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The Recipe For Blogging Success? Think Like a TV Chef

12/17/2013 03:13 pm 15:13:51 | Updated Feb 15, 2014

Would you know who Jamie Oliver was if he didn't have his own TV shows? What if Richard Branson hadn't written his own books: Would you know who he was? These two people -- both accomplished in their own field -- have more in common than you might think. The similarity? They have both built their careers by sharing their expertise with others.

One of them focusses on teaching budding home cooks, while the other shares his lessons with aspiring entrepreneurs. Let's take the analogy one step further: as prominent blogger, and 37 Signals Partner David Heinemeier Hannson says, the world's best-known chefs are the ones who publish their recipes.

But everyone has recipes to share; an area of expertise they can offer up to others. Of course, blogging is one of the easiest way to share your knowledge with others, and to build a community of like-minded people. But how do you write blog posts that are interesting and relevant?

1. Write for your grandma.

Writing with a real person in mind helps to empathize with the reader, and forces you to articulate your ideas more clearly. You'd be surprised just how much making your work personal can impact results. One study found that when radiologists were presented with X-ray scans that had a photo of the patient attached, the radiologists were much more thorough in their work, and were more likely to discover incidental issues that were unrelated to the original symptoms. Similarly, thinking about the person at the other end of a phone line, or reading on their computer at home will make your writing much clearer.

2. Use simple language.

It's tempting to use complicated words in your writing. It makes you seem intelligent, right? In actual fact, all it does is confuse the reader. Using overly verbose language makes it harder to understand your message. You never want to appear like you're talking down to the reader -- always opt for a simpler word if there's one available. Even writers like William Shakespeare kept things simple where it made sense to do so. Another tip: Always write in the active voice, not the passive voice. This will keep your writing concise and easy to understand, even if the reader is skimming.

3. Illustrate with images.

Images help convey your message. They also break up your content and guide the reader's eye. But that's not the only benefit. As Social Media Today's Mike Allton explains, adding strong images to your blog posts also makes content more shareable on social media, and helps create a connection with your reader. Images receive the best engagement on Facebook; resulting in more likes, comments and shares. Try to use at least one to two images in each blog post.

4. Choose descriptive headings.

Headings also break up your blog posts and makes them easier to read. Try structuring your posts around descriptive headings. This will also help with the writing process. Use keywords that describe exactly what the post is about. Numbered lists also perform well. Always think about the thousands of other articles you're competing with each time you publish. Plus, people online don't read, they skim. You need to do everything you can to hold the reader's attention.

5. Develop a schedule.

Good chefs cook regularly. Writers need to write. The more you write, the better you'll get. You'll start to feel more comfortable about putting your thoughts down on the page, and you'll become faster at publishing content. Developing an editorial schedule is good for planning posts in advance and managing your writing process. As Darren Rowse writes, a simple spreadsheet will do the job. The other side to being a good writer is reading. Reading widely will provide inspiration for your own writing.

This post by Zach Kitschke first appeared on the Canva blog.