So to recap, we have discussed designing your blog. We’ve discussed finding a platform. We’ve discussed shameless self-promotion. Now let’s talk about da blog itself. Today we will be discussing how to create great, memorable content your readers will love. Also just a shoutout if you are new, we do have a live event coming up this Spring, so check it out here.
Having appealing images on your blog is very important. Images make your content shareable on Instagram and Pinterest. In addition, they elevate your blog and make it seem more professional. It is good rule of thumb to make sure you have at least one image for each post.
There are two parts to this process: the actual picture and the other design elements, such as typography.
above: example Blog Graphics
To get good images, an obvious option is yourself or someone you know taking photos or creating illustrations. After you have taken photos, you can also enhance them with apps like LiveCollage or Prisma or desktop photo editing programs, such as Photoshop or its free counterpart, GIMP.
Now what do you do if you don’t have a fitting image for your post? How can you get great images without upsetting the copyright gods? One option is Pixabay, which a site where users share royalty free images. And these aren’t just shabby clipart, there’s tons of amazing photos, illustrations and edits. This is my preferred way of getting free images, but you can also go on Google images and change the search settings to filter out images you can’t use for your project. This doesn’t provide a lot of options though.
Now let’s get to creating covers and more designed peices. My recommendation: Canva. You can download the app, but the desktop version gives you more options. This program has a variety of templates to choose from, and from there you can add/change typography, colors, filters, shapes, etc. Even if you don’t know much about design, you can still create great graphics here.
There are also desktop programs for the more experienced designer, with the free alternative being Inkscape.
Topics of Discussion
Now what do you write about? If you’ve gotten this far, you’ve probably already chosen a niche, whether it be Fashion, Computer Science, Travel, or so on. But your job doesn’t end there. You need to plan posts/ series that you love and your audience will benefit from! Your post should serve your reader a purpose. Is it to recommend a product they would like? To entertain? To teach? Would you seek out something like this? If not, maybe change your idea to benefit your readers.
Example ideas for when you’re stuck:
- Top tens
- Reviews (books, beauty, places)
- Guide for beginners
- Life hacks
- (Edu) Lesson ideas
- Tell a story
- Parodies/ Social commentary
If you’re blogging, odds are you already have a knack for writing. But what can you improve on? What makes some posts intriguing and inspiring, while others are sloppy and of little interest? Part of that is the writing itself. So here is a list of elements of good writing you should shoot for:
- Is it a research piece? If so, make sure you back up your message with well-cited facts
- Does your piece have a call-to-action? In other words, is your post going to make someone want to buy the product you’re reviewing? Is it going to encourage them to be more involved in an issue? Is it going to teach them how to create something new? Is it inspiring?
- Is your persona shining through? If someone were reading your post, what voice they hear in their head narrating it? Maybe you want it to be more Morgan Freeman, or Jenna Marbles. Just make sure you stay true to yourself and consistent.
- Include plenty of information, not just click-bait. And for the reader who wants to learn more, provide links for convenience.
- Is your tutorial or story time clear and easy to follow? Read it back to yourself.
- Is your post unique in some way?
Editing and Layout
Last, let’s discuss editing and layout. Improper grammar and spelling errors, especially in large amounts, is a big no-no. Would you trust an article that was sprinkled in grammar errors? Probably not. The simple answer to this…read your post back to yourself before you hit “publish”. Spell-check’s got your back in some areas, but reading your post again can help you catch other errors or things that can be worded/ written better. Another thing you can do is enlist someone else to help you comb through your work. There are also online programs that can help; Grammarly analyzes your work and detects errors (plus it is free). If you want to learn more about editing and how to cite your sources, I also recommend Owl Purdue.
While you’re reading back your work, also make sure that the formatting looks right. Is everything a constant font and size? Are subtitles all formatted the same way? Do your lists line up like they are supposed to? Another tip I have is keep your information in small, digestible chunks. Yes, some readers want to sit and read your post fully, but being the impatient NOW, NOW, NOW kind of generation we are we love to quickly skim through information. As sad as it is, even I have to admit that if I see a post with loooonng paragraphs, I sometimes skip it then and there. So my suggestion? Make your information look easy to digest. Make bulleted lists. Create subtitles to separate topics. Use visuals, charts, and graphs to show your information and break apart all those words.
Plan it Out
One other tip I want to leave you with… don’t forget to plan! Personally I use Google Calendars (and other Google apps) to keep work and such in order, that way I can access my schedule anywhere. I do adjust my blogging schedule a lot, so this app also makes it easy to do that. I also use an app for taking notes on my phone, where I keep all blog ideas. You don’t have to do a full outline, but think about how you want to lay out your piece before you start typing. It’ll simplify things for you.
Thank you for reading…you’ve made it to the end (or scrolled to the bottom. It’s ok, I won’t judge)! Now it’s time to talk; what are some tips you have for new bloggers? Let us know in the comments below.