In dating, it’s the guy who wants to hear himself talk, the loser who still lives with his mother, and the guy who promises to call and then you never hear from him again.
In making friends, its the girl who stirs up drama, the one who wants to tell everyone about her problems ALL THE time, and the flaky friend who never shows up when she says she will.
And in writing, it’s these 5 monsters: the Unreadable Ogre, the Generic Giant, the Boring Bleeder, the Salesy Sorcerer, and the Confusing Creeper.
Luckily you can slay them easily – if you can recognize them.
Why is no one sharing your latest blog post? It’s totally awesome. You spent hours writing and perfecting it. But even your mom said she couldn’t get past the first few sentences.
It could be the fault of the ...dum, dum, dum Unreadable Ogre.
The Unreadable Ogre creeps into your posts and makes them virtually unreadable.
He inserts way too many words into your sentences, and fails to separate paragraphs into manageable chunks.
He doesn’t use headings, or bullet points, or numbers.
He believes blogs should be written like novels – with long, dense paragraphs and little in the way of formatting.
As a result, even people who really want to read your writing just can’t make it through, because it’s so dense.
To slay this terrifying beast, you need to:
- Go through your post and get rid of any unnecessary words.
- Shorten your paragraphs. Forget the idea of one paragraph for each main idea. In blogging, a paragraph should be no longer than 4 sentences.
- Add formatting. Whether it’s headings, or bullet points, or bold words, you need to help your readers get through your post.
You read a post by a popular blogger, took the idea and wrote your own post on the same topic.
Their post got a bajillion shares, but yours got 3. And they were all from you.
Enter the…eek!…Generic Giant!
The Generic Giant tears any and all originality out of a blog post.
Anytime you want to write something personal, he booms, “WHY WOULD ANYONE CARE ABOUT THAT?”
Originality cowers in fear in the face of his ever-present need to be like everyone else.
He insists on only following the rules and doing what other bloggers have already done. When you want to try something new and different, he yells, “NO! IT’S TOO BIG A RISK!”
All of this leaves you with a blog post that everyone has read before and that anyone could have written.
To slay this horrifying naysayer, you need to:
- Add personal stories to your posts. In the beginning, at the end, in the middle. Wherever they fit.
- Be VERY specific with your nouns and verbs. Read more here.
- Choose words that add personality to your writing.
- Not rewrite something that’s already been written. If someone else already wrote about a topic better than you can, just don’t even go there.
You’re not boring. In fact, you’re highly fascinating.
So why does it sometimes seem like your posts come out that way?
It may be the work of the…Ooh, gross!…Boring Bleeder.
The Boring Bleeder bleeds you dry of any creativity and originality by freezing your brain and making you question all of your ideas.
Every time you go to write an original sentence, the Boring Bleeder whispers, That’s not following the rules of blogging, or, This is never going to go viral.
It’s hard to get in a creative mindset when you’re constantly being berated and questioned.
So what you end up with is a post that could be a lullaby for your dog.
To slay this disgusting monster, you need to:
- Read lots of original, interesting posts and analyze what makes them so good. (Note: You’re not copying the other bloggers, but investigating why their writing rocks, so that you can shape your own writing to be awesome as well.)
- Write a lot. The more you write, the more you’ll be able to shed your fears of being original.
- Follow the rules of writing practice. They are designed to help you cut through your internal critic.
You want to make money from your blog. And you should make money from your blog.
But every time you try to promote something, whether it’s your own product or an affiliate product, you end up sounding too pushy and turning people off.
You’re not like that in person. You’re really nice and non-aggressive.
So what’s going on?
It may be the fault of the…walk away quickly, maybe he won’t see us! Salesy Sorcerer.
The Salesy Sorcerer puts you in a trance and makes you forget why you wanted to blog in the first place – to help people.
He forces you to describe the benefits of your products without providing anything truly useful to your reader.
He transforms you into a needy high school girl who just wants someone to ask her to the prom – i.e. buy her products.
Because you feel so needy for sales, you forget to have a sense of humor about it. You forget to present your product review in an interesting way. And you forget that you can only sell to people if they trust you first.
To slay this sucky slime-ball, you need to:
- Always remember that people will want to read something helps them more than sells to them.
- Focus on empathizing more than selling. If you were your reader, how would you feel when reading your post?
- Tell a genuine story about how you’ve used the product (if it’s someone else’s), or about why you made the product (if it’s yours).
- Crack a few jokes here and there.
You wrote a really helpful, and really awesome post on how to scuba dive with sharks.
You expected to get lots of comments thanking you for your fabulous post.
But you didn’t. Instead, what you got was…crickets.
And a few cautious comments asking for clarification.
Oh no! You’ve had an attack of the…watch out! Confusing Creeper.
The Confusing Creeper slimes into your brain, making you forget what your readers don’t know.
He causes you to leave out important details (like what to do when the shark comes speeding toward you).
He helps you skip over the parts that your readers really need to know (like how to handle it if a member of your group freaks out and needs to surface early).
And he forces you to use words that your readers won’t understand.
At the end of your post, instead of feeling empowered, your readers feel like they need to go find another blog post to fill in the gaps.
To kill this incorrigible creep, you need to:
- After you’ve written your first draft, walk yourself step by step through what you’re trying to teach. Did you leave anything out? If so, fill in the gaps.
- Keep it simple. If you’re writing a how-to that took you a few days to learn, consider breaking it into a series of blog posts.
- Have someone else read your post. Ask her to give you feedback on the clarity of your instructions. Then make changes.
Do these monsters sound familiar to you?
I’ve met and struggled with every one of them myself. The only way to banish them in your writing is to be super-aware they exist.
Go forth, brave writer.
May you slay all of the monsters of bad writing and write nothing but terrifyingly terrific blog posts.