Well, six months into being the Parenting editor here at Shine and I'm finally ready to admit one small sadness: Because I read pretty much everything that comes down the pike, I see a lot of worthy-but-ignored posts from Shine users. You know what I'm talking about-that post you clicked on and then found so poorly written, or bafflingly long, or just incomprehensible, that you just clicked away.
The thing that gets to me about these posts is that often-in fact, more often than not-there is a really good idea in them that is buried under poor grammar, or terrible formatting, or mounds of wandering text. In the interest of getting more of your posts circulating and read here on Shine, I've come up with some tips to make sure your posts get noticed:
Think small when it comes to topic. Feeling generally uneasy about your teenager going out at night? Instead of trying to explain everything in the abstract ("My daughter is driving me crazy because she is so bossy and manipulative and stubborn..."), think of a specific night and tell us about it. Set a scene and walk us through it. As readers, it will help us understand where you are coming from in an immediate way.
Stick to the topic at hand. While it's tempting to explain every aspect of your situation, remember, too many details weigh a post down and lose readers. You've got your own blog here on Shine, and you can write as many posts as you want, so don't feel like you need to cram it all into one spot.
- DO NOT WRITE IN ALL CAPS. IT'S THE ONLINE EQUIVALENT OF YELLING, AND MOST READERS DO NOT APPRECIATE BEING YELLED AT.
- Provide paragraph breaks. It's really hard for people to read a wall of text, so make it easy on their eyes by using spacing to your advantage.
Make titles obvious and telling. While "Alone" is poetic, it's also much less compelling than "Just divorced and starting over in a new state."
- Rethink your title after you're done writing. A lot of times, we think we have one thing to say and then something completely different emerges in the course of writing. That's actually a wonderful thing (and a great reason to write, in my opinion)-just remember to go back and see if your title fits your piece when you are done.
Check your spelling. If you don't know how to spell something, look it up! My favorite online dictionary is Merriam Webster.
- Do not doubt yourself if a nasty commenter pops up once you've posted! The sad truth? Some readers need to undermine others to feel good about themselves. The parenting world is especially rife with moms who are trying to be "helpful" but are really just being judgmental. So, if your post gets some unpleasant comments, try not to take it too personally, and remember that one of the realities of blogging is that your writing (and your life) is out there in the public domain, and that differing opinions can be fodder for great discussion.