The early days of blogging were a quaint mish-mash of personal diary entries and clunky corporate news digests, most featuring some seriously unattractive formatting and user-unfriendly navigation.
That has all changed, as blogging has become one of the most powerful and important communications tools in today’s brand-driven world. In almost every job, across every sector, people are now expected to produce blog content that educates and attracts in equal measure.
But as we’ve said before, not everybody is a writer. How many people even have the words ‘copy’ or ‘content’ as part of their job description? So if you are struggling to write a blog, or trying to improve your blogging skills, here are six essential building blocks that should help you on your way.
Make a list of topics
Unless you’re a seasoned blogger or copywriter, the prospect of taking over or starting up a blog can be daunting. What are you going to write about? That’s your first step. Start by sketching out a rough list of topics that are relevant to your industry – and of interest to your target audience. Take your list to a colleague or the wider team and brainstorm more topics, again with a ruthless focus on what is going to bring traffic to your site. If you’re aiming for one blog per week then you should start out with at least a dozen clear topics – enough for three months or so.
Set aside a writing schedule – and stick to it
It’s really important to keep the blogs coming as regular posts will encourage people to return to your site in search of fresh content. To do that, you’re going to have to be disciplined and determined (two core characteristics of all the best writers) about how you go about your writing. Mornings are usually the best time to write – set aside one or two mornings per week and shut out all other distractions while you fill the blank space. And the best way to start writing? Just write – get a first sentence down and more will follow.
Get your tone right
We’ve written extensively about tone of voice and it’s a hugely important part of blogging. Your tone is set by the words you use, which create an impression – good or bad – on the people who read them. Naturally, you want that impression to be good so it makes sense to choose your words carefully. Words that convey values like honesty, passion and understanding are what you’re aiming for.
Know what you want to say
This is probably the easiest one, since you of all people know exactly what you’re writing about. You don’t need to be a professional writer to blog about a subject you know intimately – you just write from the heart, ideally in a conversational way that allows your personality (or your brand’s personality) to shine through the words. Get help with the grammar if you need to, but make sure it’s your voice coming through loud and clear.
Know what your audience wants to read
If you know your subject inside out, chances are you know who’s going to be reading about it. This will help you decide how much detail to include; what topics and angles to focus on; what to leave in and what to leave out. Put yourself in your reader’s place before, during and after you’ve written your blog.
SEO for the win
You’ve gone to the trouble of crafting a really good, really interesting blog – how do you give it the best possible chance of getting picked up in the vast ocean of online content? You optimize the hell out of it! That means keyword research, link building, tags (meta tags and alt tags for images), deep linking, social sharing and so on. Go through the process meticulously each time and you’ll reap the rewards.
Finally, you should be constantly on the lookout for blog topics and angles; useful phrases and eye-catching expressions you can use. Get in the habit of jotting down ideas and observations in a notebook. All’s grist to the mill! And remember – the more you practice, the better you’ll get.