By Kevin O'Keefe

How to write good blog posts

B.L. Ochman, Internet marketing consultant for the likes of Ford Motor Company and IBM, and president of whatsnextonline.com, has written an excellent piece on “How To Write Killer Blog Posts.” It’s one of those posts you stick under that magnet on the fridge (or tape on the wall by your monitor) to make sure you’re blogging as you should.

I told B.L. we have have some great lawyers in our LexBlog community always looking for ways to improve their blog posts. The great person she is, B.L. said to share her article with you guys. Without further ado, take it away B.L.


Writing blog posts is actually very simple. The basic guidelines are to keep your copy lively, factual, tight, clear and short and search engine optimized. Here are basic blog style guidelines to follow:

  • Declarative sentences are good. Web readers demand them.
  • Link like crazy. One thing that distinguishes blog posts from dead-tree journalism is that bloggers link prodigiously. Link to any mentions in your blog to other blogs, websites, articles, books, products, bios or explanatory materials on other sites. Always provide links to information that clarifies or gives background on information and opinions in your post.
  • Write less. Omit all unnecessary words. The best advice I ever got about writing was from my first boss, the late ‘press agent’ Leo Miller, who taught me a game to play with sentences. He’d keep taking out words until removing one more word destroyed the meaning of the sentence. Taking this last sentence for example, the sentence would end up like, He’d take out words until removing another destroyed the sentence meaning. Aim at keeping your posts at about 250 words.
  • Write good headlines. Most people use a news feeders like News Gator to scan blog headlines. They decide after seeing the headline to click into the post. Tell as much of the story as you can in the headline.
  • Before: Pakistan: NA body on S&T meets
    Huh? Who’s’ NA? What is S&T?
  • After: Pakistan National Assembly Calls Water Resource Problems the Nation’s Major Issue
  • Before: The B. B. King Book
  • After: I’m Writing The B.B. King Biography
  • Keep sentences and paragraphs short.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously. Blogging isn’t brain surgery. Don’t get pompous or dictatorial. Never lose your sense of humor.
  • Write like it counts. ‘No matter what your audience size, you ought to write as if your readership consisted of paid subscribers whose subscriptions were perpetually about to expire. There’s no need to pander. Compel them to re-subscribe.’ said Dennis Mahoney on A List Apart.
  • White space is your friend. It makes reading from the screen easier. Nothing is harder to read than a solid block of copy on a computer screen.
  • Use the simplest possible word and sentence structure. Read your post out loud. Make sure you don’t get stuck on complex construction. If you trip on a word in the midst of reading a sentence aloud, re-write the sentence.
  • Forget what you learned about business writing in school if you graduated before 1990. Go ahead! Start sentences with ‘and’ or ‘but.’ Don’t be afraid to break archaic rules. But, jeez, follow all grammatical rules that provide clarity to your content.
  • Cardinal Sin: Say ‘This is about me,’ never ‘This is about myself.’ Same with ‘you’ and ‘yourself.’
  • Stiff, formal writing is only for lawyers. And you know what Shakespeare said about them.
  • Use bulleted points whenever you can.
  • Use subheads every few paragraphs, even in a 300 word post.
  • Use bold text and italics for emphasis on words and phrases.
  • Make sure your posts are easy to scan.
  • Choose your voice and keep it consistent.
  • Don’t be afraid to voice opinions.
  • Questions to ask yourself before you hit ‘Publish’

    • Is the topic clear to someone who only reads the headline?
    • Does the lead paragraph tell who and what the story is about and why the reader should care about it?
    • Is the angle you’ve used likely to seem newsworthy?
    • Would someone who knows absolutely nothing about this topic understand this post?
    • Is the post free of jargon?
    • Is it written in a journalistic style and does it make an effort to be objective?
    • Have you peppered the headline and the post with keywords and phrases that is attractive to search engines?”

    Thnaks B.L., great stuff as usual. And we lawyers deserve that ribbing about ‘stiff, formal writing’ – we need to let our hair down a bit and talk like the folks we’d like to have as clients.

    For law firms looking for an excellent consultant to think outside the box when it comes to Internet marketing & PR, give B.L. a call. It’s not every PR person who’s been invited onto Oprah. My invite must still be in the mail.

    Kevin O'Keefe
    About the Author

    Trial lawyer turned legal tech entrepreneur, I am the founder and CEO of LexBlog, a legal blog community of over 30,000 blog publishers, worldwide. LexBlog’s publishing platform is used on a subscription basis by over 18,000 legal professionals, including the largest law firm in each India, China and the United States.

    Subscribe
    Subscribe to Real Lawyers Have Blogs via Email or RSS
    Please enter a valid email address and click the button.
    Recent Posts
    More content can be found in the Search section.