I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Becoming a better writer is the best thing you can do to improve your blog’s readership and traffic. Not how many buttons you have for easy submission to social services, not detailed SEO optimization, and certainly not gimmicky headlines that are created to tempt potential readers into reading your article. All of these things do have some effect on getting people to your blog, but if they don’t like what they’re reading, they’re sure-as-shootin’ not going to come back. It’s all about the content.
Good writers have an advantage on traffic because their readers come back every time they write a new article. Many blog readers are also bloggers, so they in turn link to the posts. The more links a blog has, the higher its posts rank in search engines, and the blog receives even more traffic. Not only that, compelling content gives readers a reason to submit to social sites like Digg and Del.icio.us (regardless of whether or not you have those handy buttons).
So how does one define a good writer? At the very least a decent writer can construct sentences that show at least a 3rd grade reading level. (While this is a rather facetious statement, I have come across a couple blogs that don’t meet this standard. Hopefully the authors really were 2nd graders.)
Some other things I look for in a good writer:
- Great word choice. It’s not how many big words you know, but carefully choosing words that fit perfectly.
- Decent grammar. While blogging is a more forgiving medium, proper usage of grammar still shows masterful writing.
- The ability to make me laugh out loud. There are a few writers who can do this, and it’s a huge draw for me.
There are a few other undefined variables that go into being a great blogger, but really it’s just something the reader can sense. So how does one improve on all of these aspects of better writing?
Really, the answer is painfully simple:
Read other great writers.
That’s it. There’s no magic involved here. The more great writing you can soak up everyday, the more your writing will improve.
Sure, one could take a writing class to improve their writing chops. But how much do you remember from your English education in high school or college? I can’t remember hardly anything except funny words like “dangling modifier”. (That one gets me every time.) I do remember great writing though.
So to get us started, here are a few great writers that I read frequently:
- Merlin Mann of 43 Folders
- Gina Trapini of LifeHacker
- Kathy Sierra of CreatingPassionateUsers
- Woot blog
- Any of the All Things Digital blogs
Reading more high-caliber bloggers is one of the most effective ways to improve your writing. What you read shapes how you write. If you read better blogs, you’ll start to see immediate results in your own writing. And it’s a lot more fun than learning about misplaced modifiers and past participles!