Blogging is without doubt one of the most powerful and important communications tools in today’s brand-driven world.
In almost every job, no matter what sector, employees are routinely expected to produce blog content that educates existing clients and contacts, while attracting potential new targets and leads through strategic SEO.
But of course, not everybody is a writer. Very few 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 copywriter, the prospect of taking over or starting 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 target audience. Brainstorm further topics with co-workers, again with a hard 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 topics – enough for three months or so.
Set aside a writing schedule – and stick to it
It’s important to keep the blogs coming as regular posts will encourage people to return to your site in search of fresh content. So, you’re going to have to be disciplined and determined about how you go about your writing. Many copywriters find that mornings are the best time to get the pages filled – set aside one or two mornings per week, open your thesaurus and shut out all other distractions. And the best way to start writing? Just write! Get the 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 all writing, including blogging. Your tone is set by the words you use, which create an impression 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
There should be a key point at the heart of all your blogs – something designed to help your audience in their job or make their life easier. You want to make sure that key point is coming through loud and clear, no matter how long or short the blog is. Ask a colleague to read a draft and sum it up in a sentence. That will tell you if you’ve hit the mark.
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. Always try and put yourself in your reader’s place before, during and after you’ve written your blog.
SEO for the win
Once you’ve written your blog, you want to give it the best possible chance of getting picked up in the vast ocean of online content. That means optimizing it! Here, you can use a combination of keyword research, link building, tags (meta tags and alt tags for images), deep linking, social sharing and all the other tricks of the SEO trade. Go through the process meticulously each time and you’ll reap the rewards.
Finally, it can be hard to come up with topics and ideas for blogs so try and get in the habit of always being on the look-out for fresh material. You can even use an old-fashioned notebook to jot down ideas and observations that will help. Finally, remember that the more you practice, the better you’ll get!