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63 Killer Blog Writing Tips and Tricks from WriteToDone

November 21st

Offsprout is the only WordPress website builder for freelancers and agencies.

Ever feel like your writing sucks?

Me too.

Even when you’re confident in the usefulness of the content you’re providing, presenting that information in an engaging way isn’t easy.

Luckily there are great writers who share their blog writing tips at blogs like WriteToDone.

Here are some great tips from that blog, boiled down into bite-sized bits.

 

How to Influence Your Blog Readers

General Influence Tips

  • Interrupt the pattern: Think of a magician. A magician leads you down a path where a certain result is expected, then amazes you when somehow a completely different result is realized. You can do this with copy. For example: “What if I told you that there really were twenty-six hours in the day – if you knew where to find them?”
  • Build rapport: When a comedian begins a set, she’ll often ask a question that she knows will elicit a “yes” response. For example, “Anyone here dreading work tomorrow?” This helps people feel closer to her. When people read your writing, they’re thinking can this person help me? Connecting with your readers with a simple question helps them think you can.
  • Use “and,” not “but”: Compare “This is a great deal, but if you act now…” to “This is a great deal, and if you act now…” The first version feels like it loses momentum at the “but.” The second version carries that momentum into the next part of the sentence with “and.”
  • Use “when,” not “if”: Compare “If you use our service” to “When you use our service.” The first version presents uncertainty, while the second version creates anticipation.
  • Use “how,” not “why”: Compare “Why wouldn’t you take this deal?” to “How would your life be different if you took this deal?” The first version almost pits your reader against you – your reader will think of reasons why she wouldn’t take the deal. The second version suggests that the reader’s life is going to change, and then has the reader imagine how.

For more about general tips about influencing your readers, check out this full post.

Stories Are More Influential

  • Challenge: Your readers have challenges. That’s why they’re reading your blog post. So highlight that pain point. “I had been writing blog posts for months, and yet my traffic was hardly picking up.”
  • Conflict: Talk about the forces at play and what conditions are presenting the challenge. “It felt like I was just a nobody in a sea of much more established voices. Even though I knew I was writing better content, I didn’t know how to break through the noise.”
  • Conquer: At the conflict stage you were close to giving up. Here, you give your readers the hope that their problems can be solved. “So I started building connections with influencers. I would link to their content and simply send them friendly emails letting them know. And that’s when things started to change.”
  • Connect: Emotion trumps rationality, so bring your readers in by triggering their emotions. Humans naturally empathize with the characters in stories they read. So, as you’re writing, try to feel the emotion that you want your readers to experience. For example, “I was pumped. After weeks of outreach, my efforts were paying off.”
  • Conclude: Give the reader her next steps, “Finally, I had found the formula. And now, download this formula to traffic-boosting outreach and follow those steps for each post that you write.”

This post has more about writing a compelling story.

PEEL: Point, Evidence, Evaluation, Link

  • Use reason to show your point of view is the correct one. Use emotion to motivate your audience to take action. Use beliefs and values to get your audience to care.
  • Point: make your point.
  • Evidence: give evidence to expand upon and support your point like statistics, research, etc.
  • Evaluation: evaluate the merits of your point and any evidence against it.
  • Link: create a link from one point to the point you’ll make in the next section.

This post has more about PEEL.

Viral Headlines

The Process for Writing a Viral Headline

  • Outline your post and give it a working title. Don’t think too much about the title at this point beyond being relevant.
  • Once the post is finished revise it using focus keywords for the article (the keywords that you want the post to rank for).
  • Use this headline analyzer to get a score for how effective your headline is, trying for at least above 60, and preferably above 70.
  • Write some variations in the analyzer to see if you can improve the score.
  • Set a time limit: 5 minutes or 10 titles as long as the result is above 60.

Here’s more on crafting headlines.

Headline Formulas

  • [Number] [Adjective] Reasons Why Your [Undesirable Outcome] (And What To Do About It)Ex: 7 Shocking Reasons Why Your Headlines Fail (And What to Do About It)
  • How to [Achieve Desired Outcome] Without [Expected Help/Effort]Ex: How to Get 1000 Email Subscribers Without a Blog
  • The Secret to [Desired Ability]Ex: The Secret to Writing Viral Headlines
  • Why Haven’t You [Taken Action]?Ex: Why Haven’t You Used These 7 Email List Building Tactics?
  • The [Famous Person] Guide To [Desired Ability/Attribute]Ex: The Elon Musk Guide To Productivity
  • Are You Making These [Number] [Adjective] [Ability/Topic] Mistakes?Ex: Are You Making These 5 Conversion-Killing Copywriting Mistakes?
  • Why [Famous Person] is Wrong About [Topic]Ex: Why Steve Jobs was Wrong About Design
  • Don’t Read This If [You/Your] [Unlikely Achievement]Ex: Don’t Read This If You Already Get 100,000 Website Visits Each Month
  • Common Mistakes [Type of People] Make (And How to Avoid Them)Ex: Common Mistakes Beginner Marketers Make (And How to Avoid Them)
  • A [Cheat Sheet/Blueprint] for [Desired Ability/Thing]Ex: A Blueprint for a Successful Blog

Read this full article for more about headlines.

Editing

Getting a Good Flow

  • Don’t edit while you’re writing: editing breaks your flow, so other than small typos, don’t edit while you’re writing.
  • Come back to your work after a break: coming back to your work after a break can give you new perspective and makes it easier to find areas of improvement.
  • Edit in a different format: For example if you write your posts in a Google Doc, edit them there, but also give a run-through in preview mode where they’ll be published
  • Edit for structure and content first: figure out if there are entire sections that should be cut, rearranged, added, or radically revised before you start getting into specific sentences and words.
  • Cut out 10% of your words: higher word counts may correlate with better SEO, but they don’t necessarily correlate with better writing. Don’t repeat yourself. Cut out phrases like “in my opinion…” if it’s clear just by reading that it’s your opinion. Simplify.
  • Don’t rely on spell check to catch everything: spellcheck often doesn’t find homophones like which and witch.
  • Read your piece slowly: Unless you make an effort to slow down your reading, you’re likely to skip over words because you’re so familiar with what you’re editing. Make it a point to read slower.
  • Let it go: accept that your content will never be perfect and publish when it’s good enough.

Those writing tips can be found here.

Common Grammatical Mistakes

  • Were vs. WasIncorrect: The herd of goats, which were terrified by the pack of snarling dogs, were led to safety.Correct: The herd of goats, which was terrified by the pack of snarling dogs, was led to safety.
  • Me vs. I vs. MyselfIncorrect: The announcer awarded the prize to George and myself.Incorrect: The announcer awarded the prize to George and I.Correct: The announcer awarded the prize to George and me.
  • Peaked vs. Peeked vs. PiquedPeaked: He climbed the mountain peak. (Peaked can also mean “sickly”)Peeked: She peeked at her test scores.Piqued: The article piqued her interest.
  • Implied vs. InferredIncorrect: In his note, my cousin inferred that he didn’t like my friend.Correct: In his note, my cousin implied that he didn’t like my friend.
  • Either or vs. Neither norIncorrect: Neither my friend or I wanted to eat in that restaurant after we saw a cockroach.Correct: Neither my friend nor I wanted to eat in that restaurant after we saw a cockroach.
  • Parallel constructionIncorrect: Williams’s job responsibilities included writing code, websites, and emailing.Correct: Williams’s job responsibilities included writing code, updating websites, and responding to email.
  • ApostrophesIncorrect: The Joneses daughter is training to be a dentist.Correct: The Jones’ daughter is training to be a dentist.
  • Each other vs. One another (each other is for 2, one another is for more than 2)Incorrect: The jury members spoke with each other before reaching a verdict.Correct: The jury members spoke with one another before reaching a verdict.
  • Effect vs. AffectIncorrect: The earthquake did not effect the newly constructed buildings.Correct: The earthquake did not affect the newly constructed buildings.

Here are two quizzes to test your grammatical skills.

Coming Up With Blog Post Ideas

An Approach to Generating Creativity

  • Identify a broad topic: this can be a problem that you’re facing and trying to solve, a topic inspired by current events, or a play on a topic you see trending on a tool like Buzzsumo. Ex: blog outreach.
  • Write a list of angles that are overdone and to be avoided: you want to approach the topic from a new perspective, so write down ways that this topic has been covered. Ex: writing a cold email for blog outreach.
  • Write a positive alternative to each item on the “avoid” list: spin the angle you want to avoid into a new angle that may be more interesting. Ex: effective blog outreach without cold emailing
  • Be specific: narrow down your focus and write more specific positive alternatives. Ex: How I went 10 for 10 reaching out to influencers to pitch guest posts.

The above is a slightly modified take on this post.

Where to Look for Creativity

  • Maintain an ideas folder: use something like Evernote to collect all of your ideas as you’re browsing the web or even just as you’re thinking.
  • Utilize intersections with other fields: draw inspiration from a completely different field of study. For example, architect Mike Pearce designed a building in Zimbabwe that stays cool without air conditioning, drawing inspiration from how termites use air currents to cool their mounds.
  • Unfiltered brainstorming: generate as many ideas as you can, as fast as you can, without stopping to evaluate any of them. Be sure you are just writing down your ideas without thinking even if they seem ridiculous.
  • Connect your notes: go through your notes and make obvious connections first. Then see if you can connect two seemingly unconnected topics to create a new perspective.

Here are some more thoughts about finding creativity.

Maximizing Productivity

Writing Productivity

  • If you can’t write, outline: Outlining is a task that you can complete while you’re distracted. You don’t have to be at your optimal performance level but you can still move the ball forward and make your writing process smoother when you’re ready to write.
  • Polish when you’re distracted: People generally skim through blog posts, even reading them while doing other things like commuting or watching TV. This means when you’re distracted, you’re more effectively reproducing the conditions under which your readers will experience your content.
  • Use a timer: Set a timer and try to complete a defined portion of your writing within that time limit.
  • Use the 33-minute rule: Set your timer for 33 minutes, step away to take a break and clear your head, and then go back for another 33 minutes.

Here are two places to read more.

General Productivity

  • Email management: Use a 3-sentence rule and keep emails to 3 sentences or less.
  • Work/life balance: Don’t feel guilty about spending time with friends and family – you will gain productivity by decreasing stress.
  • Minimizing meetings: Cap meetings at 30 minutes and try not to make exceptions

Here is more about general productivity.

Conclusion

I’ve included the reference posts on WriteToDone for any topic where you think a deeper dive is appropriate.

And of course there are a ton more articles that I haven’t referenced.

Suffice it to say, if you’re looking for blog writing tips or guidance on improving your writing, the WriteToDone blog is a great place to look.

How about you? What are your favorite writing blogs?

 

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