing has improved. Probably better than my comments which I’m sure are full of typos because it full disclosure, I don’t go back and proofread them, and they are often done early in the morning before I’ve fully woken up. I think my writing style is more about my personal journey that hopefully readers can relate to or learn from. I don’t do too many how-to or those generic ones like “5 ways to get out of debt.’ If I do it’s a sponsored post. 🙂 I think more specifically I talk a lot about being frugal in an expensive city, being healthy on a budget, and freelancing.

    • I’d say that’s your writing style to a T. It’s interesting about the “5 ways” posts…I do one every so often and they seem to be popular. Maybe it’s because I inject some personality into them so they are not so bland. I think that type of a title has the ability to suck people in…like they are going to learn some secret code or life changing formula. I know my wife is sucker for those articles.

  8. Like John, I’ve reread some of my earlier posts and laughed. They were a honest attempt but I was a floundering a bit. My posts were much shorter and I don’t think had the depth they do now. And not surprisingly, nobody read them! LOL! While my focus remains children and money, I have have broadened my focus a bit to overall personal finance. It takes time to find “your” voice and build/find a community. I suspect that it is why so many people start blogs and quit. It is fun but it is work too.

    • You definitely have the kids and money angle pegged. Your writing on the topic is some of the best I’ve seen. When I first branched out from only writing about spiritual related themes I was very nervous. Felt like I was abandoning my original intentions for blogging. I realized though I had more to offer and could still blend the new topics with the original intent of my site. It doesn’t have to be an either or situation.

  9. I’ve been blogging about six months and maybe the last two-three months much more seriously and dedicated. I will say that I definitely feel like my writing has improved a lot. Developing a voice isn’t easy – then only way to get one is to write, write, write and write some more. Blogging helps me stay on track with my financial journey and keep motivated.

    • Congrats Liz on finding your way through the dreaded blogging danger zone. Up to six months is when there is the highest percentage of drop outs. And I think it’s great you are using this medium to stay motivated on your financial journey. The more you write about it the more focused you will become.

  10. You hit on one of the best ways to increase quality while decreasing the time spent writing, and that is to come up with a step-by-step method for writing a post. Though the concept is the same, everybody’s method will be a little bit different!

    ps> “How To Know Your Improving”… You put this header in just to test our editing skills didn’t you!

  11. I’ve gone back myself and looked at older posts and they just make me cringe. I think, for me, a big thing was just writing regularly and seeing what worked and what didn’t. That helped me establish a flow and a “voice” for the site. Thankfully I have my wife who has been a writer for about 10-12 years to tell me where I need to change. 🙂

    • Getting to “your voice” is the tricky part. It does take some time and unfortunately that time (the first six months of blogging) is the most difficult stage to keep it up.

  12. I always considered myself a decent writer, since it’s something I always enjoyed doing throughout school and in my personal life. Blogging does take a different style though, so it was a little difficult to adapt at first. I’m an extremely sarcastic person in real life, but translating that to writing is tricky. I always feel like I’m coming off as cold or crass, so I’ve left it out so far.

  13. Holly Johnson says:

    I have gone back and read some of my early posts and I can tell that I’ve improved considerably. Some of my old posts were awful!

    • I’ve done that also. It encourages me to see the growth taking place in my writing.

      • I’ve done the same. Writing style, structure, even the richness of the ideas were definitely worse when I first started out. I think it’s kind of like anything else. As long as you keep practicing, learn from mistakes and make a real effort to improve, it’s just a matter of time. Personally, I still have a ways to go to get where I want to be, but I’ve definitely seen progress.

        • I hate stagnation. I have to keep moving forward or I’ll quit. When I see progress I just want to see more progress. It’s a snowball affect for me.

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