The Writing Rules You Should Break When You’re Blogging

Written by Laura Roeder

On August 23, 2017

Do you remember writing your very first book report back in school?

You stayed up late poring over that book, making notes as you went, carefully consulting your English teacher’s guidelines and sweating over commas versus semicolons (which, to be fair, still stumps a lot of adults).

Daenerys Argue Grammar

When it comes to the blogging part of your content marketing strategy, though, those writing rules are a LOT less important.

Unless you’re a scientific or technical blogger, the old writing rules you worked so hard to memorize back in the day might not serve you very well anymore!

(Big shout out to all of you technical bloggers, though. Keep doing that good work.)

In fact, some of those very same rules you’re still following can make it HARDER for people to read (and want to share) your blog posts.

So, what are some of those writing rules you should break when you’re writing for your blog?

Let’s take a closer look!

(Just don’t tell your old English teacher.)

Embrace informality

Online writing like blogging is often a little more informal than, say, an application for a grant. In fact, embracing that informality can make it a lot easier for you to forge an emotional connection with your readers!

Don’t write to impress – write to connect.

One trick is to put a friend or colleague’s name at the top of your blog post, then write it like you’re writing them a letter, so you can stay in the headspace of speaking to someone who trusts you.

(Just remember to delete it afterward, unless everyone in your target audience actually is named “Daenerys.”)

When you write the way you speak, your audience can feel closer to you as a person. So use an exclamation point if you’re excited! Inject a colloquialism or two, if that’s your cup of tea. Use contractions – because honestly, out of these two versions of the same sentence, which sounds less like it was written by a robot?

We are sure you will love this tip that we have used a lot.
We’re sure you’ll love this tip we’ve used a lot!

Your old teachers may have prized a little more stiff formality, but when it comes to your blog (and its readers), be yourself – and that means writing in a voice a little more like your own.

Leave breathing room

No matter how amazing your writing is, a lot of it is gonna get skipped, skimmed, or passed over.

(Don’t take it personally.)

It’s just the way our brains are wired, especially when it comes to reading online – walls of text don’t really hold our focus! The eye needs something easy to follow, and that means shorter paragraphs with the breathing room of white space in-between.

When it comes to blogging, there’s almost no such thing as a paragraph that’s too short.

You might have learned in school that a five-sentence paragraph is the standard, but here on the Internet, five sentences might as well be five thousand – averaging between one and three is ideal for skimmers and speed-readers.

The less text in a block, the easier it is for your reader’s eye to land on that point!

And for all you skimmers out there –

Don’t underestimate the value of a strategically-bolded sentence.

(See? See?)

Speaking of drawing someone’s attention to a specific point, though…

Don’t make it TOO easy

The formal writing rules from school tell you that your reader should always know what to expect – in a blog post, not so much.

While subheads like that one right above make life easier for skimmers, they should also make people curious enough to slow down and actually read what follows.

The formal writing rules tell you to use subheadings that inform the reader of exactly what the next section is about, in explicit terms.

Make your subheadings in a blog too explicit, though, and they might be the only parts people read.

If we’d called this section “Use subheadings,” you probably wouldn’t have bothered reading all this stuff about why they’re so valuable!

(Neat, huh?)

And another thing…

Something Schoolhouse Rock never told you?

Starting a sentence with a conjunction actually isn’t so bad.

(And despite the objections of certain self-affirmed grammatical purists, it’s never actually been a big deal.)

So don’t listen to the ruler-slapping, red-pen-wielding naysayer in the back of your mind. Starting a sentence with an “and” or a “but” or an “if” is how people talk, and it can be how you write, too!

Keep it simple

Showing off how smart you are doesn’t always mean long sentences and hard-to-pronounce words.

So while you may have been taught to incorporate intimidating vocabulary words and complex sentence structures into your writing, your blog posts are better off simple.

(Remember all that stuff we said about being able to read something quickly?)

Don’t worry about challenging your reader – it’s a blog post, not an obstacle course!

That doesn’t mean you should oversimplify what you’re talking about, but rather, you should practice presenting complex ideas in straightforward packaging.

For example, we write about complicated things like the inner workings of Facebook algorithms all the time – we just try to make reading those posts as easy as possible.

(Tip: We wrote a post that talks about a free app that’ll help improve your readability – check it out right here!)

What’s YOUR favorite rule to break?

Got something you do on your own blog that you were always told to never, ever do?

Sound off in the comments and tell us which writing rules you love to ignore!

(We won’t tell on you.)

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