Just because you’re been doing this for a few years doesn’t mean you have nothing to learn. I’ve collected some of my best tips for advanced bloggers in this post, and I hope you’ll add your own to the end. Here’s how to continuously improve your blog:
1. Challenge yourself to cut your post down by 30% to 50% before you publish.
When it comes to pure writing tips, this one has helped me more than any other tip out there.
Long posts are fine, but only if you’re making every word count. I will gladly read a 5,000+ word post if it takes you that many words to cover the topic. I will not read a 5,000+ word post if half-way through I realize that the rambling author could have accomplished the same thing in 500 words.
Like many bloggers, I started my career as a freelancer, and at that point, most of my clients asked me to hit a certain word count every time I would take an assignment. Subconsciously, I trained myself to write for that word count, which means I’m often wordier than I need to be to get my point across. So, I now challenge myself to cut out at least 30% of my words every time I finish the first draft of a post.
Even if you end up not cutting out any words (or even if you end up adding words), re-reading your post with this kind of “cut the fat” eye will help you polish your work. It can also help you begin to learn your own writing faults and weaknesses.For example, until I started this practice, I didn’t realize how prone I was to using the word “really” unnecessarily.
2. Use the scientific method when giving advice.
I often do not often see bloggers’ advice backed up with proof or even a process of experimentation. A newbie in your field may take your word on something because you’re more experienced, but if you want to hold the attention of mid-level or advanced readers, you’re going to need more than just an opinion.
One of the ways you can do this is by using the scientific method to structure your blog posts. No need to pull out a fourth-grade text book: I covered how to do this here: How to Use the Scientific Method to Write Better Blog Posts.
3. Do some research into the psychology behind what you are teaching.
I talk about psychology a bit on my post about using the scientific method, but even if this is not your process for writing a blog post, the psychology behind what you’re teach your readers can help take your blog post to the next level. Most people are extremely interested in why not just how. So, if your blog posts lends itself to the why part, read into it a little and give your readers some links to find more information.
The king of this is Derek Halpern, so check out his blog if you want an example of someone who does it well.
4. Get out of your feed reader.
We’re all guilty of getting into routines. When is the last time you got out of your own feed reader to find new blogs to read?
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that reading blogs isn’t important. Reading in general is one of the most important activities you can do if you want to become a better writer. Jon Morrow, for example, often advocates spending time reading not just blogs and business books, but also novels (His favorite is Stephen King.)
No matter what you’re reading, though, every once in a while, you have to forget about your favorites for a moment (yes, even Stephen King) and instead embrace new writers so you can continue to grow.
Check out my post about how to find new blogs to read if you’re struggling to discover great bloggers whose names you’ve never heard.
5. Before you publish your list post, write a post to support every point.
Have you noticed that every point in this post has corresponding links to go with it? Believe it or not, I actually started working on this post months ago. As I wrote, however, I realized that each point could become its own post in and of itself.
Linking to supporting content makes any list post more valuable. And if you don’t have supporting content on your own blog, you probably have peers who do. The best list posts are a springboard for readers; they give readers many new ideas so people can pick and choose those they feel are best. From there, each reader can do more research into that specific topic.
If you aren’t providing links, people will do that research on their own, which means that they might not be finding the best content out there.
6. Don’t just ask your readers about their challenges; ask your peers.
One of the best ways to come up with ideas for blog content is to ask your readers about their struggles. They’ll come up with dozens of questions for you! But if you really want to become an authority in your niche, don’t just ask your readers for advice. Ask your peers.
When you write content for beginners, you allow new readers to consistently find your blog. However, beginners often don’t know what they don’t know. You’ll blow minds if you can solve problems they didn’t even know they had! To do this, you have to brainstorm a list of more advanced questions to answer. So, ask more advanced readers about their problems.
Depending on your blog content, this might mean that you have to not only poll your readers, but also seek advice directly from peers. Don’t be afraid to contact a-listers to ask about their most common struggles. You’ll blow their minds too if you can find a way to solve a problem they have.
7. Start recording video blogs.
“I look like a total dork on camera.”
I get a lot of resistance when I suggest that people should start recording videos. Most bloggers, especially introverts, hate how they look on camera. I get it, because I feel like that too. But here’s a secret: most of the time, as long as you look presentable (i.e. you don’t have visible Pig Pen fumes radiating from you), most people will be so focused on whatever you are teaching, that ten seconds after the video ends, they won’t remember what you’re wearing. Your content is what matters!
If being on camera intimidates you, try instead doing some interviews. When you interview someone else in your niche, you’re not the focus of attention, so it can feel a little more comfortable. Check out some great tips for landing interviews here.
You can also record videos where you’re off camera, like screen capture tutorials or video scribing.
8. Use active voice when possible.
In most cases, using the active voice instead of the passive voice will make your sentences more powerful. This trick also helps with editing, since passive voice tends to be wordier.
For those of you who need a quick grammar brush-up, active voice simply means that your sentences are written with the formula “Subject – verb – object.” For example:
The blogger wrote ten blog posts.
“The blogger” is the subject of this sentence, and wrote is of course the verb. “Ten blog posts” is the object, because it is on the receiving end of the verb. If I wanted to rewrite this sentence using passive voice, I would write:
Ten blog posts were written by the blogger.
In this case, we have the same three elements – subject, verb, object – but the object of the sentence comes first and is, thus, highlighted. Sometimes passive voice makes sense, but depending on your writing patterns, you may be using it too often. Could active voice make your writing better?
9. Create a massive resource list around one of the questions you’re most commonly asked.
What is the one question you get the most?
Now imagine this: for every person who asks you this question, how many people have this question as well but have just not asked it?
Whatever that question may be, it makes a great topic for an ultimate resource guide/list about the topic. Think about everything a person needs to know about the topic. Don’t just answer their question. Go above and beyond to cover every detail. You want anyone who lands on this post to be dumbstruck at the valuable information they’ve learned.
Worried that the content is too much for a single post? Instead of creating just one post, create a series of posts, like the one I did about selling digital products (starting with this post). You can do a more formal series where you publish one post per day (or per week) or you can just slip posts in over the course of a few months then do a round-up of the posts at a later date.
As an added bonus, creating a massive resource list is good for SEO. Google has started ranking in-depth articles, but even if you don’t get picked up in this sense, common questions are often typed into search engines, and if your post is helpful, it will likely rank well for that search term.
10. Be helpful, above all.
One of the first things new bloggers learn is how important it is to be helpful. Help your readers and they will reward you ten times over. Help your peers and they will promote you. Help your customers and they’ll buy from you again and again.
But sometimes, in the long list of what we’re supposed to do as a blogger can cloud our judgment. We’re supposed to have a dynamic, clickable title. We’re supposed to use keywords to improve search engine optimization. We’re supposed to quote others in our niche or link to statistics that support our theories. We’re supposed to create pin-able images. We’re supposed to have a call to action at the end of the post. We’re supposed to…
I could go on and on. Above all, however, we’re supposed to be helpful in some way. You can be helpful in the traditional sense, where you’re actually teaching the reader how to do something, or you can be helpful in a less obvious way, by inspiring readers, helping them see the situation in a new way, or even entertaining them.
Before you hit that publish button, make sure your post is as helpful as it can possibly be about the topic you’ve covered. If it’s not, head back the drawing board.
What’s your best writing tip for advanced bloggers? Leave a comment!
Image credit: Bigstock (altered)
what a great post!
I need to find some great novels to read in the evenings, thanks for the suggestion.
All together an awesome list of resources, thank you!
Awesome post, Allison! I especially love point #5. I often write list posts and try to link back where I can, but some bullets don’t always have a post to link back to. This is a smart reminder to make sure to do that before publishing that kind of post.
I also agree that active voice is best in blogging. I learned that tip from Alexis Grant when I wrote for Brazen Careerist.
Thanks for the great tips!
Thanks for adding some new tips and re-iterating other things which I ‘conveniently’ forget about on a regular basis! Writing a list post and then writing blog posts around items on that list is something I don’t do enough, and cutting my work is something I also forget about when I’m not writing to a magazine wordcount. I’d love some tips on creating videos.
This was a really great post—I need to do some of these! Some great ideas. Kim