Welcome to Blogging for B&Bs, a series of posts exploring blogs and their uses and usefulness for B&Bs. In this series, we’re exploring what blogs are and how they can help you connect with your guests, coming up with ideas for blog posts, and writing the posts themselves. We’re also discussing when a blog might not be right for you, and some alternatives to blogging that will still help you connect with your guests.
Last week we discussed where to look for ideas for your posts. This week we’re examining how to craft a post for publication.
Writing a blog post can be harder than it looks. A well-crafted post is informative, interesting and entertaining, fun to read and easy to digest. It can be difficult to achieve all these things, especially when you’re new to blogging, so following are a few tips to help you develop a voice and to craft your posts with efficiency. You’ll get better at it the more you do, so take these tips as guidelines rather than rules, and you’ll soon find the blogger in you.
There is no set length for a blog post. It can be as long or as short as it needs to be. Often, blog posts are about 400 to 800 words long, though some are much shorter and some are much longer. The important thing is to say all that needs to be said. You don’t need to be wordy to add length — this is not a term paper. If you’ve used two sentences to make a point that can just as easily be made in one, use one. Don’t skimp on the details, however, especially if what you’re writing about requires description and examples, like Alaska weather or wildlife.
It shouldn’t need to be said, but unfortunately, in the blogging world, grammar is often sacrificed in the effort to be fast or first. In your blogging world, proper grammar should be of utmost importance. Your readers don’t care whether you’ve got your finger on the pulse of technology or industry (unless your blog is about the latest industry news), which means they expect you to have taken the time to make sure your writing and blog posts are grammatically correct and well-written. There’s nothing more annoying than reading a piece filled with spelling errors and misplaced punctuation. At the very least, you look like you don’t know what you’re doing. At worst, your writing will be unintelligible and detrimental to your overall goals.
Attribution & Linking
If you’re writing a blog post about some happy guests which includes quotations from their , make sure you attribute the quote to the right person. For example: “We really enjoyed the kayaking trip you booked for us. Thanks for making our Alaska adventure memorable,” said Bob Smith, who stayed with us for two nights this summer. If you’re quoting a source on the web, make sure you attribute it properly and, if it’s long enough, place it in a block quote: According to Copyblogger,
Many people feel that a great headline is bombastic and full of hyperbole, but that’s usually not the case. If people don’t believe you can deliver on your promise, they won’t bother reading further, and your over-the-top headline fails.
One of the advantages of the web is an immediacy of citations. By that, I mean instead of bibliographies and APA style, you need only link the name to the pertinent article. In the case of personal quotations, if Bob wants his website included, make his name a link.
Style & Personality
Forget the rules about writing you learned in school. Write in first or second person if you feel it’s appropriate. Inject your personality into your post: If you’re funny when you talk, be funny when you write. With a blog post, you’re not talking at your readers; you’re having a conversation, so write as if you’re conversing (but don’t forget about grammar). Your blog need not be formal, unless, of course, that’s your personality.
Comments are an integral part of a blog. They’re the way you interact with your readers, so even though you might be tempted to turn them off as a defense against the odd negative comment, it’s more productive to leave them on. As the blog owner, you can approve and delete comments as you please, and you can protect yourself against spam with various plugins and tools. Respond to your commenters in a timely and positive way, and encourage the conversation by asking questions or inviting readers to share their experiences.
Blogging doesn’t have a steep learning curve—in fact, it’s easier than ever to publish your story or opinion on the web. But blogging well comes with attention to the craft and the honing of your skills. And blogging well can be a huge benefit to your business, as well as a way to stay in touch with your readers and start a conversations.
Next week: Reasons Your B&B Might not Be Ready for a Blog