Blogging Tips

Blogging Tips For Web Writers

I have the good fortune to have two very fine editors. They take my finished pieces and by simply moving a line, paragraph, word or two, make them sparkle. Neither is afraid of the tough conversations and in my writing career, I’ve had a few.

I produce very different types of prose for each of my editors. For one, I create 500 word essays while for the other it’s 250 word blog posts, as a ghost writer for a variety of small businesses.

Blogging is a completely different type of creative writing. You’ve got 250 words and 10 seconds to engage your reader and establish yourself as an authority. Each post covers one point with clarity.

Writing in some else’s voice is complicated. Understanding the customer’s business and their customer is not simple. Creating prose that is clear, concise and exact takes hard work, it’s easier to write an essay of unnecessary words.

My blog editor coached his brood of writers with weekly blogging tips that were both relevant and comical. He loved to quote David Meerman Scott, The New Rules of Marketing and PR.

I am reproducing his blog tips in the same format that he forwarded them to us. I’m missing a few which is sad, because some were quite funny. I review his tips regularly to make sure I don’t fall off the wagon and drone on.

Blogging takes practice. And it gets easier with practice.

  • What’s the problem?

“(W)hat visitors really want is content that first describes the issues and problems they face and then provides details on how to solve those problems.”
— David Meerman Scott, The New Rules of Marketing & PR

Consider the types of buyers your client has identified. What problems do they have and what are some solutions? If you are blogging for a food vendor for example, busy hosts might be looking for advice for pulling off a hassle-free weeknight dinner party. This becomes the focus of a post.

  • Content: Establish expertise

 “Instead of just directly selling something, a great site, blog or podcast series tell the world that you are smart, that you understand the market very well and that you might be a person or organization that would be valuable to do business with.”
— David Meerman Scott, The New Rules of Marketing & PR

Don’t just write about a client’s products and services. Write informative posts that illustrate his/her knowledge of the industry and shows readers why the business is one they will want to patronize.

  • Content: Use “you” and “we”

Connect with your readers; talk (and write) to them. Avoid terms such as “one”, “clients”, or “some people” or the ubiquitous “they”. Of course, there may be exceptions. Some subjects are delicate. If you aren’t sure, if never hurts to ask the client.

  •  Content: A great title

Choose your blog post title carefully. It should entice people to click and read, and include one or two keywords for search engine optimization. Consider a subhead to provide a little more information about the post’s content.

  • Cite your sources

If you are going to use information that wouldn’t be considered general knowledge (usually references to studies or direct quotes) please include a reference of some kind. Usually, “A study conducted by Dr. X at YZ University found…” or something to that effect is fine, but if it is a webpage or other resource, include an unobtrusive parenthetical citation.

  •  Plan: Read

It may seem obvious, but a little research can go a long way in improving the content of your posts — and giving you relevant suggestions for post topics if a client is struggling with ideas. Before you connect with a client, do a little background work. Check out their website. Read what other bloggers are writing. Look for relevant questions people have posed on sites such as ask.com or answers.yahoo.com.

  •  Style: Quality over quantity

Good writing is concise. Posts are quick reads: one clear idea and solid advice or information in about 250 words. Make every word relevant. Don’t pad your copy with uninformative adverbs and adjectives (certainly, often, obviously, very, interesting, etc.). Avoid “to be” constructions, such as “there are” or “it is” or “the xxx should be” For example, above, I could have written, “Every one of these words should be relevant.” “Make every word relevant.” makes the point in half the words.

  •  Plan: Structure your post

Like any good writing, a great blog post must flow purposely from one thought to the next. Choosing a structure for your post before you begin writing will help you write a post that is succinct, informative and easy to read. The essay (State your thesis, goal or theme; provide some supporting points; restate your thesis.) and inverted pyramid (Most important information up top; least important at the end.) are common styles. But they are not the only options. Does the topic lend to a “how-to” that can be broken down into five or six steps? What about a top 5 or top 10 list? Or a narrative style where you set the scene with an example or customer story?

– Heather

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