I used to spend my nights poring over eighth grade papers with a green pen—circling, highlighting, and annotating until dawn. Essays were an integral part of my teaching career, one which I had designed to be more like seasonal events that I’d have to prepare my classes for. Now as a blogger, I remember what I used to tell my students. I laugh, remembering the limitless grammar rules that teachers obsess over. For high quality writing, I’d have to say that a handful of core requisites exist, especially for newbie bloggers. These come to mind though are hardly comprehensive.
Include a Lede in Your Articles
This is the quintessential heart of your post or article. It’s the thesis as we say in the classroom where your reader (and editor) can say to herself: “OK, this is what I am reading about.” In travel blogs and other articles, the lede should come after a brief introduction. It is one sentence that presents the focus of your article.
Use Word Phrases for Internal Links
As you write, think of other related articles. Employ good SEO strategies to anchor texts and built a network of internal links within your blog. Make sure each link opens in a new window so that your reader doesn’t forget where she came from. Placing a link within the first paragraph can also help reduce bounce rate. There, I inserted a link to a post about newbie bloggers but I’ve also information for living a writer’s life that could have been applicable. Obviously, it’s pretty clear what I’m modeling here. But on your blog it will appear seamless–not as clumsy as here–and helpful to the reader
Ignite the Five Senses
In travel writing, and whenever else possible, use the five senses. My grammar school teachers and my professors at Manhattanville always purported the importance of igniting the five senses. Draw your reader into the world that you are creating on the page. How do oysters pop when grilled on the beach? What is the texture of coffee rock? What do roses smell like when you are standing in a field of them? Write it so the reader can live it.
Use a Conversational Voice… sometimes
This style of writing will vary depending on your audience and editor. But I’ve read excellent websites that have extremely casual voices that are equally successful in attracting readers. The article reads as if you are having coffee with your best friend or hearing a cousin complain at Thanksgiving dinner. Not to say that conversational voices can’t be professional, but keep the delivery light.
Be Personable in your Writing
This is probably the trickiest advice that my students tackled as they began to write longer papers: how to insert perspective in a piece that is third person. As a writer you have to step away from the content. If you found the best restaurant in Cusco, you can still relay this personal experience without inundating the reader with “I loved this” and “I did that.” There is a place for this of course, especially in travel writing. But think of “that” person—you know the type—who comes to a great party only to talk about himself for 90 minutes. My stomach twists just thinking of it. You have great memories and ideas but keep the details to a third person angle. Give concrete details and describe little moments that highlight your travel. Less can be more and your readers will have enough stamina to make it to your conclusion.
Break Up Text with Sub-Headings
Nothing turns me off faster than opening an email or blog post and seeing 600 words jammed into one paragraph. Remember, the human eye gets tired. It can only drag itself across the screen to a certain degree before it literally becomes exhausted. So get to the point. Trim sentences and break up your ideas. Use sub-headings to alleviate reader fatigue and draw attention to the main points of your article.
Craft a Conclusion that Wraps Up the Post but Continues the Conversation
Conclusions are tough for me. I’ve already written 700 words. I’ve already organized ideas and edited along the way. Now I have to add a little more? There have been many times, late at night, when I cannot even muster up 3 words to wrap up the article. But your teacher was right. You need a conclusion. So if you’re stuck, try teasing out a few sentences from the body of the article to rework as passable conclusions. If all else fails, add something to continue the conversation.
I’ve had good English teachers and bad ones. Most seemed completely enamored or sometimes entrenched in the correct decorum of writing. But good bloggers should realize that simple and straightforward writing can capture audiences too. When was the last time you saw someone snuggle up to read university dissertations? Fun, right? But many fundamental lessons on writing still hold true to blogging. Every writer is different and will express herself across an array of methods. But the point is to maintain a high quality of writing on your blogs. It’s an art and a science.
How do you maintain high quality writing?