See part one, the sort of posts I write and why here.
This is part two: what goes into writing each post and what I consider the most important aspects of my blog.
THE TITLE : These days I am pretty predicable with my titles (though in the archives the opposite is true... I once named a blog post "paul is currently camping in the middle of tennessee and i am currently home alone. if he had internet he could check this blog and know what was happening. but if he had internet, then i could call his cell phone and this post would not be necessary."). I want this stuff to be easy to locate (for you, for a new reader, for the Google gods and for me. (Sidebar, it's a HUGE priority of mine to get my archives fixed up and more accessible so we don't have to use the search function. This is happening, I promise.)
THE PURPOSE : The posts I write always have only one topic and answer one question. "What did Ellerie's birthday invites look like?" (sunshine!) "How are my succulent clippings doing?" (decent!) "How was Palm Springs?" (awesome!) "How am I handling week two of motherhood?" (not great!) "What's going on right now?" (too much!) "What do I think of the fitbit?" (BFF!)
THE WRITING : I usually write the full post first then add photos in. I always start with a photo on top. It's almost always the "best" photo of the bunch and is meant to draw your interest. Then it alternates: text, photo, text, photo, text until I've wrapped things up. The Internet (and mobile reading) has helped us get used to quick bursts of information and I have gravitated to that style of writing. Ideally, you see short, well-organized paragraphs here.
THE VISUALS : I take photos all the time to support my writing but I never post all the photos I take. Of an event, trip, etc I post about 30-70% - the best and the most interesting, ideally. Of a project I might share closer to 10%. I take a ton of photos from different angles to make sure I have the shot (there is nothing worse than writing a post and realizing you are missing a key visual) but only the "best" that tell the most concise story make it onto the post.
I feel like this is an important point. If you run your own blog you are an editor in addition to a writer. Your job is not just to create the content, but it's to pay attention to what sort of content you are running and how you are communicating it. The post "space" is limitless - in that unlike a print article you're not dictated by page placement or word count - but that doesn't mean you should post 60 photos of one room tour (even if they are all awesome) or all 40 photos of that birthday party (even if they are the best 40 photos that have ever been taken). How many photos do you need to best tell your story, communicate your message or share your how-do? Great. Use ONLY that number of photos.
photo by Tara Whitney.
THE VOICE : Finding and developing your voice is a significant part of running a blog. It's not something that you can decide. (If it was then I would sound like a cross between Amy Poehler and Kate Middleton.) It's just something you will naturally do as you write more and more. My "voice" online is casual, realistic, upbeat and, on a good day, witty. People tell me that I seem the same when they meet me in real life (whew!) and they sometimes tell me that I used to be "funnier" in my archives.
And that's right. I was funny in my archives. I had no audience and no goals and (surprise, surprise) no income. My writing was much more random and off the cuff and I am so glad that I got that part of my life documented in blog form. Some of that stuff is Awkward but it's who I am and I have never taken a post from the archives down despite some really questionable content. This site is no longer a place for random rambles about awesome drunken nights with my girlfriends (I think that's what Vine is for. #newmedia). Although I have developed a better sense of humor in real life (two deployments and a baby will do that), I have built a much taller wall around myself online. While I can't "work on" getting that humor back in text form, I can work on writing for those that "get me" and taking my guard down a bit when it feels right.
Ideally, if I am doing my job right and your blog reader got totally messed up and the titles, names and identifying photos were removed from all the blogs you subscribe to, you could still tell based on my writing and photo style that the post was mine. This should be the goal for any business, brand and writer. While I admire her household name recognition, I don't want to be "the next" Martha Stewart. While I think her branding is impeccable, I don't want to be "the next" Oh Joy! While it pains me to say it, I don't even want to be "the next" Amy Poehler.
This is so "Pinterest quote-y" that it makes me sick, but all of those people are already taken. Martha, Joy and Amy are rad because they kept their head down and WORKED at their own craft. Part of blogging is developing YOUR voice. I think we read blogs that are of a personal nature because we are looking for someone to connect with (and dare I say someone to like). What our favorite bloggers are writing about isn't as important as how they are writing about it. Quite often, we like the "how" more than we like the "what."
THE TAKEAWAY : Be yourself.
Just kidding. Yes that's valuable, but also: Know the purpose behind every post you write. Develop a handful of go-to post types - some that are easier and some that are more involved. Work on them until they become routine. Don't write about what bores you - even if your readers love it. Take photos and write words that only you can create. Don't ever say "I want to be the next _______." You won't. Instead, be that person you already are.
She's way funnier now online than she will be in 8 years.