Whether you’re newcomer to online writing or have been in the field for a while there are many great insights to glean from the book, Writing for the Internet: A Guide to Real Communication by Craig Baehr and Bob Schaller. The book addresses issues applicable to writers of all types of online content, but as a blogger I found it particularly helpful to apply the messages to the writing of blog posts.
The authors point out that there are many challenges for writers of online content and that by being aware and paying attention to the readability and usability of your material, the overall experience for readers will be improved. For purposes of this post, I’m going to stay focused more specifically on four good practices for bloggers to adhere to:
1) Remember content is not limited to the written word.
Content is composed of mixed media forms, and it is the Internet writer’s challenge to make them work together seamlessly. This means that including images, video and audio clips, and staples such as hyperlinks can all work in sync with one another within a blog post.
2) Strive to keep up with new technologies.
Strive to have a “surface awareness of the latest technologies, new trends and tools that may improve the quality of written products.” In addition, a familiarity with a variety of tools is also necessary. What’s here today will be old technology before you know it. Find ways to keep up and work it into your week and workload. I recently wrote about six resources to keep up with social media that I use on a regular basis to keep up with social media. Make a list of your go-to places and visit them regularly.
3) Pay attention to the characteristics of online writing: chunking, hyperlinks and single-sourcing.
Chunking: Blog content should be chunked —broken into smaller and highlighted segments. Content chunking follows “specific templates, structures, as well as specific design and content specifications.”
Hyperlinks: When we link to other content we should have the intention of helping to make the relationship between different “content units.” Links work best when they are done with descriptive link names.
Single-Sourcing: Online content should be single-sourced, meaning that it should be written to be reused across a variety of Internet-based products and sites. Content from your email newsletters, e-books, white papers etc, can easily be repurposed and brought into blog posts.
4) Post comments on other blogs, and respond to every comment made on your blog.
Dialogue is a fundamental element of blogging. In Samuel D. Bradley’s insightful chapter on blogging, he writes, “Without comments, a blog is simply an online diary that other people can read. Comments are conversations, and a blog writer’s work is not done when the post is published. Instead, a process of reciprocal writing begins when the blogger elicits comments and responds to those comments.”
What characteristics would you add to make blog posts more readable? Add your comments in the box below.