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Blogging Tips — 3 Lessons to Unlearn from English 101

As any blogger will tell you, content is key. Of course, we know this—but we also know that marketing is key, SEO is key, design is key. Blogging is very much multi – subject practice. As successful webmasters, we have to manage the site itself, design our page, write content, market our posts, respond to comments, and so much more. But, when you boil things down, a truly successful blog comes down to its content. We are writers. This can be tricky though. As college students, the same writing lessons are pounded into our minds time and time again. We spend four years of our lives perfecting the academic writing style only to scrap most of those lessons as professional bloggers. While, of course, every lesson you learn in English 101 is worthwhile for at some point, with blogging some writing tips are better left on in the classroom.

blogging tips

Always Use Third Person

Okay, okay. This lesson probably started when we were freshman in high school. We are told to never use “I” in our writing. Academic writing is all about using the third person. You should be an all observant, all knowing third party on the issue at hand. This tidbit just doesn’t hold up in blogging. It’s not just that blogging is typically less formal than academic writing—there’s more to it than that. Even with very serious and informational posts, using the first person is expected. Blogging is a personal experience. Whether you’re writing a post about your day or your writing tips for opening a Roth IRA, readers expect something more personal and intimate. We want our bloggers to be experts in their fields, but we don’t want to feel like we’re interacting with robots. Use anecdotes, tell stories, talk about yourself—it’s fair game.

It’s All about the Sources

In my college English courses, I was the research queen. I would cite sources endlessly in my essays. I found pretty early on that no matter how weak my thesis was, if I supported it with fancy sounding quotes, I was in the clear (sorta). This just doesn’t fly in blogging. Bloggers cannot use sources as a crutch in their writing. Readers don’t want a bunch of links and quotes from someone else to illustrate your idea. They’ve come to your blog to get your take on the issue. Sources are good. Good sources are better. But only using sources to demonstrate your idea is weak. Blogging, as self-involved as it sounds, is all about what you have to say.

Pinpoint a Central Thesis

Okay, so there were few steps more daunting in school than coming up with a profound and somehow unique thesis about Shakespeare’s Macbeth or Hemmingway’s “The Hills of Kilimanjaro”. How the heck are you supposed to come up with something that no one else has thought of on the most talked about pieces of literature in history? I love it. But anyway, English 101 is thesis, thesis, thesis. You spend entire courses learning how to come up with a thesis and write it. There are enthymemes and other things and it’s all really difficult—only to come up with one solid sentence. In blogging, this isn’t entirely necessary. Sure, many of our posts rely on carefully planned out and constructed theses. But, it’s not paramount. Sometimes our posts are going to start out with clear goals and devolve. That can be fun—that can be entertaining. Again, our readers want to learn something and gain something from what they read, but they expect what they read to really be you. Don’t stick to some idea that you’ve come up with and fail to really believe.

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