Are You a Directionally Challenged Blogger?
I’ve been writing in the corporate setting for more than five years, and writing for leisure for about as long as I can remember. Two problems have always persisted for me, though. I’m long-winded and I tend to veer all over the place without realizing it, until I’m left with a piece that begins discussing the importance of social media, somehow veers into indie band territory and ends with an embarrassing story about my dog relieving himself in the surf at the beach, causing horror for all, but mostly me. Then I think to myself, wait…what was I talking about?
While not as much of a problem in my leisurely narrative writing, it’s a huge problem at work. To be more specific, right here, in the space you’re currently reading – the Newtek blog. After sending off an entry for review, it returns to me, often times bleeding, with suggestions to “focus on one point and dig in” or, “’it’s great, but can you try to say it more succinctly?”
Granted, I’ve definitely improved over the years, but I still fall into the same traps. Yes. I fully admit, when it comes to writing, this wordy wanderer needs help. That’s why it’s good to have something like these best practices in mind before even sitting down to write, and then keeping them in mind as you go through the writing process.
When it comes to blogging, you should have some sort of template in mind to keep things consistent. If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that the purpose of a blog is to create a community, and in order to engage that community, you have to open up the conversation. So before I even sit down to write, I consider the audience and then determine what I want to ask them. It’s just the way my brain has learned to think. You have to find your own process.
The best tool I’ve found thus far was produced and shared (for free) by my social media hero, Jay Baer. (If you’re on Twitter, follow him @jaybaer.) It’s called the Blog Post Worksheet, and as simple as it is, it’s really helped me deconstruct my ideas, and map them out in a way that’s reduced my propensity for wordiness and wandering. I know where I’m going before turning the ignition.
So how about you? What helps keep you on track? Do you have a favorite tool, such as a Blog Post Worksheet? Have a favorite blog you visit to provide inspiration and tips to keep your message tight? Share them below.
A few of my favorite posts on blogging: