How to Write A Great Blog Post (About Cheese)
Friends, I spend a lot of time on this site gushing. I gush about the cheeses of my dreams as I discover them. I gush about new cheesemakers who enter my orbit. But I almost never break away from my freaky dairy adoration to talk about what I do at work, which is this: I teach writing.
That’s right. I’m not a cheesemonger. I read for a living — good writing and uninspired writing. My goal? To push the good writers to write more, and to spark those who are uninspired to pluck more vibrant observations from the trees.
A couple weeks ago, I spoke to a group of Communications majors at Saint Joseph’s University about how to write a compelling blog post. As I was jotting my tips down on the back of a cheese wrapper, it occurred to me that maybe you’d find them useful. Whether you blog as a monger, maker, or marketer, may you find a few juicy bits here. After seven years of cheese blogging, here are the tips I lean on…
1. Imagine that your next post is going to get you a job/earn you a ribbon/inspire someone to mail you a surprise. Once your post goes live, it becomes the portal through which strangers discover you on Google. If it’s unforgettable, people will salivate. And follow your every crumb.
2. Visualize hundreds of people at desks (or in fields!) reading your post. How can you keep them from standing up to get a donut or becoming more interested in a cloud? Can you take them on a fascinating journey through some part of your world? Teach them new information?
3. Start your post with a fiercely interesting title – one that issues an invitation or a promise. Like “Enter My Cheese Cave for a Sneak Peek of X” (Invitation.) Or, “Three Tips for Successful Team Building Behind the Cheese Counter” (Promise.)
4. Sniff out what’s interesting about your work. When you are stirring curds/wrapping wedges/riding the subway to Murray’s, jot down a list of possible posts — The Cheese That Changed Everything, What I Learned from Pairing Cheese with Absinthe, etc. Jot down titles of things you would like to explore so that you can begin to gather the details.
5. Snap photos and record your observations. Carry a notebook or use a note on your phone where you store ideas for posts. If you enter the day looking for story ideas, you’re going to see possibilities everywhere you look.
6. Write a first draft, then wait. For crying out loud, don’t hit “publish” on a first draft. Sketch out your post, then come back after dinner, preferably with a little digestif, and proofread. As a little challenge, I often look for 3 verbs I can make more interesting. Then I try to add a specific image or two that will be memorable. (Like the donut, the absinthe.)
7. Lay out your post with care – as if you were preparing a room for a special guest. (Who wants to open a post that looks like a cluttered bedroom?) Use whitespace, boldface, bullets. Layer in your best photos and keep them all the same size, preferably on the large side. A busy screen makes readers feel jumpy, overwhelmed.
8. Keep your paragraphs short and give them lots of whitespace. An easy-to-read post looks like a long line of fortune-cookie fortunes. Or a chain of islands.
9. Proofread before you post. Show it to your mother. Show it to your grandmother.
10. Publish what you’re proud of, and the karma comes back two-fold. Good posts open doors. Great posts open even bigger doors.
Photo credit: Aimee Knight