Why should I write a blog?
To some it is an outlet; a place to let the creative juices flow. You might have a message that you want the world to hear and a blog seems the best way to do that for you. Maybe you are doing it because it is a great way to work on your inbound marketing and to create content that you need to improve your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), and you would be right to.
All these are valid reasons, very much so in fact. I’m glad you have decided to give it a try, you won’t regret it but it will take time, especially if you are using it as a means of inbound marketing. Blogging is not a quick fix, it’s a long term project. Much like when you appoint a football manager to a football team; it will take time to get results. It needs to grow, develop and adapt before it kicks into overdrive.
Blogs are a great way to get information out to customers and potential ones. You can inform them about developments in your industry, about new products you are selling, new projects that you might have started or to explain certain developments or decisions that you have taken.
Once you’ve managed to establish yourself the benefits really start pouring in. Every time your post gets shared, whether it’s on a social media site or any other site for that matter it adds an extra link towards to your site, which will help you increase your standings in search engines as it adds to your relevancy. Plus obviously you’ll be seeing a traffic increase from people following the links to your site.
How to start
Important. A blog post can’t just be written in five minutes. I mean it can, but chances are it won’t be very good. Even the very best bloggers will spend time planning and then editing a post. You might have the best idea in the world, but without a plan and good editing, it might very well still flop. It will reflect in your writing and your audience will know. You don’t want that.
Chose a relevant topic. A relevant topic is very important. If you can write and relate something to a recent event, that can mean a direct influx of people to your site, just from one post. Don’t rely on that however and don’t expect that to happen. If you are writing for inbound marketing, make sure that your topics relate to what you are selling and the industry that you are in.
The first line of your post. This is incredibly important. Just like when you meet a person, the first impression is key. It will shape how your reader will read the rest of the article and it will decide whether they even bother reading the rest of the article.
Scannable content. Scannable writing can be hard to get used to. There is a lot of content out there and if somebody is looking for the answer to a question they won’t read the full article. They will scan the text to see whether they can find the relevant information.
Techniques to make your text scannable:
Lists – see what I did there; bullet points are very easy to scan
Space – Don’t overload the user. Creating space will stop the reader from becoming fatigued.
Be succinct – don’t labour points that aren’t important. Keep it short and sweet.
Formatting – Use bold, CAPITALISATION and italics to highlight areas that are of particular importance.
Headings – Headings and subheading if done well are great. Readers will know exactly where they need to read for their answers
Visual content – Images are a great way to break up your blog. Anything visual seems to kickstart the desire to read more.
How long should my posts be? Well, that is sort of up to you and depends on your readers. I tend to like reading long texts as I feel that a lot of work and research will have gone into it. However time restrictions mean I have to limit myself to only reading a few of them. That would suggest that short is better. If you can get your point across in 200 words instead of 500 you’re on to a winner. Common consensus is that a post should not be longer than 1000 words.
Motivation. If you write a lot, it can be easy to lose motivation a little, but you need to fight your way through this and keep going. Consistency will bring success. A recent post by James Clear had an interesting approach to becoming more productive, that I reckon will work brilliantly for blogging. “To overcome procrastination, find a way to start your task in less than two minutes.” Once you have started putting something to paper, you will be more likely to continue writing.
Headlines. The headline will define whether your potential readers will actually bother clicking on your article. It has to be great. Writing headlines is a science in itself and it is tough. You will probably be writing 40 different variations of a headline for each blog post to begin with, before you automatically come up with a good one. This Article by Steven J Wilson will help you along the way.
Editing. The most important and exciting part. I watched a Q&A Session with Brent Weeks recently in which he states that his favourite part of writing is the Editing phase. It is the point at which he can take his work and turn it into something great. You need to be open to criticism, not only from you, but also from people that will inevitably give feedback. Just because you think something is perfect, doesn’t mean that it really is. Read and re-read your text over and over again, take notes, move text around, hack and slash away at it until you are satisfied. Then let somebody else read it. This can be tough the first time. It certainly was for me. Fact is, though, you will miss things and something that sounds great to you might actually turn out to be really not that great. So be open for criticism and learn from it.
Utilise the blog to your advantage. It is a great way to drive traffic to your site and it really adds a personal touch to your site that will be greatly appreciated by your customers. Search engines will also love you due to your constant adding of fresh content to your site, which will in turn keep leading organic traffic to your site.
You might feel that at the beginning this takes up a lot of time and effort, but you will soon get better at it and the time spent on the work will decrease. Not every piece needs to be an epic either. You could just keep them very brief, but as long as your write something regularly, you will feel the benefit.