logo-small
Features Prices
News 0
Latest News See All

Temporarily unavailable. Please come back later.

See All
Webinars 0
Upcoming Webinars See All
Upcoming Webinars

Sorry, we could not find any upcoming webinars.

See recorded webinars
Blog 0
Recent Posts See All

Temporarily unavailable. Please come back later.

See All
Tara M. Clapper

#BloggerLife: My Top 4 Problems and Solutions

Tara M. Clapper
#BloggerLife: My Top 4 Problems and Solutions

I enjoy blogging because I'm passionate about certain subject matter, like content creation and marketing or the latest fan theories surrounding my favorite comic book characters. Regardless of the subject, I blog because I find value in researching my favorite subjects and presenting an informed opinion to my audience. Unfortunately, sometimes the meaning is lost in the way I deliver the message.

With over a decade of experience writing blogs, business websites and email marketing copy, I still write my fair share of duds. However, I have developed some effective strategies for creating less of them. Here are four common blog problems I've encountered along with some quick tips to overcome them.

Are You Too Verbose?

Experts suggest blog posts up to 1,600 words are okay — but that's not a strict rule. Your post should be as long as necessary to convey your message with meaning and use. More than word count, focus on the brevity of each sentence. Does it make sense? Does it convey information clearly? Is it useful?

If your blog entries tend to run long, you can:

  • Hire an editor to cut word count, inspect grammar and ensure clarity.
  • Use Twitter more. Capped at 140 characters, tweets reinforce brevity.
  • Divide your blog posts into sections or series.
  • Use Control+F (or Command+F on a Mac) to search for your keywords. If you're saying the same thing repetitively, this can help you find sections to cut.
  • Read it aloud. This will help you determine the most engaging sections of your blog. Plus, it's easier to catch typos this way.

Difficult Beginnings

I find that the first 2-5 sentences of any blog post are always the most difficult to write. You know your audience has a lot of other content to choose from, and gripping a reader's attention in the first sentence is crucial to keeping them on your page (and reducing your bounce rate). While my voice comes through in what I write, I constantly worry that I'm not witty, personable or even geeky enough, depending on the blog venue. To overcome that, I often:

  • Write my first paragraph last.
  • Write my Yoast SEO description prior to writing the first paragraph.
  • Ask someone else to read it and summarize. What key points did they pull from the post?

Awkward Language

Does the way you write sound a bit awkward compared to words you speak? Don't worry about formality — you can always make a piece sound more professional in editing. Try these quick fixes:

  • Eliminate or reduce cliches and mixed metaphors.
  • Look at words ending in "ing." If your section header is "understanding blogs," change it to "understand blogs." This tightens up the language and presents a more searchable term.
  • Read other blogs. Eschew the bad habits and embrace what works. As an editor, I have to make a lot of linguistic changes — but I also constantly learn from writers in terms of content and form.

Disorganization

I've done it and I still do it sometimes — I'm so excited about a topic, I sit down to write and come up with a disorganized mess that doesn't really have a point. I've expressed myself, but I haven't really created anything useful. Here are some tricks I use to avoid disorganization, especially when I'm ready to discuss a timely or newsworthy topic:

  • Start with a quick outline; your main outlined points will likely become your section headings. Your post may also become more focused when you see what's really important in your outline. Outlines are fluid — feel free to add or delete points as your post goes on. You may find that you've really written on more than one idea (now you have another blog post) or that you tackled the issue in question in a different way than you initially anticipated.
  • As you read your paragraphs, insert breaks whenever you start a new idea or take a pause. When writing for the web, keep your paragraphs 2-4 sentences long. This will also help you eliminate redundancy.
  • Write your keywords or central thoughts at the top of the page. As you write your outline, refer back to those words. Does each point relate?

Lastly, if your content just isn't working the way it should, leave it. Maybe you'll come back to it in a few weeks; maybe it'll sit in your drafts folder indefinitely. A dead blog post is better than a forced one, and your folder full of ideas and enthusiasm for what you do should reinvigorate and inspire you.

Do you have additional tips to combat disorganized blog posts, verbosity, awkward language or difficult opening lines? Please share them in the comments.


Tara M. Clapper is Technical Editor at SEMrush and Senior Editor at The Geek Initiative, a website celebrating women in geek culture.

Tara M. Clapper is Content Development Specialist at Express Writers and Senior Editor at The Geek Initiative, a website celebrating women in geek culture. Tara is a prolific content creator and an accomplished editor, having written and edited thousands of blog posts, small business websites, and other inbound marketing content through the course of her career. Tara enjoys blogging about SEO copywriting, content management, corporate culture, personal branding, networking and LinkedIn. She has over a decade of experience in digital publishing. Connect with her on Twitter @irishtara

Comments

2000 symbols remain
Don Purdum
Hi Tara,

Yep, those low bounce rates are really helpful through the longer posts for sure.

~ Don
Danielle Antosz
I totally agree with writing the first paragraph last! Too many writers get hung up on those first few sentences. It is sooo much easier to start with the meat - most of the time you already know what you are going to say there - and go back later to write the intro. Your points or tone or approach may change, so it really just makes sense to write the intro last!
Kathleen Garvin
Kathleen Garvin
Danielle Antosz
I'm definitely guilty of spending waaaaay too much time on a killer intro sentence and paragraph. I liked this suggestion as well, and will try it out in the future.
Don Purdum
Hi Tara,

I really appreciate your post. It's interesting because my posts tend run between 2,000 and 2,500 words. I have a great community who value my posts; but I do sometimes wonder if I cut it down to 1,500 words would I get more readers?

I'm not sure because the time on page is phenomenal and the bounce rate is relatively low; and engagement is awesome!

I try to keep each paragraph between 1 sentence and three sentences max. People scan the web, they don't read it; and it's easier to read that way on a smart phone as well.

I enjoyed your post Tara.

Have a great afternoon!!!

~ Don Purdum
Tara M. Clapper
Don Purdum
Don, thanks for your comment!

I think it depends upon how much value you provide in those 2,000-2,500 words. It sounds like your community is engaged and likes your current format, but maybe you could try running some shorter posts and comparing metrics.

If you do that, I'd love to know how it turns out for you, especially since you're starting with an existing community that already trusts you. No use fixing something that isn't broken, but maybe engagement would go up even more with the shorter post.

Breaking up paragraphs - that's the number one thing I edit in my own posts and the posts of others.

We're taught '5 full sentences' in school (at least I was), but web content writing is very different. Hopefully schools do/will emphasize this difference as it's an important part of effective electronic communication.

Tara
Don Purdum
Tara M. Clapper
Hi Tara,

It's funny, the shorter articles get read more, but the engagement is higher with the longer ones and the bounce rates are lower.

What I think I will do is start mixing them up more for the different audiences and needs. There is a happy medium.

Thanks for encouraging me to think about this subject!

~ Don Purdum
Tara M. Clapper
Don Purdum
Thanks, Don - I hadn't thought of a longer post resulting in a lower bounce rate / longer average time spent on site. That makes sense - even if the reader is skimming the post, a longer article will keep them around longer. I will definitely consider that as well.

I think you're right about the happy medium. I'm often hesitant to write or publish 2,000+ word posts, but when written well, those probably do keep people on the page longer.

Tara
Have a Suggestion?