We do a lot of reading at Verblio (formerly BlogMutt), both in the office and outside of it. We read blogs, we write blogs, we edit blogs, we read books, and we evaluate writing. We’ve all learned what good writing looks like, what good blogging practices are, and how to get better at both.
Here are the most-used writing and blogging tips from around the Verblio office.
Best Writing Tips & Blogging Advice
- Use the active voice.
In The Elements of Style, E.B White and William Strunk wrote, hands down, the most evergreen writing guideline (I say guideline because rules function best when broken occasionally and intentionally) which I have ever learned. I encourage you to read The Elements of Style in its entirety, but if you read nothing more, this simple guideline will give your writing more confidence and authority than any other single guideline you could follow.
- “Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.”
The quote is from Mark Twain, and with that in mind, I swear by the website 750 Words, which encourages you to write 750 words a day, every day, about whatever you want. I’ve found it to be really helpful in getting my unfiltered thoughts down on paper for an upcoming blog post.
I’ll sit down after doing some initial research while the information is fresh, speed through whatever version or outline of a blog post as fast as I can in 750 words (usually only takes 20 – 30 minutes) a week or two before the post is due, and then revisit again several days before publishing. It’s taken the pain out of starting a blog post for me and feels like I come up with a consistently better result at the end.
- This post on keyword research.
- Be specific.
It’s said that specificity is the soul of narrative. I would expand on that and say it’s the soul of almost all good writing, including and maybe especially blogging. Don’t just say that something helps make a process more efficient. Say how it does that. Give examples. Avoid general words like “better” and “improve.” What is better about something? How is it improving? The more specific you can get, the more value the reader gets out of your writing.
- Learn to use commas correctly.
It is seriously one of the biggest differences between writing that just gets a job done and writing that is truly professional and easy to read. Reading your own work out loud helps with this, but also just reading more closely in general and making it a habit to take note of comma usage helps, too.
- Follow directions.
No matter what you’re writing, from a school paper to a cover letter, to a blog post, if there are specific directions, there’s no excuse for not paying close attention.
- Read your work out loud once in awhile.
It’s really humbling. In my first year of college, on the day that a paper was due for a class, the professor asked us to pair up with another student and read our papers out loud to each other. I thought I was a pretty good writer, but I was mortified as I was reading it out loud—as was just about everyone else in the class. You could hear a whole room of students backpedaling, explaining what they were really trying to say, or stumbling over typos. It’s a good reminder of the divide between what we think we’re saying and what we’re actually communicating.
- If you feel unmotivated, force yourself to write for 15 minutes—no matter what.
You can do anything for 15 minutes. Seriously—just about anything. If you can make yourself write for 15 minutes when you don’t feel like it, there’s a good chance you may just keep writing after the time is over. At worst, you just forced yourself to do something unpleasant for a mere 15 minutes, which isn’t so bad.
- Don’t use unnecessary words.
Much of what separates good writing from mediocre writing is a lack of precision. Don’t repeat information unnecessarily. Only write words that add a specific and intended meaning. If you suspect that you can do without a word or a paragraph, by all means—cut it. Be certain that each word is unimpeachable in its position.
- The advice in this video:
Writing and blogging are hard work, but someone has to do it. If you find yourself unmotivated or too busy, outsource it to us!