So a lot of people have been asking us this question; how to improve the quality of a blog post? Some think it’s natural, not something everyone can have. And they can’t be more wrong! I say it never comes naturally. Not at first, anyway. I had difficulties at first too, many of them. But it comes with time and practice. And most importantly, from learning along the way. I am a firm believer in learning on the job. This is something you can’t take right out of the textbook. You can only learn from experience. I have learnt many things about writing quality posts, from my experience, some of which I am going to share with you today. Apply them after reading, and you’ll see how your writing improves over time.
One thing I’d like to say is, reading and writing have as close a relation as any. You cannot write well if you don’t read much, and while reading, you sometimes can’t understand fully what the writer means. In my opinion, the key to writing good posts is to read some of them. Now I know some of you aren’t even reading what I am saying, and are just looking at the headlines to see if I have something they don’t know. Well, that’s the first error they’re making. And unless you’re already good at writing, you should read more often.
1. Finding your comfort zone
This is the first thing I’ll look for before settling down to write a post. The body and mind need to be as relaxed as possible. A person’s comfort zone is determined y many things, such as the time of the day which is related to his energy levels, and the environment around him.
Energy level refers to how much willingness you have in you to write a post. This majorly depends on your mood, the time of the day, the interactions you’ve had, the work you did in a day, and so on. For example, my energy levels are usually low when I come back home from university, and they’re high in the morning, or at night after dinner. That’s when I write my posts. This, of course varies from person to person.
Next comes your environment. Some people prefer a lonely environment, with no distracting sounds or other disturbances whatsoever. It’s hard to concentrate when people around you are constantly talking. For others, like me, they can’t work in total silence. I find it too weird, and so, I prefer to be not so close to people that they’ll include me in the conversation, but close enough that I can hear them and feel reassured. Again, it varies from person to person. Finding your comfort zone is the first thing you should look for.
2. Give structure to your points
Before I start writing, I tend to form a structure in my head of how I will shape my post. This is an extremely important step, so please don’t miss it. Having an organizational scheme will determine how your post will turn out to be. Most posts that are low quality lack a structure. Let me explain.
Let’s say I was writing a tutorial, say about transferring files between two PCs (I know that doesn’t come under this blog’s niche, but just for argument’s sake). I would first think about giving it a main structure, i.e. a an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. That much is obvious enough. But, let’s take the introduction first. Most probably, it would contain why you’d want to transfer files, and what are the main ways you can do it. Readers will also have this question in mind before reading the body; ‘what will I need to have?’ So most probably, I would address these questions in the introduction.
The body will again be divided into chunks, or steps. One step would be to connect the two PCs. The next would be sharing files, and finally, copying files. The conclusion would state which is the best and most effective way, and so on. See what I did there? I made an outline for an entire tutorial in a matter of 5 minutes, which will definitely save me more than half an hour if I actually come to write on such a topic, an outline which you are free to use by the way :)
Making an outline can be very beneficial. If you’re still not sure on how to go about this, just shoot us a comment and I’ll try to help you out!
3. Simple words
Simple is good. Complex is bad. Jargons are worse! (Jargons are field-related words which only people in that particular field can understand). People usually try to literally inject heavy words into their sentences to make them impressive. but the truth is, they’re the opposite of impressive. It shows in your writing whether you actually know a word and have been using it for some time, or you simply picked it off from Wordsmith’s A Word A Day service. Instead, what you should be concentrating on is, making use of better expressions.
4. Short paragraphs and sentences
People don’t appreciate long paragraphs. It gets too boring mid-way, and they simply lose track. Always use short paragraphs. And short sentences for that matter. Usually, a long sentence isn’t a problem if it’s punctuated properly. And people who are good at writing can easily manage long sentences. But those who are not so good at writing, they’re best off by writing short sentences. Like this one. You’re not at an English exam here, and you won’t be asked to include subjects, objects, and verbs in your sentences. So don’t worry about them, and just focus on making your sentences sound sensible, and easy to understand. Usually, beginners get lost in long sentences, and ruin the whole sense. Shorter sentences are easier to manage.
5. Avoid redundancy
Redundancy means repetition. Avoid repetition. There! That was an example of redundancy! I used the word ‘repetition’ twice, both too close to each other. And if you go over the two sentences again, they’ll sound odd to you. That’s because they are! What I should have said was “Redundancy means repetition. Avoid it”. Notice the use of the pronoun ‘it’. Use them more often. Here’s another such example;
“Windows 8 is going to be released next month. Windows 8 has a lot of new features, such as….” You know the error in that right? The ‘Windows 8′ in the second sentence should be replaced with a pronoun such as ‘it’, so the sentence becomes ‘It has a lot of new features such as…’
6. Check your grammar, please!
Grammar can give a lot more sense to your sentences. Having a proper grammatical structure makes it easier for the reader to understand. Spellings don’t matter as much as the grammar. And that includes punctuations as well. My recommendation to people is, learn to use a comma! The comma makes life that much easier.
Comma helps separate list items and phrases, and maintains the integrity of a long sentence by breaking it into smaller, more readable ones. Notice my use of commas throughout this paragraph. A lot of people don’t use them. If there’s just one punctuation mark I was asked to pick, I’d pick the comma.
A comma can also change the meaning of a sentence if placed at the right place. I recently saw an image on Facebook that demonstrated the importance of the comma. It has a sentence, punctuated in two ways using just a comma. One said “A woman, without her man is nothing.” Another version said, “A woman, without her, man is nothing.” See how shockingly important a comma is? It can totally change the meaning of a sentence. Please pay more attention to it!
7. Active vs Passive voice
Active voice has a subject first, a verb done by that subject next, and the object the verb is done upon at the end. So Subject-Verb-Object. For example, “Soccer bores people.” In this sentence, ‘Soccer’ is the subject, the subject does a verb, ‘bored’, and it does that on the object(s), that is ‘people’. Another way to write this is, “People are bored by Soccer”. This is the Object-Verb-Subject configuration, also known as passive voice.
Research has shown that most people prefer active voice. It is short, and not too wordy. It also seems more interesting. And most English writers will write in this way. You should also learn to write like this.
8. Eliminate extra words
Eliminate fluff and extra words from your posts, such as ‘very’, ‘a bit’, ‘pretty’, ‘quite’. Use them only when they make sense. For example, “This place is pretty quiet” would sound better if said like “This place is quiet”. Quiet and pretty quiet are the same, so cut off the pretty. But you can’t do the same for “This place is pretty crowded”. ‘Pretty crowded’ and ‘crowded’ indicate different crowd levels, and hence can’t be interchanged. Learn the difference. Extra words will just add weight to your sentences, making them boring.
9. Take a break
Usually when i feel my energy levels are rather low, I take a break from my work, and relax. I would open up an online game, or perhaps a YouTube video to take my mind off things. Then when I return to my post, I feel new energy within me. This strategy helps a lot in improving the post quality.
10. Read, read and read!
And finally, just as I urged you guys at the beginning, read! Read books and newspapers to improve your English writing skills. If you can’t do that, then at least read some good blogs that are related to your niche at the very least. This will not only help your writing, it will also give you more ideas.
Writing quality content is really not that difficult. It’ll come with practice. Some might pick it up quickly, while it may take others some time. But in the end, you all can do it, if you’re only willing to learn. If you have any questions, do let us know so we can help you.