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The secret to blogging with flair

The secret to blogging with flair

Creating a personal style for your blog writing makes you stand out in the crowd.

Mark Twain once said, “Clothes make the man. The naked have little or no influence.” This was in reference to the power of presenting yourself with style to stand out in the crowd.

It is apt for bloggers too.  In the mass of content creators, brilliant insights still need a touch of flair to capture the attention and imagination of online readers. While form is no substitute for substance, your writing style IS what you are. It expresses your identity and makes a connection with the reader that enables influence and persuasion to happen.

Elements of blogging style

The focus of Web writing style is primarily on mechanics, which is the domain of guidelines found in the AP Style Guide for journalism, or the Yahoo Style Guide for content creators in the digital world. These are excellent references for developing consistent treatment of:

[Related: Headline writing secrets of advertising legend John Caples]

However, bloggers and content marketers also need to develop a personal style to stand out from the crowd. Your personal style flows from the voice and tone of your writing and how you structure your ideas. You won’t find your personal style in a guidebook. I would add to Twain’s observation by noting “the style makes the blogger – as long as it fits.” I would love to be able to wear skinny jeans, but alas, that style does not fit me.

Style is more than the clothes; it is how you wear them. So too, writing style is more than the mechanics. It is how you apply them.

In pursuit of personal style, bloggers might be tempted to accessorize writing with gaudy metaphors or splashy adjectives to create stylistic flair. Unfortunately, developing personal style is not that simple. Your style is organic to you, the writer.

While there is no clear formula for adding grace and elegance to a piece of writing, there are ways you can develop it. The best place to start is by studying devices used by graceful writers and practicing the fundamentals of clear, concise writing.

10 Principles for clear blog writing

The long and short of blog writing

Short sentences are critical to successful writing for the Web. A readability formula developed by Rudolf Flesch finds the ideal sentence length for business writing is between 14-16 words. This is a good guideline for blogging. However, on occasion bloggers will want to exceed that limit to break monotony and build rhythm.

Here are some helpful guides to maintaining clarity when writing longer sentences:

Check for subject-verb agreement. This can become easily confused in longer sentences containing clauses and modifiers.

Use consistent treatment of the topic. The topic is what the sentence is about, comments on, and flows from. It is usually the subject. When the topic shifts to different places in sentences within the paragraph, it causes needless confusion. Keep them in a coherent sequence throughout.

Place information at the end of the sentence that will be developed in the next.

Use logical connectors to transition from sentences and into new paragraphs.

  • Adding connectors: furthermore, and, also
  • Opposing connectors: but, however
  • Sequencing connectors: first, next, finally
  • Magnifying connectors: even, in fact
  • Concluding connectors: so, therefore

Structure coordinate series sentences so succeeding coordinates are parallel and longer than the one before it (see diagram below for an example)

longer sentences in Web writing

The second sentence in this example moves the parallels from shorter to longer improving the rhythm and flow. Some writers would break the sentence into two rather than attempt a long, complex sentence in a blog post. If you do make this stylistic choice, I recommend using it sparingly.

Beware of mixed metaphors. A metaphor invites the reader to see a familiar thing in a new way. Similes do the same, less intensely, the like or as moderating the force of comparison. If you opt to use either, be sensitive to choosing words that carry the meaning through consistently. Watch out for “looking over” a problem in order to “handle” it correctly, and similar mixed metaphors.

[Related: Do you make these critical thinking mistakes in your blog writing?]

Creating a personal blogging style

“Remember your primary goal as a writer is not to leave your imprint on the page,” offers Gary Provost in Make Your Words Work. “Your goal is to make the writing work. Make it do what it’s supposed to.” Many writers who write about writing say a style should be invisible. Rather than straining to make it happen, learn to write well and your style will emerge. Here are three ideas for creating your personal style:

  1. Master the mechanics. Learn the fundamentals of brevity and clarity as the foundation to making your writing do what it is supposed to.
  2. Read the masters. Make a habit of reading other writers – not only bloggers, but good copywriters and fiction writers. Studying how poets use language, structure and rhythm can give you new perspective on your writing.
  3. Let your personality emerge. As you continue to master the mechanics and read the masters, you will be inspired to express your voice in writing.

Bruce Lee was a model for self-expression. One of the greatest martial artists of all time, he was controversial because of his philosophy on style. He was first to merge several fighting styles into a unique hybrid.

He combined elements of Kung Fu, Jujitsu, grappling, boxing and other martial arts to create a new “style of no style” he named Jeet Kune Do. His vision was not for a new style of self-defense, but for physical self-expression.

When teaching students he told them, “Do not look for a successful personality and duplicate it. Express YOUR self.” Good advice for bloggers too.

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  1. November 14, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    Thanks for these lovely tips on blogging! It is indeed imperative that we keep ourselves conscious with grammar and our writing style; it makes or even breaks a blogger.

    • November 14, 2012 at 10:25 pm

      So true, Ardine. Just taking a little extra time to consider our word choice and sentence structure makes a big difference in improving our writing and offering the reader a more valuable experience. Thanks for your comment.

  1. May 6, 2013 at 7:28 pm
  2. June 11, 2013 at 7:45 am

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