Whether you’re the solo blogger for your company or part of a team that blogs by committee, the imperatives for blogging are the same. You need to engage your readers, keep them interested, and encourage conversation and social sharing. A strong blog post can help you achieve all three of these goals. Here are ten tips to help you.
1. Narrow your topic
Be laser-focused on a specific topic that is of interest to your audience. It’s a blog post, not a novel or film, so you can’t take up space on complex arguments or letting your point slowly unfold. Anything over 800 words and you’re probably trying to cover too much territory. If you’re having trouble narrowing your topic, divide it into several blog posts, each with a discrete main point.
2. Take a unique perspective
If you’re going to say what everyone else is saying, don’t bother saying it. You will sound stale and trite. Instead, take a unique perspective or angle on your subject that will make your audience stop and think and motivate them to comment with their own perspective on an issue. The more original you are in your point of view, the more attention your blog post will receive. If your post gets readers commenting, you’ve done your job.
3. Pay attention to style and formatting
Blogs are read online, and even short posts are scanned for key information. Make things easier on your reader by writing in a simple, conversational style and formatting the post for easy scanning and reading. Write short sentences and paragraphs. Create bulleted or numbered lists. Use bolded subheads.
4. Add other media
No matter how good a writer you are, your posts will be better if you include other media such as images or video. This will help break up the text and add interest to your post. Even if you’re writing about specifications or standards, you can add visuals: the logo of an industry group, for example, or a mathematical formula that’s relevant to the discussion. Use photos of products or locations. Embed links to videos that support or clarify your theme.
5. Add external links
A good blog post will include outbound links in the copy. This not only provides your readers with additional resources pertaining to your topic, it also demonstrates that you have done your research and considered other material before writing your post.
6. Use keywords
Your blog posts will be crawled by search engines and therefore you should use relevant keywords in your headlines, subheads and body. The challenge is to integrate the keywords without having the copy read as if you forced them in. The copy must still read smoothly and make sense to the reader, but if you’re writing on topics of interest to your target industrial audience, there should be places where keywords fit in nicely.
7. Write a compelling headline
Think in terms of a headline, not a title. Headlines convey the main point of the post, perhaps a benefit to the reader, or a sense of urgency or uniqueness concerning the topic. A strong headline is a key factor in getting your audience to read your post. For example, headlines that include “How to . . .” or “The Top Five . . .” promise a benefit and compel readers to continue to the end of the post. If you write a powerful headline, your audience will keep reading.
8. Use a call to action
We don’t mean a sales call to action, we mean a conversational one. End your post with a question that invites your readers to leave a comment. “What do you think?” “What’s your opinion on the subject?” Or use a call to action that offers them additional resources on the topic of your post, such as a link to a white paper or to other Web sites or relevant content.
9. Proofread your post before publishing
Although casual, conversational writing style is encouraged in blog writing, that doesn’t mean you have a free license to be sloppy. Proofread your post to correct errors in spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Better yet, have someone else proofread for you. As a writer it’s very hard to catch your own mistakes, and just running spellchecker is not enough. A blog post with errors reflects poorly on you as a writer and can have a negative impact on your company’s brand.
10. Keep writing!
Whether it’s once a day or once a week, it’s not easy to write blog posts on a regular basis. But if you want your blog to be followed by readers, you must keep going and continue to generate ideas and get them down on paper (on screen anyway). You might ask others to write guest blog posts for you or put together a team of writers to take the pressure off, but no matter what, keep writing.
What are your blogging best practices?