Improve Your Own Damn Article!
This site is attractive with what I might call slightly deceptive or misleading claims in its advertising. I think some people see this site as an easy way to make money quick, without realizing all the work that goes into blogging. And the fact that you could very well be working at this like it was a part-time job for years before you see one farthing from HubPages. I like this site as a blogging tool for communicating about subjects that I am knowledgeable and passionate about. They take the guesswork out of difficult aspects of blogging, such as hosting, choosing a domain name, and monetizing.
But every day on my home page on here, I see hopeless losers without a toddler's grasp of the English language going to the Forum requesting help from other Hubbers. We're busy! It's not our job to edit your blog. It's yours. I appreciate all the people who do care enough to give these people feedback. But I haven't the time nor the patience to sit there and correct articles that have so many problems with them. So what is my answer to these people?
If you're just trying to make easy money, quit. That would be the first thing. We don't need more people on here unless they really want to dedicate themselves to the long-term commitment it takes to put out quality content on a consistent basis, and constantly work to update and optimize their blogs for maximal user experiences. People who cannot or will not do that much are wasting their time and their readers', as well as bringing us down in search engine rankings with them. Maybe that's why so many Hubbers try to save these lost souls. But are they really worth the effort? Part of me has a gut feeling that they're usually casting pearls before swine.
So, what I'm going to do, because I'm so much more enlightened than the average Hubber, is only do that once. This is my one answer to every Hubber, past, present, and future, asking me some variant of "what's wrong with my Hub", "how do I make my Hub featured", "how do I fix my Hub", "who moved my Hub", etc., when I would rather rub a cheese grater across my ass than actually read your Hub.
But because I'm so darn charitable, I've decided to write my own list of tips that really can help new writers not suck so much.
Tip 1: Fix Your English!
I feel like this site keeps attracting people from countries where English is not most people's first language, and that's a problem. Because this site exists primarily in English, and you as a blogger are expected to serve a primarily English-speaking audience. If you don't have a high degree of fluency in English, this is not the site you should be writing on.
So, if you really want to be a good blogger, how do you improve your English? Some things to think about improving are:
- Spelling. Research lists of commonly misspelled or confusingly similar English words that people often get wrong. You're probably doing it too.
- Grammar. This involves a lot of tedious rules for how to put English sentences together, in a way that does not sound like gibberish. It might be a bit dull, but learning it will metaphorically save your life as a blogger. Trying to blog, without knowing grammar, especially the most common sentence structure things, is kind of like trying to swim without knowing any strokes. You will die! (Metaphorically!)
- Homophones. These are tricky little devils that sound the same when spoken, but are spelled differently. But knowing how to correctly use each one goes a long way towards getting your work taken seriously. Know when to use your vs. you're, its vs. it's, and their vs. there vs. they're.
- Punctuation! I see a lot of bad punctuation in new bloggers.
Don't just rely on the internet or your own intuition; a good grammar book is a worthwhile investment. I liked by Patricia T. O'Connor. It has an amusing , easy-to-understand way of helping you figure out the trickier aspects of the English language. As far as online resources go, when I get stuck I usually ask Woe is IGrammar Girl. In both cases, I like sources that make learning grammar less painfully boring. You'll become engrossed in an article about predicates, enraptured by gerunds, fascinated by participles, and then... I won't have to worry about teaching you everything that you should already know, or look up, about grammar and spelling!
Bonus Tip: Do NOT expect spell checkers, the edit bots, or even Grammarly to get every mistake. Also don't use other Hubbers as your personal grammar-checker! We all have lives too! There is no substitute for having your own good knowledge of correct English spelling and grammar. Open some books!
Tip 2: Write Enough!
What I see with a lot of bloggers asking for help with their Hubs is, I notice right away that their content is too short. That's the most common mistake newbies make on here. Nobody wants to Google something just to click on a so-called "article" that's just three sentences long (with bad grammar). Think about what you read. When was the last time you read a magazine, blog, or newspaper article? Now think about how long it was - that is about how long you should write.
Some things to shoot for:
- 1200 Words or more word goal. Hub Pages even helpfully displays whether or not you're meeting their ideals for a word goal. It's very rare to get featured content on here that is less than 750 words. This is just a search engine optimization (SEO) thing.
- Think about the user experience. Sure, you're interested in making your own goals. But, when you write a blog, you have to remember that you're not writing it for yourself. It's for an audience. If you want to write for yourself alone, that's a diary, not a blog. Ask yourself, am I really making something that answers someone's question, or talks them through a problem they might have? Am I entertaining? Am I writing something other people would want to read? Is my post educational, informative, and helpful to others? If not, work on that.
- Outlines can help you make the desired word count and length goals. A lot of times, a newbie's blog post is just a disorganized wall of text. I'll get into the nitty-gritty of how to organize your posts better in the next tip, but its importance cannot be emphasized enough. Outlining will not only help you write enough words, whatever your word goal is, but it will help you organize your content.
Tip 3: Organize!
Your content should be organized with an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Here are some tips for that:
- One sentence = one idea.
- Keep sentences short and to the point. However, to avoid making your content too boring to read, you can have some variation in sentence structure and length. See what I did there?
- Each body paragraph should be one topic. When you change topics, change paragraphs.
- When blogging, use a new text capsule for each paragraph. Just trust me on this one.
Use a Heading to Emphasize the Main Idea of Each Paragraph: Like This
Don't emphasize everything. Use bold for emphasis - it shows up better than italicizing. I prefer to only use italics when talking about things like movie or book titles.
Put a particularly catchy or memorable piece of information between paragraphs in a Callout capsule, like this one!
Tip 4: Edit, Edit, Edit, Edit!
Are You Serious About Editing?
No? Then GET OFF HUBPAGES!
Asking, "How often should I edit my blog posts?" is kind of like a kid asking how often they should clean their room. Same answer, whenever it needs doing, do it! Right now, I'm spending only about between one and three hours a week doing new posts. I'm spending another 9 hours a week at least on revising old content.
I'm checking for grammar and spelling mistakes, but that's not the most important thing. I'm looking at improving the quality of the reader's experience. That is the most important thing. If my content is too short, I add stuff. Too long, I cut out unnecessary sentences. Too boring? I organize it so it looks more entertaining. I add and edit headers. I keep in mind that titles and headers should be short, sweet, and to the point. I get out my metaphorical Sharpie and I bold up the things that need to be bold. I do a bunch of stuff, but always with the goal of improving the experience someone has while reading.
Pay attention to flow. Do your ideas transition logically into each other? Do you keep repeating the same point over and over again unnecessarily? Could you cut that sentence into two sentences? Could you expand that short sentence so that it contains a complete idea? Is your grammar up to snuff (have an actual, physical, honest-to-God dictionary to look at if you're stuck)?
But the most important thing, as I've said, is that you're adding value to the reader's life with your content. You're not there to annoy them or waste their time.
So, how to get in the head of your reader? That brings me to the next tip!
Tip 5: Read, Read, Read, Read, Read!
Done editing? Changed those pesky little "its" and "your"s? Tired yet? No, your job's not done. In fact, you're still doing your job whenever you sit down, relax, and read a book, magazine, blog, news article, or anything really. Everything you read can help you get into the head of a potential reader and understand what goes into good, memorable writing. Read Charles Dickens or read the ingredients list on a soup can. All of it will give you clues about how to write stuff that people will be searching for, hungry for, and coming back for.
Don't just read blogs or articles in the field you want to write about. It is important to keep up with what's going on in your field, and to make sure your work is accurate and correct. But what's even more important is learning to think like a reader, so that you can write like someone who clearly understands what readers want.
Also, within a niche, you will have to learn to be unique. You have to come up with novel ways of thinking about your topic, that will set you apart from all the other hundreds or thousands or millions of Joe Schmoes who are also writing about your topic on the internet. So, reading a broad range of topics can help you get ideas, because you will learn how to connect your ideas to other topics in a way no one's heard of before. For example, there's probably a lot of blogs about dancing, and a lot of articles about relationships. What about an article about how dancing can bring the romance back in your relationship? That's more unique. You have to stand out above the crowd somehow. And that's especially difficult when you're starting out. Google favors brands. Because people have heard of and already likes them. They're established. You're not a household name. You then have a lot more work cut out for you trying to build an audience.
But, I would say, work on publishing good content on a regular and consistent basis (and editing!), and the audience will come. It takes time, but it will happen.
Just always keep in mind that you're writing with the intention of entertaining, educating, and delighting your reader. And do it by mimicking writers that inspire and delight you.
Well, those are my 5 major writing tips. This is what I would tell every Hubber who goes on the Forum begging for the feedback on their pages I'm too busy working on my own to tell them about. What I would tell every Hubber who asks for what's wrong with his or her article when in fact, nearly everything is wrong with it. I do want to help newbies, cause I was too and we all learn from mistakes and I was not perfect to begin with either and yada yada. But I don't have time to answer all the similar queries I see in the Forum, all day, every day. So, I thought I would write one answer to all of them, all at once. Sort of like sending a big check to a charity instead of a small monthly donation.
My major five tips are what everyone should be doing on HubPages and other blogging sites:
- Grammar. Fix it, or GTFO. I am not going to waste my valuable time teaching you English. That's not my job. You have to educate yourself in that, to get taken seriously when you type English sentences.
- Words. Write enough of them.
- Organize those words into a fun-to-read article.
- Edit. Nobody is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. But take the care and attention and time it takes to go back and fix up yours. And then redo the whole thing in six months or so.
- Read. You cannot be a writer unless you are first and foremost a reader.
Finally, stop asking people in the Forum for help. I know that there are people there who want to help you and have a crapload more patience than I do for fools who believe HubPages' implications that they will "get rich quick" writing on this site. But, those people are not crutches you want to lean on forever. Bloggers have to be independent, self-motivated, and self-educated. Co-dependence is weakness, with no place in what is essentially a kind of entrepreneurship. If you can't learn to stand on your own two feet as a writer, or don't want to put in the effort to learn how to recognize and fix your own mistakes, there is no real help for you.
But, I reading through all this abuse probably means you're in it to win it, and in that case, welcome aboard!