As a blogger, you may struggle with writing for a broad audience. How do you make your content engaging, and how do you connect? What are some characteristics that can help?
As I’ve mentioned on my blog several times before, I come from a journalism background. As I’ve gotten into blogging, I’ve found many parallels between journalism and blogging. Both types of writing cater to a broad audience.
Even if you’re writing for a niche, you probably still have thousands of readers in that niche. That’s a lot of readers who are seeing your writing.
If you’ve never written for an audience before, you may find it scary at first. After all, your writing has to be informative, engaging and different. It has to connect with your readers and teach them something they didn’t know before. That’s a lot of pressure!
Journalists have learned to face down this pressure, so in this post I’ll discuss a few lessons from journalism that you can use to help you write for your blog audience.
First, what is writing for an audience? Here’s a definition:
Good writing for a mass audience is clear, concise, simple and to the point. It conveys information, ideas and feelings to the reader and creates a world readers can step into.
Journalists do media writing, and media writing has five characteristics that bloggers can use.
Accuracy: This first characteristic is a necessity of a writer for a broad audience. The short definition of accuracy is “getting it right.”
You want to make sure your facts, spelling, grammar, punctuation and style are right. You also want to make sure your readers are informed correctly. Accuracy is also important so you gain and keep a reputation as a professional blogger.
Many of the procedures that mass media writers follow are set up to ensure accuracy, such as conducting research, verifying sources, and checking facts. All writers are expected to take the effort to present information accurately. Bloggers are no exception.
This is also why editing is important. Editing gives you the chance to check for errors and ensure your facts are correct. Your process should include paying attention to details in your posts.
Clarity: The second characteristic of clarity means using common words and phrases so that your information can be easily understood by the many readers in your audience.
Clarity means keeping your language simple. Use straightforward terms and sentence structures. Avoid jargon, or if you must use a jargonistic term, explain it to the reader.
It also means being specific with details. Don’t assume the reader knows what you know without explaining. Make sure your time sequence is clear and the reader can tell when events happened.
Transitions should also be clear, pulling the reader through the story. Connect new information to information already introduced.
Your writing should answer all of the questions that could be expected by the audience. No, this doesn’t mean you have to answer all of the questions that could possibly be asked, but it does mean answering all those that it takes to understand the information.
Precision: The third characteristic, precision, means that as a writer, you take special care with the language. You know good grammar and practice it. You use words for precisely what they mean. You develop a love for the language.
If you’re not a natural writer, or it’s been a while since you’ve learned the finer points of grammar and punctuation, precision means you learn your weaknesses and look up what you don’t know. If necessary, it means getting an editor or a coach to help you.
Efficiency: The fourth characteristic means using the fewest words to present your information accurately and clearly. It also means being organized and managing your time well. It takes a lot to run a blog. It takes not just the writing, but also managing comments, networking with other bloggers, and managing social media.
When it comes to writing, most of us write inefficiently, especially on first draft. I’ve been writing for years, and I hardly ever have a first draft just magically come together! Writing is a messy and inefficient process.
Many writers don’t do a good job editing their writing. The world is filled with inefficient, clichéd, or wordy writing, and we often fall victim to it. Sometimes, we copy this writing into our own and begin to think it’s correct. As professional bloggers, we need to rise above this inefficiency.
Brevity: The fifth characteristic is brevity, which means getting to the point. Tell what your story or post is about and give the main idea to your reader as quickly and simply as possible.
Brevity also means cutting out repetition. This means not using too many words that really mean the same thing, or repeating words more than necessary for the reader’s understanding. This also means cutting out unnecessary words that don’t add any meaning to your writing.
These characteristics are the ones professional journalists follow, and they can help you as a blogger write for your audience. You can use them to convey your information, ideas and feelings to your readers in a professional way that sets you apart.
Readers, what helps you write for a broad audience? What characteristics of good writing do you notice? Let us know in the comments!