How I Have Improved My Blog Posts – A Self-Improvement Journey

My last post about blogging, Want to Start Blogging? What I’d Wish I’d Thought About When I Started Out, had a pretty good response, so I thought I’d have a go at writing something else on blogging, and my experiences.

I can’t believe that I wrote my first blog post when I was 13, not because it was particularly good, but because 13 feels like such a long time ago. I don’t need to tell you that the amount of personal growth that we undergo during the formative teenage years is huge, but thirteen-year-old me has come a long way. In terms of blogging, I like to compare what I wrote a couple of years ago with what I’m writing now; the process of narrowing down the differences and finding areas that I can still improve upon is uplifting and self-improving, so I wanted to condense this into a blog post for you.

I’m still learning, and not only is this list a record of what I have already done to improve my writing, but I’m hoping it will serve as a memorandum for future me to consult when writing posts. Also, I’m not saying that any posts that don’t do the things I mention are automatically bad – these are the ways that I’ve improved my posts.

The most significant challenge I’ve set myself is to be more precise. Before I wrote this article, I dug up some of my oldest posts from the depths of my archives, spanning back to 2014, and I jotted down some of the stock phrases that I used. In my Hunger Games review, for example, I said that Katniss was a “strong female protagonist”. It’s not hard to imply what this means, and therefore what Katniss’s attributes are, but without some examples and more specific vocabulary, we can’t paint a picture of Katniss’s traits in our mind. In my Scorpio Races review, I tried to expand a little on why I liked our main character, Puck, and how she contrasted to the male lead, Sean, which fleshed out my review, but I knew I could take it further, and offer my blog readers even more of an insight. So, in my review of A Curse So Dark and Lonely, (probably one of the reviews that I am most proud of!) not only did I list some of Harper’s traits, I gave an example from the book where she demonstrates them. With the male lead, Rhen, I made a link between the way he was portrayed and the stereotypical representation of male love interests in YA Fantasy.

Every time I instinctively reach for phrases like “every chapter ended with a cliffhanger”, I urge myself to take this further. Was it because I was emotionally attached to the characters, meaning that I was invested in their wellbeing? Or because the plot was so well-crafted that I wanted to know how the big mysteries of the novel would be solved? Or was it because every chapter ended in the middle of action, when the protagonist was at their most vulnerable? It may be a mixture of these things, but to add that additional layer to the post, I always make sure that I go that extra step.

Everyone’s reason behind starting their blog is personal, and it tends to be a mixture of a couple of factors. For me, I wanted to spread reading and encourage teens to pick up books, by recommending books that I’ll think they like, as well as the personal challenge of improving my writing and copy-editing. Therefore, it follows for posts to have a purpose. On the macro-blog-level, this means the post matching what you’re setting out to achieve with your site (as explained above), and on the micro-level, every post should have their own purpose, within itself. So, when I write I blog post, I think about what I’m trying to achieve, and this is particularly relevant for my book reviews. When I review a book, I want to a) share my thoughts on the book with people who may have read it and b) give people reading my blog a real sense of whether it’s worth their while reading this book. I’ve found that in order to be most satisfied with what I write, I have to bear these two points in mind. It’s like having an internal purpose (point a) and an external purpose (point b). I’ve been trying to implement both of these points by including star ratings, having a concluding sentence at the end of my post to sum up the book, including trigger warnings/content warnings, and comparing books to others in the genre. Not every post will include all of these, but I’m consciously trying to weave them into my posts in order to fulfill Fictionforteen.com ‘s purpose.

My final point is about vocabulary. In the space of 5 years, there have been so many opportunities for me to add to my personal lexicon; especially as a book blogger. Reading a lot means that I’m constantly coming into contact with words that I haven’t used before. I find that to make my posts pop, the thesaurus and it’s wealth of synonyms is a must, as well as checking the dictionary definitions of words that I’m not too sure of.

I’m really looking forward to comparing my blog in another 5 years’ time, and using this post to guide my journey through reviewing, opinion sharing, and recommending. Maybe you might have found some of these points helpful – please let me know in the comments how you improve your posts!

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Thank you and take care,

Al

Want To Start Blogging? What I’d Wished I’d Thought About When I Started Out

Blogging is special. It allows you to elucidate your thoughts and stances on issues that are important to you, and share this with the world through written word.

If you already have a blog, then you’ll know this, but when I was starting out, I wasn’t fully aware of the power blogging had, and how to best utilise this powerful tool. I’m not referring to the nitty-gritty of web design and SEO (although I’m still getting to grips with that today), but rather the way to use a blog to make it best fit your needs and aims. I believe to get the most out of your blog, it’s good to have a think about why you are doing it and what your hopes are. As such, I’ve made a list of three things that I think you should ponder if you’d like to start a blog. Now, I’m by no means an authority on blogging and the like, but here are some snippets of advice that I hope you’ll find of interest!

  1. Don’t Give Up (Even If You Don’t Get The Response You Wanted)

Blogs are the perfect platform for sharing your interests with like-minded people, and this was one of the main reasons that I started fictionforteens.com. When I posted my first blog post, I wasn’t quite sure what would happen; whether the book enthusiasts of the world would flock in their masses to my humble site, or whether my posts would lie unread, the comments sections a barren wasteland. I got a couple of views on the post, and it took me a while to build on that, but what kept me going was the knowledge that I was doing what I loved and sharing that enthusiasm with other people. 

Along your blogging journey, some people may not mirror your enthusiasm for blogging and your subject of interest, and others may not give you the support that you hoped for. I must emphasise that the kind of people that I have just described are definitely in the minority, but this is significant enough for a blogger to down tools and forget about something that they have worked hard on. If your posts immediately blow up and reach visitors in all corners of the globe immediately, then that’s amazing, but if your posts don’t, do not become disheartened, but post because a) you enjoy it and b) you are passionate about the subject on which you are blogging. Your passion for what you do will come through in your content, resulting in an invested reader and a quality blog. 

2. Be Prepared to Promote

Once you’ve built your blog and published your first post, it’s time to start on some Shameless Self-Promotion. It may feel unnatural at first, but to get your post read, you need to shout about it from the rooftops (not necessarily literally, but whatever works for you, I guess). Utilise Social Media, pester your friends, and use whatever ways you usually spread the word about something to spread your blog around. When you’ve spent time and effort working on something, it should be spread – people won’t know about it unless you tell them. Not everyone will be interested, but there will be some people that are.

If you use WordPress, you can write your Social Media posts with a link to your new article when you publish your post – you just have to link your accounts for them to be posted. This works best for Twitter and Facebook, and I’ll usually put a photo of the new post on my Instagram story directing people to a link in my bio. All of this will help to do your hard work justice. Make your follow button for people with a WordPress account high up on the sidebar of your blog, as well as the box where people can put in their email address so they can be notified of new content.

3. You Will Improve

I’ve been looking at some of the posts that I wrote when I first starting my blog, and comparing them with my recent ones. Granted, I was only 13, and the progress is over a period of almost 6 years, but it’s satisfying seeing my personal growth and how I’ve formed my writing style through reviewing books. There’s still got a long way to go, and I try to make each post better than the last, but at the start, I didn’t feel like I could do any better than what I was already doing. All of this advice comes down to one thing: just keep going. That’s the best way of improving, as well as pushing yourself to write in formats that you’re not used to. For example, I found it difficult transitioning from writing book reviews and listicles to writing articles such as the one on multiple points of view, where I was forced to think more deeply about the structure and organisation of my article, along with having to determine what the crux of my conclusive argument was. Similarly, starting my new blog opinionalwrites.wordpress.com (any opportunity to promote) was a challenge, because delving into the world of politics and the arts, while I am familiar with the two, stretched me, and I’m very much still learning!

I hope this is helpful if you’re starting out on your blogging journey! Even if you’re a seasoned blogger, I’d be interested to know what your thoughts are, and any advice that you’d give to a fledgling writer!

Take care, Al.