9 Clever Writing Tricks to Supercharge Your Blog Posts

9 Clever Writing Tricks to Supercharge Your Blog Posts

As an author and writing coach, I’m a big fan of good writing. I love a well-structured sentence or the perfect choice of word. But writing isn’t rocket science … and there are a few simple writing tricks you can use to write blog posts that are much more powerful and engaging.

Before we get into those 9 tricks, though, here’s the why behind it:

Fully engaged readers are more likely to remember your blog posts. They’ll get real benefits – they’ll learn something new, solve a problem, or feel inspired. And when that happens, readers keep coming back again and again – and they’ll tell their friends about your blog.

So try these 9 tricks and see for yourself what happens:

Writing Trick #1: Use “You”

Yes, you probably know this trick already … but are you using it? Far too many blog posts and pages of web copy are “I” or “we” focused like this:

In this post, I’m going to teach you…

We are a prize-winning company…

Some “I” language is fine. In fact, it’s a good thing, as you’ll discover in Trick #2. But the balance of your post should focus on “you”.

Want to see what I mean? Here’s an example of how I could have written the previous paragraph, with the differences in bold:

Some “I” language is fine. In fact, it’s a good thing, as I’ll cover in Trick #2. But the balance of the post should focus on “you”.

This isn’t bad writing … but there’s a good chance you found the first version more engaging.

Writing Trick #2: Use “I”

Don’t get the idea that you should never use “I” (or “we” if you’re writing on behalf of a company). Your readers are interested in you and your life – and in your qualifications or expertise.

Some writers think that using “I” is somehow forbidden. While it’s often discouraged (especially in academic writing) there’s nothing wrong with “I” in blog posts or web copy – and if you try to avoid it altogether, you might end up writing weak, passive sentences.

Here’s an example:

The tests were conducted on several websites… (passive voice)

I conducted tests on several websites… (using “I”)

It’s often a good idea to throw in an “I” sentence near the start of your post or page, especially if your audience doesn’t necessarily know who you are. (If you scroll up this post, you’ll see that the first sentence is, “As an author and writing coach, I’m a big fan of good writing.“)

Writing Trick #3: Use Contractions

We use contractions all the time when we speak. “I’m” for “I am” and “don’t” for “do not”, for example. So in writing, contractions makes you seem more conversational and friendly.

You might have been taught to avoid contractions in essays or other academic writing. Forget that – it’s absolutely fine to use contractions in blog posts, pages of web copy, sales copy and so on.

Compare these examples:

If you’ve been taught that you shouldn’t use contractions, give them a try – you’ll find they give your post a different tone.

If you have been taught that you should not use contractions, give them a try – you will find they give your post a different tone.

Try reading those sentences slowly or even aloud. Does the second sound a bit stilted to you? By using contractions, you can instantly make your blog posts more engaging.

If you don’t naturally write using contractions, use the “Find and Replace” tool to search for phrases like “I am” and “you will”.

Writing Trick #4: Use Adjectives

If you’ve ever taken a fiction-writing class or read a book about writing fiction, you’ve probably been told to cut out the adjectives. And that’s great advice … for fiction writers.

In your blogging, adjectives have a very definite place: they’re great in titles. They also work well in sales copy and can be handy in subheadings. Here are a few examples:

Your Sneak Peek Behind the Writing Course Doors

How to Write Massive Quantities on Demand

The Biggest Secret of Stellar Copywriting

Would those titles be as effective if you took out the words in bold? Nope.

Next time you write a title, add an adjective or two. This goes double for sales page headlines.

Writing Trick #5: Use Examples

When you add examples (or screenshots or case studies or whatever’s appropriate) to your post, you make it easier for the reader to “get” what you’re talking about. Concrete example helps readers apply what you’re saying to their own situation.

Don’t worry if you know that your example won’t apply to most (or even many) of your readers. They’ll still find it easier to learn from than an abstract description.

Here’s an example of an example (meta, huh?) from Do You Have Useless Website Content?

Want an example? That first sentence used to read “every single word.” Since ‘word’ is singular, saying ‘single’ was redundant. That’s what you’re looking for.

Writing Trick #6: Use the Imperative

The imperative is the tense used to give instructions. I sometimes think of it as “the recipe tense”, because it’s the tense most often used in recipes:

Weigh out 8 oz flour… Mix well… Stir in chocolate chips…

The imperative is a quick and powerful way to get your readers to take action. It’s the difference between writing, “Why don’t you try one of these tips today?” and, “Try one of these tips today.”

Imperative tense makes you sound confident about the value of your content.

Next time you read a piece of sales copy, look for how often the imperative is used. You’ll usually see examples like “Click the button below to sign up” or “Join now” – not “You can click the button below to sign up” or “Why don’t you join now?”

Writing Trick #7: Use Repetition

Repetition can be tough to get right, so if you’re trying this tip out, get a fellow blogger to glance at your post and see whether it’s working or not.

In speech, we often use repetition to help a message stick. We also often combine repetition with the trick of using three things – called the “triad” in rhetoric. (In the UK, a famous example is former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s “Education. Education. Education.”)

In a blog post, you won’t use repetition quite as much. Since readers can easily go back and re-read, it doesn’t make sense to repeat the same point over and over again. But you can still use some repetition.

Here’s an example – see the subheadings from James’s post Your Sneak Peek Behind the Writing Course Doors.

You’ll learn how to get readers to take action.

You’ll learn how to get past the mental writing blocks.

You’ll learn to find your writing voice and use it loud and clear.

You’ll learn how easy it is to recycle for results.

Writing Trick #8: Use Patterns

Whenever your post contains several similar elements, like multiple subheadings or a list of bullet points, look for ways to make a pattern. (Repetition can come in here, as in the example for Trick #7.)

Patterns help your writing seem organized and thought-out, and they add flow. This is especially important when you’re writing a list of items. Take a look:

My top tips for blogging are:

  • Post regularly but not daily
  • You can borrow the audience of bigger blogs by guest posting
  • Planning your posts before you write

Can you see the problem? The three items in the list use three different formats. The first is in the imperative; it’s an instruction to the reader. The second is a statement starting with “you” and the third begins with an “ing” verb.

The list looks messy and confusing. A better list would be:

My top tips for blogging are:

  • Post regularly but not daily
  • Borrow the audience of bigger blogs by guest posting
  • Plan your posts before you write

The content is exactly the same – but the pattern makes it flow more easily.

Writing Trick #9: Use Numbers

You probably already know that popping a number in a title makes it more engaging … but you can also use numbers throughout your post.

Using numbers, especially in lists, helps your reader engage with your content. Numbers let readers know how far through the post they are, and it also gives them an easy reference to use if they want to say “I really like #8” in the comments.

Numbers are also a great way to strengthen your claims. You could write, “I’ve seen an increase in subscribers since I changed my theme,” or you could write, “I’ve gone from 200 subscribers, gaining 2 or 3 a day, to 700 subscribers, gaining around 15 a day, since I changed my theme.”

Try at least one of these easy tricks your next blog post (or edit a recent post and work a trick or two in) and see the difference for yourself.

And if you’ve got a favorite trick you use – or a new one to add to the list – then let us know in the comments!

Post by Ali Luke

Ali Luke is a blogger, writer and writing coach. Her ebook The Blogger’s Guide to Effective Writing teaches you how to produce great blog posts in less time (and you’ll enjoy the process too!) If you want to create powerful content that converts casual visitors into loyal readers, and loyal readers into paying customers, just click here to find out more about The Blogger’s Guide to Effective Writing.

Join the Discussion. Click Here to Leave a Comment.

  1. Hey Ali, thanks for the useful post! Loved the examples.

    Most bloggers don’t realize the importance of “presentation”. Giving quality information isn’t enough, you need to present it the right way with easy to read and understand writing.

    People browsing the web have a short attention span so if your writing is not engaging, you will lose readers. But if it pulls the reader in, you can keep him interested till the end and successfully take him towards a call to action.

    It’s a fact that good writers have an edge over others in the blogosphere. Gone are the days when blogging was journaling your thoughts. Now it’s all about authoring and creating content that will last for years.

    And with the tricks like you mentioned above, it’s not hard to improve your writing and take it to the next level.

    • Thanks, Mustafa! I agree that good writers definitely have the edge … but all of us can learn and improve (whether we’re just starting out or we’re highly experienced). You’re completely right that blogging is now about creating content that will stand the test of time.

  2. Using “I” in an article is only effective if the writer has an interesting persona or if she manages to give the article a distinct tone. Another acceptable use of the “I” is the writer’s intention to share knowledge and expertise by drawing from her own experiences.

    • I think the use of “I” often lends the article that distinct tone! When we write authentically, and include personal experience, it’s easier to build a connection with the reader.

      Of course, no-one wants to read a blog post that’s all “me me me” … but throwing in the occasional “I” can make a post easier to read and take in.

  3. Thank you – simple details, but beautifully written. Every point made is well worth the effort.

  4. Love the specific examples Ali. This is great stuff which just makes sense.

  5. Thanks for this good tips Ali.

    Keep up the good work.

  6. #10: Make sure you use proper grammar. “Fully engaged readers…” is not hyphenated.
    http://www.dailywritingtips.com/5-tips-to-understand-hyphenated-words/

    • That’s because it shouldn’t be, Sally – there’s no hyphen in the case of adverb/adjective combinations (the tipoff being words ending in ‘ly’). Ali had it right! :)

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyphen

      • I think Sally’s saying it shouldn’t be and currently is … whoops! My bad. James, if you get a sec, can you fix it? Thanks. :-)

        (And I’ll be the first to admit I’m not perfect!)

        • Oh, sorry – I misread the comment. That’ll teach me to drink more coffee! ;)

        • Well, that’s the beauty of the blog … you can go back and fix things! But I do think a lot of people put up blogs willy-nilly without paying attention to the basics of grammar. There are so many resources — from the red squiggle under willy-nillly (that can at least make you look twice) to some really good sites such as Grammar Girl and Daily Writing Tips. Poor grammar and typos really diminish a writer’s credibility.

      • Great advice, Icy.I’m in a “writing vacitaon” phase at the moment but just like checking work email during a real vacitaon, I can’t resist the occasional urge to write a little here and there (mostly #FridayFlash). I’m going to try whittling the reading pile down; I haven’t just sat down and read much for the last couple years because my “not everything else” time was spent writing.But even when I’m writing, it’s difficult to put butt in chair every evening when there’s a baby grandson, boarders, and inlaws to herd. I’d love to multitask, do some reading and some writing, but it doesn’t usually work out that way.The serialized novels I’ve posted are what I call 1.5th drafts. By the time an episode hits the blog, I’ve gone over it several times and have often rewritten large swatches, but mostly when it goes up it’s very similar to what I put down to begin with. I post them that way because it gives me an incentive to keep going it’s so easy to abandon a novel halfway through (and I have a couple of those) when there’s so much else going on in life. I have about 1/3 of the sequel to the current novel written, so I’m going to see if I can finish it without the serialization “crutch.” Who knows? But I missed writing short stories, so I’m glad that there’s such a thing as #FridayFlash.

  7. Some good tips, Ali, although I have to admit, the overuse of adjectives in post titles these days makes me nauseous. To me, it makes post titles sound like sales copy, and I don’t trust sales copy, because it’s often exaggerated – and when everything’s exaggerated, nothing stands out!

    It’s probably personal taste, but I prefer subtlety, and to only use an adjective when it really is needed. I don’t think I’d make a very good copy writer. :)

    • I know how you feel, Chris … I certainly think titles can be overdone, and there’s a fine line between enticing the reader in and over-hyping a post. I have found, though, that sometimes I need to push myself to be a little more “salesy” to grab busy readers’ attention!

  8. David @ Build A Freelance Biz says:

    Thanks for some good tips. I am often tempted to use “one” instead of “you” because I used to think using “you” was either bossy or too familiar. On the contrary, it’s how people talk. They don’t say “one”.

    Sometimes I struggle with proper use of grammar and what just sounds right. My mom was an English teacher so I grew up with a lot of admonishment over incorrect grammar. Paradoxically, now it’s a point of pride to try to do it right. I used to get warned when I used “who” and “whom” incorrectly. Now, when I write and I’m about to use one or the other I think it over, and even research it if I’m not sure. My wife, on the other hand, told me to never use “whom” in a blog. She’s probably right. Everyone will think it sounds formal and stuffy. I probably shouldn’t use words like “admonishment” either. It just popped into my mind as the word to use. If I wasn’t responding to a post about writing, I would have used a word that is more common.

    My point is that writing on blogs and writing in almost everywhere else are two different things. Informality is preferred in blogs, even if it isn’t grammatically correct.

    • I agree with you, David, that, this is all about context … in blogging, my language is a lot more informal than it would be in, say, an academic essay or even a magazine article. In most blogging contexts, readers expect and want down-to-earth, chatty language.

      I think “one” always ends up sounding archaic and stuffy nowadays, and I’d always advise replacing it with “you”. (Alternatively, if you’re concerned about hectoring the reader, you can go for “we” … as in “we writers” etc.)

      When it comes to vocabulary, words like “admonishment” work just fine for me on a blog like Men with Pens! If I’m blogging for a site with a less writerly readership — particularly one with a large number of readers who have English as a second language — I try to keep my vocabulary fairly simple.

  9. Ali, you have such a gift for clear, helpful, and truly useful advice. This is chock full of excellent suggestions and terrific examples to make them understandable. I’m going to save this with some of the incredible checklists I learned from James in her Damn Fine Writing class!

    And in case any readers here don’t know it, Ali is a heck of a good fiction writer too — I lost sleep reading LYCPOLIS because I couldn’t put it down…and it’s not even a genre I usually read! Kudos…

    • Thanks so much, Elizabeth! Really glad you found this one useful. And thanks for the plug for Lycopolis too … I was so glad you enjoyed it, and really appreciated you reviewing it too. :-)

  10. Thanks for sharing those tips!! Loved tip #8. It takes a while to understand the reader’s psychology & you’ve captured it very well.

  11. Thanks for the great reminders. I was glad to hear you address the matter of using patterns, repetition and examples.
    I’m getting the hang of this writing gig.

    • Thanks, Glen! For me, writing great posts is all about making life easy for the reader … and patterns, repetitions and examples are all good ways to do that. Glad this struck a chord with you. :-)

  12. Great article, thanks so much! Really useful tips and observations that I’ve made but never articulated or implemented!

    • Thanks, Andy! I always love it when I come across a blog post that compiles stuff I kinda knew but never fully put into practice … so I’m really glad I could do that for you. :-)

  13. Thank you for sharing this! I’m new to writing, so I can really use this. You write so beautiful, and I learned a lot from this article. I have a long way to go, but I just keep practicing. :)

    • Thanks, Angela — and welcome to the wonderful world of writing! Hope you’re enjoying all the practice, and that you’ll find lots of great blog posts and books to help you along the writing path. :-)

  14. What a fantastic post Ali!
    So many great tips and practical advice. I’m a new to blogging this year and am still learning and practising this new form of writing. I’m saving this one! :)

  15. Ali, thanks, great stuff here!

    You hit on a couple of my favorites – not using the passive voice and sticking to patterns in lists.

    I’ve been struggling a bit on a music related blog where I regularly post. They specifically asked me to write about my experiences using the training they provide for performing musicians. I’m happy to do this, but my posts definitely feel “me, me, me”. I bring them around to “you” as much as I can and also provide a lot of examples.

    Any thoughts on situations like this? Has anyone been in a similar situation? As I write this, I think I will go back and look at some of those posts. Now that some time has passed, maybe I will see places where I can approach them a bit differently.

  16. Great post, Ali! I feel like the transition from novel writing to blog or sales copy writing can be really intimidating, but your tips make me feel armed to take on the challenge! :-) I really like using “you” and “I” if only because it means I get to defy my high school English teacher (and also because it totally works!). We adopted a more conversational tone to our blogs on Duolit a few months ago and we’ve definitely seen an increase in the number of engaged readers we have. Thanks for sharing!

  17. Ali, I recently started a blog and, though it began as a means of experimentation, I find myself really excited throughout the day, constantly thinking of ways to put my encounters into words. I never once thought about things like “passive voice” or even the informal means of contractions, but you’ve made clear their potential impact. Thanks for the tips!

  18. Really nice to read. It’s good to know that good advice exists on the internet and I’l definitely be using some of these tips in the future.

  19. Tony – I quite agree – ever since I started doing wleeky flashes, my writing has improved. I’ve attempted a greater variety of subjects, too. And you’re right – the more you practice new things, the more you can use it on your “main” work.Sam – I know some writing “coaches” will say that thinking about writing is not the same as writing, but it depends on what thinking you’re doing. If you’re thinking about a project, then that’s writing. If you’re thinking about how you’d like to write, then that’s wishful thinking. Keep at it!Magaly – I keep getting distracted by new projects – I’ve had to force myself to have a To Do list and new things go at the bottom, not the top!Laurita – I figured that there’s no point beating yourself up over quirks of your personality. Use them to your advantage!

  20. Hi Ali,
    I’m so glad I read this post via Katrina Padron on Twitter, I’m printing the 9 clever tricks out right now and sticking them on my studio wall! I love blogging, but I’m very insular about it, it’s my creative outlet for all sorts of things and most of them nothing to do with my core business (mistake no.1!).
    You’ve helped enormously, here’s to my next post emphasising ‘you’ the reader!
    Thank you, thank you.
    Rachael

  21. Good list Ali. I generally do 7 of the 9 and am a bit too embarrassed to mention which two I don’t use much yet … but I will trying to more from now on.

  22. Martin Rockwell Farr says:

    Some very useful tips here, I think it’s worth noting that for trick 1 it’s very much based on your audience and their inherent cultural perceptions. If the audience scores highly on Individuality as opposed to Collectivism on the scale of Gert Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions (as traditionally Anglo-Saxon English speaking countries such as UK, Australia, Canada & US do) then using the word you would be recommended as it resonates highly amongst its people. However if the audience score higher on Collectivism than Individuality, as for example many East Asian & Latin American cultures do, then the use of the word “we” to re-enforce a bond between the writer and the reader would be more appropriate.

  23. Hi Ali,

    Comprehensive guide you’ve managed to share – I do agree with the tips you’ve listed , some of them are quite good and should not be underestimated when it comes to the reading experience you offer. Images or Graphics viable to the topic is also another way to entice the reader to read further and even share socially on the web.

  24. Ali, I loved this post! I’m going to check out your book now :) Thanks James for hosting a well-written and valuable post. I think for most of us who write, blogging is a skill that feels natural but in fact isn’t. The two kinds of writing are like chalk and cheese. Great tips.

  25. Thanks for the blog post. I found your blog by accident looking for more topics I can write about. I struggle to write which I think it’s more procrastination, but your simple tips help greatly. I like #8 myself using patterns.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Ali Luke/Men with Pens: 9 Clever Writing Tricks to Supercharge Your Blog Posts [...]

  2. [...] Ali Luke/Men with Pens: 9 Clever Writing Tricks to Supercharge Your Blog Posts [...]

  3. [...] Want to learn 9 clever writing tricks that take your blog posts to the next level? This article teaches you fast and valuable writing techniques all the pros use – try them yourself today!  [...]

  4. [...] 9 Clever Writing Tricks to Supercharge Your Blog Posts from Men with Pens * Procrastination: Dealing with the thief of time by Sarah Arrow on Sark eMedia [...]

Leave a Comment

*