I spent 5 years as an elementary school teacher before I became a commercial freelance writer. Along the way, I think it’s safe to say that I became a bit of a grammar snob. Besides making me pretty annoying, this also made my transition into freelance writing more difficult.
Since getting into the business, I’ve learned to drop my grammar pride. It’s all fine and dandy for writing research papers, but when you’re writing marketing materials, the rules don’t always apply. Sure, you don’t want punctuation mistakes or misspellings, but there are some academic no-no’s that work great when writing sales materials. Here’s a few of them.
While complex sentences impress the scholar, they only hurt your conversion rates. Fragments offer a way to cut down your average sentence length. Making your copy more readable by setting a rhythm. By the way, that was a fragment.
- Starting with conjunctions
I remember getting points off on papers for beginning sentences with conjunctions. Well guess some what? Sometimes it just makes the transition flow more smoothly. And frankly, I like beginning sentences with “and.”
- One sentence paragraphs
— Nothing draws attention to a key point like a one sentence paragraph. Here let me show you:
Often people define a paragraph as a block of text with a minimum of three sentences. Anything less and you need either need to expound on the paragraphs main idea or combine it with another paragraph. You wouldn’t want to break sacred grammar rules, would we?
If you’re a copywriter, you betcha!
So the main idea is set aside in its own paragraph, ensuring that the reader doesn’t miss it. Typically in copy, this one sentence paragraph will highlight a main benefit of the product or service.
- Slang—You want a conversational tone for your copy. The reader needs to feel like they could sit down and exchange some words with you over a few beers. That said, now’s not the time to sound like a professor. So those rules about slang—throw them out the window. That includes contractions.
As always, remember your audience. You aren’t going to say “rock and roll, dude!” to someone looking to hire a lawyer. On the other hand, you might to a group of, well… rockers. And also, if you don’t know the correct slang, don’t use it. “Rock and roll, dude!” probably went out of style with the ninja turtles, so I wouldn’t really use it. If you can’t talk the talk, keep it simple and straight forward.
Remember, these “mistakes” don’t always work. Use your best judgment and use them as you see fit.
So I’m thinking we need a secret code. Something to discretely notify someone that they’re not following you but they sure act like they think they are and engage with you! OK, I know this is petty…am I forgiven if I admit that straight out of the gate? I wrote about similar Twitter trifles once before, but now I’d like to address the sweet oblivious tweeter. You all have at least a few of them…people who retweet you, mention you, recommend you as someone to follow, and even send you hugs and smooches! And yet…they’re not even following you. How embarrassing! How to cyber nudge them to correct what is likely an oversight whilst saving face for yourself and them?
The irony is that this is precisely the type of message that should be whispered in private…and on Twitter, that means a DM or direct message…but if they’re not following you…you CAN’T send such a message! Ugh! What to do? How to remedy this awkward social media situation?
*Special note to Alyssa Milano – If you would only follow me, I could answer all of your imploring inquiring direct messages about your career path. I mean, I would be happy to help you with that if you would only allow me to reply.
I think we need to put this up for a vote. I have come up with a few invaluable ideas:
- Tweet: *nudge nudge* Pardon me, would you have any Grey Poupon–I mean, would you like to follow me?
- Ask a friend to mention it to them in DM…is this high school, or what?
- Tweet: Hey, ummm, Gerald, can you follow me so I can DM you? I have a really good stock tip :}
- Unfollow and then follow them again. They’ll see you as a “new” follow and will see they don’t follow you. Whereas this would likely do the trick, it may initiate some head scratching…you know, get them wondering why you didn’t resort to option #1
- We could always come up with a really subtle, sophisticated code or hashtag to use to avoid any unpleasantries inherent in a virtual knock on the head. I’ve given it a lot of thought and consideration to capture the feel of the friendly and unimposing tone we’d like to convey. Something along the lines of: #HeyYouDopeYoureNotEvenFollowingMeDuh!
But then, in the whole scheme of things, does it really mater? I mean, they laugh with you, they share your posts and make comments, recommend you on Follow Friday, maybe even send you virtual hugs. It would be kind of funny if you left it status quo and one day they DM you a question or comment and you’re left resorting to posting on the stream, hat in hand… “ummm…errr…dearest friend, I would be happy to answer your DM if you were following me” So, what do you say…number 5 is the best one, right? Dare me to use it? (Please don’t!) Thanks to my new friend, fellow G, for inviting me to tarnish his pristine reputation for high standards in blogging with my guest post. And thank you for reading and not immediately unfollowing me I encourage you to contribute your suggestions for follow nudging diplomacy: useful, useless and everywhere in between.
Also please cast your vote in the tweet poll below.
This could be one of your blog readers.
Are you unknowingly annoying your readers? Well, if you are making these 11 mistakes, you might be turning them off. Keep on reading…
Annoyed reader photo by Jonno Witts
1. Writing in gigantic blocks of text
Big text blogs are easy to get lost in. They also strain eyes and make reading difficult.
Because it’s hard to scan. Let alone read.
In fact, a study shows that only 16% of your readers read word-by-word. The rest mostly scan. So at least make it scannable.
I suggest keeping paragraphs 1 to 7 lines long. Then your readers would read your post relaxingly and enjoyably. Ahhhh…
2. Eye-straining text
No matter how good your writing may be, if you write in teeny weeny text, people are going to be annoyed and read with squinty winty eyes.
Or scan abruptly. Or not read at all.
Also, make sure the lines are not squeezed too tightly together, like…
This paragraph is an example of hard-to-read text, hard-to-read text, hard-to-read text. This paragraph is an example of hard-to-read text, which readers can’t stand and move on to the next. So, make reading easy so the poor eye can rest.
5 easy steps to make your text easy to read
1. Go to your theme’s CSS in your admin area. For WP users, go to the theme editor. Then, on the right, there’s a list of files. Make sure you are on style.css.
2. Find #content (the part of the blog post).
3. Add this line to the code. Below are the settings I use for my blog Gloson Blog, but you can customize it.
“15px” = text size.
“25px” = space between lines.
4. Customize the sizes (if you want). It’s important to consider the blog width, the blog post width, the sidebar width, and the design. Then update the code!
5. Clear-cache-reload (Ctrl + F5) your blog and check out your comfortable text. Aaaahhhh…..
If you need any help, just leave a comment and I’ll help out .
P.S. If you have the WP Super Cache plugin, go to another page to see the changes.
Photo by Daniel Y. Go
3. MR. ALLCAPS X. MARKS!!!!!!!!
To most people online, ALL CAPS IS SHOUTING and if used with exclamation marks, it’s EXTREMELY ANNOYING!!!!!! REALLY!!!!
It also looks unprofessional and is hard to read. So don’t write in all caps.
Of course, you can use it occasionally and appropriately if you want to emphasize a word.
Photo by toddheft
4. Where’s the about-me page?
Your readers have read an ammmmmmmmmmmmmazing blog post on your blog!
And now, they are heading to your about me page – They want to know more about the awesome guy who wrote it!
But if they discover that you don’t have an about-me page, they are going to get confused, frustrated and annoyed, especially loyal readers.
So, make sure you have an about me page. It makes the blog more personal!
Don’t forget to put up an image of you too! It really helps the readers to get to know you better and also builds your name and brand on the Internet.
5. Writing like a robot with no personality
Readers don’t like to read writing without personality. It feels as if you’re reading from a robot! Or even a impersonal “professional” commercial site!
Instead, write with your style and personality–who you are. That’s blogging. Readers love to read posts that are written for them and by you.
In other words, don’t ever write like Wikipedia (We don’t read their articles, unless we badly want a certain information, right? Their long paragraphs strainnnn eyes too! Arrgh!).
The cat photo? mis. tuh.-..purr. suhn. al. it. ee
And it’s taken by swanky
6. Reading…reading…reading…GAHH! Music!
Imagine you sitting at your computer then BANG! Music bursts out your speakers! Yikes! *Finds the stop button in panic!* Phew!
Music, especially autoplaying music, is extremely annoying to unsuspecting visitors.
I’ve read from many people that if they visit a blog with autoplaying music, they would leave immediately.
But if your blog really has to include music, just don’t set it to autoplay and you’ll be fine.
Photo by greggoconnell
7. Here an ad, there an ad, everywhere an ad ad
Advertising is really a very good way to monetize your blog!…if it is not overdone.
Too many advertising distract and annoy readers a lot, and they’re going to be turned off very quickly.
So, don’t fill your blog with too many or distracting ads (animated ones). Making money the smart way is much better than the “quick and easy” way.
8. Complicated, sophisticated commenting system
Don’t ever require commentators to login. No reader wants to go through all the effort to create an account for one single comment!
Mind-exploding Captchas are not a very smart way to prevent spam either. It drives away potential commentators more than it prevents spam.
Instead, install Askimet the spam exterminator. Mostly no spam gets past it.
If a blog requires people to login or enter a Captcha to comment, then it’s missing a lot of potential commentators.
Photo by mag3737
9. Really, really bad design
“Don’t judge a book by its cover,” they say, but that’s the problem. Most people judge a blog by its design.
If your blog has a poor design, it will give new visitors a bad impression and it isn’t very nice to look at, anyway.
So, make sure
- typography easy to read
- navigation easy to find
- design doesn’t distract reader from content
- design doesn’t look like a website from the 90’s
- colors look cool .
And lastly, make sure your design never ever ever looks like this:
Ouch… my eyes hurt.
For some inspiration, here are 50 Beautiful and Amazing Blog Designs compiled by Smashing Magazine.
10. Snail loading speed… dot dot dot… *Yawns*
If your page takes 10+ seconds to appear, visitors lose patience and will click away before your page has even appeared.
To improve loading speed,
- reduce the number of posts on homepage
- reduce the number of images
- reduce the size of images
- reduce your coding
In conclusion, to improve loading speed a lot, remember the 3 R’s.
Reduce, Reduce, and Reduce.
To test loading speed, head over to Pingdom Tools. It gives a detailed breakdown on the loading speed of certain elements, so you know which one slows down the loading.
Here is one popular plugin to help boost your loading speed a lot > W3 Total Cache.
Photo by jpockele
11. Turn off comments, turn off readers
The blog community is made out of 2 things:
1. the blogger
So, if you turn off comments, you turn off readers.
Readers like to voice out their opinions on your blog. It’s where they can converse, discuss, and have their say.
So, don’t ever turn off comments! (Unless you have serious spam issues and have put your reason in the comments section.)
Photo by Marc Wathieu
Phew! That’s quite a list!
Don’t forget to share the things on blogs that annoy you in the comments below! If I think the point you shared is really annoying, I’ll include it here!
So, are you guilty of any of these?
Great Tips from Commentators (Thank you guys!)
Great tips! I would add that in addition to having an about me page, you should have some small blurb on your sidebar that describes you and your blog for new visitors so that people know what the overall gist of your site is.
Great post Gloson! But may I add:
Please don’t load your blog with so many ads that you have to scroll a full webpage to see the content
Awesome post man, these are some great pointers for anyone getting a blog started or needing to ‘spruce’ things up a bit.
I can’t tell you how many times I hate going to a blog that has an interesting title that loads sooo slowly.
Another thing that really annoys me is widgit overload! Too many widgits makes for a very busy page. Great Job!