Over the weekend I attended WordCamp Auckland, a one day event held at the local university and attended by over a hundred WordPress users, designers and developers. One of the sessions was hosted by Bill Bennett; a freelance journalist in New Zealand.
Bill’s session went for about 45 minutes and covered writing ideas and styles that he’s used over the years as a journalist that work equally in the context of blogging. Since many who write on blogs are not necessarily trained writers I thought that it would be good to share some of his main points – I certainly picked up a thing or two.
Normally I’d have put an exclamation point at the end of that last sentence, that was one of the first take-aways. Bill’s credo is something along the lines of one exclamation point a year is probably enough.
Keeping posts short: around 300 words
His explanation for this was that you’ve got to be succinct, much longer than 300 words and you’ve lost your reader. This might fly in the face of some who think for SEO purposes your blog posts should be longer but for the human audience it’s a must.
My 2 cents, well I believe that writing for readers should always come first and search rankings will follow. The other angle on the SEO side is that it’s well recognised that one blog post should be about one topic. This helps Google understand that this post is about XYZ. Keeping things shorter certainly helps achieve this.
Make your language accessible
Bill talked about keeping things simple, don’t use too many fancy words, stay away from excessive use of adjectives and keep sentences short. He made a good point around the web being international; you can’t be guaranteed that your English is your readers native language.
See the presentation slides
If you’re interested in more tips like this read his post: How to blog like an old school journalist.