essay writing v blogging

That’s right – your education is probably ruining your chances of EVER making it as a blogger. You need to stop, take a look at yourself and make changes NOW – before it’s too late.

I definitely feel that my education hampered my early blogging efforts. I’ve been actively writing online since 2007 and even today I’m still shaking off some of the habits that were drummed into me.

I will share with you some of the things I have learned over the years. See if you recognise any of these…

 

 

Attitude

When writing essays, the attitude is different to that of blogging. In education you strive to show off as much knowledge as you can within the allowable word limits. Your teacher is paid to read your work, and is obliged to grind their way through to the end – no matter how boring and uninspiring it may be.

With blogging you need to think about grabbing and keeping your readers interest. No one is out to do you any favours. There are billions of other places on the web they could be, so you have to give them something that they really want to read. This often doesn’t involve you being a smarty pants and showing off everything you know.

Respect your readers time and write something that is both useful and entertaining.

 

Use a passive voice

I remember being encouraged to use a passive voice when writing essays. So to repeat the first sentence of this paragraph, in a passive voice it would instead say…

“I remember a passive voice was encouraged when writing essays.”

Take a look at this sentence…

“The dog sat on the chair”.

This is using the active voice because the subject, the dog, comes before the verb “sat”. Using the passive voice, it would read like this…

“The chair was sat on by the dog”.

This is far less punchy, and also uses more words for your reader to plough through. Used consistently throughout an article, the difference adds up and your readers may well be asleep before reaching the end.

Always use an active voice when blogging.

 

English rules

In education you must stick rigidly to the set out rules of the English language. There is a strong emphasis on this.

A good blogger will sometimes break these rules in order to be expressive. It is far more important to focus on your communication than it is the finer points of the English language. Isn’t language supposed to evolve?

Find out what works, rather than what appeases English scholars. For instance it is good to sometimes use this very powerful technique to keep your readers with you…

It is the teaser. Many top bloggers end a paragraph with a teaser to hook their reader. This can help keep them reading your article.

The rules of English can be broken. You’re the boss.

 

Use long words and long sentences

In education it is tempting to use long words and long sentences to appear more intelligent. I remember using a thesaurus to change some of my words into longer more unusual ones. This is unthinkable for a blogger. You need to do the opposite.

Bloggers use simpler words and shorter sentences for two main reasons. They want people to understand what they are saying. Bloggers don’t want the reader to have to work too hard to understand them. If they have to work too hard deciphering “corporate style” speak, they will quickly grow bored and hit the back key.

Use short words, sentences and paragraphs when blogging.

 

You must cover everything

In my early blogging efforts I stressed myself out making sure I had covered everything. In education you miss out on scoring marks if you don’t discuss certain things.

I spent ages researching for information and pasted all the bit together, in the desperate attempt to have everything “covered”. The problem was that it didn’t flow and wasn’t all about what I know. How’s anyone supposed to get to know me and how is this going to be unique?

As a blogger the point is not necessarily to cover all angles. It is to write about your unique experience and knowledge of the area. Your readers can buy a text book if they want everything covered. What they want is to know what you think.

If you miss things out it creates an opportunity for a discussion in your comments or on social media. Many bloggers ask at the end if there is anything more that can be added. This can create a wonderful discussion, which helps breathe life into your blog post.

Focus on your knowledge and experience, rather than trying to cover everything.

 

Use 10 words when 2 will do

In education you can be tempted to waffle and go around the houses in order to get your word count up. In blogging you don’t need to do this.

Your readers will quickly grow tired of wading through your waffle. Remember they are not paid to read your stuff. It is your privilege if anyone reads your content on the web, because there is an infinite amount of other things they could be reading. Respect this.

When drafting, go through and cut out any unnecessary words.

 

Don’t use your opinions

This was drummed into me when studying my law degree. I had to back everything I said to either a scholar, a judge, or another of similar standing. My opinions counted for nothing. We were encouraged to sit on the fence and discuss both sides of an argument. This was good for showing your understanding and scoring marks, but is not usually a good for a blogger.

As a blogger, if you want to be an authority, then you must have an opinion. People want to know what you stand for. For instance with me I stand for “ethical affiliate marketing”. People know that I avoid the latest fad SEO tricks and stick to practices that will give me a solid foundation and will stand the test of time. My reasoning is that I prefer playing the long game when it comes to business. Plus it feels better doing things the right way.

Don’t be afraid to express your opinions, thoughts and feelings.

 

Use an academic voice

I sometimes look back at some of my early writing and shudder at the language I used. I don’t speak like that, so why would I write like that? Because I’m pretending to be cleverer or more knowledgeable than I really am? Probably. People want to get to know the real you, so why not write as you speak, and be honest about the limitations of what you know?

A good trick I have learned is to read out loud what I have written. If it doesn’t sound right then I change it until it does. I believe this has massively increased the popularity of my blog posts.

 

Know your audience

You know when you are at university that you are writing for some stuffy professor, so you write in a style they will approve of. As a blogger you must think about your target audience and adapt your writing to them. If your target audience is teenagers looking for cool aps, then your writing style may differ to if your target audience is mature wine connoisseurs.

When you are writing, imagine your target audience is sitting in front of you as you speak to them.

 

Final thoughts

Being a successful blogger is very different to being a successful essay writer. Spend some time reading the work of top bloggers and look at what techniques they use when writing. Don’t rigidly stick to the writing style you learned at school or university. Most people don’t want to read this educational style online.

I would encourage you to study copywriting. Although it is for sales, there are lots of techniques that you can use for blogging. I recommend you taking a look at Andy Maslan’s Write To Sell. It contains loads of great writing tips that can be used in blogging.

If you liked this post then please share it with your friends. You may also be interested in Write A Massively Popular Blog Post By Changing Your Mind Set

Jon Rhodes

Thanks for reading! I am a clinical hypnotherapist, musician, author, and internet marketer. I would love to stay in touch. Please sign up for instant delivery of my latest blog posts via email. UPDATE! For a limited time I will give you a free copy of my book (worth $29) Alternative Guide To Affilite Marketing - Please click here to sign up.

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12 Responses to Why Your Education Is Ruining Your Blogging

  1. Kingsley says:

    This is a very interesting article, and one that the “educated” ones among us may find unsettling, :)

    But you are very correct and thankfully you provided examples of the areas/aspects where what we were taught in the University would only ruin good blogging.

    No doubts about it – writing specifically the way we were taught in school would seriously hamper anyone’s success with blogging. Remember how boring it was to read University text books? Imagine if that’s how all blog posts are written. Certainly not inviting to the general readers who aren’t University educated.

    All that nonetheless, it’s also important to say that the simple writing rules should be adhered to, regardless of one’s education. The simple writing rules include avoiding grammatical and spelling errors.

    It makes me sad trying to read blog posts riddled with a ton of grammatical and spelling errors. And, sadly, there are many more such blog posts getting published daily.

    For such bloggers, I have to say – Com’on, if you want to blog and blog in English language, you should at least improve your English. And take time to check/fix spelling errors before you hit the publish button.

    Anyway, very good article, again, Jon. Thanks for this and thanks for sharing this on Kingged.com. As usual I found it useful and have “kingged” it. I hope other Kinggers feel the same, :)

    • Jon Rhodes says:

      Thanks Kingsley. This is a new era when it comes to writing. For the first time in history, work can be published immediately, and the author can interact with their readers. This has seriously shaken things up. Because everything can be tracked and statistically analysed now, it is quite clear that people want to read things that are not only informative, but also entertaining and easy to read. I think for a long time there was a lot of writing that was unnecessarily complicated. People didn’t like to complain because they wanted to look intelligent. However now the stats speak for themselves. If you look at most popular blogs, they use simple, clear language.

  2. Riza says:

    Wow, Jon.

    You’ve hit it right in the head. I agree about everything; the comparison is just so true.

    In summary, everything about using your University earned education means bragging, be too formal, restrictive, or sticking to the rules.

    But as you’ve articulately pointed out, it isn’t going to work since your readers aren’t “English scholars”. I do hope other bloggers get to read this. Helpful to the core!

    Found this shared on the IM social sharing site, Kingged.com, Jon. Love it!

  3. metz says:

    Brilliant point Jon!

    Spot on! Too formal is like a dead voice, uninteresting and boring. If you’ll break the rules and make a twist and twirls, then your readers will feel that you are talking to them in an informal, happy, persuasive and friendly way.

    Let me add something about SIMPLE WORDS. Using them can also be a key to put you on the top, famous, I mean everybody around the world can understand your thought.

    This comment was left in kingged.com where this post was already “kingged” and shared for Internet marketers.

    • Jon Rhodes says:

      That’s a good point Metz. If you keep your language simple, it gives people who don’t normally speak your language a chance of understanding. After all the internet is a global community. A simpler use of language is will also translate better in automatic translators that are now freely available.

  4. Sabrina Mae says:

    You nailed it again Jon! You know I was trying to blog before on my own but being discourage as one of my associate friend told me how bad my grammar was and keeps on rewriting my works. Then shows me what it should be, then I said,” it is what am I supposed to say, only in very simple thought.” I am not fond of lengthy sentences and paragraphs too and when I am reading articles on the net I usually end up reading those short ones.

    I never imagine it as the way should be, and now I know better, this is not school so nobody should tell to follow the nose bleeding rules of grammatical order. Thanks for this post.

  5. Ethan says:

    Great post, all those things taught in school for academic papers actually make writing boring, impersonal and dry. In school they even teach you take out the word “I” and anything that sounds like a personal opinion. The exact opposite of what should do as a blogger.

  6. Hi Jon,

    I really love the title of this article. Perhaps, because I have the same thoughts with you :)
    Indeed, if we use the knowledge from the school, especially about writing, of course our article become a boring one. Everyone will think that this is the journal.

    Thanks for sharing this with us, Jon.
    Nice share!

    Regards,
    Nanda

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