Look Ma, I got a ‘B’ in Blogging

Report Card on Blogging

Here’s the checkup: ‘better, but still needs improvement.” After spending the last 60 days working on  regular blogging, I had a conversation with Mark Schaefer and asked “so, Mark what suggestions would you give me to make me better?” Mark’s response resulted in a post that he put on {Grow}. I agreed to not steal his thunder, but here is the summary specifically as it applied to me.

  1. ‘Sweat the Headline’ – Spend twice as long working on the interesting, attention-grabbing headline as writing the post. While the SEO guy in me wants to write keyword-rich headlines, the reality is that most of my quality traffic is referred through social networks, so for me, it is important to write a headline that is interesting.
  2. Earn the Right to Write – I think this is great advice for me. As an old boss used to tell me regarding my voicemails and emails, “truncate, truncate, truncate.” In the meantime, the practical approach for me is to split some of the lengthier posts into 2-3 separate posts.
  3. Cut the First 1/3 -In great college papers you tell the audience what you are going to tell them, you give all the reasons that you are going to tell them, and then finally 10 pages later you tell them what you’ve been waiting to tell them. That doesn’t work in the blogosphere. People simply don’t have the attention span.

In addition, I would add the following tips:

Proofread – When I am in publish mode, I am inspired to write that post and get it on the internets as quickly as possible. In nearly every post that I write, I can find multiple typos if I take the time to re-read it. Although Twitter, texts, blogs and the new user-content-generated world are peppered with grammatical errors and typos, it does not change the negative perception of written errors. If you struggle finding the errors have someone else read your post, let it sit for a few days and read it cold, read the post backwards, or even consider paying someone or service to proof your content.

Read it Aloud – Blogs are not dissertations. They need to be conversational, so it is really helpful to read the blog aloud either alone or with someone else to hear that voice.

Kill it if You Can – This is one of the hardest tasks for the writer. Reread the blog looking for phrases, sentences, and even paragraphs to cut. While it may seem like the greatest bit in the world, you have to ask whether it is critical to ‘this’ post. Die hard could have been 5 1/2 hours long, but who would have watched it? A bunch of great scenes made their way to the cutting room floor.

Keep a Running List of Headlines – How do you keep a steady supply of blog topics? The inspiration is not always there, so it is good to keep a running list of topics handy.

How do you grade your blog? What are other tips that you suggest for better blogging?

Thumbnail photo used via creative commons license by @pjern. Main photo used via creative commons license by @victoriabernal.


Jeremy Floyd

Jeremy Floyd is the Chief Marketing Officer at Back Porch Vista. Formerly, he was the president of Bluegill Creative, a marketing and communications firm in Knoxville, Tennessee. In addition to managing the digital strategies, Floyd is an adjunct professor for the University of Tennessee Chattanooga MBA program teaching digital strategies and social media. Floyd blogs at jeremyfloyd.com and tweets under the name @jfloyd. Jeremy is licensed to practice law in the State of Tennessee and holds a law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from MTSU in English and Philosophy.

  • http://www.businessesGROW.com/blog Mark W Schaefer

    Outstanding. But did you really get a “B?” : ) How would you grade yourself?

    I seem to go in cycles. I will have a couple weeks where I just kill it and a couple weeks where nothing seems to connect.

    Maybe the tidal forces on my brain. : )

    Thanks for the shout-out. Glad the advice seemed to help!

  • http://www.imsofunny.blogspot.com Alice Gold

    Thanks for turning us on to Mark Schaefer’s blog. LG and I both enjoy it and we both really enjoyed the post to which you refer.

    I have a lot of areas of improvement, but I, like you, tend to be too long winded. I must earn my right. I must earn my right.

    Loved the post title.

    And I am still waiting for you to blog regularly.

  • http://jeremyfloyd.com Jeremy Floyd

    @Mark – That was a self-graded “B” for “bettter.” You’re welcome. I honestly had a period where I thought, “I’ve been blogging since 2003…I don’t need any help.” But, that’s kind of like having a barren orchard and saying I have had this orchard for 20 years I don’t need any help. Your blog has fruit and there’s a wealth to learn from you. It is GREAT that you are so willing to help your friends. Thanks buddy!

  • http://jeremyfloyd.com Jeremy Floyd

    @Alice – I am very glad that you and LG started reading Mark’s blog. That’s what the internets are all about–connecting.

    I’ve been trying to blog 2 times per week, but I’ve had a few single post weeks. How often would you define as “regularly?”

  • http://www.gooddisruptivechange.com Susan Alexander

    Jeremy:

    Nice post. Blogging is a skill we get better at over time, provided we don’t keep making the same mistakes over and over, which is why it’s good that people like you write posts like this.

    My biggest challenge is length. Breaking long posts into 2 or 3 shorter ones is something I’m working on. It’s a whole new mindset for me. I used to practice law. The deal with legal briefs was simple: leave something out and you waive the right to raise it later. It’s hard to break out of that for some reason, even though it’s obvious that that’s not how the bloggosphere works.

    On proofreading, want to hear something hilarious? My current post is on Jackson Pollock. I misspelled his name in the title and throughout the whole post. A bunch of people proof read it for me and no one noticed. After a bunch of comments came in, someone finally clued me in. So funny.

    Nice post. Well done! Found you via Mark Schaefer, by the way.

    Susan

  • http://jeremyfloyd.com Jeremy Floyd

    Hi Susan! It’s a pleasure to meet you.

    I just checked out your blog (funny re: Pollock). I’m curious to learn more about your transition from practicing. I too am a non-practicing lawyer as is Alice’s husband (the commenter above). However, I would say we practiced less than you (considering we finished law school in ’06. :)

    Like you, I’m really tempted to write the very long posts. It turns out that I’m rather fond of hearing myself talk and type. The challenge is to really try to focus on quality density in a reasonable length.

    Welcome, and hopefully we can connect more often!

  • Dorry Floyd

    I think you get an A. I love to read what you have to say.

  • http://www.timbickers.com Tim Bickers

    I’m with Dorry. Wish we lived closer because I would be stalking you listening to every word you say (and apparently eavesdropping on your meetings with Mark). You are a genius in my mind.

    Great tips here – I am clicking the star to bookmark this one.

  • http://jeremyfloyd.com Jeremy Floyd

    Tim:

    I am humbled. Thank you for your kindness. If you ever moved out here we may just have to start a business! :)