I break my own rules all the time. So the most important rule — the ring to rule them all, so to speak — is to do your own “thing,” whatever it may be.
I have to put this note in here. Not everyone who likes writing is a good writer. Sad, but true. If you have a gift, you will get better. The more you write, the better you will get — IF you are tough enough as an editor to recognize when your writing isn’t up to par and willing to rewrite what needs rewriting.
I’ve become a much better writer — at least for the purposes of blogging — than I was at the beginning. My writing is more crisp, sharper, leaner. The good news is the better you get, the less editing you need. But if you aren’t talented, you may not be able to get the response you hope for.
Some people are totally into pictures and writing is mainly captioning — a different story. But at some point, if writing is what you want to do, you need to assess if you have “it” or not.
Here are a few things that work for me and pretty much work for most people. These aren’t rules, merely tips. You are more than welcome to ignore me. I often ignore myself. For me, the point of blogging is getting to do what I enjoy and “views” be damned.
– Keep posts short
– Make it funny when you can
– If we can’t make them laugh, make them cry
– Good (or interesting) pictures get more hits than mediocre writing
– Post often. Let me clarify: Not everyone reads all your posts. In fact, I’m betting that most people read one or two. Some only come for photography, others for writing. I try to present a variety. Also, some periods are inherently busier than others. When there’s more news, there is more to talk about.
I do not mean every time you have a thought run through your head, it’s time to write another post. For that, we have Facebook and Twitter.
– If someone else has written it better than you, reblog theirs and ALWAYS give credit to the original source and writer. Never ever take credit for someone else’s writing.
It’s often said that “Less is more.” In a post, fewer words are good — or more to the point, keep the writing lean — but not fewer ideas. And sometimes, the subject requires you have to write longer. If you need the words, use them.
Fewer posts are not so good. If you give people more to look at and read, they’ll visit more often. On the other hand, beware of posting so much you become a spammer. I have a “number of fingers on one hand” for the maximum number of posts I’ll put up in a day (sometimes something comes up I didn’t expect, but I don’t want to fill up everyone’s inbox).
There are a couple of other things worth mentioning. Please don’t put a lot of white text on a black background. White on dark is hard to read for everyone but particularly difficult for older people.
Dark backgrounds are beautiful for photography, but not for text. Depending on whether you will be using mostly photographs as opposed to words, you are better off going with white or nearly white.
Please, nothing vivid. No hot pink or lime green. No orange, turquoise, or royal blue. It’s blinding. People will avoid your blog just because it exceeds their “ugliness” quotient for that day — no matter how well you write. Not to mention how non-neutral color will clash with photographs.
If you are posting mostly photographs, you need a format wide enough to see the pictures. If you need a magnifying glass, rethink your layout. A good photograph needs room to breathe. Moreover, your lovely work won’t look lovely if you cramp in into a tiny space.
Also, know that all WordPress templates will fit in any format: phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop.
Font size is an issue. If it’s smaller than 10 points, I can’t read it. If it’s smaller than 8 points no one can read it. Generally, sans-serif typefaces (like Arial or Helvetica) appear bigger than serif types (Times Roman et al). If you don’t know the difference between typefaces, use Google and look them up. This is important to readers.
Don’t overload your page with gimmicks and gadgets and badges. Two columns are plenty. Three is merely distracting. If it gets busy enough, your traffic will diminish and I will be one of those who will vanish.
White space is very important online. You need spaces between paragraphs, indents on either side. Do not clump everything together. It’s unattractive and sometimes, dizzying. When you are into page design, less IS more. Your page should be no more than 60% text and graphics and the rest should be white space. Again, less is more, so if you don’t understand formatting issues, do some reading. And look at other people’s blogs. This is one of the times when imitation is a fine kind of flattery!
Presentation matters more online than in a book.
Do the best you can, but don’t kill yourself. If it’s not fun, it’s not worth the effort. We aren’t making a pile of money doing this, so if you aren’t enjoying the process, figure out a way to make it more fun … or consider other options.
You can make a difference sometimes. When it happens, it is deeply satisfying.
It helps to have a bit of luck!
NOTE: These pictures are here because they are pretty. They have nothing to do with the post. They are included to keep your eyes from getting bored with just text. I’m actually phobic about all text all the time.