“Everyone’s a writer,” sighs the frustrated editor. Then comes the inevitable eye roll, as they sit down to shape their client’s blog content.
I’ve heard it a hundred times.
The thing is I think many clients are capable of producing at least some of their content internally (or at least getting closer-to-final) than their editors give them credit for; they just need a little guidance.
So, here I am…guiding.
Want to avoid a few common pitfalls? Here’s how.
What’s my plan, Stan?
I consider myself pretty lucky; I work with some smart-as-a-whip clients. So, I’m surprised when their content occasionally falls short. It meanders. It stalls. It doesn’t drive home a point.
Where did they go wrong?
In many cases, they sat down to a blank Word doc and banged out a post without much forethought.
The thing is, blog content that adds value doesn’t just magically happen.
First, you need a plan.
So, before you sit down to craft your first sentence:
- Consider your blog content goals. What’s the objective here? You’re not doing this for your health, so what key nugget of information do you want to impart on your audience?
- Architect an outline. *sigh* Ms. Crunchbottom was right. You may have fought the notion of an outline in 9th grade English, but it’s an important part of effective writing.
You’ve already defined your goal.
Now, consider the essential building blocks you must put in place to deliver your message with authority. Break out a logical journey for your readers and, I promise, your post will be stronger for it and the hard work of writing will be, well, less hard.
Like patience, concision is a virtue
Back in the days when leg warmers and side ponies were at the height of fashion, I learned:
- Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (to be discussed later)
- Strong writing is concise
I owe valuable lesson number two to my middle school science teacher, Mr. Johnson. Way back when, Mr. J. asked us to write a theme: How does the Earth rotate around the sun?
(Real inspiring stuff, right?)
Well, I remembered struggling pretty mightily with that paper. I just couldn’t stretch out the laws of physics into two or three pages, as so many of my classmates had.
My dense paragraph made sense to me, so I turned it in, confident the teacher would scrawl a note about my failure to apply myself.
I was wrong.
Instead, he shared my paragraph with the class and emphasized the importance of being concise.
“Don’t say in two words what can be said in one,” he said, as I slunk down in my chair.
He was right.
As I’ve honed my craft, I’ve discovered that cutting superfluous words results in a clearer, more powerful message.
The time a reader gives to your blog content is a gift, so you must respect their time by getting to the point.
Now, as I read my copy, I ask myself, “Does this word/sentence/paragraph add to the story?” If I can’t answer that question with a resounding, “Yes,” it goes.
I suggest you do the same.
Do you believe in love?
Or, hand sanitizer, fleece hoodies or the power of accounting software?
(And yes, this tip comes with its own musical score. Please, click and continue on.)
Read through your copy carefully. Do you say, “I think?” Do your statements begin, “We believe?” And are you really sure about that?
Because your copy just opened the door and Doubt has just barreled his way into the room.
Sure, there are times when you must couch your language for legal reasons, but there are just as many times when it’s not necessary.
If you believe in your idea, your product, your service—then say it like you mean it.
Cut “think” and “believe” from your vocabulary; they dilute your message.
Girls—Scratch That—Everyone Just Wants to Have Fun
See, I told you I’d circle back to my Cyndi Lauper reference—and here I am.
When I visit your blog, I’m there to learn something; I want to bask in your wisdom.
But it doesn’t have to be a chore.
In fact, if my eyes are glazing over, I’ll most likely hit the dreaded Back button and look elsewhere for my information.
Remember: It’s often not good enough to impart your knowledge; you must also entertain. So, have fun with your blog content.
Tell a personal story and allow your readers to get to know you. Infuse your content with humor, emotion, and personality.
Your audience with reward you with their time—and they’ll keep coming back.
Now, who’s ready to get started?