From the Trenches

How to Be a Great Blogger even if You’re Not a Great Writer

Right Source | March 23, 2011

While it may steal income from writers like myself worldwide, I must state this truth:

You don’t have to be a great writer to be a great blogger.

Wait a minute, you may be thinking.  Don’t blog posts have those strange things called sentences and words in them? And thus shouldn’t writing skill and blogging skill be inherently tied together?

Think again. While being a great writer is helpful, it’s not necessary to blogging success. If you’re a horrible writer, or even worse, you hate writing, you probably shouldn’t blog. But if you’re somewhere between unable to write a sentence and not quite Ernest Hemingway, there’s hope.

As a professional writer for the web, I live and breathe blogs. I write posts for myself. I write and edit posts for Right Source Marketing‘s clients. I devour dozens of blogs, ranging from Seth Godin’s to The Dieline to The Dry Cleaners Blog. While I enjoy reading blogs by talented writers, I’ve found that bloggers who aren’t great writers can use the following methods to succeed anyway:

1. Focus on your audience. A blogger who knows his or her audience and how to engage it will be more successful than a talented writer who doesn’t understand their audience. Of course, part of being a talented writer is writing to your audience, but you can focus on your audience without being a classically talented writer.

2. Create how-to’s and lists. Lists and how-to’s are both popular and easy to write. You don’t have to be able to organize a feature article in order to slap 5 points together and call it a blog post, yet that short and sweet post can attract a lot of hits.

3. Use catchy headlines. It’s annoying to click a link because of a great headline and get a horrible blog post. But a fantastic title can do wonders for a mediocre post. In today’s world of fleeting attention, a catchy headline, even if it’s only substantiated by mediocre content, can be share-worthy, and thus, by at least one metric, successful. Of course, the best posts have both great headlines and meaningful content.

4. Use pictures and videos. Not all blogs focus on words. If you’re a visual person, not a verbal person, post pictures, slides from presentations, videos, and infographics on your blog. Frame them with a sentence or two to capture search engine traffic, and you’re good to go.

5. Write what you know. If you have a niche area of expertise, write about it. Right Source works with a team of software and product developers who aren’t writers by profession, but have experienced significant blogging success. By writing what they know, they’ve created well-written content that’s gone viral in their niches.

6. Be persistent. For blogging success, quantity and regularity is almost as important as quality. Even if a large audience loved that helpful blog post you wrote six months ago, they’re not going to care about you if you haven’t written anything since then. Writing talent is not a prerequisite for perseverance.

7. Get help from a great writer. Do you know anyone who lives and breathes writing? Can you pay or bribe them to help you (if beer doesn’t work, try cookies)? Getting an extra set of eyes on your blog posts is a good idea regardless, and if you work with a writer who gives quality constructive feedback, you’ll soon become a better writer yourself.

What do you think—do you have to be a great writer to be a great blogger? Have any tips to add to the list? Comment, and join the conversation.


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