There’s always room for improvement in writing. As a professional writer, I’m always looking for ways to streamline my writing process and improve the reader experience.
The way you learnt to write in your early life is also totally different from how you should write online.
Learning how to write well (and convincingly) can seem overwhelming, but there are some easy and free ways to improve your blog writing.
Make it Skimmable
When was the last time you read every word of a post, from start to finish? I can’t say for sure either.
That’s why one of the most important writing tips for bloggers is making text skimmable.
Keep Sentences and Paragraphs Short
The attention span of internet users has dropped from 12 seconds to 8 seconds. That means you’ve got to grab your readers and convince them to stay. Or, at the very least, quickly give them something they can take away.
This short attention span leads online readers to skim content rather than really reading it.
So forget what your English teacher taught you; paragraphs can be less than three sentences. Big blocks of text are a no-no.
Short paragraphs and sentences surrounded by white space are easier to read. With reader attention drifting from page to page and tab to tab, breaking the text up into easily identifiable chunks helps readers stay focused.
Most people scan down the left side of the page. By using left-aligned headings, you can let readers know exactly where they can find the information they want.
Informative subheadings can act as signposts, ensuring that distracted readers stay engaged with your content.
But it’s not just readers who find headings helpful—Google does too. The search engine uses heading tags to understand the structure of a webpage and assess how relevant the content is to the search request.
You can see how this works, and how you can use headings to structure your page, in the following graphic.
Write for the Web
Depending on where something is published, the style of writing can vary wildly. Think about how different a passage from a scientific journal might be to the brochure for a holiday home.
Layout out text with headings and lots of white space is helpful, but it’s just as important that your sentences are constructed in a way that entices readers.
Active writing is more powerful.
A sentence using the active voice focuses on the subject performing an action, while a passive sentence’s focus is on the receiver of the action. Some quick examples are:
- “I made a mistake” vs “mistakes were made”
- “Greg ate the sandwich” vs “The sandwich was eaten by Greg”
- “The student wrote the essay” vs “The essay was written by the student”
Active voice also makes it easier to accomplish our first goal – making sentences shorter.
In two of those three examples, the active version is the shorter sentence, making it easier to read and understand.
One of the most popular ways to identify passive voice is by adding “by zombies” after the action. If the sentence still makes sense, it’s passive. I’ll use those examples above again:
- “Mistakes were made [by zombies]” vs “I made a mistake [by zombies]”
- “The sandwich was eaten [by zombies]” vs “Greg ate the sandwich [by zombies]”
- “The essay was written [by zombies]” vs “The student wrote he essay [by zombies]”
Cut any irrelevant text.
Reducing fluff helps convince readers that they’re going to get useful info from your blog post.
Brevity is critical for mobile readers.
Some quick ways to improve clarity are to:
- Ditch uncertain phrases like “I think” and “In my opinion”
- Reduce qualifiers and adverbs like “very”, “little”, and “quite”, think: “blinding” instead of “very bright”
- Get straight to the point by getting rid of opening phrases like “needless to say”, “in my opinion” and “in order to”
- Skimp on the details; your readers are intelligent and imaginative, so you don’t have to describe the small stuff
Use Writing Tools
Although nothing can replace a real-life editor, writing and editing tools can still be useful. They’re an excellent way to keep you on track when writing your content.
Tools like Grammarly and ProWritingAid can help you identify simple errors like spelling and grammar, as well as more complex elements like passive voice, wrong homophones, and misplaced modifiers.
Just remember that, while helpful, grammar tools aren’t perfect and can even introduce errors.
Optimise for Social
Ever shared something interesting without reading it all? Most people have.
If you aren’t confident in optimising your blogs for search keywords, it may be easier to get eyes on your writing through social media.
There are a lot of ways you can encourage sharing of your content, including:
- Adding images — posts with relevant images get 94% more views than those without images and have 352% more engagement than links
- Using easy social share buttons, like the bar on the bottom of this page
- Implementing click to tweet functionality
Ready to write?
I hope these tips help you write quicker and more effectively. You can pin the image below to revisit later or use the buttons at the bottom of the page to share.