Selective Hearing’s Blogging Manual Part 3 – Content, Topics & Composing a Post

The first 2 parts of this series covered the basics of starting your blog including exercises in discovering what you want to talk about and finding the right service provider for you. In this third installment we get to the meat of your site, and that is the content.

How do I put it together?

Hopefully you have a general idea of what you want to say. If not, I suggest you go back to the fist post in the series and figure things out. Otherwise, let’s get on with taking your jumbled thoughts and getting them down into cohesive sentences.

Some of you out there probably didn’t like your English classes back in school right? What was the point of learning all the grammatical rules of writing? Who cares about punctuation? Why did you do all those creative writing exercises when they wouldn’t have any practical use in real life?

When it comes to a blog all that stuff you shrugged off as easy credit in school comes into play. Of course not all of us passed English with flying colors and based on some of the stuff I read on the ‘net some of you could use a refresher remedial English course or three.

In these modern times it isn’t necessarily required to have strong writing skills anyway. That’s what the spell check in a word processor is for right? But the more verbose you can be without having to resort to technology as your crutch, the more expressive you can become in your writings. After all, you don’t want to start every sentence with “I’m really glad…” every single time right?

If you understood that obvious pot shot then good for you. Anyway, let’s move on.

Choosing a topic

When it comes to creating a post the hardest thing is probably coming up with a topic. For Selective Hearing there are many endless topics to talk about given the type of material that we cover.

Of course, not all of you are going to be making idol or music blogs so choose something within the general scope of your site.  It’s best to pick a topic you are either knowledgeable about or one that you can bullshit your way through without issue. Whatever the case find something that you feel passionate about. When you get stuck you can always sound convincing when you have to heap on some BS until you get to your next point.

Unless you’re really good at lying or are the bookworm, facts checker type, it’s best to stay away from things you don’t know much about. If you are forced to write about something you are uncomfortable with do some basic homework so you don’t sound like a complete ass.

Composing your post

I would suggest that before you even open up a draft on your site you do some brainstorming on a piece of paper or in a word processor. Give yourself a general idea of what your main points in your article are so you don’t go wandering off topic. Nothing is more annoying than reading an article that goes in different directions for paragraphs before getting to the point.

Once you have those in place it’s time to start writing. I highly recommend using a word processor when you start transferring your thoughts to writing, especially if you’re going to go long with your arguments. Never trust your blogging software’s auto save function. Web pages crash & sometimes you don’t get endless hours of waxing poetic back. At least with a word processor you can always recover your thoughts should it crash.

Another helpful piece of advice is to keep your paragraphs short and sweet. People these days don’t have a lot of patience for long blocks of endless text. Break things up so the reader’s eye doesn’t wander to some shiny object that will distract them from reading your work.

Making Things Interesting

You’ve started your post and are getting into the groove but as you read your draft back it feels like you’re reading a textbook rather than a real person’s thoughts. You need to spice up your writing with some personality man.

How much personality will depend on the scope of your site. If you’re running a serious news site that covers hard hitting world events you probably don’t want to be cracking jokes about war and famine in your articles.

But if you’re not going to be some sort of hardcore journalist then feel free to interject some of yourself into each article you write. It makes your writing relatable and inviting to the reader.

That of course works if you manage to make yourself appear that way. If you’re a just a complete asshole you get the opposite effect and some possible trolling. If you have no discernable personality, make one up. It’s not like anyone will actually know you’re a boring stump in real life.

Slang is nice to use to keep the reader engaged, but try not to lay it on too thick. You may be getting readers from different parts of the world and they might not understand what you are saying or misinterpret the meanings as something offensive to them. Try to use as much common terminology as you possibly can based on your subject and topic.

Finalize & publish your post

Once you’re satisfied with what you wrote in your word processor it’s a simple job of copy & paste into your blog post. Depending on your platform you may have to do some formatting to get things looking all pretty. Feel free to add images relevant to your topic if needed afterwards.

With the Internet being all encompassing there may be many other people writing about your chosen topic at any given time. You may think that you’ve just wasted your time writing up a beautiful essay and someone already beat you to the punch.  Don’t worry if you re-hash or repeat what others have said. Just don’t go around plagiarizing others works & calling it your own. That’s not cool.

Fellow Selective Hearing writer TOZ chimes in on his thoughts on content.

Don’t be afraid to suck. It’s okay. It’s very rare for bloggers or writers in general to come out hitting on all cylinders. It takes time to improve. It’s hard for me to read my early work on the site (and I don’t even want to read my previous reviews elsewhere on the internet). Just keep writing. It will work itself out. In both quality and personality.

Greg talked out English class before. As boring as it may have been for you, one huge point those classes stress is the importance of mentor texts. Whatever topic you chose, read a lot of writing relating to that topic. If you like AKB, go read blog posts about AKB. Including the positive and the negative. Exposing yourself to other writers in that field of study will help you figure out how you want to approach your own writing. You can definitely figure out how you would like to write about a newly-released video. Just as important, you can figure out how you don’t want to write.

One last thing I would like to convey is intent. Why exactly are you going to start this blog? Why are you going to cover the things that you are? I don’t like to cover airport pictures of Girls’ Generation, but there are people that do. They feel it’s necessary for their coverage of SNSD. So develop not only what you want to talk about, but find your reasoning on why.

In The next installment: Promoting your site

About Greg 1001 Articles
Greg is the creator, administrator, editor, code monkey, overlord and general jack of all trades at Selective Hearing. He can be found lurking among the overseas Asian pop fandom and bumming around Japan every year for some reason or another.