The proliferation of blogs has transformed the way we read, write, and even think. Nowadays, nearly anyone can log onto a computer and create a blog on subjects as diverse as cooking recipes to pop song sonnets. But not all blogs are equal. While navigating the seas of the blogosphere can be an uncertain endeavor, there are some best practices to abide by in order to make your blog stand out from the crowd.
As Brian Carroll notes in Writing For Digital Media, blogs should remain relevant by being regularly updated (154). In today’s age of rapid information, aspiring bloggers can’t afford to become stale. (Humans of New York is one of my favorite blogs that posts frequently and has a large presence on social media sites like Facebook.)
Have design in mind
When I’m surfing the web, I hate nothing more than a poorly designed website; I immediately lose interest if the layout is visually unappealing or hard to read. Digital writing in particular raises issues of aesthetics and function. Color, layout, and structure all affect how readers view content. (Take the simple, clean, attractive layout of the popular food blog With Peanut Butter On Top, for example, and look at how it complements the blog’s content.) What’s more, Lance Hosey writes compellingly in his New York Times article “Why We Love Beautiful Things” about the psychology of good design. With this in mind, I encourage aspiring bloggers to use design consciously to elicit desired responses from their readers. Draw readers in by using lists, short paragraphs, and an organized layout.
“No [blog] is an island”
(…to paraphrase John Donne.) I consider the communal nature of blogging to be one of its most unique attributes. Excellent blogs engage in “community-building” by inviting comments and creating interactive posts (Carroll 154). As Carroll notes, multimodal posts including videos, pictures, and links to other websites help break up large chunks of text and keep readers interested (164). As Peter Rorabaugh puts it, digital writing has the potential to “rebuild ‘audience’.” Sean Michael Morris expresses this idea even more provocatively, asserting that “digital writing is action.” Morris contends that digital words transform themselves in ways we can’t predict “because digital writing is communal writing.” As public spaces, blogs are the perfect forum for expression and conversation.
Find your voice
I believe that above everything else, the key to a successful blog is a strong voice and a clear purpose. (The Bloggess and Libba Bray are two bloggers whose writing is brutally honest and endlessly entertaining.) You don’t have to be a stand-up comedian, but writing in a humorous and conversational tone will keep readers coming back for more. Carve out your niche, be conscious of your audience, and write from a fresh perspective.
Writing in a digital space may seem daunting, but keeping these elements of excellent blogs in mind can help make your blog truly exceptional.