It comes to something, doesn’t it, when someone who actually writes for a living and LOVES writing blogs is being nagged by clients and colleagues for not writing enough blogs. But like builders who never finish their own homes, and gardeners who never maintain their own gardens, I spend so much time on other people’s writing, that I neglect my own.
So what better subject for my long awaited blog, than how to write a decent blog.
There are many types of blog writer. Are you the reluctant blogger (very common) – the busy business person or sole trader who knows they need to do it and that it’s good for business but who dreads it and hates writing with a passion? Perhaps you are the occasional blogger – you get into it and found the first couple of blogs in a bit of downtime very enjoyable and satisfying, but now you’re busy and you need to think of a third subject, you’re struggling and it’s not quite so fun. Or maybe you’re the trigger happy blogger, more than happy to spout about any subject to anyone who will listen, but may have a touch of an issue with quality, or be met with a bit of eye rolling from inundated followers.
I myself am a perfectionist blog writer, so paranoid am I about making any errors, or what people might think, that I sometimes write them and don’t post them. Or, I take so long that they are soon out of date. Writing blogs for other people however; in their tone of voice, following their brief, to engage their target audience, I can do until the cows come home.
But there are some important underlying principles with blog writing that I urge you to consider, into whichever category of blog writer you fall.
- Choose an eye catching title. Not too long. Enough of an indication of what’s to come but without giving it all away. Provoking curiosity. Creating a promise of the reader learning something exciting, new or useful. Quite often using the negative in blogging works (5 reasons why you must NEVER…) creating a feeling of risk, that if someone doesn’t read your blog, they could be making a big mistake.
- Choose a subject area that will be of interest to your audience and put a quirky or unusual spin on it. Many blogs are technically the same subject areas rehashed with a different spin. And this is okay, repetition works to reinforce a message. The same people may not see it each time anyway. Sometimes you may take a serious or controversial approach to the same thing, another time a lighthearted one. These will all create more interest and variety in your blogs.
- Quite possibly you do know your subject extremely well, but if you’re unsure, check. If you can, back up claims or statements with evidence, statistics and testimonials. Ensure any research put forward is up to date. Find little nuggets of material that your audience may not know.
- If you are writing an indepth article, provide images, infographics, bullets and headlines. Separate out strong statements. Provide links to further information.
- Remember essay writing at school? Planning the structure? Well the same applies here. It should have a beginning, a middle and an end. An introduction, a body of content and a strong conclusion. The blog should have a purpose. A core message. If it does happen to simply be a collection of thoughts, it will need to work really hard to be sufficiently engaging that the reader feels it was worth their time reading it.
- Get it proofread. Don’t write a fantastic blog only to be met with comments like ‘why is there an apostrophe there?’ from nitpicking grammar police types (we know who we are). Even the most literate writer can make a typo, so best advice, find a reliable friend or colleague to cast an eye over it before you post.
- Try to sound like you. Write informally, as if you were chatting to someone. Inject your personality into it. Give your views and risk being a little controversial or invite views and comments to increase engagement. But make sound judgements about whether revealing personal or political views is appropriate in your line of business, and if it’s not, steer clear.
So I’ll finish with this. Blogs are great for marketing. They can connect you with your audience. They boost SEO. They reinforce your brand.
So go on, get on with it.
Or, if blogging is your idea of hell, you know where I am.