Helping Writers Understand What You’re Blogging About

Have you ever faced a situation similar to this? In today’s information overload world, it’s vital to communicate clearly, concisely and effectively. People don’t have time to read book-length emails, and they don’t have the patience to scour badly constructed emails for “buried” points.

The better your writing skills are, the better the impression you’ll make on the people around you – including your boss, your colleagues, and your clients. You never know how far these good impressions will take you!

In this article, we’ll look at how you can improve your writing skills and avoid common mistakes.

Audience and Format 

The first step to writing clearly is choosing the appropriate format. Do you need to send an informal email? Write a detailed report? Create advertising copy? Or write a formal letter?

The format, as well as your audience, will define your “writing voice” – that is, how formal or relaxed the tone should be. For instance, if you write an email to a prospective client, should it have the same tone as an email to a friend, of course not.

Start by identifying who will read your message. Is it targeted at senior managers, the entire human resources team, or a small group of engineers? With everything you write, your readers, or recipients, should define your tone as well as aspects of the content.

Composition and Style

Once you know what you’re writing, and for whom you’re writing, you actually have to start writing.

A blank, white computer screen is often intimidating. And it’s easy to get stuck because you don’t know how to start. Try these tips for composing and styling your document:

  • Pick your Audience – Remember, your readers may know nothing about what you’re telling them. What do they need to know first?
  • Outline It – This is especially helpful if you’re writing a longer document such as a report, presentation, or speech. Outlines help you identify which steps to take in which order, and they help you break the task up into manageable pieces of information.
  • Use AIDA – If you’re writing something that must inspire action in the reader.  Attention-Interest-Desire-Action (AIDA) formula. These four steps can help guide you through the writing process.
  • Try Empathy – For instance, if you’re writing a sales letter for prospective clients, why should they care about your product or sales pitch? What’s the benefit for them? Remember your audience’s needs at all times.
  • Use the Rhetorical Triangle – If you’re trying to persuade someone to do something, make sure that you communicate why people should listen to you, pitch your message in a way that engages your audience, and present information rationally and coherently. Rhetorical Triangle can help you make your case in the most effective way.
  • Identify your Topic – If you’re having trouble defining the main theme of your message, pretend that you have 15 seconds to explain your position. What do you say? This is likely to be your main theme.
  • Use Simple Language – Unless you’re writing a scholarly article, it’s usually best to use simple, direct language. Don’t use long words just to impress people.

Structure

Your document should be as “reader friendly” as possible. Use headings, subheadings, bullet points, and numbering whenever possible to break up the text.

After all, what’s easier to read – a page full of long paragraphs, or a page that’s broken up into short paragraphs, with section headings and bullet points? A document that’s easy to scan will get read more often than a document with long, dense paragraphs of text.

Headers should grab the reader’s attention. Questions is often a good idea, especially in advertising copy or reports, because questions help keep the reader engaged and curious.

In emails and proposals, use short, factual headings and subheadings, like the ones in this article.

Adding graphs and charts is also a smart way to break up your text. These visual aids not only keep the reader’s eye engaged, but they can communicate important information much more quickly than text.

Grammatical Errors

You probably don’t need us to tell you that errors in your document will make you look unprofessional. It’s essential to learn grammar properly, and to avoid common mistakes that your spell checker won’t find.

Here are some examples of commonly misused words:

  • Affect/effect

“Affect” is a verb meaning to influence. (Example: The economic forecast will affect our projected income.)

“Effect” is a noun meaning the result or outcome. (Example: What is the effect of the proposal?)

  • Then/than

“Then” is typically an adverb indicating a sequence in time. (Example: We went to dinner, then we saw a movie.)

“Than” is a conjunction used for comparison. (Example: The dinner was more expensive than the movie.)

  • Your/you’re

“Your” is a possessive. (Example: Is that your file?)

“You’re” is a contraction of “you are.” (Example: You’re the new manager.)

Note: Also watch out for other common homophones (words that sound alike but have different spellings and meanings) – such as their/they’re/there, to/too/two, and so on.

  • Its/it’s

“Its” is a possessive. (Example: Is that its motor?)

“It’s” is a contraction of “It is.” (Example: It’s often that heavy.) (Yes, it is this way around!)

  • Company’s/companies (and other possessives versus plurals)

“Company’s” indicates possession. (Example: The company’s trucks hadn’t been maintained properly.)

“Companies” is plural. (Example: The companies in this industry are suffering.)

The things addressed above will help you keep your content clear and effective. There is nothing that frustrates a reader more than having to figure out what the writer is trying to say. Actually they don’t even stay long enough to find out. Use these tips to make sure your readers stay.

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24 thoughts on “Helping Writers Understand What You’re Blogging About”

  1. Joshua says:

    Great tips about improving writing John. It’s really amazing how so few people focus on using proper grammar/spelling on their blogs.

    I have started noticing this myself since my girlfriend is studying for a grammar exam which I’ve been helping her with.

    It’s real simple stuff but since for most of us it’s been years since we went to school we get lazy and let our grammar go down the toilet.

    1. WandaSue says:

      Joshua I do agree 110%, I am so guilty of this myself, I have been told by my downline that my grammer is terrible at times, but I have caught myself when I’m in a hurry I do make tons of grammer errors. This is great tips and we need reminded at times, Thanks for sharing.

    2. John Rampton says:

      It’s a big part of blogging that many people don’t pay attention too.

      1. These tips are often read but most of the times neglected. Thanks for the reminder. Good grammar is expected from all bloggers. Get help if you need to.

  2. Seb says:

    Is text link brokers still the best place to hire writers?

    1. PhuongLe says:

      you can hire on elance, freelancer dot come or freelance write service .

  3. Michael Wu says:

    Good content with great information on blogging! Thanks for sharing this! have a wonderful day!

    1. John Rampton says:

      Thanks man, you keep up the great posts as well!

  4. Pauline R says:

    Writing is such an important aspect in an online business. Almost 70% of the times we communicate via writing on blogs, emails, social media etc. Its so important to be careful while typing something.

  5. Abhik says:

    Great!! I surely can use some of your ideas 🙂

  6. John M says:

    But it is hard to write good content,it will takes many minutes to think and write.

    1. John Rampton says:

      Just do it! It’s worth it, you don’t come to johnchow.com for nothing. It’s great content.

  7. Ashish says:

    Excellent tips john,by better writing skills only one can stand out among other bloggers but it is very difficult to write in language which is not your native language.

  8. 1. whew spelling grammar are my real weaknesses, I regularly go to fiverr.com and gigabucks.com and for $5 get someone to edit my posts, that and spell check has been my blogging saving grace.

    2. Old quote still true, “would have written a short letter but I didn’t have time”. I apply that to every post and comment, can I shorten it?

    Rob

    1. John Rampton says:

      Lol, love the quote!

  9. faisal says:

    Excellent post, however how many actually look for these factors on grammar nowadays?

    1. John Rampton says:

      How about I do a test on the next post?!

      1. faisal says:

        That will be awesome ;p but I will be prepared next time to see it.

  10. I really liked these explanations on “what” and “for whom” the message is being written. often in doubt we do not know what is the ideal tone that we should adopt in different messages. I hope this site helps me to address other questions you have!

    1. John Rampton says:

      Keep this up and let me know how it goes on your 007 blog!

  11. Whitney says:

    I agree you need to communicate effectively with your readers. If you’re not getting your point across in a clear way then there’s really no point in blogging in the first place.

  12. Ehsan Ullah says:

    Great post John, I’ve never thought of using AIDA formula that is something new and useful for me which I’ll surely try and also the idea of using simple writing is awesome.
    Thanks,

    Ehsan U.

  13. Solavei says:

    After writing for a while you really grasp the concept of writing so everyone can understand because you will start to see real comments meaning people are understanding what you are writing about. You also have to make sure Google understands what you are writing about.

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