WHAT MAKES A GOOD POST? HOW ABOUT A HAPPY POSTER? – Marilyn Armstrong

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.

Our polling area

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.

One crumpled maple leaf

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.

A pretty picture is always worth a few looks.

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.

Template Issues

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.

Early autumn at Manchaug

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.

Use photographs. Write stuff to which people can relate. If people identify with you, they become friends and supporters. Be entertaining, even when your material is serious.

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.



Categories: Blogging, humor, Marilyn Armstrong, Photography, Wildlife, Writing

Tags: , , , , ,

28 replies

  1. I aim for short. I watch word count and if I hit 1000 I usually think I went to far. Sometimes I am over, but still satisfied.

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  2. Nice to see the birds at the feeder.
    Leslie

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  3. There are a few of you that I will read even if long. Even poetry, my eyes glaze over if it goes on and on… but that’s me and my ADD (not societal true). And the spamming is annoying. I have turned off notifications for those who spam and turned off emails. It helps keep me sane as a reader. 🙂

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    • I have turned off all notifications and I delete all the newsfeeds and political messages, but oddly, they keep coming back. Like a bad penny.

      I’m not overly fond of poetry, though I actually like good poetry. I think what I don’t like is bad and mediocre poetry. I’m passionately fond of Dylan Thomas and Yeats and some of our 19th-century American poets. So I think maybe it isn’t the poetry — it’s that the poetry isn’t good.

      I don’t write long unless it’s a subject that requires it. Any time I exceed 500 words, I give it a very long, hard look. If it exceeds 1000 words, I slash it down to around 800 because I won’t read anything that long unless there’s something in there that’s important to me.

      The email, though, is killing me. I hate the Reader, but I may wind up switching to it because I can’t deal with the mess. How many times do you have to unsubscribe to political ads before they actually stop sending them? There are also people who I love reading, but who send 10 emails a day and I delete all but one or two. This isn’t a race to see who can push more posts on the Internet every day. It used to be that one or two was considered plenty. Now, you don’t even get into the race with such a small donation.

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  4. I think I’ve learned a bit from your advice Marilyn although I know my posts are often on the long side. I do a lot of re-reading and repositioning of photos before I set them free in the blogosphere. One of my pet hates is posts with multiple GIFs as I find it distracting when I’m trying to read an interesting post to have all those things jumping and blinking every couple of lines. I think they come under the “less is more” rule too.

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  5. i love your tips/reminders. mine have gotten much shorter, and i’ve developed my own comfortable style over time and many posts.

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    • When I see a really long post, I mark it for reading later. But often, later simply never comes. There’s too much going on. So, unless it’s an important (and complicated) subject, I try to keep it short. Some stuff needs to be longer because it just needs room for information. I don’t expect a lot of feedback on long posts. I know most people won’t read them.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Wise advice – and if I may add my personal grain of advice: You only get (mostly) read by me because you write so well AND have good photos. But sometimes even the goodness of your many posts give me ‘overkill’. I just can’t read them all as much as I’d like to. To me personally even just one post per day or every few days would be enough…. That’s the one point I wd disagree with you. But with the flood of readers you have I might stay the only one to ‘nearly object’…. 🙂 But then I’m also one of the few who comment. It certainly is easier to ‘just agree’ with a like than taking the time to offer a comment.
    I DO hope you can fully enjoy your time away – and maybe have a bit of autumn/fall at the same time?!

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    • I think I post too much too. I’m trying to cut it down. I like to post at least one that’s mostly photos, and another more thoughtful (text) piece. It’s gotten to be so much of a race these days. I think I got sucked into it. It’s too much for me. You’re right.

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  7. Good stuff, really sage advice, I know I tend to waffle a bit but do enjoy posting photos and most days I put a YouTube video; I have no idea if people watch the music videos!!

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    • Well, the information about fonts and white space is very standard advice for anyone who writes books or online. I didn’t invent it. It really IS the standard for making a page readable.

      Type size is common sense. It’s hard enough to get anyone to read, but to make the typeface so small they have to squint? A good way to have people give up in frustration.

      Otherwise, these are useful tips that seem to work. You’d figure them out anyway, eventually, but sometimes you can save a lot of time testing stuff that won’t work. In the beginning, I changed templates probably once a week. Nothing worked quite right.

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  8. Some good tips. Although I just write and often have no idea where I am going. I notice I have problems with smaller print, but can easily enlarge on the iPad be stretching it with my fingers

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    • I can enlarge too, but my computers are not huge, so if I go much beyond 110%, I lose pieces of stuff. 10 points is “normal” and 12 is luxury. I have some equipment with serial numbers so small I can’t read them even WITH a magnifying glass.

      I often don’t know what I’m going to say until I get to the end of the piece. It’s one of the things I love about blogging.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. A great guide to blogging. Have saved for future reference too. Thanks!

    Like

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