What Blogging and Sushi Have in Common
Hi, everyone! My name is Ruth, and I’m lucky enough to have made a career out of looking at blogs. My business, Windmill Words, fills a unique niche: I provide virtual assistance and social media management for bloggers. My clients hire me to help them with some of the sideline tasks of running a blog. This means I visit hundreds of lifestyle, DIY, craft, and food blogs looking for interesting projects my clients can feature in their next round-up and social media outlets, or bloggers that they can invite to be contributors.
As a professional blog hopper, I’ve noticed something interesting: blogging and sushi have a lot in common. Allow me to illustrate that with pictures I took last weekend when my husband and I had dinner at a sushi restaurant: On the left, you see a bowl of plain, white rice. On the right is the sushi we ordered. Which do you think we spent more time enjoying during dinner: the bowl of rice, or the sushi?
Ding, ding, ding! Sushi wins. Not only was it the part of our meal that we had fun admiring and eating, it was also what we shared with our friends and family on Facebook and Instagram. Evidence is pretty high that despite the practicality and nutritional value of white rice, rice gets more attention and becomes highly marketable when served as sushi. Case in point: in my town, there are no rice restaurants….but I’ve counted at least 15 restaurants that serve sushi.
Almost anyone can string together words and a couple of pictures and call it a blog post, like anyone with the most basic of culinary skills can cook a pot of rice. Blog posts that engage an audience, bring people back for more, promote sharing, and pick up a lot of buzz on Pinterest–well, those are the sushi of the blogosphere. Let’s talk about some of the tactics you can use to turn plain white rice posts into blog sushi.
1. Rice = Content. Sushi is formed around a base of rice; content is what fills a blog post. Good content is the base of good blog posts. Like sushi without rice is just a pile of meats and veggies, pretty pictures and a nice blog design on their own can’t compensate for a lack of high-quality content. Check yourself to make sure that you are producing quality content:
- Is it original? Focus on content that provides a fresh perspective: solve a problem, use unique materials, use common materials in a new way, share interesting insights, show how you are making something work for you, turn a project everyone is doing into something done your way.
- Is it readable? Glaring grammar and spelling mistakes can distract readers and detract from the value of your content. Take a look at this awesome infogram if you need a crash course review of basic writing skills. Unlike sushi, good writing is best served a day or two after it’s made–there’s no need to rush the process from composition to publication. Give yourself (or someone else) time to look over what you write and edit if necessary.
2. Seaweed = Structure. The seaweed used to wrap up pretty pieces of sushi is called nori, and the ingredient in a blog post that gives structure to your content is organization. Make sure your posts are structured in a way that helps people make use of their content, instead of forcing new readers to fish through a rambling post to find what drew them there from Pinterest.
- Bring original content to the forefront of your blog posts by providing a fantastic image at the beginning of the post along with a brief but dynamic description of the project or recipe.
- Follow up a good beginning with clear information or instructions and useful graphics (if you are sharing a tutorial).
- Long, rambling stories about what inspired the project or what happened to your dog while you were photographing the project might be entertaining to established readers, but tend to lose the people clicking over to view a promised recipe or tutorial. Consider offering those in a separate blog post, with links going back to related posts and tutorials.
Want to see some examples of good organization? Check out posts by these bloggers:
3. Fillings = Flavor. It’s the fillings that give flavor to sushi and make each piece a work of art, just like it’s you that that has the potential give your blog it’s own unique flavor and personality. Draw new readers to your blog with pretty pictures and well-designed graphics, but keep them there by infusing your blog with your personality and giving readers an opportunity to connect with you.
- While avoiding glaring typos and spelling errors is important, there’s no need to sound like a linguistics professor when you blog–instead, use your own voice.
- Feel free to use your favorite expressions, admit failures or frustrations, and develop your own distinct writing style. Be real. Be you.
I admire the way each of these bloggers maintain a unique, genuine voice.
4. Presentation = Images and Design. One of the pleasures of dining on sushi is being able to enjoy the beautiful presentation of your meal. Readers should be able to enjoy the the way your blog looks, too. A well-designed blog with beautiful images gives you instant street cred; when your site doesn’t look like an amateur effort, your readers perceive you as an expert, not an amateur. Make sure your site’s visual presentation enhances your content:
- Keep your site free of “clutter”. Be judicious about your use of ad space and sidebars.
- Your blog’s overall design should contribute to keeping your blog posts organized and accessible with user-friendly menus and layout.
- Blog design should give new readers clues about what they can expect to find on your blog; if your design aesthetic is clean and modern, you shouldn’t be blogging on a shabby chic template.
- Consider investing in professional blog design, or develop web design skills of your own. Jones Design Company and A Beautiful Mess are just some of places making blog design e-course available.
- Place on of your best, most pin-able images within the first inch or two of a post. Casual visitors should be able to quickly scroll through and find visually appealing reasons to stay.
5. Sushi Menu = Disclosure. When you dine on sushi, it’s nice to have a menu that describes what you’ll be ordering. And when you create a blog post, it’s always good practice to provide specific information for your readers like material sources, costs, and photo credits. There are a number of different ways to handle disclosure. Check out how these bloggers do it:
Taking the time and effort to transform your blog from plain white to sushi is going to pay off in the long run. Improving the readability and visual impact of your blog will keep new visitors longer and encourage them to return. For more blogging tips, check out my Blog Sushi series at Windmill Words.