“How To” Blogging Basics

Create interesting, sharable blog content

Blogs are chameleons. Companies use them to communicate and interact with clients, stakeholders and even suppliers. Newspapers and magazines use them to offer an alternate view of the news. Individuals use them to help create their personal brand online. While there are as many different versions of blogs as there are writers, the most effective ones have one thing in common. They’re written from a personal viewpoint.

What do you blog aboutBlogs are as old as publishing. They have strong roots in the newspaper column and anthology books, such as Chicken Soup for the Soul. The difference today? We control the distribution channel.

In the 1980’s Anna Quindlen, Pulitzer Prize winner and bestselling author, was asked to write a column for the New York Times. Her editor told her to write it for “thirty-somethings” about things they talked about day to day. Her long-running “Life in the 30’s” column was born.

Little did they know they’d set the stage for modern day blogs.


So how do you blog?

Thanks to blogs and social media, we can be our own publishers and broadcast channel at the same time. We can share ideas, create communities and use them to reach more people than ever. But the big question is how do you create great content people want to read – and share?

Like much-loved columnists, great bloggers make you, the reader, feel as if you’re part of a conversation that you’re being talked to – instead of broadcasted to.

Remember Erma Bombeck? People adored her because her writing felt like they were listening to a good friend, an ordinary person, co-worker, the woman next door. If you can maintain that sense of “just good friends talking,” regardless of the subject of your blog, you’ll make your readers feel like you’re writing just for them. And that’s great content that people want to share.

So what do you blog about?

My most successful essays and blogs focus on times when I’ve blown it or was confused about something. The bigger the mistake, the better. Readers will identify more with you when share your mistakes, your troubles, your problems.

The point is to make a point without lecturing. Your own life is such a rich source of ideas for several reasons.

  • Readers – everyday people – can easily identify with you
  • You’ll soon run out of “extraordinary” experiences
  • Getting an uncensored glimpse into someone else’s world is damn compelling

Always remember that your goal as a blogger is to share a piece of yourself with the reader. From there you can get down to business with business.

Need some inspiration from great writers who understand the power of the personal. Although these quotes refer to the personal essayist, their comments are profoundly applicable to bloggers.

Anne Lamott“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write, which was due the next day. We were out at out family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”
~ Anne Lamott

“…The real possibility of the personal essay, which is to catch oneself in the act of being human… means a willingness to surrender for a time our pose of unshakable rectitude, and to admit that we are, despite our best intentions, subject to all manner of doubt, and weakness and foolish wanting.”
~ Tobias Wolff

“There are several types of essays, ranging from op-ed to inspirational. Personally, I think all essays need to make some sort of point or deliver a message, even if it isn’t something huge or earth shattering. Small moments can carry big messages; the “voice” is the vehicle of the essay.”
~ Cynthia LaFerle, columnist, The Daily Tribune (Michigan)

“The basis of all great writing is good reporting.”
~ Leo Tolstoy

“Writers live twice.”
~ Natalie Goldberg

“Writing is like prostitution. First you do it for the love of it, then you do it for a few friends, and finally you do it for money.”
~ Moliere, aka Jean Baptiste Poquelin (1622-1673)

“Only amateurs say that they write for their own amusement. Writing is not an amusing occupation. It is a combination of ditch-digging, mountain-climbing, treadmill, and childbirth. But amusing? Never.”
~ Edna Ferber

“A writer lives in awe of words for they can be cruel or kind, and they can change their meanings right in front of you. They pick up flavors and odors like butter in a refrigerator.”
~ John Steinbeck

E.L. Doctorow“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way. You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you.”
~ E.L. Doctorow

“Writing is easy. Just sit down at the typewriter and open a vein.”
~ Red Smith, Sportswriter

So, what have your biggest mistakes been? What are the areas that you feel the most confused about? Start there. Not only will your readers love you for your honesty, you also just might figure something out.

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5 Responses to ““How To” Blogging Basics”

  1. Kat says:

    At times the words flow with ease. Other days each sentence is a struggle. Regardless my task is to write regularly. The stories that are destined for my blog are a glimpse of how I see and think. Jack Straw Lane is relatively new, but I hope that the repeat visitors have already gotten a sense of who I am.
    The writers online I love most, aside from articles read for informative purposes, are the ones who draw me into their conversation. Silly or serious, I hope to do the same.

    • Julia Rosien says:

      You’re on the right path, Kat. Keep trying and keep protecting your will to write. If you don’t give up, your voice will grow stronger and you’ll create something incredible.
      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

  2. It is very difficult to open up completely on a blog post. I am always wondering who is reading. That I think is my biggest mistake.


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