If you use blogging to market your business, you know the value of producing content to attract potential customers. But what about the value of consuming content? How many blogs do you read every week?

Imitation may be considered the sincerest form of flattery, but it’s also a great way to learn a skill. Professional trades workers like plumbers and electricians understand this. They use apprenticeships to learn their trade by watching what a master does, and then practicing the same skill under the watchful eye of that expert.

But there aren’t many opportunities for blogging apprenticeships. So how can a writer get better at her trade?

Stephen King on reading a lot and writing a lot

Stephen King, most famous for horror novels like It and The Shining also wrote one of my personal favorite books on his craft. On Writing provides practical advice and inspiration for new and aspiring writers in any genre, from speculative fiction to stark realism. He says, “If you want to be a writer you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” This is true no matter what you write, but it is especially important for blog writers because the industry is still evolving.

Blog Reading Teaches Blog Writing

The more blogs you read, the easier it will become for you to tell what works, and what doesn’t online. By reading a wide variety of blogs you will develop an “ear” for good online writing. You’ll be able to sniff out the posts that are written solely for clicks and the content crafted to truly inform.

Reading a wide variety of content can teach you everything from proper grammar to voice and style. Of course, there are blogs about writing directly which can teach you all the things you forgot from high school English class. A few of these should definitely be on your reading list. After all, writing is a craft. These blogs can teach you the techniques you need to make your work sound professional.

Learning To Write Your Voice

But high quality online content is more than just grammar. It is also about developing a distinctive tone or voice. And that can come from anywhere. These days, there are blogs on just about everything. You can read about world travels or the latest knitting trends. No matter what the subject matter, reading these blogs can help you develop a voice and style that will distinguish your writing from others within your industry.

Finding Inspiration & Expertise

A regular blogging commitment can be grueling sometimes. It can be hard to come up with meaningful, interesting topics day after day. Your weekly blog reading list should include thought leaders within your industry. By following these writers you can more fully develop your own expertise in the field, and gain inspiration to fight back against the next wave of writers’ block.

You should also include some news sources in your list. Big national news sources and local online news pages can both provide hooks to engage potential clients. By following what is going on in the country, and your neighborhood, you can write from the headlines and take advantage of readership trends.

Make a habit of maintaining a rich blog reading list. It will make you a better blog writer yourself, and will help you develop your craft and your voice.

Lisa Schmidt is a writer and blogging coach for Legal Linguist. She helps new bloggers learn the tools they need to write high-quality web content for their businesses. If you need help finding your blogging voice, contact Legal Linguist today to schedule a meeting.