Blog Writing Tips 2 – The Art Of Conversation

Conversation Collage

When you compose a blog post, it’s immediately personal. Readers can react within moments. You’re not preaching from a pulpit or talking to yourself in the mirror and you certainly don’t need permission to write.

You’re engaging in the fine art of conversation. So what makes for a great conversationalist and how might you use that in your writing?

art of conversation

The High Five

When you meet your friends, you want to give them a hug and say hello! Blogging is no different. Just look at the strong, friendly (slightly irreverent?!) way this blogger opened a recent post:

Yo, yo, yo! What’s the haps, people? The craic here is limited.

Can you remember the last time you directly spoke to your audience? In the opening line of your blog post? Try it. But if you’re feeling timorous, then you need to…

Relax

One of the joys of blogging is the huge variety of voices. You don’t have to try to mimic the above. Actually, I wouldn’t suggest you mimic anyone. Be yourself. Some voices are formal and organised, some colloquial, some downright foul-mouthed. Bring it on, I love it all. Relax into your own voice. Imagine you’re talking to your best friend over a shared bottle of wine. Maybe with less slurring.

Have An Opinion

The best conversations end up being debates – and the easiest way to spark a debate is to have an opinion of your own. Instead of blogging about, ‘I made a dress,’ why don’t you share your take on what you’ve done? This dress stinks! Oh man, I love this. I’m torn on this one… Opinion invites opinion. I’d only add two caveats – make it genuine and keep it polite.

Actually, make that three caveats…

Be A Good Listener

We’ve all encountered the party bore who only wants to talk about themselves. It’s a bit too easy to slip into this danger area with blogging. So I chose a pattern and then I bought some fabric and then I cut it out and then... We don’t mean to be self-obsessed, but take a minute to review some of your past blog posts. Did you acknowledge your readers at all? Wince. I know. Same here – guilty as charged too many times for comfort.

So open up the conversation. Reach out. What do you think? Have you ever had the same experience? I’m sure I’m not the only one. A touch of humility goes a long way. Take a look at some of your favourite blogs and see how often they use the words ‘we’, and ‘you’. I like to invite expert opinion from the silent majority of readers who have much more experience than me. Ask and listen. It’s almost as important as writing.

Be interested in the response

Take the time to respond to what people are saying, with more than a hasty ‘Thanks!’. The comment section of a blog post can be the most interesting part. See my recent request for sewing tips, which generated 180 replies full of really useful content. Or my ruminations on the topic of Customer Versus Community. Written at 5am, my thinking was a bit muddy – but readers left some really insightful and intelligent comments that took the debate to a much higher level.

To be a good blog writer, you need to be a good listener. To be a great blog writer, you need to have the generosity and wisdom to share the platform. Yeah, you might be the one stringing the words together, but a lot of other people are contributing. Never forget the two most powerful words in a blogger’s vocabulary: thank you.

So, here’s another PRACTICAL EXERCISE if you still want to play along. In your next blog post, set yourself the following tasks:

  • Directly greet your readers in the opening paragraph.
  • Share a clear opinion on what you’re blogging about.
  • Find a question that invites the reader to empathise. Has this happened to you, too?
  • End your blog post with a direct call to debate.
  • Then reply to readers in your comments and see if you can keep the conversation going.

I’d love to know if this invigorates your blog. Do let me know!

Conversation

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41 Responses to Blog Writing Tips 2 – The Art Of Conversation

  1. Caroline says:

    This is really useful with genuine practical tips about writing blog posts. Thanks x
    I love that it looks like Ella is engaged in a conversation of her own too!

  2. Your blog writing tips, part 1 & 2 are really, yes REALLY, helpful. Thank you so much for sharing. I have actually been thinking a lot about my blog posts and writing style recently. Now that I’m firmly in the sewing blog groove, I sort of feel that I’ve been getting caught up in the ‘facts’, what fabric I used, etc. I then feel there’s no ‘time’ left to tell a story. When I wasn’t blogging about sewing, I almost always chattered about something personal. Well…I’m definitely going follow your suggestions. I’m optimistic that this will indeed invigorate my blog!

  3. I reckon that there’s some great learning that happens through dialogue: Something that blogs are fantastic at facilitating. Many are the tips and trade secrets that I have picked up from a blog post or comment trail. This is a particular tip hot spot, thank you!

  4. Rachel says:

    Blogging about blogging seems to be a topic that’s been tackled on beauty/fashion/lifestyle blogs for a while, so it’s nice to see that you’re making it more personal to sewing blogging, What I think makes posts of this nature more powerful is when bloggers admit to their own mistakes, so it’s reassuring to read your reflections!

  5. Margo says:

    I agree with Sue! This series has been so helpful. I tend to keep my personal life off limits but that doesn’t mean that I can’t try to generate conversation about sewing and style which is why I blog in the first place. I haven’t always been very good at responding to comments…cringe…life sometimes gets in the way. But I plan to try harder on that! Thanks for the great tips!

    • Oh, I think many of us struggle with responding to each and every comment! I think also the sharing of personal life is a fine balance. There’s lots I don’t share on here (and you probably wouldn’t want me to!).

  6. Now I am feeling very selfish and egocentric….mind you, if you wrote a blog post about being humorous then I’d think I was funny .
    I am rethinking my blog post style as I type…I must, I must be more sharing ….
    bestest from ‘me me me’
    d x

  7. Caitlyn M. says:

    If I may be so bold as to contribute a tip of my own, I would suggest striking the expression “Am I the only one who…?” from our vocabulary writers. Whenever I see this, I think,”There are 7 billion people on Earth. No, you are not the only one. You are never the only one.” It’s a silly rhetorical device that can come across as self-centered and melodramatic (not always, but the potential is there). Instead, assume you have kindred spirits out there and skip right to your point: “Sewists who have been unpicking a seam and ripped straight through their luscious fashion fabric, join me in putting all the evil seam rippers in time-out. And also getting a glass of wine and some chocolate, because we sure need it right now.” This has the added benefit of encouraging you to address your audience directly, and naturally prompts a follow-up question to spark debate: “What do YOU do when this happens?”

  8. Jen (NY) says:

    As a reader, I would add “be yourself,” which might be covered by the very good advice to “relax.” I am always amused, for example, to read American blogs using the word “whilst” — which is a completely unnatural word in American English! It gives me a kind of geographical pause…where am I in the sewing blogworld? Maybe the prevalence of “whilst” in sewing blogs just shows how interconnected it is now.
    On the other hand, personally, I’m put off by bloggers who use a large number of expletives for effect (and who shall not be named here). Sometimes it’s just **** to say ****. Maybe this style appeals to readers who perceive traditional sewing talk as linguistic frumpiness? Anyway, this is just my personal taste, so please ignore it!

    • I read a lot of British sewing blogs and sometimes see their turns of phrase creeping into my (US) writing, for sure. “A bit fiddly” – that’s got to be one of my favorites, but I refuse to give it up!

      forwhoitsfor.blogspot.com

    • Jen (NY) says:

      Actually, I think that we say “fiddly” in the US too, but it’s not so common and not usually accompanied by “bit.” I would say, “kind of fiddly” or more likely, “a little tricky” –something like that.

      • I read a lot of sewing blogs and have noticed that I start using terms common to them when thinking and blogging about my sewing, even though I woudn’t use them in everyday speech. (Of course I can’t think of an example when now I want to! They’re usually American English terms, but there are also Canadian, Australian and blogs written in what I might call European English by writers with English as a second language that I read and influence me). This isn’t affected on my part, it happens naturally.

        I have no linguistics training but think its like a mild version of how pidgin/creole languages start when people with different languages come together and have to communicate. I like that idea of an international online sewing pidgin.

        However, I will never be able to call trousers pants with a completely straight face and I still maintain that vests go under your shirt, not over it, even though I discovered the other day that waistcoats were invented by King Charles so as to be a distinctly English fashion (as opposed to French) and they had arms and were called vests. But I am learning to remember to search those terms when looking for patterns and reviews and remember to include them in my tags.

      • Andrea Firth says:

        As an Australian blogger, I’ve noticed that a lot of other Australian bloggers will use what I will term American sewing terms in their blogs, something that I have avoided, even though the majority of my readers come from the US. Terms like muslin where I would say toile, or using imperial measurements instead of metric.

  9. Jennifer says:

    Thanks Karen for another great post and some really useful tips. I probably do write ‘telling’ type posts a bit more often than I realise, so I’ll be making more of an effort to be conversational in future and try and spark some debate. Sitting on the fence is one of my bad habits so maybe I need to practice being more opinionated!

  10. Responding to blog followers is definitely a good point to make. I understand some people get hundreds or thousands of comments and it’s hard to personally reply to each one, but if I’ve left several comments and have never gotten a response, I’m much less likely to ever interact again. It just…feels a bit rude to me? I might keep reading, I might not, but that interaction and sense of community is gone. On the other hand, there are some bloggers I LOVE for more than just their pretty garments. They’re engaging and always leave thoughtful responses to my comments, which makes me look forward to their new posts even more. Especially if they’re asking for advice or opinions, I’ll be sure to leave some since I know they’ll be reading it!

  11. These are some really helpful points Karen, great post. I’m trying to be much more conversational in my blog posts, ending with a question etc. I get quite a few hits from google but don’t have many regular followers so I feel kinda silly starting with a greeting, but its a great suggestion to make it seem more relaxed… so I’m going to try!

  12. Mary says:

    Thanks for another great post! I’m going to try to address your suggestion to have an opinion in my next post. But frankly, I feel a bit uncomfortable publishing some of my strongest opinions. For example, how many more people do we need writing books and selling patterns when they just learned to sew five years ago? See what I mean? Harsh!

    • Yes, I think there is opinion and opinion and part of it is judging what to share. Personally, I like to keep things polite and respectful around others. I don’t think opinion needs to be incendiary or self-consciously controversial. For me, it’s just having a take on my own progress beyond, ‘I made another dress.’ It’s a tricky topic I hope to cover!

    • Ros says:

      Post it! I think there’s a lot of people who would agree with you and it would be an interesting discussion.

  13. joanfrankham says:

    Great post and tips, thank you.

  14. Agh! You’ve done it again! I drafted a post last night which is pretty personal, definitely states opinion and is aiming to find out more about other sewing bloggers. I couldn’t decide whether to post it or not. Now I’m going to have to! Really great series Karen. Thank you for writing this!

  15. Karen…I had a partially completed post from a long while back languishing in my drafts, and your posts inspired me to finish it, and publish it! I’m sure it sounds silly, but I was pretty excited when I hit publish. For the last while, I’ve been focusing on blogging ‘the right way’, with schedules etc., and it’s been kind of like ‘work’. Your posts definitely have sparked an enthusiasm! Thank you for the encouragement and guidance!

  16. I only started blogging in January but I certainly hope my readers enjoy coming along for a chin wag 🙂 x

    http://www.sheintheknow.co.uk

  17. I often compose draft blog posts in my head when I’m walking to and from places. So after reading this I tried adding a greeting. Even in my head, starting with “hello” just felt so wrong, I can only describe it as feeling rude, which makes no sense at all. I really struggled. No idea why, some kind of British impersonal hang up thing? Logically, I cannot see how I can show the internet pictures of my homemade underwear and yet struggle with using the word hello at the beginning of a post.
    But then I realised that a couple of blogs I really like do this in a really genuine way and that made it a bit easier for me.
    So, I managed to add a greeting to a post that I started drafting after reading your story writing post. https://prolificprojectstarter.wordpress.com/2015/02/17/2308/
    Thanks for pointing out how an “I did this, then this” blog can seem selfish, to help counteract the narrative in my head that acknowledging the reader seems big headed and pushy (which is the best I can figure out about why it seems so counter intuitive to me).

  18. Thank you for the great tips. I re-read my posts and immediately started tweaking.

  19. amy w says:

    I really appreciate the blogging tips. It’s given me good things to think about. I don’t comment a lot on other blogs but I really appreciate the bloggers who respond to my comment. I feel like I post interesting questions to engage the readers, but it doesn’t seem to be working. Your tips will definitely be used for future posts.

  20. meliselaboutiqueuse says:

    Hello Karen, and thanks a lot for your blog, I’m one of your regular readers but I rarely comment…
    I tried your tips on my blog in my last article, if you want to read it : http://laboutiqueuse.canalblog.com/
    I usually address my readers directly, but rarely ask questions as sometimes I feel it’s a bit artificial in other blogs I read, a bit like the writer absolutely wants to have comments on his/her post.
    Please tell me what you think!!!

    • meliselaboutiqueuse says:

      My co-blogger just posted 3 articles and they are… in French! If you want to read mine (in English and French), you’ll have to scroll down a bit. It’s the one about the knitted baby sack. And I already got several comments!

  21. izychampion says:

    Thank you so much once again Karen for your awesome tips! My latest blog is about my attempt to do some GBSB speed sewing – I’m looking forward to everyone’s comments about speed sewing!! https://izywritesaboutthings.wordpress.com/2015/02/19/speed-sewing-in-which-i-attempt-to-make-a-skirt-in-4-hours/ xx

  22. Cheryl says:

    Thank you very much for tips and advice. I am was really excited about putting your suggestions into action….this is what my blog needs.

  23. This is a great post, thank-you for the tips!

  24. Thanks for the advice – it’s invaluable and I agree wholeheartedly. My problem is, how do I attract readers? How can I make them know I’m here? I love writing and want to get better. But how do I get any readers? All tips appreciated! Issy x

  25. Kara says:

    Joining the pary late, as usual. This was a difficult task for me, but here is the result:
    http://www.karaw.com/blogg/?p=769

  26. Pingback: How I Hit My Blogging Stride: Three Powerful Rules

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