The art of a well-written blog post
Whether you call it content marketing or blogging, reaching out with stories humanizes companies. It makes big companies feel more approachable and small companies stronger. Free, easily shareable content attracts prospects, which can be converted to customers – and hopefully repeat buyers.
Let’s not mistake a well-written blog with advertising though. People read blogs (and share them with their friends) because the content resonates emotionally, not because it delivers the features and benefits succinctly.
Get out of your way and get writing
Writing a blog post is incredibly personal – not because it’s about yourself, but because it exposes your thoughts to the world. It lets us inside your head to see your thought process. Unlike a responsible journalist or technical writer, a blogger doesn’t remove herself from the story. She participates in it, sharing openly what she thinks about the subject at hand.
Your goal as a blogger is to share a piece of yourself with the reader, to connect emotionally while sharing a message. The main tools in your blogger’s toolbox are truth, an eye for detail and the ability to write succinctly. Think of it as “freemium” content (thanks tomy friend, Kelli Ellis for this brilliant term) that entices potential customers to want to learn more about what you do.
How do you use those tools to produce well-written content that people want to read? Start by honing your “writer” skills. Think you’re not a good writer and can’t do this? Get over yourself. Being a good blogger is as much about learning the tools of the trade as it is about raw talent. If you’ve never written before, feel free to use my tricks as your launchpad.
1. Be an idea incubator
For me, ideas are like pollen. They’re everywhere and easy to grab if I want them – but they’re also easily lost. Good writers have voracious appetites for ideas and are always exploring new ways to tackle issues. Be the bee and collect ideas like pollen. Read other blogs and think about you’d handle the same topics. Just because someone’s already written about a topic doesn’t mean you can’t write about it – from your perspective.
Hint – Collect your ideas in a way that makes sense for you. Some people use an open notebook sitting on their desk while others catalogue their ideas digitally with a program like One Note. Whatever you use, keep it close by so you don’t lose ideas as they zing across the screen of your mind.
2. Go for the jugular
Write about what grabs your attention and what you can’t stop thinking about and asking questions about. While your final product needs to follow a keyword strategy, dive deep into those areas that excite you. Save the mundane and boring stuff for later, once your path to creativity is strong and steady.
Hint – Set aside time to just write, with no rules or guidelines. Think of it as stretching before you run. Even if nothing you write is worth reading again, you’ll be surprised at some of the things you come up with. Who knows you, might even uncover a book just waiting to be written.
3. Duct tape your editor
As soon as you engage your brain, you let out that internal editor, the one who corrects spelling and grammar as you type. If you let her, she’ll muffle your ideas under the guise of making your content perfect. Guess what? No one writes brilliantly the first time.
Hint – Put perpetual gag order on that damn internal editor. Ignore that voice that says, “Who are you trying to fool? You can’t write.” We all need a rough draft (I need lots of rough drafts). Allowing yourself to explore your ideas without having to worry about perfection clears the path growing your ideas and creating something truly great.
4. Be specific
The key to a great blog post is focusing on the details. It’s not just a car, it’s Chevrolet Cruz that over-achieves fuel efficiency, it’s not a vitamin but an Omega 3 vitamin that lubricates the brain and joints. Honing in on details will allow you to use more keywords, which will make your content more findable.
Hint – Begin by over-using detail and write like a kindergarten teacher, explaining everything with super-clear direction. Writers often err on the side of not enough detail but training yourself to over-explain will help you find the middle ground when you’re in the polishing phase.
5. Basic blogging do’s and don’ts
Print off this list and paste it beside your monitor. Seriously.
- Use the first person – write from your perspective
- Use lots of detail – always
- Dive deep into your emotions
- Show instead of tell
- Keep it tight
- Make a point
- Tell the truth
- Overstate your point
- Be afraid to get your hands dirty
- Water it down
- Make things up
- Rely too heavily on cuteness