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How to write a great blog-post

I’ve recently been coaching garden designer, Caroline Garland, on writing her blog: ‘New Vintage Gardens’. I suggested 9 key points as a checklist for her to follow when writing a post. The principles apply to writing all posts – whatever the subject.  How many of the 9 points are you following?

Ideas for 20 blog-posts from Doddington Place Gardens

1) Write blogs in short sentences.

Caroline wrote 328 words on how to create a vista in a small town garden. This is a good length for a blog-post. But it was in two large paragraphs, with long sentences, so the information was rather lost. Many people who come to my workshops are authors, writers or journalists. We are used to grappling with a lot of words, but it’s important to keep sentences and words short when blogging. This doesn’t mean dumbing down. Shortness in writing is stylish. Think of Ernest Hemingway. And The Economist Style Guide, considered one of the best guides to good written English, says ‘never use a long word when a short one will do.’

2) Which doesn’t mean that posts have to be short

Bloggers used to say that blog-posts ought to be about 300-500 words long. Now we’ve discovered that longer posts are shared more often. Google also likes longer posts. But don’t just waffle on. If your post needs to be 1600 words, that’s great. But make sure they’re 1600 necessary words. Stay focused – like the path in the picture above. It leads straight to the bench. Stay in a straight line and make sure you’re going somewhere. Then it doesn’t matter how long your post is.

3) Use short paragraphs when blogging.

Each paragraph should have about 3-4 short sentences and should make one point. Caroline could use bullet points, numbers or cross-heads, or a combination. Here I have used cross-heads (the wording highlighted in colour) and numbers. Highlight your cross-heads and click on ‘heading 2’ on your dashboard. Or ask your web designer about making cross-heads into ‘heading 2’.

4) Use cross-heads with your key words in them

Cross-heads are picked up by search engines – so it’s a chance to emphasise your key words (eg ‘garden designer in Wandsworth’) without ‘keyword stuffing’. Keyword stuffing is when you try to make Google rank you higher because your keyword is mentioned over and over again. For example: ‘If you want to hire a hall, hire our hall for hire. People hiring halls hire our halls because our halls for hire are…’ Keyword stuffing is not good English, and Google doesn’t like it. But using cross-heads to add keywords  to your site is helpful. Note how I have used ‘blogging’ and ‘write blogs’ in these cross-heads in this post. Caroline could use the words ‘garden design’ and ‘town gardens’ in her cross-heads.

5) Be mean with your punctuation

Caroline’s elegant writing has semi-colons, and long sentences with lots of commas. This is good for English exams, but blogging should be simpler. Short sentences mean fewer commas. Try to get rid of semi-colons, too. A blog post sentence should be short with a full stop at the end of it.

6) And no more than one exclamation mark per post!

Or you will sound a bit mad! See what I mean! Unless you want to sound mad!!! (Caroline didn’t have any exclamation marks, which is even better.)

7) Don’t start posts, paragraphs or sentences with a negative

Always say what something is or why it’s important, rather than what it’s not. For example, Caroline started by saying ‘to get the feeling of distance and space in a garden, a vista is difficult to achieve.’ Better to say ‘A vista is essential if you want to achieve a feeling of distance and space in a garden.’

8) Images are very important in blog posts

Caroline doesn’t have any problems with images. She takes lovely photographs of the gardens she designs or visits. The photograph in this post is taken by her. It’s more difficult for me, for example, to find suitable images to illustrate blogging with.

Norwich blogging workshop

It’s difficult to find images to illustrate ‘how to blog’ so I take photographs of my workshops. Here Hilary, Lesley, Louise and Christine in Norwich show that blogging can be fun.

9) End your blog post with a ‘call to action.’

What would you like your reader to do? Subscribe to your blog? Share your blog post via the social media share buttons below? Or would you like them to comment or share a post of their own? If so, invite them and explain how to take the next step. If you’d like personal coaching or mentoring in blogging either in person or by Skype, contact me. And if you’d like fortnightly tips on how to blog, please subscribe by email. I won’t be clogging up your inbox – it’ll just be two emails a month, with useful information to help you blog effectively. And if you’ve found this post useful, do please share it using one of the buttons below. Thank you so much!

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