Are you somebody who has talents you’d love to share with the world through blogging, but you don’t know how to write? You are the reason I started The Hopeful Writer. You have things to say that the world needs to hear. But maybe you’re not sure where to start.
Before putting all the work into blogging and learning how to write better, make sure this is the platform you prefer, and you’re passionate about your topic.
Make a list of every post idea you can think of. Write down your goal for your blog, and try to keep it at one sentence. For example, my purpose for this blog is to help non-writers feel more comfortable with writing. Simple.
When you’re ready to write your posts, follow these steps to create well-written, compelling blog posts.
HAVE A BRAINSTORM SESSION
Start with a headline. Of course, you can change it later, but this can help you write a well-organized post with a purpose.
Then, write out the main points of your post. Again, don’t worry about this too much—just get it out! You can change anything later.
When I started to brainstorm for this post, it looked a little bit like this:
How to Blog When You Don’t Know How to Write
Write how you would speak
Write down your main points
Go through and edit
Google rules you’re unsure of
Read your post out loud
I added ideas/sub-points under each of my headlines, then elaborated in the form of full paragraphs when I was ready to write.
I often go straight into writing without outlining or brainstorming, but taking this first step makes the writing process a lot smoother and quicker.
WRITE HOW YOU SPEAK
This may seem like odd writing advice, but it has been some of the best writing advice I’ve received.
One common mistake I’ve noticed while editing documents for my non-writing co-workers or family members is the language in their writing sounds unnatural or excessively formal. Of course, it’s good to use sophisticated vocabulary, but not if it’s stiff or unnatural.
Try to write in a way that resembles how you would speak, minus the pauses, “ums” or “likes.”
GET IT ALL OUT AND DON’T LOOK BACK—YET
Write. Just write. Try to get everything out that you want to say without worrying about how you’re saying it. There’s time to make it better. In her book Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott calls this the crappy first draft (or something like that). Lamott is referring to fiction, but this applies to any writing.
Writing without worrying about the technical aspect will allow you to express all the information you want to share. While you’re still getting comfortable with writing, this might be messier than it will be in the future. However, I can promise you, even the most experienced writers don’t turn in their first drafts. Everybody has a first draft that looks different from the final product.
Stepping away from your blog post before editing could be helpful, but I like to do one edit, then take a break (a few hours or a day or two), and then do the last edit before publishing the post.
In an article on Problogger, Ali Luke suggests taking these initial steps when editing your blog post:
• Cut out irrelevant or repetitive information.
• Add clarifying information you may have missed the first time around.
• Reorder paragraphs or sections that might be better suited elsewhere.
TIME TO GET NIT PICKY
The previous steps are more of a big picture glance at your blog post. Now, it’s time to catch the small mistakes.
Look for weak verbs or phrases. For example, instead of writing, “I was searching,” you could say, “I searched.” Instead of saying, “in order to,” say, “to.”
SEARCH FOR MISTAKES YOU REPEAT. This one is tough because it takes some serious self-awareness. Search for the words you overuse. I use “will,” “just,” “actually,” and “really” too much, so I’ve started searching my document for those specific words while I edit.
I also tend to leave out important words. For example, I’ll say something like, “This might messier,” when I should’ve said, “This might be messier….”
It might take some time to catch the mistakes you make over and over, but you’ll learn your patterns after several times of self-editing.
GOOGLE ANYTHING YOU’RE UNSURE OF. Don’t worry about recalling all of the buried memories from your 3rd grade Language Arts class. The internet is full of help! Just be sure you use a legitimate source. My favorites grammar resources online are Purdue OWL and Grammar Girl.
READ YOUR POST OUT LOUD. This can feel awkward, but you don’t have to yell. I try to read my posts in a normal, conversational voice, almost as if I were recording a podcast. That’s the voice I want my blog posts to be in. If anything sounds out of place, I’ll cut it out.
PREVIEW YOUR WORK
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could preview everything in life? Sometimes it feels unfair that I can preview my post before publishing it, and I can change anything I don’t like even a year after it’s been posted.
Push the preview button and see how you like the look of your blog post. For me, this usually helps with things like spacing, font size, and images, but sometimes I’ll spot a typo I didn’t catch before.
PUBLISH AND TRY NOT TO FRET
Publishing a blog can make you feel vulnerable, but try not to worry about being perfect. You won’t be perfect, and that’s okay.
Of course, it’s important to have a polished, well-written post, but don’t beat yourself up thinking what you have to say isn’t good enough.
The more you write, the better you’ll get. One of the best ways to improve at writing is to do it over and over again. Don’t let your insecurities stop you—everybody has to start somewhere!
Want to learn more about blog writing? Join my free 5-day blog writing course!
I’d love to hear other questions you may have — comment below with any questions or thoughts you’d like to share.