How to start blogging to power your website, EDMs, and social media
When done right, blogging can humanize your business and elevate it above the sea of ââanonymous brands. (File photo)
NOTICE: Keeping your blog active takes time and effort, but the rewards can be substantial. Well-written articles build profile, reputation, and relationships, and provide rich content for all of your marketing channels.
The very idea of ââblogging can seem daunting on top of all your other critical tasks. But it can educate your clients in areas that interest them and show your passion and thought leadership.
If you sell cybersecurity services, for example, you can write about managing cyber risk in supply chains. If you are an architect specializing in college buildings, write about some of the physical amenities students need to thrive on campus.
Blogs will humanize your business and lift you above the sea of ââanonymous brands. When you do it the right way.
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A blank page can seem intimidating. Where do you start? What is the main point to make?
Fortunately, the writing is as much technical as it is creative. Here’s a checklist for your frame, so you can start getting creative.
Step 1: What’s your angle?
To grab the attention of your readers, you’ll need to hook them from the first sentence.
Ask yourself, “What’s in it for them?” Why would they care? And start from there. This will frame your intro, which will become the copy readers will see on a Google search results page.
To expand your reach online, set your long-tail keywords, so people looking for information about your topic can more easily find your article. Learn more about Search Engine Friendly Pages.
Step 2: Know where you are headed
Plan your story so that you know what you are going to write. Then explore your topic in all its subtlety and complexity, sentence by sentence.
You can use the journalistic technique of the “inverted pyramid” – a story structure designed to grab people’s attention, so that they will read the rest of your article. It starts with the big âtake outâ facts and follows in more and more detail.
It puts the most important information at the top, so readers understand the main points, even if they aren’t reading the entire article.
Step 3: Choose the right blog length
The number of words you write depends on your audience and the purpose of your article.
If you have a professional audience, for example, who want to learn more about a topic, 800-1000 words would be fine. If you are writing for a member of the public who reads for recreation, 600 words may be sufficient.
Step 4: tone of voice
Be yourself and use simple English. Use active voice and personal pronouns, and approach writing as if you were having a conversation with your reader.
For thought leadership articles, you want to follow a conservative line that flaunts your expertise while avoiding being overly technical.
A good reference is some of the writings on museum websites. Curators write on complex subjects, but make ideas very accessible, as they are used to translating the museum’s collection to a large audience.
Step 5: Title of your blog post
Your headline should tell the reader something about the topic, but in a unique and intriguing way to appeal to them.
Step 6: think about readability
Many blog visitors read only the first sentence and then browse the headers and links. We all do. So for skimmers and scanners, use your headline, opening sentence, and captions to capture your key messages.
And don’t forget, it’s harder to read on screen than on paper – studies show we’re 20% slower to read online. So keep your reader alert by using short sentences and paragraphs.
Step 7: Log in and create a hyperlink
By creating links to related topics – pages on your website and to other websites – you become even more useful and useful to your readers. External links also help increase your website’s ranking in search engines.
Finally, how long does it take?
While a subject matter expert can probably write a good article in half a day, for a mid-level team member, or for a longer reflection, set aside at least a day. And don’t forget about all the props like finding and sizing images, adding keywords and metadata, and then loading and formatting the page.
Andrea Stevens is the director of editorial agency Folio and Folio Digital, working with B2B and professional services brands to publish brand-building content.