So you’ve decided to create a blog for your business. Or maybe you have one all set up and ready to go. Or maybe you’ve had one for a while, but, well, excitement for it petered out and you haven’t blogged in months.
The secret to a successful blog involves two things: consistency and compelling posts. Consistency is up to you…it needs to become a habit. Whether you spread out blogging duties across several team members or you just make the commitment to blog every, say, Tuesday and Thursday, it all comes down to you and your own self-discipline.
Of course, this self-discipline is a lot easier to muster when you know how to create compelling posts. Here are some tips on doing just that.
1. Provide remarkable content. Sure – easy for us to say. So what should you write about? The answers to that question are a lot closer than you think:
- Think FAQs. What are some FAQs that customers ask? While you likely have a list of FAQs on your website, you could take some of the more popular ones – or the ones that have a complicated answer – and craft a post around a question and go into more depth.
- Think in terms of industry trends. Do you own a design/build firm? What are some of the most popular trends you’re seeing in bathrooms or kitchen backsplashes or paint colors for living rooms? You get the idea.
- Think in terms of tips and tricks. Educational blog posts are great because they give readers something they can use right now and they also tend to be popular in searches, which could draw in potential customers. Another point to keep in mind: don’t assume that what’s second nature to you will be second nature to your readers. For example, if you own an IT firm, you might think that defragging a PC is a piece of cake. But creating a simple step-by-step blog post for readers on how to defrag a PC (complete with screen shots) can make a nice engaging post (and one you can re-purpose at any time since it’s an “evergreen” topic). For example, maybe you write the post in May, but you could do a tweet about it in a few months and a reminder on Facebook a year from now.
- Think in terms of breaking news. If news breaks in your industry, comment on it. For example, if you’re a health insurance broker, you might have written a post called “How the Obamacare ruling affects you” after the Supreme Court handed down its decision in June.
- Think big reveals. Pull back the curtain. Your blog is the perfect place to take a deeper dive into your company: its people, its day-to-day activities, its charities, its processes. At Amsterdam Printing, we’ve had a lot of fun with this concept by creating videos featuring employees and a plant tour. In addition to including these in the About section of our website, we’ve also included these in blog posts. Some other ideas: do deeper features on some of your key team members, such as Q&As.
- Think commentary. Maybe you read an interesting article, saw an interesting segment on TV, or heard an interesting speech. Writing a commentary about what you read, saw, or heard can make an effective blog post. Be sure to link to the article, segment, or speech if they’re online.
- Think beyond words. A compelling graphic or video can make an excellent blog post. Remember, YouTube is your friend.
2. Have an authentic voice. Forget jargon and corporate speak. Sound human. When you’re writing, think of it this way: it’s you talking to another person. That’s it. Remember that “conversational” and “professional” are not mutually exclusive terms. You can have a more casual style in your blog posts and still sound perfectly professional. Let personalities shine through – this is especially important if you have a team of bloggers. People shouldn’t sound alike.
3. Stay on topic. We know blogging can induce frightening flashbacks of ninth grade English class. We also know writing comes more easily to some people than others. That said, it’s just a blog post, not a novel. Shoot for 300-700 words (and yes, it’s OK to go shorter or longer if the topic calls for it). Follow this simple structure: opening paragraph that introduces your topic, three to four supporting paragraphs (some of which can be reshaped into lists, graphs, bullet points, etc.), a conclusion, and a call to action for your audience. The call to action might be something as simple as asking a question and inviting readers to leave their answers in the comments. Or it might be a call to action to buy a product/service, download a white paper, or some other action.
4. Mind your grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Again, we’re not trying to bring up bad memories from high school. But one of the secret ingredients of creating compelling blog posts is making sure the content is readable. This requires correct grammar, correct punctuation, and no typos. The easiest way to test readability is to make sure someone proofreads each and every post. Don’t have anyone? Then draft your post, put it aside for a few days, and then review it by reading it out loud. Your ear will hear awkward sentence constructions and the time away from the post will help your eyes catch mistakes you might have missed on the first pass.
5. Invite guests. Sometimes the easiest way to spice up your blog is to invite some guest bloggers to write posts. In addition to bringing in another voice/perspective, this strategy provides two additional benefits: it gives you a break from creating an article and it will expose your blog to your guest’s audience since he or she will likely promote the post to his/her networks.
Do you blog? What are your tips for creating compelling content? Share in the comments.