Before Karl came into my life, I was a television writer for 25 years. Since I’ve been blogging, I’ve noticed that writing a post is not all that different from writing a TV talk show. So here are a few tips on jazzing up your posts, taken from the world of TV:
1. Know your audience, and give them some value
Television shows are designed to appeal to a certain group of people, such as women in their 20s who like fashion, or men over 50 who like cars. If they try to appeal to every demographic, they won’t attract the loyal following of viewers that will keep them on the air.
With that in mind, think about the type of “audience” you want to have for your blog. Are they a certain age? Do they wear a certain style? What types of things do they sew? What do they want to know? Figuring out these things can help focus your blog and build a readership.
For example, many of my readers are over 40 like me (way over, in my case…), they’re interested in fashion history, and/or they like to sew vintage or couture items. In each post I do, I incorporate some element of fashion history, a vintage sewing technique, or a resource like a new fabric store or book, to give these readers some useful information. I also write humorously about being a middle-aged woman with a family, which readers relate to on a personal level. I try to make reading my blog worth their while, so they’ll come back and read my blog again.
Sometimes it helps to write up a TV “log line” to give your blog some structure. A log line is the one-sentence description of a show that pops up in the TV log listings. Here’s my blog’s log line:
Think about your core readers, and what value you’re giving them, before you post. Are you serving them with new information or techniques? Are you keeping your blog focused and unique? Is it fun to read?
2. Use a “tease” to get people to read your post
Tune into the beginning of any TV talk show, and you’ll generally hear the host give a short list of things that will be happening during the show. “Today on Random Morning Show, we’ll talk to Famous Vet about keeping your pet safe in the summer, we’ll look at fashions for fall, but first, Famous Actor will tell us about his new movie…”
This is known as a “tease,” which is used to grab the audience at the beginning of the show and keep them until the end.
Using a tease in your blog headline and the first paragraph of your post can really help to get readers to click on your post and read it. This is particularly true if they’re only seeing the first couple of sentences of your post on Bloglovin’ or a blog roll.
Here’s a tease that I used recently on my blog:The tease can be straightforward, or it can be in the form of a fun question like “can a middle-aged woman wear a toga?” You just want to pique the reader’s interest.
Try to avoid a long recitation at the beginning of a post about how busy you’ve been, or why you haven’t been blogging. You can tell your readers what’s been going on in your life, but it helps if you do it after you’ve gotten them in the door with a tease.
And if you’re writing about something that’s “been done” in the blog world (like one of the indy patterns that everyone’s made), use the tease to tell readers why your post has new information for them; otherwise they may move on to the next blog.
3. Use a lot of “visuals.”
One of the basic tenets of television writing is “show not tell.” Doing a program that’s all “talking heads” gets static in a hurry, and even traditional talk shows often use photos, demonstrations and videos to jazz things up.
The same is true with blogs. Fortunately, writing about sewing is highly visual, and you can use loads of pictures.
You don’t need any special equipment to make your blog visually appealing; I use my iPhone to take pictures for my blog. When I’m taking a photo of what I’ve been sewing, I get up close to the presser foot and pull what’s just been sewn forward, so I can show both what’s going under the feed dogs and what’s just come out.
(That’s Karl demonstrating the fine fine piping he makes with Bulky Overlock foot 12C, by the way.)
By setting my iPhone camera on “square,” my pictures are ready for both my blog and my Instagram feed. I try to post a photo after every two or three paragraphs in my blog, to break up the blocks of text and make it more visual.
Be creative with the look of your blog! I make jokes about how the “Jet Set Sewing Graphics Team” is made up of a couple of chipmunks who live in my kitchen. That way I can blame them for putting together low-budget photo shoots like this, starring “a gorgeous 70s fashion model” and “Yves St. Laurent”:
Like TV shows, blogs are entertainment. Make yours visually entertaining!
You know how you’re watching the evening news sometimes, and they do a quick mention of a story that will be on the network’s morning show? That’s called ‘cross promotion,” which is a trick that networks use to get viewers of one show to tune into another similar show.
Cross promotion of your blog is easy to do if you have an Instagram, Twitter and/or Facebook following. For example, you can put a picture on Instagram of something you’ve posted on your blog, and ask people to click the profile link to get to your blog. Here’s one example from my JetSetSewing Instagram feed:
You can also use social media platforms for other groups to promote your blog. For example, I contacted a fashion museum to let them know that I’d written about one of their exhibits, and they promoted my blog post on their Facebook page. Or you can put a link to your post on one of the Facebook sewing group pages.
5. Write as if you’re talking to a friend
When I wrote TV scripts, it was for the spoken word rather than print. It needed to sound natural, like a conversation between the host and the viewer. Blogs have a similar feel.
Make your writing personal and conversational, as if you’re talking directly to the reader—your friend. Because they are friends, who are taking time visit your blog and read what you have to say. I try to write my posts as though I’m having lunch with a (slightly raunchy) sewing friend who likes to gossip.
And if you’re running out of gas writing for your blog, don’t be afraid to take a break. Every TV show goes on “hiatus” now and then so the staff can recharge their batteries. Wait until you’re full of ideas again, and when you come back, don’t apologize. Just act as though it’s the start of a new “season.”
And don’t forget to have fun, because our blogs really are about sharing the joy of sewing, aren’t they?
Well, that’s it for now, my five tips for bloggers I learned from TV, and as we used to say in TV, “thanks for watching…join us again next time for more Sewing With The Stars!”