Many moons ago, I earned a Bachelor’s degree in English. At the time, there weren’t writing or online marketing degrees, so I thought it was the best way to get me a job writing. Looking back, what I wrote — think: dissertations on Dante’s Inferno — was a far cry from what I actually write today. After spending years training myself to write for those overinflated, pompous English professors, I had to undo my way of thinking for the world of blogging. Here’s what my degree didn’t prepare me for.
1. Flowery Prose Don’t Cut It
Boy, I was the queen of flowery language. I could take a three-word phrase like “the dog sat” and turn it into a paragraph description of the shiny lab/shepherd mix who sat obediently, her fur gleaming in the afternoon sunlight. My husband hated that style of writing, by the way. But he married me anyway.
In the world of blogging, it’s much more cut and dry. Say what you’re trying to say, and cut the fat. It took me years to learn to review my writing and whittle it down to what I needed to convey.
2. It’s Okay to Be Informal
Try using contractions and speaking directly to the reader in Dr. Frontaine’s Midieval Literature course! It was quite a stretch for me to get to where I am now in blogging, where I write like you and I are sitting down, having coffee, and talking about marketing. That style seems to resonate with my readers, so, sorry Dr. F. I’ve gone to the dark side.
3. There’s a Specific Format
Beyond having a title page, thesis, and using MLA format, English papers were just one long blob. But blog articles, in this day of short attention spans, work best when they’re broken up with subheaders, numbers, or bullets. And paragraphs should be short!
4. Old Writing Rules Need Not Apply
Did you catch how I started a sentence in #3 with “And?” That was a definite no-no in English class. Sentences needed a subject and verb. Not like this. But there really aren’t too many rules, or at least old rules are broken, when it comes to blogs. And I like it that way. Just fine.
5. There’s No Buffer
Submitting a first draft to my professor meant I’d get it back with purple marks (my prof thought he was doing us a favor not using the dreaded red pen, but now I hate purple!). I’d make the necessary corrections, and he’d review it again a time or two. But with blogs, once you publish it, it’s out there for the world to see. That’s why reading your content aloud and checking for errors is imperative!
I’m glad of what I learned in college about writing, but I’ve gotten an entirely new education over the last 10 years through experience!