In 2013, there were about 152 million blogs on the Internet.
And guess what? You can have one too!
Yes, you really can. And it will seriously improve your written English.
Let me explain: Blog posts are somewhat like diary entries online. They can be informative or silly, personal or academic. You can blog about anything!
There are blogs that help people learn English and funny travel blogs written in very casual English.
And while reading blogs is an excellent and entertaining way to learn English, starting your own blog is a unique way to get much better at writing in English.
Unlike speaking, blogging allows you to take your time to compose your thoughts in English.
And unlike social media, blogging gives you more space to write without word limits.
So if you want to get better at writing, here are five clever ways to improve your written English by starting a blog!
How Writing a Blog Can Improve Your Written English
Have you heard the phrase “practice makes perfect”? It’s absolutely true! The more you practice something, the better you will get. Whether you’re playing a sport or writing in English, practicing will help you improve.
Practice on its own is not always very exciting or interesting. That’s why writing on a blog is such an excellent method of practice. It gets you writing in a way that’s enjoyable and entertaining.
Through blogging, you can…
- Practice using vocabulary words and grammar rules correctly.
- Learn new vocabulary words and grammar rules by writing about a variety of (many different) topics.
- Get feedback (responses that help you improve) on your writing from other people.
- Challenge yourself to try new structures.
- Discover which parts of your English skills you still need to work on.
- Write and learn about a topic you find interesting.
Want to get started? Let’s look at how to create a blog.
Where to Create a Blog
There are many free blogging platforms that don’t require any special knowledge or skills. Just make an account, click on “new blog” and start writing! It’s pretty simple and anyone can get into it.
Three of the most popular and simplest platforms are:
- Blogger — Blogger was more popular a few years ago, but it’s still going strong with a loyal group of users. This platform is part of Google, so you can access it with your Google account. It’s simple to use, perfect for this type of blog.
- WordPress.com — This is one of the most popular and powerful blogging websites available for free. You can use just the very basics (write and publish your posts), or you can use the extra features—like linking your posts to social media.
- Tumblr — If WordPress is the most powerful blogging platform, Tumblr is the easiest to use. Tumblr is mostly used for image-based posts, but you can decide how to use it. The community on Tumblr is usually friendly and talkative, so it’s a great place to join a conversation.
Once you pick a home for your new blog, you can start setting it up.
Useful Tips for Setting Up a Blog in English
There’s a little bit more to blogging than just the writing. If you just jump into writing, you might miss out on some of the best parts of having a blog.
When you first set up your blog, here are some tips to follow:
- Pick a topic. What will your blog be about? (Cooking? Movies? Knitting? Your daily life? Learning English?) Think about why you’re learning English. Your blog should be about something that you enjoy writing about, but it should also match with your goal for learning English. The theme of your blog could affect how you design it and what you name it, so take some time to think about this. One awesome way to get some ideas is to watch some videos on FluentU.
FluentU will give you plenty of topics to write about, plus you’ll be able to use all the vocabulary you learn while watching. Give FluentU a free try now!
- Start writing. On the other hand, don’t let the first tip slow you down. The most important part of having this type of blog is to write regularly. So if you can’t think of a topic for your blog, you don’t have to limit yourself to one topic. (In fact, it will be most helpful if you write about a wide variety of topics.) If you don’t want to design the blog (or if you’re spending too much time on the design), just use a pre-made template/theme that comes with your blogging platform. Write your first post the same day you create your blog.
- Create a schedule. Writing in English regularly might seem easy, but it can be tough when you first start out. You don’t always “feel like” writing, and you might find yourself procrastinating (putting things off until a later time). To prevent this problem, create a schedule for yourself when you first start. Maybe you will write every Saturday at 7 p.m. for a half hour, for example. Pick whatever works for you, as long as you stick to it.
- Read other people’s blogs. This is a good tip to follow even after you’ve created the blog. Reading other blogs will get you more practice reading in English. It will also help you find inspiration, ideas and new friends (and readers) for your own blog.
- Make connections. As you read other blogs, leave comments and join the conversation. Invite friends and other English learners to read your blog. Connect with teachers and native speakers in person, online or through their own blogs. Find people who enjoy reading what you’ll be writing about, so your blog can have an audience. Once you have readers, ask them to correct your English and you will see some amazing growth as an English learner.
- Use the blog to branch out to other Internet resources. A blog is not the only place online where you can learn English. But it can be a great place to start! Use your blogging to help you join English learning communities around the Internet, on social media or in online forums.
How to Improve Your Written English: 6 Ways to Get Better Through Blogging
Now that you’re all set up and ready to go, here are some tips on how to use your blog to improve your written English:
1. Incorporate newly learned information into your writing.
Did you learn a new English word today? Use it in your blog post. Are you having trouble with a new grammar rule? Use it in your blog post. Did you hear a native speaker use an awesome new phrase today? That’s right, write about it on your blog.
A blog is a place to practice, and the sooner you practice newly learned information, the better you learn it. By using new knowledge in a blog post, you are making the connection stronger between the knowledge and your mind.
Writing is also an effective method of remembering things (this is why we write shopping lists, for example). Writing a blog post is a much more interesting way to reinforce your learning than rewriting your notes!
2. Proofread and edit your writing.
Nobody is perfect. Your favorite book was probably edited and rewritten many times before it ended up in your hands. You will probably make many mistakes when you write, and that’s fine! You’re supposed to. The important thing is that you learn from them.
So before you publish a new blog post, proofread it. That means you should read through it carefully and correct any mistakes you notice. It can be helpful to use a checklist when you’re proofreading, like this excellent one. If you’re not using a checklist (and we really recommend that you do!) be sure to watch out for correct:
- Spelling. Use your browser or blog’s spell checker, but remember that it might not correct misused homonyms (words that sound the same but have different meanings). It might check for grammar mistakes too.
- Punctuation. Each sentence should end with a punctuation mark like a period (.), exclamation point (!), or question mark (?).
- Capitalization. Each sentence and all proper nouns (like the names of people and places) should begin with a capital letter.
- Sentence length. The easiest way to catch sentence fragments and run-on sentences is to look closely at any sentences that seem too long or too short.
- Grammar. Do all your sentences follow correct grammar rules? All verbs and subjects should agree (i.e. the dog barks but the dogs bark), and your verb tenses should be consistent.
Remember that a blog post can easily be edited even after you publish it. If you or one of your readers notice a mistake, or you decide a sentence would sound better if you changed it, you can edit your post.
Proofreading and editing will make you more aware of your own writing. You may notice, for example, that you keep misspelling one specific word every time you write it. Now you know what areas you need to work on!
3. Use writing prompts.
No matter how much you love writing or how creative you are, one day you will stare at an empty page and you won’t be able to write. This is called writer’s block, and it happens to everyone at some point or another. When it happens to you, don’t just give up—try using writing prompts to give your mind the spark it needs to start writing.
Writing prompts are ideas and beginnings that are meant to get you thinking and writing. They can help you start when you can’t think of something to write about. But they’re also useful for your writing in general. A writing prompt can challenge you to write about a new topic, which will require you to use new words and phrases that you wouldn’t use otherwise.
Here are a few simple writing prompts to get you thinking and writing:
- What would you do with a million dollars?
This prompt will help you practice the conditional (sentences that talk about imaginary situations and usually start with the word “if”). Hint: You might respond with, “If I had a million dollars, I would…”
- Write a letter to whoever stole your umbrella on a rainy day.
This prompt will help you practice formal letter writing, as well as sarcasm. Sarcasm is when you say one thing but clearly mean the opposite. For example, it would be sarcastic to write, “I love getting rained on after a hard day of work,” because you obviously didn’t love getting wet!
- Start a post with the words “The happiest day of my life was…”
This prompt can help you practice using the past tense, as well as casual written English. (You can pretend you’re writing an email to a friend.)
Here are a ton of sites with neat writing prompts, here’s another site with a large selection of writing prompts, or you can search online for prompts that relate to the topic you chose for your blog.
4. Try lots of different things.
Your blog is your playground; you can do whatever you want here. That means you can experiment with your writing and blogging style. There are many different kinds of posts for you to try writing. You can do a numbered list (“the top 5 best…”), a story with dialogue, a review of a product or a book you read, a poem, a short story… anything!
Changing up the style helps you in two ways: (1) It helps keep your creativity alive (nothing kills creativity faster than repetition), and (2) it challenges you to try something new.
Think of your blog like a gym and your skills as muscles. Different kinds of blog posts work on strengthening different writing skills. Writing a dialogue, for example, can help you learn punctuation rules (i.e. Should you put that period before or after the quotation mark?), as well as casual English and slang (i.e. Would someone say “I have to” or “I gotta” when speaking?).
For more formal writing practice, you can write a review of an English movie or book. This will also help you remember and understand the movie or book better.
The more different types of posts and writing styles you try, the more skills you will improve!
5. Start conversations.
You might have already left some comments on another blog. Now it’s time to turn your blog into a conversation too. As we mentioned before, you should always encourage people to respond to your posts with corrections and helpful feedback. Your blog can—and should—also be a place for conversations of your own.
Try ending your blog posts with a question for the readers. Then when you receive a comment, be sure to respond to them. Before long you’ll be practicing your English conversation skills as well as your writing skills.
Joining conversations in the comments will also give you a better understanding of the similarities and differences between written and spoken conversational English. For example, many people shorten and abbreviate more words when writing online than when speaking. That’s because writing takes more time, and we love to save as much time as possible! What other comparisons can you make?
6. Look back and rewrite.
Once you’ve been writing regularly for several months, go back to your earlier entries. Do they seem different now? The more time that passes, the better your writing will be… and the worse your older entries will seem.
After you’ve been blogging for many months, pick an old blog post every other week and rewrite it with your newly learned skills.
Rewriting old blog posts shows you how much you’ve learned over time. It also gives you a chance to correct your own mistakes. Teaching someone else is one of the best ways to learn (even if it’s just you from a few weeks ago).
Now stop reading our blog and go create your own! Be sure to share it with us on Twitter (@FluentUEnglish) or Facebook (FluentU English)—we’d love to see what you’re writing!
And One More Thing...
If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials, as you can see here:
The FluentU app and website makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition, and useful examples.
For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you see this:
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part? FluentU remembers the vocabulary that you’re learning. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You have a truly personalized experience.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or from the Google Play store.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.