Make Your Blog Posts Sizzle
“Oh sure,” you’re saying to yourself. “I’ll never be a writer. I nearly flunked sophomore English. Are you kidding me?” Not so fast. You too can write. Maybe not Shakespearean sonnets. Maybe not the Great American Novel. But you can, if you follow our success tips, write well and do it consistently. You can create your own blog. You can write fabulous property descriptions that make buyers want to click through for more information. Here’s our six-step program.
- Read more
- Free Write
- Write, Write, Write
- Check grammar
OK, let’s get started.
1. Read more. You will never become a good writer unless you program your mind to recognize what good writing is. This means reading. Good writing is not found in text messages, Tweets, or Facebook posts. It’s found in best-selling fiction and non-fiction. It’s found on the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal (sometimes) or USA Today (even if you don’t agree with their opinions!) It’s not usually found in US Weekly or People, and definitely not in the National Enquirer. Discipline yourself to become a good reader.
2. Brainstorm. This means jotting down (or voice recording) every idea about your topic or project that pops into your head. No censoring, no evaluating—just write it down. This phase might also include research. For example, if you want to write a blog about local restaurants in your neighborhood that are family-friendly, or upscale bistros that feature Italian food, Google and take notes. (Hint: you don’t have to visit every restaurant personally, unless you really crave Italian food!)
3. Outline. Warning: do not skip this step. Unless you are writing a simple three-sentence email to your mother, every piece of good writing needs an outline. An outline is like a road map. If you were going to drive from San Francisco to Denver, you’d use a map or GPS. You could just start out driving from west to east, but if you didn’t have some sort of guide, you might end up somewhere totally unexpected, and not at all where you planned to be. Novice writers think they can just jump in and start putting ideas on paper. You can, but that’s the brainstorming part (see above). Now you need to put those ideas into some sort of order, and possibly discard some of the material that doesn’t fit. Using the Italian restaurant example again, you might want to go with each restaurant’s specialties, compare prices, mention low calorie or vegetarian alternatives. If you know where you’re going, the journey will be much easier.
4. Free Write. This is how you get started writing. It’s also a well known technique for breaking through writer’s block. It means just grabbing your pen or your laptop and writing down anything that comes into your head. You may start out with something that seems totally irrelevant, such as “Why am I doing this? I have no idea what to write. I don’t even like Italian food. Who’s going to be interested in anything I have to say? Well, it’s not just pizza—I could start with that.” You see where this technique can lead? Pretty soon you’ve started writing your blog or article, and before long you’ve actually got something interesting on paper.
5. Write, Write, Write. Becoming a good writer means you have to write. Regularly and a lot. I understand, writing is not your main profession—you’re a Realtor and your job is to sell properties. But unless you want to pay a professional to write everything for you (and we can help, if that’s your choice), you’ll need to make writing a discipline and a habit. For example, nothing says “neglect” on your personal web site like a blog that hasn’t been updated for five weeks. Your readers will quickly become bored and stop looking. You need something fresh and interesting at least once a week. So put it on your calendar—you write for two hours every Monday, or 30 minutes a day, four days a week, or 15 minutes at 6 a.m. every day—whatever suits your style and schedule.
And if you do this, you will get better. Just the other day I read a terrific quote by the world-famous cellist, Pablo Cassals. When he was 90 years old, someone asked him why he still bothered to practice. “Because,” he said, “I think I’m improving!”
6. Check Grammar. This is the final step before you post that blog or submit that article. Proofread yourself, if you’re good at that. Ask someone else to proofread too—a second set of eyes is like extra insurance. And you may also opt to use one of the automated grammar checkers (we like Grammarly—check it out at www.grammarly.com.) Nothing turns a reader off more than subjects and verbs that don’t agree, or using a word that sounds right but is the wrong word. Do you know the difference between site, cite, and sight, for example? Lots of people use words incorrectly. And lots of readers know the difference (like my wife 🙂 ).
So you may not be another Hemmingway in the making, but if you follow this six-point plan, I can almost guarantee you’ll be a good writer, and who knows? You might even enjoy it!