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Writing is fun. It's a way for me to express opinions and thoughts, a way to help our clients educate their audiences. I would even go so far as saying that I love writing. (I realize I just lost some street cred with that statement.)
But I know that writing isn't fun for everyone. In fact, there are people on our team that loathe writing and would rather stab a fork in their eye than produce a blog post. (Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but the point remains: they don't like it at all.)
Maybe you're in the same boat: writing isn't your thing. But somehow you got your arm twisted into crafting a blog post for your company - or maybe a guest post for another business. Or maybe you're realizing that nobody's reading your corporate blog. If so, you've come to the right spot: I've compiled 6 easy steps to writing a blog post.
1. Create a compelling title
The title of your blog will help people determine whether or not to click in to read more, so you want it to be a good one.
Here are a few guidelines for writing engaging titles:
- Try to shy away from the click-baiting titles like "Something you'll never believe is going to happen!"
- Don't mislead the reader with something that has nothing to do with the content.
- Keep it short(ish) and to the point.
- Include a keyword in a natural way. (No stuffing allowed!)
- Communicate a benefit the reader can't live without.
- Write something that will draw on the reader's emotion or solves a problem.
- Have fun! Just because it's search-engine friendly doesn't mean it can't be playful.
Let's say you searched for articles about improving your reach on Google+. Which title below would you be more apt to click on?
a) All About Google+
b) 3 Smart Google+ Strategies to Grow Your Online Community
Both inform the user what the blog post is about, but option b) is much better. It's more detailed ("3"); it includes enticing words (Who doesn't want to be "smart"?); it tells what you'll get out of it ("grow your online community").
All that to say, don't hastily choose a title for your blog post; spend some time crafting it because it matters!
2. Format your blog post well.
You may have a blog post chalked full of amazing facts, but people won't get much out of it if it's not formatted well because people have short attention spans. For this reason, most people will have very little patience for blogs that ramble and take more than a few minutes to digest.
Here are a few tips for formatting your blog well:
- Use bullet points for lists. Since web content needs to be action-oriented and get straight to the point, bullets points often help your readers scan and digest text very quickly.
- Break paragraphs with a double line break and no indentation. In a book or paper publication, indented paragraphs are the norm. In web pages, emails, and blog posts, paragraphs should not be indented and should be separated by a double line break. This improves readability.
- Make use of bolding, italics, and underlining, especially for headers. You want to help draw the reader's eye down the page easily in case they're skimming.
- Write short paragraphs. Sometimes 1 sentence can serve as a paragraph. Again, this aids readability.
3. Write solid content.
You want your blog post to be informative, educational, and worth the reader's time, not an announcement engine. Here are some guidelines for writing solid content:
- We recommend no less than 600 words for a blog post (even though pro blogger Seth Godin gets away with less than 100 sometimes).
- Write with depth: do some research or interview topic experts.
- Keep the content constituent focused. Imagine sitting down with a customer and having a conversation with him/her.
- Don't focus on your services or products that you're selling. Instead, focus on educating the reader.
- Tell stories about how your organization has helped customers solve a problem in the form of a case study.
Having great content helps create trust for you and your company, which in the end will result in more sales.
4. Make it pretty.
You can have the world's most informative content, but if it's not visually appealing, people likely won't give it the time of day. It has been proven that design effects credibility on the web. That being said, here are some thoughts on "gussying up" your blog posts:
- Make sure you have a professional design.
- Always use easy-to-read fonts at no less than 12-point size.
- Choose an appropriate photo that corresponds with the topic at hand. Don't steal an image off Google. Instead, purchase photos from online galleries that are legal (We love Shutterstock) or take your own.
- Pictures can help set the tone of your content - choosing a more humorous one can lighten the mood, whereas a more serious one can sober things up a bit. Use photos that expand on your text, not just decorate it.
5. Add links.
Links are a great way for you to highlight other work that you've done. Even though you may be writing an article about Google+, you might reference other topics that you've written about - like social media or Google Hangouts. It's a great way to continue to educate the reader by offering ways for them to continue to learn more from other blog posts or ebooks that they may have missed.
A fun hint: Something we've been doing lately here at SpinWeb is highlighting a phrase to link instead of just a single word, and it seems to be working well so far!
6. Put a CTA at the end.
Don't forget to include a Call-to-Action at the end of the blog post. You're offering one more way for the reader to take advantage of something else your company can do for them. Maybe it's a downloadable ebook or a webinar on a topic of interest.
We try to include CTAs that have something to do with the blog post; we want them to work hand in hand. On this blog post, if you scroll down a bit, you'll see that it's an offer for an ebook about writing great content for the web, which obviously goes along with this topic.
Writing a blog post doesn't have to be torturous. But if it is not for you, then utilize the easy tips above. Have other easy tips to include? Write them in the comments below.
Steph leads our client delivery team and is obsessed with delivering quality work, creating an efficiency machine, and mastering the tools and disciplines to achieve success for our heroes. At home, she loves listening to true crime podcasts, playing with her daughters and two pugs, and singing in a local rock band with her husband.
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