Before you begin writing your blog, you need to follow a format that is proven to be successful.
I must confess, it is weird to be writing a blog about writing a blog. I’m not going to lie. What’s the saying about opinions? Oh yeah, we all have one. But some people’s opinion has more merit, especially in the blogosphere. As most of you are are aware, “blogging”, or the process of writing a blog, has gone from an exercise in vanity to a content extension of your personal brand.
Just about every person with a computer is attempting to blog these days, some more successful than the majority. Before you start writing, however, there are some sure-fire points to consider in order to make your blog successful.
1. Start With an Outline. Anyone familiar with blog reading knows that an effective blog needs to be structured like an outline. Blogs that follow a series of numbered items are the easiest to digest. Have at least three points to address your subject. If you can’t come up with three points, it isn’t worth sharing as an article. Constructing the outline is the most arduous task to writing a blog. It requires thinking and making a logical progression. Once you construct an outline, it is time to write.
2. Write Like You Speak. Now comes the easy part. Blogging, more than any other form of writing, is conversational. It’s purpose is to create an open dialogue and encourage feedback from the audience. Blogging is effective when the tone of the blog post creates a personality behind the written word. It’s a slippery slope, however… as much as you want to cultivate a persona, you also don’t want to take away from your credibility. The key is to be entertaining but informative. Sprinkle in your sauciness but don’t let it get in the way of establishing your intelligence and experience on the topic. The goal is to establish a point, make the point with clear, concise arguments and end with a point that leaves the readers engaged, whether they agree or not.
3. Write About What You Know. Let’s say you live in Chicago and have been a season ticker holder for the Chicago Bears for 15 years. That makes you a dedicated fan, but not an expert. Surely, you can post about the Chicago Bears and their need for a better running game, but that’s not what you are being paid to do. Years of successful management makes you an expert on managing. How you got to where you are required years of experience and lessons learned along the way. That’s what makes for an interesting blog post. Not only are you supplying your readers with a wealth of knowledge, you are simultaneously establishing your identity as an expert. Write with the same fervor and passion that enabled you to elevate yourself to where you are now. Readers want to believe that they are heading there with the knowledge you present in each and every article you post.
4. Start Out With a Sprint. In blogging, there is no time to warm up to the reader. Because there are so many websites and so many blogs and so little time, you need to immediately grab the reader out of the gate. If there is a place to be controversial or cute, it’s the beginning of the post. Face it… if I didn’t hook you in to this post with something interesting, you wouldn’t still be reading this article. So instead of stretching and a slow jog, sprint to your point. Be concise about your point in the first 50 words or so. Have a point. Choose a side if it is appropriate. If you are going to sit, sit. If you’re going to stand, stand. Whatever you do, don’t wobble. After you are done sprinting, make sure what you write is skimmable. Test your post by skimming through yourself and see if the layout is easy to digest.
5. Basic, Basic, Basic… In That Order. Don’t make your message complicated by losing your reader with technical terms and jargon unfamiliar to the audience. Dumb down your message while still providing information that will aid the reader. If you do present a technical term, explain it. Assume the reader does not know something, even if they should. The President reads his speeches at an Elementary School level for a reason. He wants everyone to get the message.
Break up your blog with subheaders, bold captions and pull quotes, if appropriate. Don’t be afraid of white space breaking up the article to emphasize certain important points.
Like this… see?
6. Add Appropriate Images.. But Not Too Many. The point of the post is to communicate a point. But to get the reader to notice your post, an image is needed. Just like a speech you gave in high school was aided by the use of visual aids, an image serves as a great compliment to your post. If a reader sees nothing but a bunch of words, they may be discouraged to read on. An interesting image that grads the reader’s attention as they are surfing the web could be the catalyst for locking the viewer into further investigation. Don’t overload your post with too many images, however. Use images further down ONLY if they help present your argument or explain a point further. An infographic is the perfect example of an effective way of communicating a detailed series of steps or a workflow, for example.
7. Save the Title For Last. There is much merit to titling your blog post. The title of the blog is probably the most important aspect of constructing a blog post. After all, it is the first thing a reader sees. If the title isn’t compelling, the reader will move on to the next blog. The title is also the most influential portion of the post because it is what search engines have replaced “meta tag” keywords with. Blog post titles are what “meta tags” (Meta tags were, at one point, the most important piece in the complicated algorithmic puzzle that major search engines looked at when deciding which results are relevant to show users who have typed in a particular search query) used to be as to how search engines rank your blog. So title your blog with the same vigor and enthusiasm that stemmed you to write your article in the first place.
8. Update and Engage. Once you have written your blog post, make sure you stay on top of it. Make sure you interact with your readers if they comment on your article. Don’t allow yourself to get in an online altercation with your readers if they post something you don’t particularly like. Remember you are the person in control—so, if anyone attacks you personally, simply delete their comment and move on. The point is to get people to comment on your post, whether it be favorably or negatively. Some posts are going to more of a “lightning rod” for opinions than others, so be prepared if you choose to write about controversial subject matter. The frequency of your posts is as crucial as the content. A blog that is updated weekly is sure to generate organic traffic.
Sharing your posts via Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin or other forms of social media is another way to get traffic to your blog. The more you “share”, the bigger the audience. Even if you have the most thought-out, well-written blog is worthless if no one is reading it. Check your traffic and see what topics are most popular and tailor your future posts for similar topics. When you start to garner the trust of your audience, the more likely the audience will share your posts with their circle of friends. Google+ is another network that can benefit the blogger. If you look at your own Google results, you will see that the articles showing up in the most Google+ “circles” end up near the top of the search results. Usually the Google+ profile with a photo is more likely associate trust to the article as well. People like putting a face to a name.
9. A Definitive Call-To-Action. So you have gotten the reader to read all the way to the end of your article. Now what? This is where you have the fortunate opportunity to go further with the correspondence. This is where you have to decide what the “call-to-action: is. A call-to-action, in the realm of internet marketing, is a link or graphic that allows the user to get closer to a valued commodity. It may be that you want the reader to “subscribe” to your blog and receive occasional e-mails with valuable information. By locking in that subscriber, you know have the information needed to take this “warm lead” into a potential customer.
By utilizing the above nine points, you can not only begin blogging the right way, but you will also be on your way to gathering an audience that value your expertise. //LD