Here is how I write a blog post, which is not quite the same thing as how I should write one:
1. Choose a title. This is huge. Not only does it direct your writing and make it hang together, but it is what appears in Internet searches and is the main thing search engines look at. So short, plain titles work best. Think of what people should google to reach your post: that is your title.
2. Write the first paragraph: This has to say what your post is about. Because that is how search engines and most people will regard it – as description.
3. Write the other paragraphs in whatever order they come to your head. Just write. And write and write. Do not concern yourself with how good it is. The aim is to get all your main points down on paper in whatever form, in whatever order. Do not stop writing until you are done that. Kurt Vonnegut calls this swooping.
4. Do a word count: Less than 500 means you need to do more reading or thinking – and then write more paragraphs. Otherwise:
5. Move paragraphs so that your post reads in a reasonable fashion.
6. Rough draft: Read it through and make sure it sounds pretty good, both as a post and as English. It does not have to be perfect – thus the word “rough”.
7. Cut, cut, cut. Most of my rough drafts are between 580 to 1,000 words. Cut the post down to 480 to 500 words. This post was 748. I cut 33%. For comparison, Reader’s Digest cuts 30%, Hemingway up to 67%.
Stuff to cut:
- Less important paragraphs.
- Long-windedness: Look at paragraphs of more than four sentences and words of more than two syllables. Both are signs of possible fat.
- Opinion – prefer fact.
- Questionable facts – prefer those that are easier to prove. Prefer those you read in print over what you read on the Internet.
When you get below 550 words:
- Bolding: Put important words, phrases and points in bold. It makes skimming easier and forces you to be more direct, cutting yet more fat.
- Cut unnecessary words and less important sentences. This is the hardest part of all!
8. Final draft: Read it over and over again till it sounds good and you can read to the end without having to make a change.
9. Add pictures: Add at least one at top. Go to Google Images and put in the title and see what comes up. If there is nothing good, then think of what one picture or set of pictures would get across what your post is about. Coolness counts. Add no more than ten pictures.
10. Add links at the bottom, especially to related posts. I tend to go overboard, but it is generally bad practice to go over five links: people’s eyes will start to glaze over. Try to link to at least two of your own posts.
11. Post it.
12. Final corrections: Read it through again. If you can, read it again an hour later, later in the day and a few months later: you will find other mistakes!
– Abagond, 2011.