Last December 2021, I was honored to be asked to talk about digital storytelling in ATI (Agriculture Training Institute) Region 4A’s Techno Gabay Program.
I spoke about how we started, grew, and continue to maintain Agriculture.com.ph, which is a trusted online resource for agriculture stories and how-to’s in the Philippines. I also offered some tips on writing a feature article for a farm website or blog which we use on the website, but can be applied to other topics aside from agriculture. Here they are: Find your why. Figure out what you want to say with your blog and stick to it. If it’s a blog about farming, it would be good to have a personal angle that will make your blog different from all the other farm blogs out there. You don’t have to stick to your theme 100 per cent of the time, but knowing what you stand for and remembering why you put up a blog in the first place will always keep you grounded in terms of what to post.
Content is king. Make sure that everything your blog produces is of high quality, and that it aligns with your vision. Gimmicks can be cute and effective, but will only work in the short term, will get old fast, and can deviate from your core message if done too often. Gimmicks can be used once in a while to break the monotony of regular posts, but it’s the blogs with quality content that loyal readers will keep returning to.
Use simple words. Many people think that good writing is about using the most complicated words in the longest sentences. This could not be further from the truth. Get your message across to the most number of people by using simple words in short sentences. Keep one thought to one sentence. Remember, your goal is to make sure your readers understand what you’re trying to tell them, not to let them know that you know how to use a thesaurus.
Get to the point. Unless it’s a personal blog where all bets are off, the best way to get your reader’s attention is to get to your point right away. Don’t write five meandering paragraphs before finally getting to the meat of your article. Everyone’s time is valuable and on the internet, everyone is always looking to scroll on to the next best thing. A couple of sentences or a super short paragraph should be a good length for an introduction. Get your reader to stay by going straight to the point.
Take time to craft your title. Your title is important, even without factoring in SEO (Search Engine Optimization). It is the first thing your audience sees and the way it is worded largely determines whether a reader will click on your link or not. Try to make your title short and catchy, and make sure it tells the reader what to expect when they click on the link.
Think like your reader. Even if you’re running a website about your farm, the reason your reader will keep coming back — or even just read till the end of your article, is because they’re looking for what’s in it for them. Make sure to give your readers value. It doesn’t have to be a long philosophical lesson. Sometimes, people just want to be entertained, and that’s value, too. Whenever you come up with an idea for a post, think about how it can benefit your reader. Knowing that they’ll be getting something out of your posts, be it information or entertainment, will keep them reading — and just as importantly — coming back.