25 March 2013

Blogging tip: Write like someone's watching.


 

There's that saying, "Dance like nobody's watching" - where you're encouraged to let yourself go and just have fun, be silly and not be self conscious about what you may like when you're dancing. I'm a big believer in doing the opposite of this when blogging. As in, Write like someone is watching. Actually, write like someone influential is always watching. Write like someone's going to find you. Especially if being a published writer is something you've always aspired to. (This is not to say don't have fun with your writing.)

This mantra could mean be mindful of what you blog about. I believe this is very important as an employee, a parent, a friend, a partner and within the blogging community because you need to protect your reputation and privacy, not reveal too much about your family, friends and employer, and maintain good netiquette. But in this instance I mean you should write in such a way that others would want to publish your work. Blogging is such good practice. I've heard it being described by a prominent writer as "an apprenticeship". Use your blog to prove to an editor why you should and can write for their publication.

Write blog posts that can be pitched to other publications.

Ensure your blog posts contain correctly spelled words, good grammar and punctuation, and original content that has some currency, relevance and interesting and unique perspectives. And make sure your pictures are quality too - clear, and the right way up! While I tend to write more conversationally than formally, I follow a style guide to an extent - for example, using UK English, spacing after full stops and paragraphs (sometimes paragraphing is tricky when using HTML, especially blogging on blogging apps on the iPad, so do take care), the way I write numbers, and capitalisation in headings. I base my style a little on the style guide I use in my day job (a variation on the Commonwealth Style Manual), and a little on the journalism techniques I learnt at university.

Some online publications don't pay their writers, but they will take previously published blog content, and I believe this is a great way to get a start with freelance writing and get noticed more widely. I've submitted my original unedited blog posts to The Peach and Mamamia, and they've republished them, often with a little editing.

Other publications take original blog posts and ask the writer to edit them or have their own editor edit them - and offer payment. Last week's publication on Daily Life was an example of this - I had such a great response to my original blog post that I pitched it to the Daily Life editor, she suggested some changes, and I spent two hours editing my original piece to suit Daily Life. The spelling, grammar and content was already fine, so the only editing needed was reducing the word count and rejigging the order of some paragraphs.


Editors are also great at offering writers advice they can use for future pieces. I used to have a mentor in my day job who would make red pen corrections to everything I wrote and distributed to staff - after I'd distributed the messages - and then I'd review her corrections, and take these on board for the next time I wrote to staff. Each subsequent piece of writing was corrected less and less.
 
And other publications pay their writers but only accept previously unpublished content. So your blog is a great portfolio to show to prospective editors (and also PR companies if pitching for a sponsored post - like I did when pitching to the publicists at the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival) when submitting a pitch.
 
When I started this blog, I did it to develop my writing skills and also to create some sort of portfolio. And I refer to it in almost everything I pitch in my writing, speaking and TV work. Writing this blog has worked for me. Many people ask me advice on how they can get their message out there. I always recommend they start a blog, write a few pieces on their blog and use them (and the contacts built through blogging) to pitch to relevant media outlets. Your blog is your resume.
 
It's hard to write consistently. It takes practice and if you're writing from the heart, it can wear you out emotionally. I joked that writers (especially personal bloggers) should receive emotional compensation for giving a piece of themselves to readers. Sometimes you may write a blog post that comes from being inspired by a joyous or an upsetting event, or you're spilling your emotions onto the screen. I find these posts are always from the heart and often make me feel like I've run a marathon writing them and give me shivers when I read the ones written by others. They usually get the best reaction from readers because they're relatable and evoke empathy in the reader. And they deserve to receive a wider readership.

Here are some bloggers who write consistently high quality blog posts that could easily should be picked up by a range of other publications. They are well written and some have beautiful pictures accompanying the writing.

Edenland

Tiny Savages

Apples Under My Bed

Rellacafa

The $120 Food Challenge

Anna Spargo-Ryan

Big Words Blog

Jouljet

Be your own promoter.

A friend told me I am a good self promoter. I told him that if I don't promote my own work, who else will?! I use social media to promote my writing, and this has got me noticed. Don't be afraid to tweet your posts, share them in relevant Facebook groups, and pitch them to editors of relevant publications (I highly recommend doing a course at the Australian Writers Centre to learn about editing and pitching). Include social media sharing buttons on your blog too, so readers can easily share your work.

By promoting your writing, it gets seen and shared by a huge amount of people - some who could help you with your writing career.

Keep the testimonials you receive.

Screen shot blog comments, tweets and Facebook comments, especially testimonials from editors or prominent people, or members within the community or area of expertise you belong to (I keep positive messages from those in the Ichthyosis community for use on my resume).

Thank people who have helped you.

Finally, if someone helps you with your blog post or freelance writing, such as providing information or a quote, write back to them thanking them and including a scan of or link to your published piece. You never know if they'll offer to republish it or send it on to someone who will, or better still commission you to write an original piece for them!

I can no longer count just how many opportunities have come my way because of blogging. And it's all because I've made a conscious decision to write like someone's watching - and promote my blog posts so that someone does notice. Have confidence in your ability and don't be afraid to promote your blog.

It you've got any questions about blogging, do send them my way. I'm thinking of making blogging tips a regular feature on my blog. What do you think?

Previous blogging tips:

Invest in those who invest in you

Being a responsible employee and social media user

Social media and employees

Being a responsible patient on social media

Blogging as therapy

Taking your blog to the speaking circuit (guest post on Styling You)

What I know about writing (Tale Teller podcast)

Finding the blogging balance

Six tips for new bloggers

 

16 comments:

  1. Love it! Every blogging tip makes me want to blog right away! :)

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  2. Thanks for this Carly. Much appreciate the tips.
    Anita

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  3. This makes me want to return to my dusty blog now! Poor thing deserves better. Thank you Carly for being inspiring with your writing. Has been a joy to see your opportunities grow over the years. Thank you for introducing me to Edenland's blog too!

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  4. That's some fantastic advice, Carly - thanks for sharing it with us. I particularly like that you mentioned the importance of spelling and good grammar; the words we use on the internet pretty much act as our clothing, so it makes sense to ensure they're looking their best.

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  5. That's Great! I really appreciated with your great ideas

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  6. Great blog! I really like your article

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  7. Great post, Carly. Thanks for sharing your tips. I will look forward to more - a regular feature would be great.

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  8. Hi Carly, thank you for this post. I went to the Digital Parents Conference last week and came away with some mixed emotions about my blog and where I want to take it. This post has made me reassess where my heart lies. A fantastic post.

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  9. Nice tips carly.Thanks and keep sharing such a nice information.

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  10. Really solid advice here Carly. I've published with Daily Life three times now, using my blog to hone my craft. If you take your writing seriously, focusing on quality over quantity, every day you're giving yourself another opportunity to be better and step up to the plate.

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  11. This is such valuable advice. Thank you for sharing your insights. Self-promotion doesn't come naturally to me but I've got to get better at it :-)

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