How Not to Write a Blog Post in 14 Easy Steps

4 minute read

CC Image: Mike Licht,

Much of my job entails poring over vast numbers of blogs. There are many worthwhile bloggers you should be reading, but this post isn’t about them. Given a birds-eye view of the blogging landscape, you start to notice certain similarities. For instance:

  1. To cover up your lackadaisical grasp of the English language, randomly bold or italicize different words in order to make your point more pointed.
  2. Use . . . ellipses . . . in order to . . . create . . . tension . . . or to . . . cover up . . . your lackadaisical grasp of proper sentence structure.
  3. Use your and you’re interchangeably. No one’s really reading anything that closeely these days anyways. Your welcome.
  4. Write a post for the sole sake of having something new on your blog. Quantity over quality they always say. In this instance, “they” is your insecurity that you’ll be forgotten about if you don’t update every day.
  5. Flame out at the end of your post. Once you’ve reached 500 words or so, just call it good enough. It’s OK if you never actually get to your point. We all have things to do.
  6. Don’t re-read your post. God knows you’ve already given too much time to this frivolous pursuit. Why would you want to spend time proofreading your own work? Don’t your readers know that blogging isn’t like real writing?
  7. Incorporate some kind of number in your blog title and be sure to include a vague word like ways, things, ideas, or steps.
  8. Never spend more than two seconds on your title. It’s not like Google needs that to help people find what they’re looking for, or that real human beings want to know what they’re about to read.
  9. Don’t spend any time whatsoever on your blog design. It’s OK if I think your site’s been around since the 90s. It’s retro-chic, right?
  10. Apologize for not blogging regularly. Saying “I’m sorry” is one of the ways I know you care for me.
  11. Don’t provide an easy way for me to contact you. I may be interested in what you have to say, but only insofar as I don’t actually have to communicate with you.
  12. Don’t use images. We came to your site to read your words, not look at pretty pictures. If a picture is worth a thousand words, you don’t want to go over your self-imposed word limit before you even start writing.
  13. Use long paragraphs. Don’t break them up by using bullet points or subtitles. Your readers love your verbose prose. They have very little else to do.
  14. Take a quote, idea, or image, slightly tweak it, then fail to reference where or who you stole got it from.

Let’s recap (so I can get to my word quota). So long as you have:

  • bold words and italic words and italic bold words
  • at least four improper uses of ellipses and/or misplaced apostrophes
  • homophonic tendencies
  • an insatiable desire to update instead of elucidate
  • an inability to complete a post
  • a serious lack of respect for the editorial process
  • a vast knowledge of numbers and insubstantial words
  • the ability to write headlines that no one cares about
  • delusions of graphical artistry
  • an astounding array of alternative apologies
  • virtual agoraphobia
  • no time to find images, or just enough time to find horrible images
  • ignorance of the word “scannability.”
  • a propensity to break the eighth commandment

You too can become . . . a blogger.

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10 Replies

  1. Classic. I have missed getting Blake zingers on a daily basis.

    And being able to read Grantland all day. I miss that too.

  2. These are just a couple of quick thoughts in response to your post here. You’ll have to forgive my tone, but I genuinely believe that responding in a terse and fed up manner is actually bringing the level of rhetoric down a few notches from where you’ve started it. 

    1) Almost every blogging professional (people who earn their primary living from a blog) out there who give advice on how to blog say exactly the opposite of #4, above. Blog often, they say. Blog every day if you can, more than that if you’re able. Structure the focus and content of your blog so that you can blog often while at the same time retaining quality of content. The unfortunate reality of blogging is that if you post infrequently you will be forgotten. You will not grow your readership and you will fail to stimulate conversation, which is what blogging is about. Like it or not, the internet is fast paced. If you cannot keep that pace, you will not succeed in that environment. If you cannot produce quality and quantity, you’re in the wrong game. 

    2) Many of your items here are false dichotomy straw men. Expressing tone of voice via text is very difficult; with the exception of smug, self satisfied sarcasm which you managed to express in this post quite effectively. In order to make certain types of points, a certain tone of voice is necessary. This can only be mimicked, in some cases, by playing very fast and lose with the rules of conventional grammar. While it is true that excessive abuse of bold, italics, elipses, capitalization and the like is precisely that, excessive abuse, it is not however necessarily the case that frequent use of these techniques is either excessive or abusive simply because they violate the rules of conventional grammar. At the end of the day, grammar is a tool to ensure communication occurs. To the extent that the tool becomes the impediment to communication, the time has come to modify the tool. Yes, I know that for hundreds of years people wrote books and articles and pamphlets and often stuck very strictly to the rules of grammar. But many people did not, and to great effect. So, because of your smug, self satisfied sarcasm, you’ve over simplified what is, in fact, a very complex issue not only of grammar, but of personal style, taste and the inevitable evolution of the rules of communication. 

    3) Items #3 and #6 lose a lot of ground when your own post contains a number of typos, not all of which are obviously intentional. Some are obviously intentional. Others look suspiciously like you didn’t take your own advice and proof read and edit your post. Even if you did and these are also intentional, by making them this subtle, you’ve undercut your own argument. 

    4) As for item #3 on its own, the only people who really care about your/you’re and its/it’s and anything else like that, are people who have student loan debt and an BA in English. No. One. Else. Cares. Decades of bad grammar in Germany eventually resulted in a radically streamlined German grammar that is now the “correct” way to write and talk. Why? Was it because people were too stupid or lazy to do it the old way? No! It was because the old way had grown organically and contained a great deal that was unnecessarily baroque, arbitrary, redundant or simply antiquated. The new grammar once again becomes a tool for improving communication instead of impeding it. This will eventually happen with English and the normative use that is emerging in the virtual space is going to drive that conversation. Pro tip: expect to see the apostrophe abandoned entirely. 

    5) Your first sentence in item #5 may technically be a “complete sentence” but it is hardly a paragon of high quality expression in the English language. Not only is it colloquial and truncated, but it is also vague and unexpressive. I may be middle-aged and decidedly unhip, but I have no real clue what “flaming out” means, nor can I think of any rampant errors in blogging I’ve noticed in the 20 some odd years I’ve been reading content on the web that such a turn of phrase could be applied to. 

    6) Google doesn’t need your title to present your content to people running searches. Tagging and actual post content are weighted far more heavily in search results than titles. But then, if you weren’t so busy worrying about how people used antiquated punctuation and spent more time learning about how this tool you’re claiming to be an expert about worked, you’d know that already. 

    7) If it was supposed to be clever that you included “14 steps” in your title and then sarcastically told people not to do that, you not only undercut your own point about not doing that, you undercut your point in #8 about spending enough time creating a valuable title. 

    8) You’re seriously going to claim any expertise on blog design and chastise people for it? You’ve seen your own site, right? Whatever vibe you think this thing has going on? It doesn’t. 

    9) Avoiding the need to apologize for not posting often (#10) is easily avoided by ignoring your advice in #4. Write often, even if you don’t have something as profound as “Being in Time” to share today, and you’ll never be tempted to apologize for failures to post. 

    10) You just deliberately alienated your readership. You made a conscious decision to treat your readers like the babbling 10 year olds you apparently have the impression they all are and to tell them that this is what you think of them and their work. That’s a real great way to win friends and influence people. 

    In short, this post comes across as the amateur advice that it is, offered by the amateur blogger that you are. If you are going to take it upon yourself to start instructing other people about how to express themselves by claiming to have some expertise in the structures of the English language and their formal usage (which you did a pretty lousy job of demonstrating, here), it would go a long way towards bolstering your credibility if you also knew something about subjects which are actually far more relevant: communication skills, people skills, and what successful blogs actually look like. 

  3. Jim, I’m sorry you didn’t get the post. It was acerbic on purpose, but facetiously so. With nearly everything I write, I may as well be the sole audience. Without a doubt, I have done everything I’ve listed. The intent of the post was to poke fun at some of the similarities I see in a lot of blogs. 

    To reply to most of your points:

    1. I’m not sure quantity and quality can be achieved in tandem.

    2. I don’t think using bold or italics is wrong; I think the egregious use of them is wrong when carefully chosen words can elicit a better response. I agree that issues surrounding communication are complex and the way we communicate changes depending on the medium used.

    3. My misspellings and incorrect punctuation were on purpose—an attempt at humor for those that can laugh at themselves. 

    4. I do in fact have student loan debt and a B.A. in English. I guess you know us by our grammatical war cries. 

    7. Somehow my headline got you to my site, to read the article, then to make a lengthy comment.

    8. I have friends who are graphic designers. I know I’m not one.

    I don’t think I’ve ever labeled myself as an expert at blogging, and I don’t blog fulltime or make money via this site, so that does make me an amateur blogger, through and through.

    But why did this small post from someone you don’t know elicit such a response from you? I apologize if I offended in any way.

  4. I’ll allow it. I expect a stock character who dies in chapter three to be named Trevor.

    Grantland and I have seen better days, it’s just not the same in the NFL off-season.

  5. Your hatred of ellipses concerns me……. 🙂
    I was going to say I hope you never read my blog, but now I just hope the guy who commented before me never reads my blog. Yikes.

  6. I love how I go searching for new blogs, and every other one is headed up by an apology post for not posting in so long.  Wordpress has something like 100,000 new blogs a day.  How many of those lose their steam within a couple of months?

  7. (They lose their steam because their owners fail to see comments until a week later!)

    I agree. The blogpology is a minor pet peeve of mine. I know they’re sorry not to have written more because most bloggers feel the same way. It should just be a given. Maybe these blogs (including mine, I’m sure) should have a permanent sidebar asterisk: *I’M REALLY SORRY FOR NOT WRITING MORE OFTEN.

    Thanks for visiting my humble blog Matt.

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