1. Know what you want from it
It would be lovely to think that companies who write blogs do it simply to entertain and inform all and sundry for free, but we know that isn’t the truth. In reality, they’re created to benefit the creator in some way. If you’re the creator and you want the blog to work for you, first you need to know what you want from it. The most usual reasons for writing blogs are:
- To gain authority in the market you serve so your customers will look to you for answers.
- To lure browsers further into your website or online presence.
- To talk about values or causes you believe in – A blog allows you to broadcast to the world, or at least a part of it. Say something that’s important to you.
- To give potential customers a sample of your services. From copywriters like me, to accountants and artists, blogs are a great way to give away free samples of the services you provide. (That’s what I’m doing now)
- A hobby. Some people collect stamps, some people surf, some people write blogs. I’ve done all of these things at some point.
- To sell. Ironically, direct sales are the least likely aims of most successful blogs. At most, they should only constitute 20% of your content, but its often best to save sales for somewhere else.
2. Be engaging!
Every topic is interesting and engaging to someone. While some love non-stop action and drama some love … stamps. And entertaining isn’t the only way to engage someone. If you can give readers useful and valuable information in an original way, you can gain their interest for sure. There are just a few things to remember.
First, try not to say what everyone else is saying, and if you are – as in a blog about writing blogs for example – try and say it in a different way, for example by taking ironic pot-shots at yourself.
Second, if it’s not interesting to you, the writer, then it probably won’t be interesting to anyone else. Write about something you’re truly passionate about. Your passion will shine through. Which brings us to the next tip – speak in your own voice. Relax and let the words come to you. This is one I have difficulty with, what with being a professional niggle-finder. But no-one wants a blog that sounds like it was written by a robot. Personality is originality!
3. Don’t be salesy – especially in a sales blog
People who visit your company website will know exactly what you’re there for. As I mentioned above, you’re not giving them free content for the sake of your health, you’re trying to make a sale. But if you’re too obvious, it will put readers right off before they have the chance to come around to your way of thinking, and your product. Bad enough are the sharp, jarring interrupters who will randomly throw in a link saying something like “Buy the best now.” In the middle of a blog. That’s just bad writing.
But the worst offenders are the repeat offenders. If your big sell didn’t work the first time, it won’t work the second, and you’ll just put off a few more readers.
4. Do something different
The people who stand out are never the people who do and say the same as everyone else. They’re the people who experiment, try new things, break old rules, rebel, think outside the box and break new ground.
That last adage is a good one, referring to ploughing wild lands for the first time to turn them into farmland. It’s tough – or so I hear – but it’s worthwhile. The same is true of creating new and different content. It’s difficult and risky, but it can be rewarding in personal and economic terms and, no matter what happens, you will stand out from the crowd.
So when writing blogs, don’t box yourself in with unnecessary rules. In fact, you should even experiment with breaking the rules that seem necessary. That’s the way some of the most successful blogs and news feeds, including Buzzfeed and Phrasee, got started.
In case you’re wondering, Phrasee uses artificial intelligence to write blogs. If that isn’t different, I don’t know what is. Now, the company is growing faster than most blogging and marketing agencies on the web.
So be yourself and don’t follow the rules. You don’t even have to follow the recommendations above.
Whatever you do, I wish you luck on your venture into the wonderful world of blogging. May it be both rewarding and fulfilling.