Someone asked what the qualifications were to impress me with your wordpress.com blog. I hate stacking the deck, but it make me think about how you should go about impressing everyone with your WordPress site.
I bet in your collection of photographs, you have a few of those totally out of focus pictures where you think you know what it is a picture of, but you’re just not sure. You can see the shape of people but you have no idea what they are doing or where they are at.
I love a good blog but when it looks like an out of focus picture, where I’m not sure what they are talking about or who they are talking about or why they are even talking – then it’s really hard to understand or enjoy it. Unless something captures my attention, holds it, and gives me enough information to make it worthwhile to return or monitor the feed, then I’m off to a blog that can.
Your blog is focused when you write with a plan and goal in mind. A goal is like a mission statement – what are you writing about or showcasing. This is the end result. The plan is the step-by-step process of accomplishing your goal. How are you going to write about or showcase your subject matter.
If you have a goal, like a subject or topic, in mind, then your plan is how to you will continue to supply information, resources, content, and enthusiasm on that specific subject. It isn’t about narrowing your topic, but narrowing your focus. If your blog is about WordPress, like this one, then make it all about WordPress and related topics. What is related to WordPress? Blogging is related, as is writing, web page design, people who blog, how people blog, and how people are using WordPress. For example, while it isn’t exactly about WordPress, my recent articles on Blogs About Hurricane Katrina, Celebrity Blog for Hope and Cancer, and Blogging About Disabilities showcase how people are using blogs, and possibly WordPress.
All of these issues revolve around WordPress and blogging. They do not include editorial comments on the world at large, political views, descriptions of my pets or life in general, and other random thoughts. It is totally focused on WordPress and blogging.
The more focused the topic and subject matter, the better to see what you are writing about, and the more your blog comes into focus.
Let It Reflect YOU
I personally hate anonymous blogs or sites. Ones stuffed with a few words, too many links, and not enough content. Or the dreaded lack of an About or Who am I page. I want to KNOW the person behind the blog. I want to know the credentials, reputation, expertise, and reason behind the work.
A good blog can be about any topic, but it needs to also be about you, even if “you” want your privacy, we readers need to have a feeling that there is someone who knows what they are talking about behind the mask of the blog.
As a reader of blogs, I want to know that I’m getting “your” opinion, not just some collection of stuff from other people’s sites. Even if you just showcase a link and a blockquote, include a sentence or two of why you think this is important enough for me to click away from your site to read this. Make me WANT to come back to visit you by allowing me the chance to get to know a little about you and your views and opinions.
Blogs began as personal opinions, journals, and diaries, allowing people an opportunity to express themselves. They have evolved into other things. Still, they shouldn’t lose that feeling of personal, which makes blogs different from websites.
It really makes a difference when the voice we read is consistent in opinion and style, and we know what to expect when visiting and reading. One of the greatest compliments I can get on my site is when people say “I feel like I know you”, or “I totally understand you”, or my favorite “We have so much in common, I feel like you are a friend before we’ve even met.” While a tiny part of my site is dedicated to my personal opinions and experiences, the articles and information we share is a reflection of our life on the road traveling and people like the personal way we tell the stories.
Let your site speak for you and about you and show us who you are by your writing.
Impress With Style, Accuracy, Intent, and Spell Check
Your writing style can easily impress or depress readers. How you write, not just what you write, tells a lot about you and the story you are telling.
Write to impress people. I don’t mean show off, but make sure what you rite is indelligigigigibull ‘n’ e-z 2 unnerstand. And for goodness sakes, please spell check the stuff, or at least try. I know the developers are trying to fit spell check into WordPress and that there are some spell checking plugins available, too, but try to at least fix the blatant spelling errors. We can ignore the infrequent mizzed spelling but not the consistent horrid grammar.
Make sure what you say has a core of truth and accuracy. Check your facts. Certainly, when writing your opinion it is your opinion, but take time to determine if what you are writing about is the truth or perpetuating a rumor. There are plenty flying around the net. Check your facts, if you use facts, to make sure they are right. This way, you build a reputation for accuracy, and we understand your intent is to be honest with us.
It helps when we know the intent behind the words or images. Is your intent to make us angry, sad, happy, inspired, or another emotion? Is the intent to educate or just open up your life to others? When the intent is clear within the words, it helps to understand what you are saying as well as how you are saying it.
When you are clear in your writing and intent, we understand what you are saying. Remember the famous question, “Do you still beat your wife?” No matter how you answer it, it can be misinterpreted. Avoid sentences like that so we really understand the meaning and intent in your words and we avoid making wild assumptions about what you are trying to say.
Consistency is All in the Mixing
Why do you visit certain sites? Is it just because the writing is amusing or inspiring? Is it because the topic is current and applicable to your interests? Is it because the information is educational and you continue to learn something new all the time? I visit BBC and CNN news to track the everyday events in the world. I visit a couple of weather sites and blogs because I currently live in a hurricane zone. I monitor photomatt and WordPress Development Blog, among others, to keep up with news on WordPress. Everyone has a reason to visit specific websites and blogs. What are some of your reasons?
Now, look at your own site. Why do people visit your blog?
Why is this important? Think about the connection with consistency. I go to the news, weather, and WordPress sites because I know they will consistently provide me information on the news, weather, and WordPress topics I need.
Consistency means providing a continual flow of relevant information. That’s two things. It means providing a frequent and steady flow of content that is related and interconnected. Are you seeing a theme here?
The most popular blogs have a focus, purpose, and identity, a reason that keeps you returning because you know what to expect. A photography blog has photographs, a poetry blog has poetry, news blog has news, a dancer’s blog talks about dance, an aircraft engineer’s blog has articles on engineering and aircraft, a comedian’s blog has comical topics….blogs that work have labels and the labels help them to identify with an audience – and to hold them.
What Really Impresses Lorelle
What really impresses Lorelle, and most people consciously and unconsciously, are blogs and websites that seriously think about the user, the visitor, the reader, more than me, me, me and what I want. The blog isn’t about the author’s needs but the needs of the reader. A good performer is constantly thinking about how to connect with the audience. A good blogger should be no different.
I have a friend who I seriously think believes we can read his mind. He starts sentences in the middle of the sentence, leaving off the noun and verb that helps us understand his point. After he rambles for 15 seconds or more, you have no idea what he is talking about. Most people let him just ramble on, which will last for ages, but I learned very quickly to stop him and say, “What are you talking about?”
‘m seeing more and more stream-of-consciousness blogs out there. I read a whole screen before I have any idea what they are talking about. I want to interrupt them and say, “What are you talking about?”
Guide us, the reader and visitor, through your site with information and examples that helps us to understand your point and what you want to say. Don’t expect us to read your mind. Use complete sentences and concepts. Tell us a story. Lead us down a path. Give us a beginning, middle, and end.
Think about how the visiting reader will use your site and how they will find the information they need. The more time you spend thinking about me, the visitor, and how hard you work to make sure I’m a contented guest within your home page,then the happier I am to stay for a while. I will be content to sit and visit. To get to know you and listen to what you have to say.
That is what will impress me. And I’m sure it will impress everyone else, too.