Blog Tipping: Writing for Reading

annabadge At its core, blogging is about writing things that people will read. Sounds easy, right? If only it were so simple. Figuring out what people like reading can take awhile (just as figuring out what you like to write can take awhile). In that light, here are a few tips to improve the readability of your posts:

  1. Don’t just show, or tell – do both. Pictures are good. Stories are good. Both together are better. Tell the reader WHY something is interesting, and what about it caught your eye.
  2. Write titles that catch reader attention. Matticus notoriously uses the supermarket rags as post title inspiration (as well as Cosmo!) – why? Because those titles are there to catch your eye, and used in a blog post, they’ll appeal to the reader as well
  3. Make your point quickly, and don’t waste words. The first two or three sentences of a post will either draw a reader in, or send them clicking to the next thing in their list. Make your point early and obvious, and then back it up with details. If you thought filler was obvious in high school term papers, it’s even more obvious in blogs!
  4. Explain jargon and acronyms. You can assume that most people reading a Warcraft blog will know what WoW is, but a new player might not know what TPS is, or HPM. (Threat per second, Heals per mana). It only takes a second to explain an acronym, and you’ll widen your audience significantly by doing so – especially if you’re talking about a very specific topic.
  5. Edit, edit, and edit some more. A great idea doesn’t automatically mean a great post. Go back and edit what you’ve written, making sure that your post is clear and concise, and that it says what you want to say and how you want to say it!
  6. Use active voice. Rather than “I have been blogging” say “I blogged”. Make the subject of your sentence DO the action. If you’re giving advice, give advice – you don’t have to worry about softening it.
  7. Beware the wall of text. Blog paragraphs are shorter than normal paragraphs because they are intended to be read on a computer monitor. Formatting is especially important on blogs (and probably should be a Matticus post all in itself) – for now, be aware of what your text looks like when its posted. Is it easy to read, or is it a mind-bending, eye-boggling wall of swimming text on a screen?

Obviously this is just the surface of things that help make your blog more readable, but they are some of the most important. Some of them are easy, some of them are hard. For me, coming up with good titles is often the hardest thing to do. Writing and editing is easier (I have an academic writing background), but catchy titles? Eep!

And, so you don’t think I’m some kind of blogging whiz kid, some of these tips have been garnered from months of reading Lorelle on WordPress – her blogging tip section is extensive and AWESOME.

Shared Topic: What I Will be Doing…

Following the recent trend of wrath-related posts (sorry Anna), this week’s Shared Topic comes from Delchion of the recently-renamed Delchion’s Place blog. In his own words:

Many folks (including myself) already have an idea in our heads about what we will be doing in the first day or three after Wrath hits. I thought it might be interesting to have folks put it down "on paper" as it were. That way we could reference back to it when writing the inevitable "my first day/ weekend/ week" in Northrend posts.

Might be interesting to see how close or far off we really ended up being. Kind of like a time capsule of expectations we could go back and poke through later. Not to mention it will end up covering ideas for 3 or more posts: what I think now, what really happened, and comparing the two.

Current participants include:

Double Your Hosts!

 matt wyn

We have a special show coming this week.  Taking a break from the interviews, we are happy to have Matt and Wyn from World of Matticus join the ramble and be with us THE WHOLE SHOW!

Much like WI, this is your chance to ask the “Beta” testers all those questions you want to know.  Send them in and we will pass them on to Matt and Wyn.  There is a promise of giggles, beer, healer jokes, beta talk,     Canadian(s), and incoherent conversation, don’t miss it!

Episode 15-Pet Mania!

mania This week we are Manic over Mania! The Queen of hunter pets has graced us this week. Come and enjoy in the splendor. We also try to make sense of the new raid buffs and Fim hears voices…

— Continue reading Episode 15-Pet Mania! —

Promise Yourself to Blog and Getting Ideas


Welcome to a first of many regular installments from self acclaimed blogging "guru" Matticus. Learning about blogging techniques is one thing. Actually going through with them and carrying them out is another and that’s where I hope to help!

Several months ago, I wrote a public appeal to WoW blogs to keep blogging. I said that no matter what, writing is all that matters. What I failed to realize then is that I did not give specific ways to keep going. After all, it’s one thing for me to say to people to keep writing. But it’s another thing entirely for me to teach people to keep writing.

In other words, I explained what to do but not exactly how to do it. I’ve been extremely fortunate enough to have a balanced enough schedule to enable me to write as often as I can.

I can assure you, it is not an easy feat. I want to share with you a few writing and blogging techniques that I’ve used to help motivate myself to write.

Before I forget to mention it, blogging takes time. Some people take 5 minutes to write a thought provoking post. Some nut cases (like that Matticus character) spend 5 hours cranking out novel length posts. The bottom line is that blogging takes time to do. I can guarantee you that you will not be able to find time during a normal day between WoW, family and work (or in my case, school). In my case, I sacrificed WoW time during the day. During my fall semester, my classes would begin at 1130 AM. On those days, I would wake up, grab some food, and make it to school just after 930. This ensured that I would have 2 relatively free hours of time to write out an outline or a draft of a post. Sometimes I would just sit back and just mindmap my way into topics and develop them later.

I sacrificed my morning so that I could maintain my education, my raiding schedule and my blogging ability.

You have to make time to blog. Hand off your kid to your SO. Write on the bus. Do it during lunch or your coffee break. Even if you spend 5 minutes just scribbling something down on a set of Post-It notes, you’re still writing. It’s not something that automatically happens. You have to work at it.

The Mindmap


If you’re ever stuck for ideas, I suggest giving this method a try. Start off with a few key words in what your blog focus is about. In my case, I lean towards raiding, guild business and being a Holy Priest. This is one of my earlier examples. From that point, try to think of a question or a difficulty that is apparent in WoW that you have some knowledge in dealing with. Even if you don’t have the smarts or ability, write about it anyway and illustrate the main issue. Maybe someone else will come along and address it or come up with a creative solution. Sometimes I end up abandoning the idea because another writer gets to it first. Other times, it’s because I end up having difficulty articulating what I want to get across and end up shelving it for the time being. You might recognize some of these both on my blog and on my Spiritual Guidance columns on WoW Insider.

So give it a try! Don’t reject any idea no matter how bad or lame it may seem. The idea is to use one idea to springboard yourself into another concept and to chain into another thought and so on and so forth.

What about the writing?

I continue to get questions all the time via email, private tweets and occasional comments. One of the most constant questions I get is how do I stay so motivated to write with all the affairs and responsibilities that I have to do?

I have a large variety of ways to stay focused and to keep writing. One of the methods I used early in my blogging career was the "Promise" method. The point hers is to make yourself publicly accountable to someone. It could be your girlfriend, your dad, your guildmate, or someone else important in your life.

I believe that promising someone else would have the desired effect. Don’t let them guilt trip you. However, a healthy dose of disappointment can go a long way into jump starting your writing until you get into a groove. Find someone who believes in you and your message. Have them call on you once in a while or message you online to check up on your status. Exchange E-Mails with a guildie or IM addresses.

Let me give you a case study.

A few weeks ago, Breana (yes this Breana) made a comment to me on how she hasn’t written on her blog in a few days.

Big mistake.

I told her right there and then that I wanted to see a blog post by her at some point tomorrow or else I would be disappointed. Alternatively, blackmail is also an option especially if they say something on Skype that’s not meant for public ears. Of course, this is just hypothetical. I would *never* blackmail any of my blogging colleagues. =)

Wording your commitments is important

How you word your promise is important. It can have a profound effect on your attitude.

The wrong way

  1. I would like to write 3 blog posts per week.
  2. I want to wake up at 10 AM daily to write.
  3. I hope I will never cheat on my girlfriend.

To me, all of those sounds like things you are not fully committed on. Think of the last one on that list especially. How the heck do you think your girlfriend’s going to feel?

The right way

  1. I will finish my blog post before dinner.
  2. I choose to spend 30 minutes a day writing after my raid is finished.
  3. 4 blog posts will be finished and published per week.

Don’t use words like want, plan or hope. In fact, lets make like Emeril and kick it up a notch. Here’s a few of my personal and outrageous promises:

  • I will not stop blogging until I become a writer for the New York Times.
  • I will keep blogging until I am well known enough to appear on the Tonight Show.
  • I will keep writing until I am noticed by WoW Insider.

Keep your short term goals realistic but keep your long term goals high. I never expected to meet any of them.

But you know what? 1 out of 3 ain’t bad.

This is a motivational guest post written by Matticus. What the heck are you even doing reading this footer? GO DO SOMETHING!

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