This is a guest post by Kenneth McCall. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guest post guidelines.
As a person who has worked in the self-storage industry for years, I’ve come to understand the importance of neatness and organization. I’ve seen my share of well-organized and well-maintained storage units. I’ve also seen units where I’ve opened up the storage unit door only to be overwhelmed by a room full of chaos.
Avoiding Blog Clutter
As an avid reader of blogs, I often get the same feeling when I read a blog as I do when I open up a storage unit door. Some blogs are a pleasure to read. The subject matter is clear, the points are thoughtful and concise, and the message is consistent. In other words, the blog is well organized and well written. However, others remind me very much of the cluttered storage unit. The message is disorganized, the flow is uneven, and the writer’s thoughts ramble all over the place.
Which type of blog would you rather read?
When people first open a door to any establishment, and the initial appearance is one of orderliness, they feel good about where they are and what they see. If they are able to find what they are looking for, they feel rewarded and are eager to return again and again. People react the same way to blogs. If the blog is well organized and a person finds what he is looking for, he is likely to jump on board…and then come back for more. So how exactly does a writer go about avoiding blog clutter? Here are five steps to keeping your blogs organized and clutter-free:
Step 1: Formulate your subject matter well. OK, so you know what you are going to write about, but how well do you know the topic? Do your research! Preparation is half the battle.
Formulate the exact question or questions you want your blog to answer. Then start writing down everything you know or learn about your topic that relates to these questions. Brainstorm if you must. Include everything that comes across your mind and everything you found in your research. You may not use all of it in your blog but that’s OK. You will have the information you need in front of you and you will have reviewed the topic in your mind. Now you are ready to organize that information.
Step 2: Construct the outline for your blog. Most blogs are like sandwiches: an introductory paragraph or two, the meat in the middle, and a wrap-up at the end. The introduction usually gives your readers the answer to the subject question(s) right away and then the “meat” explains the reasons for this answer. Most often, these reasons are in the form of bullet points (or a list). Jot down the titles of these bullet points. Let’s say there are five of them. Now you have the skeletal outline of your blog: an introduction, five bullet points, and a conclusion—seven sections in all. So take every piece of information you wrote down in step 1 and, one by one, place it in whichever of these sections it best fits. You will end up with seven sections, each one populated with several pieces of information that you can use to write about that section. Now, do the actual writing, or more precisely, let the blog write itself – one section at a time.
Step 3: Make it easy to read. One of the reasons you use bullet points or lists is because they catch the reader’s eye and are easy to scan. You should carry the same philosophy
throughout your blog – make it easy and pleasurable to read. Express your thoughts in a simple straightforward way. Inject the prose with humor and don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through. If your blog is interesting, people will read it!
Step 4: Don’t lose your focus. Sometimes it’s easy to get carried away and start to ramble. Don’t fall into this trap. Focus on your message and stay on point. Make sure that every sentence you write within a certain section of your post is fully related to the point you are trying to make in that section. Nobody wants to read a long-winded ramble. Get to the point and then move on!
Step 5: (When you think you are done) Read, re-read, and then re-read again! Proofreading is essential to anything you write and blogs are no exception. It works even better when you
step away from it for an hour or two and then go back and proofread. You will catch silly mistakes, faulty spelling, and grammatical errors. But even more importantly you will be putting yourself in the shoes of your readers. You can see if the content is clear, easy to read, and easy to understand. You will be able to see if the sequencing is logical and how smoothly each section flows into the next. And you can also tell whether your blog is interesting and captivating enough to hold a reader’s attention. If not, go back and keep tweaking until it looks just right.
Blog clutter is easy to avoid. The key is to not let the clutter build up in the first place. If you plan and organize your blog from the outset, your blog will be like a storage unit with neat shelves and a place where everything belongs. Make your readers feel good about your blogs. Avoid the clutter and you will get them coming back for more.
Kenneth McCall is director of IT for storage. In this role he builds the systems that help customers find the best self storage units for their needs.