The Dos and Don’ts of Writing Conversationally

By guest contributor PJ Feinstein. Photography by MaidenSydney.

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a blog also needs interesting, informative copy to engage readers and build community. Have you ever read a blog post that sounded too formal (read: slightly pretentious) or robotic? The most engaging and fun-to-read blog posts are the ones written in a conversational style. Whether you cover DIY, fashion, lifestyle or home décor, writing conversationally is the easiest way to connect with your readers.

Here are a few dos and don't to help you find your conversational voice:

Do imagine you’re speaking to a specific person
The easiest way to write conversationally is to pretend you’re telling a story, or explaining how to do something, to one specific reader. Read your finished post out loud with them in mind. Does it sound like something you would say to that person if you were chatting face to face in a coffee shop?

Don’t use words or phrases you wouldn’t say in real life
If you speak with a southern drawl, go ahead and throw in a couple of "y'alls" in your posts. If you call your friends "my lovelies," you might want to (occasionally) address your readers the same way. But if those words and phrases don't make their way into your day-to-day conversations, they’ll just sound phony in a blog post. Stay true to your speaking style, which is a natural extension of your personality.

Don’t write long sentences
Gabbing on the phone with your best friend, you may tend to ramble. But stream of consciousness does not translate well in a blog post. It's challenging enough to read words on a computer monitor or mobile device, and even more so when bloggers don’t start sentences with capital letters. Don't make it harder with an abundance of commas that create long, winding sentences.

Do put down the thesaurus
Merriam-Webster defines a fifty-cent word as "an obscure word used to describe a simple idea thus making the user self-important.” So, if you wouldn't say "dulcet" to describe something sweet in real life, don't use it when talking about a dessert on your blog. There’s no need to use the biggest or fanciest word in the thesaurus. Your blogging voice will sound more authentic if you communicate with your readers as you would with your real-life friends.