• Part 3/3 of Blogspiel

    Posted Posted by Guest Writer in WBN News & Events     Comments 2 comments

    The cat is unrelated. It's here for cuteness.

    When you blog, the most important thing to remember is that your audience has the attention span of toddlers. Even people who are focused in real life regress when they go online. Like toddlers, we (people who read blogs) like pretty, shiny stuff that’s simple yet entertaining. So before you worry about mastering content it’s important pay scrupulous attention to aesthetics. That entails thinking less like a writer and more like an advertiser. Landing on a blog that looks like a circa-1999 GeoCities website is an assault on the eyes. It’s hard to stay engaged reading a post written in neon green Comic Sans font on a black background. Clean, user-friendly layouts = doubleplusgood.

    Once you’ve got your design squared away, the next most important thing to tweak is your title. Unless you’re a celebrity, naming your blog “(Insert your name here)’s Thoughts and Musings” won’t turn any heads. You want your blog to have a je ne sais quois that sets it apart from the Internet flux. Your title is like a slogan—it should encapsulate the “essence” of your posts and have meme-potential. One of the best blogs I’ve encountered drew me in with the title: Hyperbole and a Half. Clever, unique, and mildly thought-provoking. It made me think: if you can come up with a witty title (the most difficult part of the blogging business), then there’s a good chance your posts aren’t half bad. And they weren’t—they actually made me snortle in public. Yes, chortle and snort simultaneously. If your blog incites people to lose their dignity via public snortling, I say you’ve done your job.

    And so that’s my segue into most important thing, long-term, to consider. Content—the meat and potatoes of your blog. (Your layout and title only comprise the gravy that entices the taste buds.) Always keep in mind your audience and whether or not your diction and syntax will appeal to your audience. I once found that especially difficult because I was so accustomed to academic writing. (Gah, and there I go talking like a crotchety old codger. Never thought I’d say this, but it’s a bad habit of mine!) It would take me hours to write a post. I restrained myself from beginning and ending sentences in prepositions, silenced my inner sailor, and used transitions like “furthermore” and “indeed.” Oh Liberal Arts education, how you’ve twisted my writing into some Lovecraftian monstrosity! (Wait a sec…that would be pretty cool.)

    The best advice ever given to me was write a blog post like you’d talk to a friend at a bar. Like a bar, the Internet is loud, crowded, and full of bored drunk people. With all that stimuli, we have to be aggressive if we want to hold someone’s attention. Blogging—widely considered the lowest form on the non-fiction totem pole—has one particular advantage over “higher” forms of journalism: the Internet isn’t school. You can skillfully weave sentence fragments and run-ons into your posts and no one is going to comment “F Minus, see me after school” on them. (Unless they’re trolling.) And really, it feels so good after all those years in school to publicly say “piss off!” to academic writing.


    P.S. Academic writing is really good, useful, etc.. I just don’t miss doing it.


    For Parts 1 and 2 of Jenna’s Blogspiel, click here and here, dammit.


    In addition to writing for WriteByNight’s blog, Jenna Cooper writes for BE Mag and a blog called FemThreads.  Aside from writing, Jenna served as an AmeriCorps Member from 2008-2010 and will start her M.S. in Information Studies in Fall 2012.  She graduated in 2009 with a B.A. in English from the University of Texas.

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    Dewey D

    As for someone like me. This is a big help. Just keep on sending the good tips.

    Dewey D


    Will do–thanks for the input!

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