We’ve been talking about blogging over the past couple of months and how it has become one of the most important marketing tools in the digital realm. It seems that almost every organization knows they should be blogging — but there’s often a big difference between knowing this and actually doing it.
There are three main reasons why companies that want to blog consistently don’t do it: They don’t want to write, don’t write well, or don’t have time to write. The solution to any one of these dilemmas is to hire a professional writer to do your blog writing for you.
Practical Blog Writing Tips
But maybe you do want to write your own blogs and you just need a little help getting started. If so, here are 8 tips for do-it-yourself blogging. Print them out and keep a copy next to your computer to use as a checklist when you start writing.
1. Make blog writing a priority. You’ll never consistently write and publish a blog if it’s not a top priority — because there will always be something else that seems like it’s more important. Create a blog publishing schedule based on your desired frequency and set deadlines for writing and publishing your blog. And then stick to them. These deadlines need to be just as firm as the deadlines you set for client work.
2. Start a file of blog topic ideas. This is the first big challenge in writing and consistently publishing a blog: Deciding what you’re going to write about. If you just sit down on your designated writing day and stare at a blank computer screen, with no clue what to write about, you’ll quickly become discouraged and probably give up before you even get started.
Therefore, get in the habit of always keeping an eye out for things you can write about in your blog. You probably stay up to date on news and happenings in your industry, so print out things that you read and keep them in a topic idea file, or file them electronically on your computer.
3. Stake out a position on issues. Let’s face it: You probably aren’t going to report “breaking news” on your blog or reveal new Earth-shattering truths that nobody has ever thought of before. So how will you make your blog stand out from the hundreds (or thousands) of other blogs you’re competing with for your readers’ attention?
By taking a position on the things you write about. Many B2B blog writers hesitate to do this because they’re afraid they might anger or offend someone who disagrees with them. I’m not saying you should get preachy or anything like that, but I do think you should take a position on issues that are relevant in your industry. Don’t worry if somebody disagrees with you — that’s a good thing, since it can start a productive online dialog and conversation.
4. Let your personality come through in the writing. One of the greatest strengths of blogs is the opportunity they provide to let your readers get to know you a little bit personally. A blog isn’t a newsletter, or a white paper, or an annual report — all of which usually necessitate a certain degree of formality. It’s more like a personal letter from you to your readers.
So have some fun with your blog writing. Tell personal stories and anecdotes that tie into your topic and write in a more conversational, maybe even folksy, style. Envision your blog as a personal conversation between you and each one of your readers.
5. Forget most of what you learned in high school English class… A lot of blog writers get hung up on making sure they don’t violate an obscure grammar rule they learned in high school English. You know, things like not ending a sentence with a preposition, not splitting an infinitive or making sure every paragraph has the right formal structure.
To which I say: Fuggitabout it. These rules might be important for a term paper, but they generally don’t mean diddly-squat when writing a blog. Instead of worrying about things like this, just make sure your writing is clear, concise and easy to read.
6. …but don’t forget everything. That said, this isn’t a license to write poorly. There’s no excuse for blatant grammatical mistakes, misspelled words and sloppy sentence construction in your blog. A couple of years ago, I published my Top 10 Writing Rules for Marketing and Communications Writers — check it out to see a few of the writing and grammar rules I think are the most important.
7. Don’t use stuffy business-speak and jargon. Trust me, you won’t impress many readers by using industry jargon and stuffy-sounding business-speak like “core competencies,” “best practices” and “realize synergies.” One of my mentors early in my writing career told me not to use a 10 dollar word when a 10 cent word would suffice. Write in a friendly, relaxed and conversational tone, keeping your word choices simple and making it easy for people to read and understand your blog.
8. Keep it short and sweet. There’s a lot of debate about the proper length of blogs. But in my opinion, shorter tends to be better than longer in most situations.
How short? Most blogs I write for my clients fall in the 600-700 word range. That’s usually enough space to cover a topic adequately yet allow people to read it in a minute or two. My blog is a little bit longer — usually between 800-900 words, but still under the 1,000-word limit that I consider to be the cap for most blogs that are written for marketing and communication purposes.
Just Do It
At the risk of plagiarizing a certain sporting goods and apparel manufacturing behemoth, I’ll conclude with this simple piece of advice: Just do it. Getting started is the hardest part of blogging. Once you do, put these tips into practice and you’ll be well on the way to a successful blog.