Old-fashioned skills are more important to new-fashioned blogging than you might think! You are already a successful blogger-in-disguise. Don’t believe me? Check it out!
- Share your artistic ability. Provide original images for your posts, whether that be drawings, paintings, graphs, photographs, comics, video, or whatever you do well.
- Be friendly and approachable. Build relationships with your audience. Empathize with and relate to them. Let folks see your personality and emotions. And get to know your audience well. Find out what they really want to know about and discuss. Certainly, start out with a strong sense of who your “ideal reader” is. But pay attention. You might find out you have a whole potential audience you never imagined. Be ready to cultivate them too.
- Be a helper, leader, facilitator. Problem solve for your readers. Ask what they want to know or need help with. Then reach back into your memories and find your life experiences and skills that, with a little imagination and creativity, can be updated to provide valuable solutions for your audience. There really is very little in life that is truly new; just new aspects of old problems. Be the one who can take old solutions and present them in creative new ways to solve those new-old questions and difficulties.
- Tell your stories and anecdotes. Your life experience is interesting and valuable. Break those stories down into small, specific incidents that bring life and reality to the points you make in your blog. Bring drama and vividness into your writing. Guide your readers with your stories. Avoid the temptation to “tell the moral.” If you’re a great story teller, just pick your stories well, and then tell them. Your readers will be entertained, but they’ll also get your point – and keep coming back for more.
- Use your old-fashioned research skills. Primary evidence. Secondary. Multiple sources. Interviews. Exploration. And time and patience. Many folks are either too busy to do serious research, or they suppose that the only place to do research is on the internet with that handy-dandy google search bar. This is a place where your blog can really stand out from so many others. Go to original sources, visiting libraries, museums and the file boxes in your attic. Spend time interviewing folks face to face. Go and read the real gravestones in the local cemetery rather than depending on genealogy sites. Explore your community on foot, observing and note-taking, rather than skimming the local chamber of commerce site. Your posts will be original and your readers will be impressed. You might even score some research jobs.
- Keep using your dictionary and thesaurus. Learn new terminology, of course, but also keep up with changes in connotation and even in denotation. Yes, avoid jargon and arrogantly intellectual sounding language. Yet keep your writing interesting, entertaining, and even amusing with the use of a wide variety of words, words that really express what your mean. Nouns, verbs, adjectives that are alive and expressive. A good wordsmith is never out-of-style.
- Use your sense of humour. Find the amusing side of events around you and tie them into your blog topic. Use humour to illustrate a point – or even to show what-not-to-do. Humour is not only entertaining, but it proves you are human and approachable.
- Use those old-fashioned literary devices. They truly do not go out of style. Metaphors, similes, irony, alliteration, strong characterization. Analogies. Good questions. Strong, engaging, conversational language. Good writing still rules!
- Write with your pen and paper or notebook or napkin, or with your typewriter. These tools require more focus and self-discipline than writing directly on computer. You’ll probably also write more concisely (and you won’t get distracted by facebook and email). Besides, writing on paper or even typing, forces you to rewrite to the computer – and in the re-writing process you’re more likely to catch your mistakes. You might even create some awesome doodles in the process, which you can use as original images!
- Make your blog writing scannable – fast and easy to read – using those old-fashioned note-taking and summary skills. Use snappy titles and to-the-point headlines. Write your paragraphs in short, simple, concise sentences based on your summary’s sub-points. Your readers will thank you – and come back to read with interest the more detailed posts you publish from time to time.
- Write what you know. Pick a niche topic you are passionate about and focus on it. Make each post about some very discreet aspect of your topic. Remember that old English-class lesson: narrow down your topic, and then narrow it some more! Narrow down the general topic of your blog, and then narrow even more in each post.
- Write well. Correct and consistent grammar, punctuation, and spelling are still really important. You may need to lighten up on your style, perhaps, making it more conversational, less formal – but to hold onto regular readers, write well. Get out your good old English handbook, and use it. Your writing will be easier to read, and your readers will trust your authority more. Sloppy writing is never professional – or even truly conversational.
- Be a great letter-writer once again. Good blog interaction is like good letter writing. Really focus on what your readers say, and answer them directly. Prove you are interested in them personally. Be other-oriented rather than self-focused. Write your blogs using those old-time letter writing skills that made family and friends look forward eagerly to hearing from you.
- Use your journalism skills. Timely information, connected to current issues. News that affects your audience personally. Ideas that could move your community to action. Content that has a human interest element and emotional appeal. Connection to celebrities and other notable people. Use of visuals to enhance your words. Stories that are tied to what other writers are already reporting, but presented with a different viewpoint. Quotations from experts and spokesperson. Facts presented with up-to-date statistics. Strong headlines. Story-telling. All those skills are still relevant and useful.
- Let your originality and creativity shine. Don’t just write what everyone else is writing. Be distinct. Give something new – a new viewpoint, a new way of seeing something, a new way of doing something, a new approach, a new idea. If you’re a senior, don’t be afraid to draw on ideas and methods and stories from your past: they will be “new” to many of your young readers. Just show how those old-fashioned ways are relevant and useful in their now-a-days lives.
- Resurrect those popular old sayings and proverbs it seems nobody cares about anymore, and take heed to them as you write. For example, Shakespeare’s bits of wisdom for writers: “Brevity is the soul of wit” and “I am not bound to please thee with my answers.” Toss a few of them into your posts too, from time to time. Chances are, a lot of them will sound brilliantly new and witty to a younger generation who’ve missed out on a lot of old-time wisdom. They’ll be twittering your supposed originality, and splashing it all over their facebook statuses, too. You’ll be smiling to yourself.
- Persevere. If you grew up in a generation where you accepted a job – or a marriage – and then stuck with it through thick and thin, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, you have a set of skills that bloggers really need to be successful. A set of skills that sometimes seem to be lacking in this day and age. Patience. Creativity. Determination. Stick-to-it-iveness. Caring about others. And, again, perseverance. Use those skills and characteristics in your blogging. They will carry you a long way in the adventure.
Now certainly there are some new blog-specific skills you’ll want to learn – for example, don’t underline your text for emphasis, as it will be confused with underlined links – and of course learn how to use links – and you may well want to include other online opportunities like pictures, video, and audio. You’ll also want to explore and integrate some of the many new interactive social network possibilities.
But a great deal of good blog content and design still depends very much on old-fashioned writing and presentation skills, and character qualities you already have. Start with those, and then have fun trying out something new!
Question of the day : What old-fashioned skills and character qualities do you have that can help you become a great blogger?
Tip of the day : Is there a blogger you really admire? Learn from them by hand-writing some of their blog posts. You’ll be surprised how much you learn!
Put it into action : Add (in the comments below) other old-fashioned skills that would be useful to a blogger. Then sit down and write a post that uses those skills. And publish it! Get your blog going today!