I recently attended the 4th Annual Wine Bloggers Conference in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Yes, Virginia, there is wine in Virginia.) And while much of the event focused on wine tasting, there was much to learn about blog writing from many different bloggers including Master of Wine Jancis Robinson who publishes a paid subscription blog called Purple Pages, and Eric Asimov of the New York Times, who used to write a NYT blog called The Pour. I took jabs at their speeches in my post, Wine Bloggers Conference: A Tale of Two Keynotes, but that did not diminish some valuable points that all bloggers should consider.
The key concept is that people who read blogs want to be informed as well as entertained, and they don’t want to feel left out of the discussion. Here’s how to give them what they want.
Speak to your readers in a way that anyone can understand. Avoid jargon, explain technicalities, and if you make a joke or cultural reference, be sure your audience will “get it,” no matter what country they’re in. Google Analytics will tell you exactly where your readers are. If you don’t want to stop to explain something, add a link to a page that will explain it for you.
Whatever you write should always be 100% correct, achievable through old-school fact checking via phone, email or reliable Internet sources. One of the reasons I quote so rarely is because it does take more time and effort. If you plan to quote someone, record them. Otherwise ask them to approve your quotes. If you’re given information from someone, check to make sure your source was correct about it.
Use humor to liven up your posts and be as original as possible in your writing. Also, a dose of humility doesn’t hurt because it tells your readers that you are as curious about your subject as they are and that you’re are not some kind of “know it all.” Jancis also suggested telling your readers that you love them, and I would add that expressions of affection should be cleverly worded to avoid creepiness.
I’ll admit to being guilty of tossing around an inside joke or not explaining a technical point more than once. But with these points in mind we can all be better blog writers, no matter what the topic.
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