Blogger or Writer: 3 Ways to Nourish Your Writing Roots

By Guest Author

This is a guest post from Brad. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

Everyone knows you can make money writing; authors of books, newspapers, and magazines are all presumably paid for their work. But people are consistently intrigued with the idea of earning money blogging. Why is this, when a blog is basically a series of self-published articles? A blogger is a writer that goes above and beyond to do their own publishing, marketing, and monetization.

The lifeblood of blogging is the writing craft. Too often we hear the “content in king” cliche and accept it as the final word. We decide that our topic is important or interesting, and therefore that we have the content part nailed. But content is not so much the information provided as the manner in which it is conveyed. We tend to forget this, and pour more effort into the logistics of the enterprise than into the literary backbone.

I have fallen for the blogger-writer distinction about as hard as anyone, starting with little writing experience. This made it blatantly clear to me that I had some work to do. Reading had given me a feel for good writing, but creating it did not come as easily. The blogosphere of course has many tips: you should write write list-posts, follow your interests, and create snazzy titles — but such tips will not correct serious deficiencies. The most compelling advice I’ve encountered points to practices that take time and dedication. I have found the following three most helpful towards the blogging platform.

Practice 1: Develop a rich vocabulary. Almost all good writers use a diverse set of words because it allows them to express finer shades of meaning, state ideas succinctly, and adjust the sound and rhythm of the writing. You do not want to concoct ridiculously ornate prose, but the right word at the right time can pack a powerful punch — whether it is to motivate, persuade, inspire, or entertain. As a bonus, you will sound more intelligent, for we naturally intuit what formal studies prove: vocabulary sizes correlate very strongly with IQ scores.

Practice 2: Practice imitating styles. Your favorite bloggers or writers probably have distinct voices formed by their sentence structures, word choices, and emotional appeal. Do they lure you in with short anecdotes, or jump to the main ideas? Do they employ metaphors and imagery, or state ideas plainly? Is the voice conversational, or formal and journalistic? Practicing writing in other voices helps you stretch your capacity and better understand your own mechanics. See if you can make your writing indistinguishable from that of whom you emulate.

Practice 3: Reduce the number of words as much as possible. Concise language is clear and vibrant. It forces you to use a decisive, active voice, rather than meandering around topics on which you have little to say. Try taking a post and cutting the words in half, without sacrificing content. Even if you think the piece is irreducible, commit yourself to this exercise. I think you will be surprised, as I often am, how much extraneous writing surrounds your core ideas.

About the Author: Brad in the author of Word a Day Wonder, a site that teaches vocabulary using fun and interesting facts.



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25 Responses to “Blogger or Writer: 3 Ways to Nourish Your Writing Roots”

  • The Corner Girl

    Wonderful article, Brad! I think what you have said rings true just by looking at the blogs that get the most attention. I myself write just a little bit too much per post, and I have realized my need to scale back, as people seem to have lost some of their initial interest with my blog.
    Short and to the point is very important, especially considering that people don’t like reading lengthy things when they have their lives to worry about, let alone how annoyed some people get trying to read long blocks of text via internet!
    -Corner Girl

  • kevin

    Interesting post. It’s funny, a lot of people who come to my blog seem to like what I write, but few people actually come.

  • Dave Higgs

    Hi Brad,

    I would like to expand a little on point number 1. Your vocabulary does not only mean “big words” (for want of a better description) but also colloquial and “kiddie” words, depending on your readership.

    While I enjoy proper language as much as the next one – it needs to be delivered at a pitch the readership can understand. If your readership is perhaps English second language, then this needs to be brought into the puzzle.

    Thanks for a great post!
    Dave

  • Harrison

    Eschew obfuscation.

  • cmdweb

    I think using a wide vocabulary makes reading more enjoyable. One of the things that my father used to hate, and I have inherited from him, is seeing the same word used over and over in a sentence or paragraph. I find myself actively rewriting such sentences to make sure I get my meaning across without this kind of repetition. This may be one of the reasons why I rail against keyword stuffing and densities in articles – it ruins them I think.

  • Julius

    I also think that working with others in the same niche can help you improve your writing skills. You can also develop a strong network that can help you make your site more visible, through working with others.

  • Jamie Barclay

    I read some blogs that uses words that I think wont even attract readers to continue reading. Sometimes those words makes me feel I am reading a dictionary. I guess building a distinct and easy to understand vocabulary will make any blog successful.

  • Gary David | Build Your List Fast

    Thanks for sharing this Brad. Excellent points you put there. Blogging and writing can really exhaust us if we don’t have passion of doing it. The real key here is to be just natural and avoid writing some complicated, hard to understand, and fancy posts.

    Cheers

    Gary

  • Kris Beus

    Excellent tips. One thing I would like to say on tip number one is after a few years in college I developed a vocabulary larger than those who had not had the same schooling and when I started blogging the blog was focused towards anyone and everyone who wanted to learn about internet marketing. Now while many could read my blog without problem there was some who really could not because of my word choice. I found that if I cut back on the larger words the posts could help more people. If you are running a blog targeted towards college grads then by all means go all out on the biggest words you got. On the other hand if your blog is focused towards high school grads or lower then it may not be in your best interest to go all out on the vocabulary.

    I know I have visited blogs over at harvard.edu and began reading I quickly realized that the writing was way over my head and left the blog without taking the writers point with me. Anyway just my thoughts on using a rich vocabulary.

  • Supermarket Soap

    Interesting post. It’s funny, a lot of people who come to my blog seem to like what I write, but few people actually come. But then I do get a lot of stick at work for being too “wordy” or “Smart Mouthed”.

    And if you want proof that vocabulary is a good skill for life, check out Russell Brand. The guy’s accent is like a cockney gangster, but his vocabulary is like Shakespeare.

  • Peter J

    I learnt the hard way when it comes to words with blog posts. People want the blunt, straight out style of posts that tell them everything in the first few lines.

  • Karen

    I’m with Hal in that there is no need to dumb down or use simple words in your articles. People from all walks of life come to your site to read your articles and while I don’t think you need to be pretentious in your word choice, there’s no need to talk down to your readers, either.

    These are some great tips, Brad and I would also suggest that if you want to be a better writer, then read more. Read from a great variety so that you gain exposure to not only new words to increase your vocabulary, but sentence structure, ideas, concepts, etc that will enrich your life and your writings.

    Karen

  • Hal Brown

    I’m so glad to see a post about good writing. Far too many times I see posts that place priority on quantity (post every day) over quality. I have never believed that was good advice.

    The English language has more words than any language on earth. Choosing just the right word, especially adjectives, can mean the difference between understanding and miscommunication.

    I don’t like the ongoing trend of dumbing down articles so people can understand them. No, there is no need for flowery prose; there is a need to use the right words for your readers.
    At what low level does this stop?
    Are readers not smarter than a 5th grader?

  • Julie@Frugal & Fabulous Design

    Great article! I especially liked your last point about using as few words as possible.

    I started co-authoring a column about entrepreneurship in my local newspaper a few years ago. We each have just 125-150 words to get our point across (do you know how hard it is to say anything meaningful with 150 words???? LOL)

    But it has definitely made me a better writer. It forces me to cut out the fluff and focus on getting my main idea across.

  • Jean Sarauer

    Bloggers are some of the hardest working writers I know. Most of my ‘writer’ friends would fall over if they had to produce publishable material with the frequency of most bloggers.

    That’s why I especially loved this post. It acknowledges that bloggers are, indeed, writers and gives easy to follow, yet valuable tips on growing in the craft.

    Reducing the number of words is the biggest ‘secret’ I know about writing. I can write a big flabby draft, and the more I whittle it down, the better it becomes. It’s amazing what can emerge from a big, bloated piece of writing 🙂

  • Nhoel

    One of the best contribution Ive ever read here at dailyblogtips. It even forced me to make a comment.

    One backdrop though, use simple words as possible, you do not want your reader to look for the dictionary every time you say a sentence, do you?

    As much as you want to impress your readers, using deep, unfamiliar terms can scare your audience away. Using the right word on a right time can pack a powerful punch, as you said.

    But above everything, nice article!

    • Brad

      Thanks Nhoel. I actually agree that you should use simple words when possible. The simplest word is usually the best fitting word. But often, less common words fit better. I have noticed that really good writers fit their words to the context so well that you can almost glean their definitions from the sentences they use. If you know all of their words, the writing is all the richer.

      • Gary David | Build Your List Fast

        I agree with this. We would want to be more precise and direct-to-the-point. You don’t want to bore your readers with long posts.

        Regards,

        Gary

  • Nasrul Hanis

    You got nice points there! I mostly agree with “Practice 1: Develop a rich vocabulary” where the use of vocabulary is very important in writing. Besides giving the best understanding for the readers, it is a brand or a measure for your own level.

    However I disagree or the usage of too complicated or extravaganza words as it will make visitors leave your site before finish reading your article.

  • Keith Davis

    Hi Brad
    “Reduce the number of words as much as possible.”
    Great advice, which also applies to my blogging area – Public Speaking.
    I tell people to use short easy to remember sentences – take out the adverbs, take out the adjectives. Use active verbs and nouns.

    Interestingly it also applies to jokes. Comedians spend hours removing words from a joke – the snappier the better.

  • Nabeel | Create Your First Website

    Hey 3 Good tips you mention there.

    “You do not want to concoct ridiculously ornate prose..” lol sorry, but I did not understand this.

    “Reduce the number of words as much as possible.” I completely agree with this point.

    Sometimes, it is actually harder to write short, to-the-point posts rather than long posts. You may have read the post on copy blogger (copyblogger.com/brevity) “Are You Too Lazy to Write Less?” which favors short articles and copy instead of long ones.

    Nabeel

  • Rudy – Quit Smoking Blog

    In reference to Practice No. 1, Thesaurus is my best companion in writing. If you want to use a word that does not fit your sentence, looking up for synonyms of that word that would make your writing stand up greatly.

    • Brad

      A thesaurus is definitely helpful, but the ability to say exactly what you mean is enhanced by having a large active vocabulary. Moreover, many words have no synonyms.

  • Dev | Technshare

    Hey Brad,

    Nice Post. I really like the 1 point “Develop a rich vocabulary” Grreat Point. Thanks for sharing this great post Brad. keep up the good work.

    ~Dev

    • Gary David | Build Your List Fast

      I also agree with that point, “develop a rich vocabulary”. We can find a lot of synonyms in thesaurus, however, if you have a rich vocabulary, it will sound more natural.

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