In the era of content marketing, social media, SEO and more you’ve probably heard somewhere that you should be writing a blog. That in this world of content marketing and social media saturation, it is the blog that will:
- help you stand out from your competitors
- help position you as an industry or thought leader
- help drive traffic to your site
- help raise your profile and
- help provide you with a competitive edge.
Well guess what? It’s true. A blog will help you do all these things!
But for all the noise we hear about ‘needing to blog’ I have just as many clients that, whilst they know they need to start blogging, they simply feel overwhelmed and don’t know how to start writing a blog.
Most of us are not natural writers. Add to that the fact that a blog is not like writing the essays or reports we’re used to and it’s easy to see why people are resistant to learning how to write blogs. Nobody likes looking at a blank page that they have to fill!
So here are ten tips to help you write an effective blog. Once you make it a habit to tick off as many of these as you can when writing a blog piece you are well on your way to becoming a blogging pro.
Tip 1: Be yourself when you’re blogging
There are many rules when it comes to writing but when it comes to blogging there is one biggie: be yourself. Don’t put on a particular persona or try to use certain vocabulary if it’s not the way you talk to your prospects and clients when you’re face to face.
A blog is a conversational piece of writing, so write like you’re having a conversation. No formalities needed, humour is allowed and hey if you want to use the occasional (mild) swear word or colloquialism – just go for it!
I often say to clients the key to success in the artificial environment of social media and the online space is that authenticity is key. So be YOU when you’re writing, warts and all. Had I been chatting you face to face this is exactly how the conversation would’ve gone down..(it’s how I talk thus it’s how I write my blogs!)
Tip 2: Write in 1st person
Use terms such as: I, we, our. You are writing as you would be talking, so it needs to come from you. I have many clients that struggle with the idea of this as other means of writing (such as press releases ) require third-person reference. Not when you blog. Ever. Remember ‘Jimmy’ from Seinfeld? Always referred to himself in the third person: Don’t be Jimmy!
Tip 3: Keep your blog writing clear: minimise your clichés and analogies
Everyone’s busy these days. No one has extra time up their sleeve to read a beautifully crafted blog piece full of clichés, analogies and abstract thinking. Yes it’s ok SOME of the time, but please not ALL of the time. Keep your blog clear – make sure your readers walk away understanding what they’ve read..not needing to contemplate the meaning of your blog.
Tip 4: Know who your blog audience is
You need to know who you are writing for – are you writing for your prospects or clients? Are you writing to busy mums or trendsetting 20 year olds? Know your audience, know what they need and write accordingly. Make sure they leave your blog with something of value to them. And do remember that your blogs might have a different audience eg the blogs that I write for financial services publications have a different slant to the ones I write for mumpreneurs. Always keep in mind who’ll be reading your blog.
Tip 5: Is your blog giving value to your reader?
This tip follows on from tip 4. Think about you who are writing for. Now think about what’s important to them. Always think ‘what’s in it for them?’ What information do they need from you? If they are prospects or clients, they probably want a bit of your expertise, or answers to some of the common questions you receive. Other topics of value might be an update on your latest products or services, or a general update on market or economic conditions that impact your clients eg interest rate changes and mortgage brokers, new superannuation laws and financial planners.
The best way to know if your blog is adding value to your reader is by answering the following question: will they walk away with some knowledge or tips that will help them? If the answer is no, don’t bother blogging it.
Tip 6: The magic number is 500.
Latest SEO research shows that 500 words at a minimum are ideal for blogs. However that said this is not a hard and fast rule. It’s more important to go for quality not quantity. Don’t be repetitive or stuff your blogs with keywords to try and get to 500. Keep your writing clear, add value and let the end fall where it may.
Tip 7: Keywords are great but don’t go overboard
It’s important to ensure that your blog contains some keywords that are relevant to the subject topic and your business. It’s ideal to include a keyword in your heading, any sub headings and the first paragraph. To see what keywords you should use think about what the subject of your blog will be, how it’s relevant to your business and then type in a few keywords in the Google keyword tool to see what is searched for. Try to include a few of these in your blog to help with your SEO.
Tip 8: Invite comments and engage with readers
A blog is nothing if not an online conversation. Always invite comments and interactions to your blog. Ask readers what they think about your subject, about their experiences with the subject – anything that will encourage a reader to make a comment. It’s vital to always respond to your blog comments – don’t ignore anyone who’s made the effort to start a conversation with you.
Tip 9: Give your blog legs
What do I mean? Field of dreams this ain’t: the mantra ‘build it and they will come’ does not apply to blogs. You need to give your blogs legs via social media. Promote your blog via Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest etc: wherever you have a profile or page, make sure you promote it! And not just once – traffic moves quickly in the social media space, so you need to promote it 3-5 times depending on the social media channel you are using.
Tip 10: The tip to blogging success is starting
Once you overcome the blogging demons called writers block, overwhelm and confusion, blogging WILL become easier for you. Like all things it takes time and practice but the most important thing is starting. Once you start writing, you’ll become more comfortable with the whole process and you’ll come to understand that it really is just you being you in an online space.
So there you have it, some tips to help you write blogs. Now get going!! I look forward to seeing you in the blogosphere!!
Do you blog? If so, please share your blog link with us and your tips for successful blog writing. I would love to hear from you and visit your blogs!
Susan Popovski. Director of SP Communications. Marketing Communications, Social Media and Copywriting for professional and financial services. Sydney-based with clients nationwide.