Five great ways to find fresh and creative blog post ideas

Do you live in fear of running out of ideas for your blog posts? Where do good blog post ideas come from? How can you keep the creativity flowing, post after post?

Some days, you sit down at your computer and think of five great ideas for your next blog post. Other days, you sit down and stare at the blank screen, wondering, “What the heck am I going to write about next?”

Blog post ideas

Do you struggle with finding new blog post ideas? Here are five sources you can use to keep your blog fresh and creative.

Let’s talk about where blog post ideas come from. The simple answer is: They come from everywhere. If you have your eyes open, ideas are everywhere you look. Just about any topic or question related to your niche that you might wonder about can become a blog post. Chances are your readers are wondering the same thing, and you could write a post that answers that question.

There are several things you can do to keep a wellspring of ideas that you can rely on. As a blog writer, you can  use a variety of sources to get your ideas. Here are some of them:

1. The news is a great place to get ideas. Read newspapers, magazines and news Web sites related to your niche. Read billboards and ads, watch TV and listen to the radio. Think about how you can find a new angle or express your opinion on news events.

2. Ideas can also come from studies or survey data. If a study is published about something happening in your niche, cite it and write about in a future post. Depending on your niche and topic, census or government data might be a source, too.

3. Local or national events and anniversaries are also a source of ideas. Keep up with what’s on the calendar for your niche. You might find something for a post to write about from a current or historical perspective.

4. Other people are a great source of ideas. Talk to experts in your niche, as well as family, friends and others you come in contact with.

5. Last, but not least, look to your own personal experiences. Don’t forget that yourself and your own life are a source of ideas. Then find an angle that your readers can relate to, and develop it into a topic that can be researched and written.

Another tip that can help is to keep a running list of ideas. Every time you see or hear about something in your niche that would make a good post, write it down. If you find a link that you might want to cite in a post, copy it into a document with a couple of notes on how you might use it later.

This way, on those days when the wellspring of ideas is dry, you can refer to your list and find something to write about.

If you keep your eyes and ears open, you’ll have no trouble finding ideas for future blog posts. Good ideas come from a huge variety of places. If you keep a list every time you stumble across a good idea, you won’t have to stare at a blank computer screen waiting for an idea to come. You’ll already have a wealth of good ideas to keep your blog fresh and creative.

For more ideas, here is a good post from the Digital Marketing Blog: The Ultimate List of Blog Post Ideas.

Readers, where do you find ideas? How do you keep your ideas organized, fresh and creative?

Six ways to end your blog posts and leave an impact on your audience

Do you have trouble with how to end your blog posts in a memorable way that leaves a final impression on your readers? How can you write better endings, and why is paying attention to your ending important?

Just as the first few sentences of your blog post, or your lead, are your first impression on your audience, your last few sentences are your last impression. You want your readers to finish your post and say to themselves, “Well, that was interesting. I’m glad I read that!”

Effective conclusions serve four main purposes:

Blog-post-endings

The conclusion of your blog post is just as important as the beginning. There are several ways you can have a strong finish to your posts.

  1. They summarize your blog post.
  2. They re-emphasize your main idea in a memorable way.
  3. They motivate your audience to respond.
  4. They provide closure.

But how do you end a blog post? Do you just stop writing, or is there more you can do to make your conclusion stand out?

Several techniques can make your conclusion more effective. You can use some of the same methods you used in the lead. For more information on leads, see my previous post. You can refer back to your lead, which ties together the beginning and end. You might finish a story, answer a question you posed in the intro, or recall a startling fact or statistic. You can also use the conclusion as a chance to give a dramatic inspirational appeal or challenge.

There are six types of conclusions you can use to end your blog posts.

  1. Summary ending: This conclusion grows from the story that has come before it. It summarizes the essence of your topic.
  2. Circular organization:  This unifies your post by bringing the reader back around to the lead. It uses the same idea, phrase, question, statement or description in both the lead and the ending to give the story or blog post unity.
  3. Describe the current action: If you’re writing about a current event or issue, tell what’s now being done. Leave the reader with a sense of where this topic or issue is now.
  4. Describe future action: Talk about what may be done in the future. Answer the question: Where is this issue or topic headed next?
  5. Surprise ending: This conclusion uses a startling fact or statement at the end to surprise the reader. It’s a good way to end your post with a bit of a twist.
  6. Reader action: You can end your post by asking the audience what they propose to do about the topic. You can also give them a call to action and tell them what you want them to do.

If you feel like your endings aren’t as strong as they could be, these tips should help you leave that final impression on your reader. With the four main purposes of a conclusion described here, and the six ways you can end a blog post, I hope you have a better sense of why your conclusion is just as important as the beginning of your blog post. If you don’t want your reader to walk away saying, “Why did I just read that?”, make your endings sound polished and professional.

Readers, how do you end your blog posts? Do you think the conclusion is important? Let us know in the comments.

How can better leads catch and keep your reader’s attention?

Lead-elements

The lead, or the first few sentences of your blog post, are the most important. The lead’s job is to tell readers why they should take the time to read your blog post.

You may know you need to catch your reader’s attention from the beginning of a story or a blog post, but do you have trouble with how to start your post?. How can you start off your blog posts better?

The first few sentences of your blog post, which I’ll call the lead, are the most important of your story or post. The lead’s job is to tell the readers why they should care. Why should they take their time to read your post? If you don’t tell them that in your lead, they’ll move on to read something else.

Your lead must intrigue the reader, set the tone for your post, and move the reader into the body. In short, it must get your reader’s attention and keep it.

You might also need to establish credibility in your lead. On your own blog, you probably have ongoing authority through your posts and your About page. But if you’re doing a guest post on another blog, those readers may not know you. The lead is your chance to show that you are a believable authority on your subject and gain the audience’s trust.

So how do you write better leads? Let’s take a lesson from journalistic feature writing. A good lead should contain three elements:

  1. The Hook to lure the reader in.
  2. The Idea of what the story is about.
  3. The Transition into the body of the story or post.

Together, these spell the acronym HIT. You want to HIT the reader with a great lead. That’s easy to remember, right?

The Hook is what gives your audience a reason to read. You want your reader to be intrigued so they’ll pay attention and read your whole post. Show them how the topic affects them or helps them directly. This motivates them to continue.

The Idea is where you introduce your topic. Present your central idea near the top of your post so your readers know right off what you’re writing about.

The Transition is what carries the reader into the rest of your post. Some examples are: “Now, let’s get to it,” or “The first tip is …” or “Specifically” or “For example.”

How can you hook your reader in your lead? Here are five ways you can start your blog post.

1. The dramatic lead uses dramatic stories, or minidramas, to set the stage and draw readers into the story or post. This lead is good for when you want to give an anecdote or set a dramatic scene.

2. The question lead begins with a question that should entice readers into your blog post because they want to know the answer. The only danger with a question lead is that it can be used as a crutch. It can look like you couldn’t think of any other way to start your post, so you simply asked a question. Make sure the question really intrigues the reader, and be sure to answer it quickly.

3. The direct quote lead uses a quotation from someone else to start your story. Quotes from famous people are an obvious choice, but a quote from someone you interview or someone in your niche can work as well. This type of lead has a similar danger to the question lead: Don’t use it as a crutch. Make sure the quote you use says what you want to say better than you could say it yourself.

4. The setting lead uses the techniques of a fiction story to carry the reader to the place or time that the story is taking place. This type of lead works very well if you’re telling a story. You can set the scene, describe the conflict, and express the emotional impact.

5. The combination lead simply uses combinations of the other four types. You can stick with only one type in a post, but you don’t have to. For example, you could ask a question, then use a dramatic story to illustrate the answer.

Every time you write a blog post, you’re competing against other blogs and stories on the Web for your reader’s attention. Putting time and attention into your lead will help you grab readers’ interest when they first find your blog post.

Readers, what tips and tricks do you have for starting off your blog posts? Let us know in the comments.

Five ways to organize your blog posts and save you time revising

Do you feel like you throw your blog posts together, then have to reorganize them a lot to get the topic to fit together? How can you get better at organizing your posts from the beginning? What are some ways you can organize your topics?

Writing a blog post that’s well organized takes some thinking and planning, and maybe an outline. As you’re trying to figure out how to organize your blog post, start by thinking about different ways you can divide your topic

This advice works not only for written blogs, but also for podcast or video topics.

There are five ways you can organize your main ideas for your blog topics.

1. Organize your idea topically.

Organizing-blog-posts

There are five ways you can organize your blog posts. These also work for podcasts or videos. It’s worth your time to organize before you write.

Sometimes, your idea will naturally divide into parts. Sometimes, the parts are equal in importance, so the order doesn’t matter. Other times, one part may be more important than the others. If this is the case, you can arrange them in one of three ways:

  • Primacy, with the most important or convincing point first.
  • Recency, where you discuss most important last if it is the one you want the audience to remember most.
  • Complexity, where you arrange your points from simplest to most complex.

For example, if you’re writing about the benefits of stem cell research, you could use primacy. Put a point about human development first, then follow it with developing and testing drugs, then cell therapy.

2. Organize your idea chronologically.

You can organize your topic by time, or in order of a sequence of steps. Historical articles, or any story in which you describe the order of events that occurred, use this type of organization. “How to” posts, which describe a process, also use this.

For example, if you’re writing about how to strip paint from furniture, you want your post arranged in the order of steps. If you’re writing about the evolution of YouTube, you might use reverse chronological order. First, talk about where it is today, then take readers backward to its beginnings.

3. Organize your ideas spatially.

This type of organization works when your idea has a specific location or direction. It might be useful if you’re focusing on different parts of a building, organization or machine. It might also be used for different regions.

For example, if you’re talking about the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., you could arrange your post to take readers through the grounds of the museum.

4. Organize your idea to show cause and effect.

This method works if you want to identify a situation or cause, then discuss the results or effect of it. You might also want to show a relationship between certain factors and certain results.

For example, if you’re writing about the level of increasing destruction from hurricanes, you can arrange your post from effect to causes. If you’re writing about adult literacy, a good way to arrange it would be from cause to effect.

5. Organize your idea by problem and solution.

This type of organization is good if you want to explain a relationship between something that is wrong and how it can be corrected.

Say you’re writing about increased crime in a neighborhood or in your city. You might first identify the problem, then give solutions. If you want to talk about the benefits of partnerships between businesses and schools for college students and the community, you could first discuss the partnerships as the solution. Then talk about the problem that public schools no longer have funding for special programs.

If you don’t think about the organization of your idea before you begin writing your blog post, you will either end up with a disorganized post that goes up on the web for all to see, or you will spend a lot of time revising. If you want to be a better organized blog writer from the beginning, it’s worth it to take some time to organize your idea. Spending time planning will save you time revising and result in a better blog post.

Readers, how do you organize your blog posts? Let us know in the comments.

Four powerful writing tips to entice and impress your audience

If you’re a beginning blogger, this may be your first time writing for other people. Are you looking for tips on how to put your words together better? Do you want to sound professional, and not vague, complicated or rambly?

In your journey to become a better blogger, writing is very important. I’ve seen a lot of bloggers who could use some advice on how to write a blog better.

Four tips to make your words more powerful are to be specific, simple, correct and concise.

Powerful writing tips

If you’re just learning how to write a blog for a mass audience, there are some simple ways you can make your writing more powerful.

1. Use specific and concrete words.

Specifically name the item you’re talking about. For example, if you’re blogging about a serpentine creature that crawls on the ground, call it a “ball python” instead of just a “snake.”

Avoid clichés. These are overused and tired words. If you’ve heard it before, it’s probably a cliché. Business speak is full of clichés, such as “at the end of the day” and “going forward.” Other overused phrases are “knock it out of the park” and “24/7.” One way to make your blog writing more powerful is to be original.

2. Use simple words.

The best language is often the simplest language. Don’t try to impress your audience with jargon and pompous words. They will tune you out.

I found a Plain Language government website aimed at improving communication from the federal government to the public. This is a great list that any writer can learn from, and it can be useful to you in your blog writing.

3. Use correct words.

Make sure you are familiar with the meanings of the words you use and that you are using them correctly. For example, I recently saw this sentence at the beginning of a blog article: “According to Social Media Examiner, 89% of marketers want to know how to measure social media ROI, and yet calculating the social ROI still remains illusive to many companies.”

The problem is with the word “illusive.” It means deceptive or illusory. Is this what the writer meant here, or did he or she mean “elusive,” which means difficult to find, catch or achieve. I think elusive is the correct word here.

Another note: The writer should have spelled out ROI, which means “return on investment” the first time it was used, in case some readers don’t know what the abbreviation means.

Word meaning has two dimensions: denotation and connotation, so you want to choose your words carefully. For example, take the word notorious. Its denotation means famous, but its connotation means famous because of something evil or cruel.

4. Use concise words.

Eliminate words and phrases that add no meaning, such as in my opinion, or as a matter of fact. The phrase “due to the fact that” can be shortened to “because.” Another wordy phrase I’ve seen lately is “on a weekly basis.” Just say “weekly.” The same applies to “on a daily basis” (daily) or “on an annual basis” (annually.)

Avoid narrating your writing technique. In other words, don’t tell your audience you’re going to write a blog post – just start the post by introducing your topic.

Seth Godin posted recently on this topic: They’re your words. Choose them.

Your words are your impression to your audience. Taking the time to care about specific, simple, correct and concise words will help you improve your blog writing.

Readers, what do you think of these tips? What other tips do you have to make writing more powerful?

How can you write blog content that appeals to your audience?

Have you been blogging for awhile, but are not sure if you’re getting through to your audience? How can you write content that appeals to your audience and what they want to know about?

If you want to learn how to blog for a mass audience, you can learn from journalism. Bloggers are trying to reach a large audience, just like journalists do. You’re probably trying to appeal to a niche with your blog, but you’re still writing for a wide audience of readers.

In journalism, there are seven values of news stories. Editors at print and online publications, and news directors at broadcast outlets, decide on what content the audience sees based on these values. They are:

Seven-values

The seven values of journalism can help you as a blog writer. If your readers see these values in your blog, they will relate to it better.

  • Impact: This is when the story affects a lot of people and matters to them. One example from 2012 was Superstorm Sandy. It impacted a lot of people on the East Coast.
  • Immediacy: This is timely news that just happened or is about to happen. This is most commonly called “breaking news.”
  • Proximity: This is news that happens in or close to your community. People tend to care about events that happen close to them. I live in Louisville, Ky., and every year we prepare for the Kentucky Derby. Many people worldwide watch the Derby itself, but not as many outside the community will care about events such as Thunder Over Louisville, The Great Steamboat Race, or the Derby Festival Marathon.
  • Prominence: If the story involves a recognizable name, it attracts attention. For example, if any of us average people takes a trip across the country, it’s not newsworthy.  But if a world leader like Barack Obama takes a trip across the country, it’s news.
  • Novelty: If the story is new, unique or different, it also attracts attention. Recently, we were riveted by the story of the Malaysia Airlines plane that disappeared. At least, I was! How often does a plane simply disappear in our modern world? The situation was unique. (Let’s hope it remains unique.)
  • Conflict: These stories involve confrontations or disagreements and clashes of power. Political stories often have this element. Examples are when lawmakers disagree or elections are going on.
  • Human Interest: These stories connect with and focus on people and their humanity. They make readers feel happy, sad, horrified, outraged, or a range of other emotions.

Often, news stories will have more than one of these values, which is what helps put them at the top of the news.

What can you as a blogger learn from these news values? If journalists use them to appeal to their audiences, you can use them, too. Depending on what type of blog you’re writing, you can make sure your posts are based on one or more of these values.

Novelty should be present in a lot of your blog posts as you find a fresh way of looking at your niche. If you’re writing a news blog, you will probably rely on impact and immediacy. If you’re writing a celebrity blog, prominence will definitely come into play. If you’re writing a local blog, proximity will be valuable to your audience. If you’re writing an opinion or political blog, then conflict will drive your posts. If you’re writing an informative or hobby blog, human interest will draw your audience in.

If your audience sees the same values reflected in your blog as they’re used to seeing in the news, chances are they’ll relate to your blog. And if they relate to your blog, they’ll be more likely to stick around and read it.

Readers, do you notice these values in your blog posts, or in the blogs you read? How do you think these values might help your blog writing?

Why should you bother learning rules when you can use a grammar checker?

Does editing your posts take a lot of time? Do you think using an online grammar checker would save you time? Is it worth it to do the editing yourself?

No, you should not use an online grammar check to replace editing your blog posts yourself. First, it’s lazy. Second, professionals learn the rules of their profession, and this goes for online writers.

If you are writing a professional blog, you need to learn how to write a blog that is error-free. This is especially true if your blog is monetized and your goal is to make a living at it.

Grammar checker

If your goal is to make money from your blog, you need to learn how to write a blog that is error-free.

Grammar checkers can catch superficial spelling or grammar errors. The problem is that they don’t often catch transparent errors or awkward writing. I tried the online grammar checker at reverso.net on a few errors I’ve seen lately, and there were several things it didn’t catch. I found these examples online at various blogs.

Example 1: A pretty question about affiliate links is how to mask affiliate links that is safe in Google’s eye.

Grammar checker’s correction: It didn’t detect any mistakes.

My analysis: There is an agreement error in the second part of the sentence: “how to mask affiliate links that is safe in Google’s eye.” The verb is refers back to links, which is plural. The phrase should be: “how to mask affiliate links that are safe in Google’s eye.”

Example 2: “We all know that it is important that we have a blog…BUT…It’s also very important that you have YOUR OWN Blog for your business and not just on that is provided by your company.”

Grammar checker’s correction: It didn’t detect any mistakes.

My analysis: I see five errors in that sentence. The ellipses are misused twice. A comma should go before but, and no punctuation after. It’s and blog are also capitalized when they don’t need to be. The phrase “not just on” should be “not just one.”

I would also tell this author to take the all caps of BUT and YOUR OWN out, and to unbold “YOUR OWN Blog.” They are unnecessary.

Example 3: The main customer of the search engines are the people looking for information, bloggers and content creators are not their ideal clients.

Grammar checker’s correction: The main customer of the search engines is the people looking for information, bloggers and content creators are not their ideal clients.

My analysis: The grammar checker detected the agreement error between customer (singular) and are (plural), but there is still a problem with the switch from singular customer to plural people. And the grammar checker did not pick up on the fact that the original example is a run-on sentence. Two complete thoughts are crammed together. The sentence should be broken between information and bloggers.

To correct all of the problems in this example, it should be written like this: The main customers of the search engines are the people looking for information. Bloggers and content creators are not their ideal clients.

I hope the above examples give you an idea of why it pays to be smarter than a computerized grammar checker. A human, especially one who is good at editing and making judgment calls that a computer cannot, is essential to the editing process.

If you want to be taken seriously as a professional blogger, don’t skip or automate the editing process. It is as much a part of the writing process as the writing is. Blog writers who skip or try to computerize the editing process are doing themselves and their readers a disservice.

If you’re not good at editing yourself, have a human who is good at it proofread your posts.

Readers, what do you think of grammar checkers? How much time do you spend editing your blog posts?

What are some tips you can use to design a nice-looking blog?

Are you getting ready to set up a blog, and can’t afford to hire a designer? How can you avoid some horrible design mistakes and create a well-designed blog?

You don’t have to be an experienced web designer to design a good-looking blog. When I designed Contemporary Communicator, I drew on my background in page design, as well as some good and bad things I’ve seen on other blogs.

How to make a blog look well designed.

Here are five tips for how to make a blog that is well designed for your readers.

Here are some tips for how to make a blog that is well designed.

Colors and contrast:

If you use WordPress, there are all kinds of themes and colors to choose from. This can be both good and bad. The good side is you have a lot of options for your blog’s look. The bad side is you can get drawn in by all the fancy options and end up with a site that’s not readable.

Go for pleasing colors that establish the mood of your site. I tried one of my favorite color combinations, maroon and gray, on my blog at first. It was so dark and boring that it made me depressed! If I thought it was depressing, I’m sure my readers would have. I experimented and found the much more cheerful blue and yellow combination.

High contrast between colors makes your text easier to read. Watch out for textured backgrounds, especially under your text. Confine the background to the sides of your blog, and leave your text area plain. I think black text on white works best for the reading area because of the high contrast. Other combinations could work, as long as the text stays easy to read.

Keep in mind that all of your readers might not have great eyesight, and they need to be able to read your content.

Easy navigation:

Top and side menus should be clearly labeled and easy to click on. They should be brief and make sense to the reader. Menu standards, such as Home, About, Contact, Resources, and other labels, are what readers are used to seeing. For example, “Jennifer Thornberry’s Journey to Blogging” is probably a bit much. Luckily, I went with the simple “About.” On the pages themselves, you can be creative, but make the menus and links simple so that visitors will click to your creative pages.

Links that work:

This may seem obvious, but I’ve visited sites that have either broken links or menus that say one thing, such as “Forum,” then either lead nowhere or take me back to the home page. Make sure your menu links go where you intend them to go. If you link to other pages (especially on other people’s sites) or social media profiles, test the links to make sure they work.

Mobile responsiveness:

More and more people are consuming online content on smartphones and tablets. Make sure your theme adjusts for readers on those devices. I used to use the WordPress 2012 theme on this blog, but then I visited my site from my phone and realized it looked terrible. Now, I’m using Weaver II because it is mobile responsive.

Don’t annoy your readers:

If you want readers to come to your site because they are interested in your content, don’t put annoying elements in their way. For example, I was looking at a blog a few days ago, and a little Twitter bird icon kept flying all over the page as I scrolled down. It didn’t make me want to tweet the post more. It annoyed me until I left the site.

If you want people to share your content, the best sharing menus are the ones that stay at the top, sides or bottom of your post.

I also get annoyed with pop-ups that come up just when I’ve started reading the first few sentences of an article or blog post. I quickly look for the X or “No thanks” button to get it to go away so I can continue reading. Before you use a pop-up, think about whether it’s worth the possibility of driving your potential readers away.

Readers, what are some design elements that you like and don’t like? How have you designed your blog to make your visitor’s experience better?

The key to organized blog posts so you don’t lose your audience

Outline for blog posts

Doing an outline for your blog posts gives you several advantages.

Do you have trouble organizing your blog posts or podcasts? How would an outline help you stay on topic and avoid rambling?

If you have trouble organizing your thoughts, then you should definitely do an outline. I’m a huge fan of outlines. Anything that needs a plan of action requires an outline. This goes for your blog posts or your podcasts.

If you’re not confident that you can stay on topic, then the outline gives you more confidence as you write your blog post or record your podcast. You don’t have to think about what idea is coming next – it’s in the outline. You’ve already decided. This leaves you free to concentrate on the words and transitions from one idea to the next.

The outline gives you a way to focus your blog topic or podcast idea. If your idea requires research, the outline helps you decide what information is within your focus and what isn’t. Without an outline, you may wallow in a pile of notes with no idea of how to put them together, or have a guest on your podcast and have no idea how to guide them through your topic.

It’s okay to revise your outline as you complete your post or podcast, but if you at least start with a direction, you’re less likely to get lost.

Outlining forces you to think through your ideas more thoroughly. It also makes you look at your facts and see if any areas are thin or lacking in research. An outline also shows the relationships between ideas and where transitions should be.

The level of detail in the outline depends on what you’re writing. If it’s a 500 or 1,000 word blog post on your latest travel journey, you can probably just quickly write:

  1. Getting there
  2. Food and restaurants
  3. Sightseeing experiences

Bam! You have a rough outline you can quickly fill in. But if you’re writing a 1,500-word blog post where you are going to cite several sources, or record a 45-minute podcast, you want a longer and more detailed outline, using Roman numerals; A’s, B’s and C’s; and 1’s, 2’s and 3’s.

People like logic and organization as they read or listen to stories and podcasts. For your own sake as you create your online pieces, an outline will keep you organized and confident. For your audience’s sake, an outline will help you create a piece that they will be able to enjoy.

Readers, do you outline your blog posts or podcasts? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments.

How to avoid biased language that could offend your audience

As a blog reader, do you notice biased or sexist references? Does it offend you if you are female and a post refers to only “he”? How can you avoid biased and sexist words in your own writing?

I saw an online post that made a couple of sexist references. The post was about grammar, and it said to have someone else proofread your copy, and “he” will help find your errors. In another sentence, the article referred to “businessmen, executives and marketing people.”

Biased-language

Be careful of biased and sexist language. You don’t want to offend your audience.

The problem with these references is that they’re biased and exclusive. In today’s culture, writers need to be sensitive to all groups of people. This especially true for bloggers, whose work may be seen worldwide. You never know who might read your blog.

The first step of the solution is to be sensitive to all of your potential readers. The second step is to think of non-biased ways to write.

The writer I referred to in the first paragraph could have done a couple of things to avoid any biased errors. First, instead of saying “he will help find your errors,” a simple solution is to write: “Have someone else proofread your copy, and he or she will help you find errors.” It’s worth a couple of extra words to include everyone in your audience.

Second, in this writer’s reference to “businessmen, executives and marketing people,” the problem is with businessmen, which is an outdated term. Unless you’re sure a group consists of only male business professionals, a better term is “business people.” The best solution for this writer would be to write: “business executives and marketing people.”

I saw another biased example a few days ago in a blog post about building a mailing list. Near the beginning of the post, I noticed this sentence: “Unfortunately, some bloggers and online businessmen are yet to start building a list.”

I quit reading. I thought: If you’re not going to include my gender in your post, why should I finish reading it? This excluded me because I am a woman, and on my way to becoming an online businesswoman. The blog author may have had useful tips, but I will move on to an author who doesn’t exclude my gender.

In this example, instead of the term “online businessmen,” some solutions are to call all of us online entrepreneurs or professional bloggers.

Male-oriented words are only one form of bias. Other areas to be careful of are racism, ageism, cultural bias, sexual orientation, religious groups and people with disabilities.

Bias can also crop up when it comes to professions that have traditionally been dominated by one gender. A few examples of ways to avoid male- or female-oriented references are to say firefighter instead of fireman, server instead of waiter or waitress, flight attendant instead of stewardess, and postal carrier instead of mailman.

You should avoid biased language in your writing. Biased language raises the possibility that you could offend and alienate your audience. We bloggers need all the readers we can get, and we can’t alienate our audience.

Readers, have you encountered any biases online that have offended you? Do you think twice about avoiding bias in your posts?