Writing starts with reading. Don’t laugh, we’re serious.
I was one of those kids that read A LOT. Growing up I read the Berenstain Bears, Peter and the Rabbit, Magic School Bus, Dr. Suess, and so very much more. It fueled my imagination, which was both good and bad.
Reading so much fiction from such a young age, until my late teens confused my understanding of writing structure. I suffered from having too many ideas in my head. For years after my first grade 7 writing class, I struggled with writing in any format except for the creative kind.
I finally found real help while enrolled in a third-year, summer, university, journalism course. My professor was an editor of the Globe and Mail who taught me tactics, that I still use. Along with AtomicWriter, I’ve been able to continue to improve long after I learned the fundamentals.
Here are four steps to develop your writing skills for blogging.
Phase One: Reading = Research
If you’re a new blogger and have no idea where to start. You can start by reading, aka researching. The more you consume, the better idea you’ll have in the style/type and topics you will relate to the most.
- Have you encountered these writing styles before?
- Expository - presents facts to a specific audience
- Persuasive - convinces the reader to pick a side, to support a point of view, act, or cause
- Descriptive - generates a single dominant impression of a person, place, event, feeling or idea
- Narrative - a story or series of stories developed from an event
Note: If you’re becoming blogger, you'll be writing in different styles possibly for yourself and clients.
Pro tip: As you read, look at the content critically. Think of how else you could word a scenario, or other possible events that could have occurred at the same time this event was taking place.
Result: Helps with future brainstorms, fights writer’s block, helps you see the full picture.
Phase Two: Sporadically keeping up with the news doesn’t cut it
After you find out what you like to read about, create an updated document of your favourite writers/blogs in your industry. For me, I read a lot of blogs like the Social Media Examiner, Content Marketing Institute, and The Next Web.
The blogging world changes very quickly, and with it, so does writing formalities. So, this is why you have to become fluent in the industry you are writing for. If you can and “walk the walk, and talk the talk”, you’ll never be caught off guard if an unexpected request comes up.
If you are writing for a lawyer, and are unable to write about how the newly passed bill 88 affects more than just car drivers, as your client requests, extra research will take time, more so if you have not stayed current with the issues revolving the new bill before it was even passed.
Pro Tip 2: To have a great story requires a solid foundation. Don’t forget the 5 W’s & How:
- Who you are writing for?
- What you are writing about?
- Where the story is taking place?
- When the story is taking place?
- Why are you writing about it, which can also answer why it is important to the reader?
- How did it happened?
Phase 3: Networking In the Real World (cue terrifying sound effect)
To write good blog posts, you reference what other influencers are writing about, and take on the tone they write in. To be a great writer, you conduct first person research. In the blogging world, nothing’s better than being the first person to publish original content. And before you say “nothing is original anymore”, people’s experiences are original and their perspectives are unique.
If you are blogging about what it’s like to work for one of the top advertising agencies in the city, you will be contacting the agency to see if you can make an appointment to sit down with a person that can provide you with accurate information on your topic.
From one interview, you can create multiple blogs about different relevant topics, and ideas that resulted from it. This form of research will establish your network.
Pro Tip 3: It IS all about connections. With a network you will be able to expand your list of resources, and be privileged to exclusive information. You could become an influencer or a forecaster of trends.
Phase 4: Establish a Routine
- Practice, draft, write without stopping
- Edit, format, debate whether you are being too concise or not concise enough
- Edit Again, use a tool for grammar, or AtomicWriter Lite for optimization
- Have a goal: what kind of results are you hoping to see? Social media followers, comments, engagement.
- Listen to your audience
It’s all about establishing a routine that will help you grow as a writer. In the blogging world, writing about relevant topics, engaging with others, and seeking feedback will help you continuously develop your writing skills.