How To: Be a Great Blogger When You're Not a Great Writer

tracycgold
Tracy Gold Marketer, Editor, Writer, 24k Create

Posted on March 23rd 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.

Tracy Gold is a Marketing and Content Associate at Right Source Marketing. Follow @tracycgold or subscribe to the Marketing Trenches blog for more marketing commentary. Post originally appeared here. 

tracycgold

Tracy Gold

Marketer, Editor, Writer, 24k Create

Tracy Gold is a marketer, editor, and writer specializing in social media. When she's not tweeting, emailing, or blogging, she's riding a horse or reading a great book. Follow @tracycgold on Twitter or check out tracycgold.com for writing, editing, and marketing tips.
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Comments

Posted on March 23rd 2011 at 5:57PM

Nice article Tracy.

I would add one important thing: Have an opinion. You don't need to be a great writer to have an opinion. People respect opinions and it can help propel your blog post.

tracycgold
Posted on March 23rd 2011 at 6:46PM

Thanks Erik--That's a great point. Contrarian opinions in particular do well. 

Posted on March 23rd 2011 at 6:31PM

I agree with your point about writing from one's own experience. Thanks for sharing the other tips :-)

Posted on March 23rd 2011 at 7:34PM

hello, this article is very helpful to me. i have no formal training in writing but i really love to write, especially in my blog. it's really nice to know that it doesn't really take a great writer to blog. i hope i could find someone to give my blog some "quality constructive feedbacks" to help me improve my writing skills.. http://goasktuesday.blogspot.com

Posted on March 23rd 2011 at 8:40PM

I try and let my thoughts run freely and not even pause to read what I've written so far. I just type away and once I think I've had enough for a said idea, I review everything from commas and spelling to my grammar. I've increased the number of words, at least. :) Even the weirdest of ideas is worth something too. Thanks for these tips, Tracy.

Posted on March 24th 2011 at 4:59PM

Tracy,

Thanks for the validation for those of us who aren't all Hemingway. I am using a lot more video on my blog, mainly because my own attention span is very short.

tracycgold
Posted on March 25th 2011 at 2:04PM

You're welcome, and it's hard to feel like a Hemingway all the time. 

Posted on March 24th 2011 at 5:29PM

Don't publish your first draft. Set it aside for a few hours or a day, then read it again and revise. Respect your readers and their time enough to do your best to post an error-free blog post. Entertaining blog posts are great, but if they are full of errors, the reader is distracted, the writer's credibility is undermined, and the writer sends the message to readers that they aren't important enough for a proofread. Sloppiness is not your best foot forward.

tracycgold
Posted on March 25th 2011 at 5:53PM

There's a careful balance between perfection and shipping. I completely agree that writing riddled with mistakes will not look good. However, the blogosphere is a fast acting world, and you don't always have the luxury to wait a few days before publishing and promoting. It's one of the reasons why I like to have a schedule and a backlog for blogging, but that doesn't always work out. 

Posted on March 24th 2011 at 10:56PM

Great post Tracy as I think many people get intimidated by the idea of having to write something. Even when it's something they are the expert on! 

So I would add

    - Don't be afraid of the page and just start writing.

    - Ditch the first parapraph (as it's usually waffle) and leave time to review it with fresh eyes.

    - Accept the fact that you won't always get it right. But you will get better! 

Thanks again for giving us a nudge along.

tracycgold
Posted on March 25th 2011 at 5:52PM

Great advice to add!

Posted on September 13th 2011 at 12:24PM
Thanks for the encouragement. Great tips. I also agree with the comments above regarding errors. Spell check can be an enemy, so it's a good idea to reread the article later. I also try to read aloud that last review as if I was telling a story to a group-- it requires me to slow down and I catch some typos. It's also nice to be reminded not to be a perfectionist about it. :) Now I just need to find--- scratch that.... MAKE time to blog.