There’s something about a British accent. Whenever I hear it, I assume the person speaking with it is smart. Call it “accent profiling.” These ten qualities are the equivalents of a British accent when it comes to blog posts.
- Lists. A blog post with a list looks smarter no matter what’s in it. A list says, “I’ve synthesized and distilled the information to the most important points. Here’s more info on creating good lists.
- Pragmatic headlines. The best headlines start with “How to …,” “Top X … ,” “The art of… ,” “X ways to….” Explain the reason why people should read your blog right up front.
- Smart quotes, apostrophes, and em dashes. The dumb versions of these characters show a lack of proper upbringing, and no typography tweak will respect you.
- Serial commas. A serial comma makes it easier to figure out when you’re reading a list—for example, “beer, chips, and soda” not “beer, chips and soda.”
- Spell out numbers from one to one hundred and always at the start of a sentence.. Like dumb apostrophes, quotes, and em dashes, using numbers (“10”) rather than spelling it out (“ten”) doesn’t cut it. The only place it’s okay to use numbers is in headlines so that headlines that become tweets aren’t too long.
- Italicize the names of books and magazines.. You should use Newsweek not Newsweek. It makes the names of books and magazines more easy to recognize.
- Use the active voice. The active voice is stronger: “Marketers use Twitter” (three words) is better than “Twitter is used by marketers” (five words). Less is always better.
- Link to descriptive text, not the source of the text. “Wired reported that iPods are not causing hearing problems” not “Wired reported that iPods are not causing hearing problems.” When you link to the source’s name, people will wonder if you’re taking them to the article or to the home page of the source.
- Cool it on the “Is.” “Twitter is a powerful marketing tool,” not “I think that Twitter is a powerful marketing tool.” Your readers know that you think this—otherwise you wouldn’t have said it at all. If you’re not sure—you only “think” it—then don’t write about stuff when you’re not fully knowledgeable about it.
- Add a picture. An illustrative picture is eye candy, and there’s nothing wrong with a little eye candy in a world full of boring, all-text blogs. Companies like Fotolia and iStockphoto have vast selections with reasonable prices.
If you embrace these ten practices, the quality—and the perception of your quality—will improve and make your blogging utterly beguiling. Cheerio—and I don’t mean the cereal.