Blogging either fills you with glee or dread; It’s the marmite of the business world. We all read them and some of us even write them! We know we should have one, but what makes one blog better than another? and, how do we make that leap even if we’re not ‘born bloggers’?
Blogging is a term that is probably less than a decade old. It used to be ‘writing an article’ or ‘newsletter’! The rise of doing business online has dramatically changed that. Now, having a blog is seen as a necessity of successful marketing. A blog doesn’t have to be reams of material, painstakingly produced; it can be a series of microblogs, a video (vlog), or a more traditionally written article.
The rise of online marketing and the growth of blogs, as a result, mean that the standards have risen, too. It’s no longer just enough to produce the content, it has to be good - great even! By that we mean it has to add real value to your audience. The same old ’here’s what we did when...’ style of newsletter just doesn’t cut it anymore.
A blog needs structure to be captivating for your reader but that structure needs to work for you, too. It needs to become a ‘rinse and repeat’ formula that gets your marketing read by as many of the ‘right people’ as possible.
Once your structure is set, you need good content and a writing style that’s easy to consume. You need a start, middle, and end to your story. Each stage should give enough detail to showcase your knowledge and position you as an authority but leave enough curiosity that your audience comes back for more.
Your blog needs to stand out from the noise. If it is a bit ‘plain old vanilla’ and doesn’t do much more than deliver a pleasant read, then you’re unlikely to build an engaged and responsive following. Something a little brighter, out of the ordinary, and genuinely helpful will encourage those interactions and relationships to develop.
There are several different ways to produce your content that you may not have considered to be a ‘blog’”:
Using this range of blog presentations, as well as a more traditionally written piece, will bring variety to your page and feed. It will also give you a range of content, that is both evergreen and disposable, to expand on and repurpose across your platforms.
As with any content, your blog needs to targeted your customer avatar. By focussing on your customer avatar and their problems you’ll have the content topics for your blogs, spot on. Don’t forget that people will be at different stages of their buying journey, and so will need different prompts. Consider all of the stages when constructing your blog.
A great way to build a framework for your blog is to think of it in tiers; first you have the foundations, then the structure, then the decoration.
The foundations need to be strong, well researched, and made from the right stuff! By this we mean you should ensure you have the facts, figures, and links to back up what you’re saying, as well as understand the journey you want to take your audience on. This Isn't as onerous as it sounds; you’re more knowledgeable than you think, already. As the expert in your business you’ll have a good idea of where to find external links to confirm what you’re saying, enhance the experience you're delivering, and prove your authority along the way.
While you’re probably only looking for 500-750 words on a blog, it’s a good idea to just keep going and then edit it in to a series of blogs or guides at the end.
This serves two purposes;
1) it gives you more content relating to the same topic, which creates a serial post. This is the most consumable type of post, and
2) you will have your content for social media as well as your blog!
I am generally quite wordy, which means I get a lot out of my blogs but also have to edit them carefully to ensure there’s no (ok, very little) fluff. It’s important that the content you put out there is as useful as possible; people have short attention spans! If you are the opposite of me and find you write very little, then focusing on how to guides and step-by-step lists will give you the maximum deliverable without the stress of writing!
The framework sets out the path for the journey you’re taking your reader on. This is really important to have done upfront. Otherwise you risk losing sight of your goal, or focus, as you write. Start by listing out the (potential) headlines and subtitles that reflect the journey before you write the body of your content.
Put a lot of focus on the opening paragraph. This has a big job! Ensure you’re captivating your audience, letting them know enough to get them hooked but still wanting to read more. The opening paragraph is where the majority of readers fall away; get them past this and you’re far more likely to succeed with your content!
Once you’ve got your subtitles and topic headers in place then the writing is the easy bit; you’re just filling in the gaps! Try to keep it balanced and focussed on the current subtitle as you go.
Your blog should showcase your business and be consistent with the tone of voice that you use with your customer avatar. After all, this is still the person you are targeting with your blog. Think about how you communicate face to face in your business, with each other and with your client/customer. This is the tone of voice of your marketing and so of your blog, too. This means that you can inject some personality and opinion in your blog . No one (very few people) enjoy reading a textbook, and a blog is no different.
Regardless of the topic you can find space to put your own opinion, humour, and personality im to the mix. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to be all things to all people. That always ends up as a rather boring and ‘vanilla’ piece of writing that no-one really enjoys reading!
Whatever your style of writing, ensure your content is relevant to your business and the customer avatar you’re targeting. It needs to sit well with your other forms of communication, not stick out like a sore thumb!
Blogs do better if they are a mixture of images, written content, and some sort of infographic or chart (if it’s relevant!).
It goes without saying that editing your blog is really important. To ensure it is read by as many as possible, it needs to be easy to consume. Short sentences, short paragraphs, relevant images, consistency of language, all play a huge part in the ‘readability’ of your blog. As a rule of thumb, a good piece of writing should be understood by an 8 year old!
You can test the readability of your writing style using the Fleischman Guide - here https://readable.io/text/
(In case you're wondering, I got a B+ for this blog...)
Scan through your blog and see where you could break things up to make it less intimidating. People are more likely to scan-read something first, then go back and focus if it is interesting enough. Smaller paragraphs make this easier!
In several ways!
Lastly, don’t forget that your blog is a tool in your marketing suite. Add a Call to Action that encourages interaction and adds further value to what you’ve just demonstrated. For example, at the end of this blog post about structuring your blog, we are going to offer you a free training session where you learn how to create all of your content in just a few hours!
Want to know how to get a month of content done in just a few hours?
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