There’s no denying writing is just easier for some people. But with many organizations putting a larger emphasis on digital presence, some reluctant writers are finding themselves tapped to provide blog content. The good news is you don’t have to be a Shakespeare to write a good blog. Just follow these 10 tips!
- Identify your audience.
- Write with purpose.
- Check your tone.
- Show, don’t tell.
- Include quantifiables.
- Vary sentence length.
- Avoid repetition.
- Optimize your content.
- Add backlinks.
- Say something!
Let’s take a closer look at how incorporating these will improve your writing.
Before you write
These are three of the four most important steps for writing quality content. Before you ever put fingers to keyboard – or pen to paper—you need a plan.
- Identify your audience. Who is this article for? Is it for members of your organization? Others in your field? The general public? Customers? Potential employees? Writing for a broad audience ends up as writing for no audience. Having a clear picture of the type of person you want to speak to makes for more engaging content. Taking time to flesh out these characters or personas is incredibly valuable for long-term content development. But even if you’re writing a single blog, picture a reader in your mind and write for them.
- Write with purpose. Now that you have an audience in mind, what do you want them to do? Moving people through the sales funnel is a long process with many touchpoints, and your blog plays a role. Do you want your audience to learn something? Consider a different perspective? Keep your organization top of mind? Better understand your product or offering? Your call to action has several layers. There’s the obvious – call, click to learn more, etc. But what sets good blogs apart from the rest is the hidden call to action (CTA). What do you want the reader to do at the end? Identify and write toward this purpose.
- Check your tone. Knowing your reader, what kind of voice will they respond to? Casual? Authoritative? Does your organization have an established tone for digital content? Should you include industry jargon? Establishing your tone before you write can save significant revisions later.
Tips for better writing
Alright, you know the who, what, and why. Now it’s time to begin. Keep these tips in mind as your write.
- Show don’t tell. This rule comes from fiction writing. Still, it’s good advice for writing engaging blog posts. Telling can come off as boring or worse, condescending. Nothing turns a reader off faster than being talked down to. Instead, use real-world examples. Better yet, a diagram or image (which can boost search engine optimization – SEO_ value). Stay out of the weeds when explaining complex concepts or processes. Your target audience is no dummy, so you don’t need to explain everything.
- Include quantifiables. Building on #4, use numbers whenever possible. A funny thing happens when numbers show up in writing. They stick out. This can be a double-edged sword. If you don’t want the reader focusing on the number, use a word – many, some, etc. However, if your data is good, a well-placed quantifiable is the best way to show.
- Vary sentence length. Mix it up. Short sentences pack a punch. Long sentences are necessary sometimes, but you risk losing the reader if you go on too long, especially with complicated topics. If it helps to write things out in long, complex sentences, that’s fine. Again, your process is your own. But during revision see if there’s places where one long sentence could become two short ones.
- Avoid repetition. This doesn’t mean you should be writing with a thesaurus at hand. Some repetition is necessary. However, try to avoid using the same words in the same sentence or too much in the same paragraph. The more you use a word, the less impactful it is. Likewise, you’ve probably heard descriptors like best-in-class, efficiency-enhancing, etc. These just don’t pack the same punch as they used to. And when it comes to five-dollar words – like my favorite, “myriad” – using them more than once can cause the reader to stop. We never want the reader to stop.
If you’ve followed the checklist to this point, you’re on your way to creating valuable content. Just a few more steps. These are specific to digital content.
8. Optimize your content. SEO is a complex subject but you don’t need to be an expert to beef up your blog. The key to optimized content is authenticity. Focus on writing with purpose for a clearly defined audience and you will naturally end up with good content. Still, there are a few tricks to boost your SEO skills. SEO is based on searches, so try to include phrases or questions your audience would be searching for. Google has made this much easier with its “People also ask” function. Click through a few pages and incorporate similar questions or phrases in your article.
9. Add backlinks. Think of the internet as a web and search bots as the spiders. Backlinks are the threads bots use to travel from one page to another. Include 3-5 internal and external links per ~1,000 words to make your content easier to find. Keep in mind quality is more valuable than quantity when it comes to SEO, so make sure backlinks add value to your article. Link out to places that provide more information your reader might be interested in.
If you take nothing else from this article…
10. Say something! Have you ever been stuck listening someone who just likes to hear themselves talk? They can go one forever but never actually say anything. The same can happen in writing if you’re not careful. By the end of your blog, make sure you’ve said something. This isn’t the CTA. It’s more important than that. This is the reason your reader doesn’t feel they’ve wasted their time. Write authentically.
Your writing will probably never be confused for Shakespeare. But do you know what important characteristic you have in common with the Bard? You’re human. Share a small piece of yourself with the world through your words. Connect with your reader through your unique perspective. That’s the best advice for creating engaging blog content. And even though Shakespeare used it, don’t write in iambic pentameter.