Observations of a Reader

June 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

As a community manager intern, it’s my job to read — a lot. One of my tasks is to peruse through the (thousands) of blogs that use Livefyre and be active in the communities. That means I read, read, read, and comment when I’m interested or invested in a certain topic. It’s fun to introduce yourself, put in your two cents, and read what others are saying on the same topic. It’s also surprisingly refreshing to have someone be excited that you’re involved. I’ve always been on the other side of the fence: the consumer, who jumps with joy when a company notices my meager existence. Now I’m reaching out on behalf of a company, and I still get the same smile on my face when someone is excited or appreciative of the fact that I’m responding to them.

However, since I do read so much, I have been noticing one little thing: the level of writing on most blogs. I’m usually incredibly picky about writing (I am a writing major, after all!). I’ve noticed something that I suppose I’ve always known: anyone, and I mean anyone, can be a blogger. Blogging doesn’t necessarily make you a perfect writer, either. Does that explain the explosion of run-on sentences in blogs? No, not really. I fully support the fact that anyone can be a blogger, but I think a line needs to be drawn. How can we, as bloggers, work on our writing? How can we avoid run-on sentences, improper grammar, and slang? There are a few things to be considered before you address those questions:

  1. Who is your audience? Are they professionals, or is it a community of gamers? Are they relaxed or uptight? If you were to visit your own blog, what would you be looking for? Think about this before you start to write; it’ll drive your tone for most of your blog. If your audience doesn’t mind it, use slang. Write what comes to mind. If you need to be my formal, make a conscious change to do so.
  2. What are you writing? Maybe it would be entertaining to read a blog that addresses classical music with slang, swear words, and wit, but that’s not what most classical music lovers are expecting from a discussion on their favorite kind of music. More often than not, your topic affects how you write, perhaps just as much (or more!) than who your audience is. I’ve run into this in my own blogging experiences. My last internship was at an online wedding boutique, and I was writing daily blog posts for their blog, which was focused on planning a wedding on a budget. My tone was suddenly peppy, hopeful, and energetic. Last semester I blogged from my school’s Career Planning & Resources blog, and my audience was college students — you can bet I cracked some jokes. Did it work out all right? Sure. Right now my blog changes a bit, but my tone stays generally the same: light, and hopefully accessible. I’m putting my thoughts out there, and unless they’re angry thoughts, I’m not trying to beat people over the head with anything. I write about what I like and what I think, so my tone reflects that.
  3. Where do you want to go? Is your blog personal, or is it professional? Is it more of an online portfolio of your work, or is it a fun place to connect and communicate? This will also change how you write and how you view your work. For example, I want my blog to be a place where both professionals and family and friends can come and read about my life. I put the link in my resume and on my LinkedIn page. I also happen to know that my grandma prints out my blog posts (isn’t it cute?) and shows them to her friends. This is a culmination of the questions — it combines audience, subject, and the future. Thinking about where you want to be in a year or two (and how your blog relates to that future vision) will help guide your writing.

So, does this determine if we should all brush up on our writing skills? Is it necessary for us to do so to benefit our blogs? Sure, it can’t hurt us. How much time you want to dedicate to working on your writing itself should depend on what you’re doing with your blog, though. When it all boils down, blogs are forms of communication, our open letters out to the world, and you want to present yourself in the best way possible. Isn’t that true?

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