We review ebooks, courses and tools for writers, so you can make good decisions about how to invest in your writing career. Thanks to Ali Luke for sharing a review copy of this ebook.
About the creator: Ali Luke is a professional writer of both fiction and nonfiction, including The Blogger’s Guide series, Publishing E-books for Dummies and the novel Lycopolis. She holds a Master’s degree in Creative Writing, and her work has been featured on ProBlogger, Men With Pens, Copyblogger and Write to Done.
Who It’s For: The Blogger’s Guide to Effective Writing is great for new bloggers. While it doesn’t explain the technical aspects of setting up a blog, it will walk you through the brainstorming, planning and writing side of blogging.
The ebook would also be helpful for people who’ve been blogging for a while and are struggling to come up with new ideas or feeling stuck. Bloggers who want to shake up their writing style or refine their editing skills will also find this guide useful.
What It Will Help You Do: The ebook promises to teach you to write well-structured, easy-to-read posts that draw readers in; to brainstorm many new ideas for posts; and to figure out what kind of content your audience wants. As Ali says, “Writing well is a learned skill, and blogging is no different. The purpose of this ebook is to help you understand what goes into great content, so that you can produce your own.”
The ebook starts at the very beginning by working through a plan for a new blog. You’ll explore why you’re blogging and consider your ideal reader and audience as well as your call to action: what do you want readers to do after they read your posts?
Ali walks you through the process of planning blog posts, from coming up with ideas to planning a good mix of different types of posts (lists, essays, how-to, reviews, etc.), and uses examples from prominent bloggers to explain the advantages and disadvantages of each type. She explains the writing process by focusing on each element of a post separately (title, introduction, middle and conclusion), again using examples from well-known blogs.
Finally, the section on editing helps you polish your writing, from big-picture revisions to improve the flow, to the ruthless cutting of fluff words and phrases to strengthen your copy, to proofreading for silly mistakes.
What’s Included: The ebook is 83 pages long and includes an appendix with links to lots of free material that supports and expands on points addressed in the book.
In addition, the package includes seven bonus templates: one for each of the four post types the ebook explains, and three analyzing the structure of posts by popular bloggers Darren Rowse, Charlie Gilkey and Skelliewag.
Finally, Ali includes two videos in which she reviews six posts by different bloggers, explaining each post’s strengths and weaknesses. The first video focuses on creative, narrative-style posts, while the second features structured, informative posts with calls to action. She analyzes each blog’s design, taglines, post headlines, writing style, word choice and more to help viewers understand ways they can strengthen their own blog posts.
The Best Part: The section on developing your voice was especially interesting and thought-provoking for me. It helps you consider what sets you apart as a blogger and guides you to find your writing voice — including how to modulate it for guest posting so your content fits in well on the other blog.
In addition, I found the editing section very helpful; I’ve printed out the list of questions on page 74 and hung it above my desk to help me revise and strengthen blog posts.
What Would Make It Even Better: It’s hard to say anything could be improved in this ebook, especially with the addition of the bonus templates and videos. The only quasi-criticism I have is that a lot of the early chapters are fairly basic and more experienced bloggers will skim right past them. However, newer bloggers will appreciate the level of detail, and both groups benefit from the later chapters.
How It Changed My Life: I didn’t anticipate that the ebook would help me as an editor, especially the section on finding your blogging voice. Since my work involves revising and tweaking to make each post the best it can be while maintaining its writer’s voice, it was helpful to reconsider how different elements reflect the writer’s quirks and natural style.
Our Recommendation: While this ebook will be most helpful for new bloggers who want to make their work the best it can be from the beginning, even experienced bloggers will find interesting experiments and advice that will help reinvigorate their work, like new idea-generation options or strategies for improving headlines.
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