In the comments section this past week, astute fellow bloggers like Steven Sawyer, Cliff Richardson and Dave Knickerbocker brought up some excellent blog tips. The gist of their comments was important enough to add an epilogue to this weeklong blogging series. This undervalued, and misused, aspect of blogging can murder the benefits of great content and active networking.
I had to learn the hard way on this:
Blog Tip: Format for Goldfish
Aesthetics matter. Especially for internet readers. Almost all blog perusers scan before they engage. If you intimidate them with daunting thesis post length or gargantuan paragraphs you will lose them forever. This is a blog not an academic journal.
A loose guideline I have is to keep most every post between 400-600 words. I try to keep every paragraph 3-5 sentences long at the most. We have the collective cultural ADD of goldfish nowadays, so we better believe our readership reflects that.
Isolate important sentences as a summary to previous paragraphs.
Some charge this style is too Rob Bell-esque in that it uses formatting and terse prose form to engage the reader instead of using extended logical argumentation.
Rob Bell didn’t invent this writing technique, and we may lament about his theological blunders, but there is no doubt about his effectiveness as a communicator. We can write for the strict English professor or we can write for the college kid addicted to porn and Call of Duty.
Which one do you think is actually reading your blog?
Blog Tip: Simplicity Is The Way
Simplicity is a must. You want your crown jewel to be your message, not the cyber awards you’ve won, the links on your sidebar, or the fact you’re selling books/shirts/toe rings/etc. Some people insist on creating their own themes and web design, and for the most part my advice on that is:
Don’t do it.
Use someone else’s expert work on the technical side. Otherwise, your blog will probably look campy and give viewers a seizure like a Japanese cartoon. First time visitors should notice your work, not the fact that there is a generic tropical ocean scene in the back ground.
Break up posts with pertinent headings (H2) so readers are clear about your message. Bold and italics are fine tools if not overused. An image or two can focus content, but don’t get all diarrhea with posters and inspirational messages you found on Facebook. You’re more creative and unique than that.
Clarity of message should be the priority, and the aesthetic of your blog should contribute to that end.
Hope that helps. I sincerely hope you find the platform your talented writing voice deserves.
Peace and grace,