Like anything else we do, blogging is a practice and the more you practice, the better you’ll get. And, yes, there is a right way to do it.
There are a million ways to write a blog post and even more types of blogs, so here I’ll share with you my 6 well-proven pointers for getting your blog off to a great start.
If you’re going to blog, you want to be effective. Here are our six rules for effective blogging.
1. Dig your well
If you’re having difficulty determining what to write about, your best and first source is you! What have you experienced? What are you passionate about? What have been your successes and failures? What have you learned along the way? What is unique about your perspective and process? Are there certain areas you love learning or talking about or working on? Are there certain topics others tend to pick your brain about? Are there areas in which you have diverged from the typical path or have forged your own way? Are there certain techniques or styles you have that differ from others’? How do your life experiences and business intersect? What would you have to add during a business meeting or strategy session?
Write about those things — each of which can be a great resource of writing points and unique value you can add to others.
And don’t fall prey to that old insecurity that tries to tell you that your peers won’t be interested in the same things. If they really are your peers, they likely will be. Just make sure you add value to everything you write. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
There is a lot more to digging an effective well. I’ll come back to it in a future post, but start learning how to curate great content now.
2. Build value in from the start
We don’t just write for the sake of writing (well, I do, but that’s just weird, says my wife). In the business world, we write to have an impact. Point 1 can help you find the areas in which you are personally qualified to add the most value to your readers. Include examples or experiences from your own life rather than writing about the strictly theoretical. Add helpful practical pointers rather than vague concepts. Write in ways which allow people to put what you say into action — or at least formulate a plan for implementing what you suggest.
Set aside some time for research (or get someone to help you with that). You want the information you include to be factual and up-to-date, so don’t neglect to do relevant research for each post you create. It’s also helpful to include links and resources from which others can benefit. And a copyeditor is pure gold.
3. Format it properly
There are a few common ways of formatting blog posts including countdowns, news, and personal sharing. You’ll find a good treatment of formats here, and about a million other places on the web.
Once you choose the topic for the post you are going to write, you can select a format from the list and then create an outline for the post. It can help to think long-term and formulate a series to write or focus on themes and topics you are going to cover over a period of time. This saves you time when it comes to deciding what to write about. I’m all about structure, so I like to think these things out before I start drafting.
Choose a font that is easy to read and not too small. Many blogging platforms have this all built in for you. Keep your margins wide — this makes the post easier to take in. Shorter posts also tend to be more digestible and appealing to those looking for info without committing to a large time investment.
Make sure not to let any grammatical errors detract from what you have written (copyeditor!). Spelling, punctuation and grammar should all be accurate. If this is not a strong suit of yours, hiring a proofreader or editor can go a long way toward ensuring that your blogs are professional, respectable and shareable. If presented poorly, even the best information will struggle to find its readership.
4. Write with Abandon!
Now comes the fun part! Once you know what you have to offer and you know the best way to format your ideas, all that’s left is to write. Adhering to outlines and a long-term posting plan can eliminate much of the headache of writing each post. Don’t rein yourself in. You can always cut things out later.
Now, I’ve worked with a great many executives over the years who swore they were just too busy to spend time drafting blogs. When I asked them why, they would quickly dash out a 300-word email explaining their position in great detail. So, I started asking executives questions via email and editing their responses into blog posts. Invariably, they are amazed at how they found time to keep their blogs updated. If you’re a marketing exec trying to wring thought leadership out of a busy executive, tuck that tip away for later.
5. Update Regularly
If you want to attract a followership and build credibility in the industry, you must create a business blog that provides reliable, consistent thought leadership. You can choose to post once each week, twice a month, or whatever works for you — but stick to it, and make sure that your posts don’t stray so far apart that readers lose interest or forget about you.
Don’t try to cram too much into one post; stick to a clear focus for each. If there are other points you want to make, turn those into their own blog posts. Did you just think of another idea or situation you want to speak to? Each of those areas of expertise or perspectives can be mined for additional posts. When you stick to your themes and grow your posts into a selection of areas of expertise, you can end up with a garden from which your readers can pick what they need. In this way, you create a full and fleshed-out business blog and provide even more value for your readers to consume. The more you provide (and the more well-organized it is), the more your readers can feast on and the more you will attract.
The more active you are in the blogosphere and on social media, the more you will be able to connect with other businesses, peers, consumers, thought leaders, and anyone who wants to learn from you.
After publishing your blog posts, be sure to share them across various social media platforms. Then share them again. People may miss something the first time you share your post but catch it upon re-sharing. Give people the opportunity to engage with you and with what you have written.
The more you write, the more ability you have to share your personality and areas of expertise with others. Blog readers typically develop a feeling of connection with the writers of the blogs they frequent. These writers become influencers. If you provide real benefit to your readers, and if they connect to your passion, style and personality, casual perusers can become devotees.
This connection can be easily lost or alienated, however, which is why it is essential to stick to the above points. Write with care, integrity, honesty and a desire to help others, and you will be able to connect with people and businesses in ways that establish your reputation, grow your personal brand and benefit those around you. Now, get writing.