4 weeks to an awareness-generating company blog
You’ve convinced management of the benefits of a consistent, quality company blog. You’ve written the blog plan. You have a production schedule, a list of topics, and a goal for each post. Now you need to write. This can present a challenge, whether you like writing or not. How does one go about writing a blog post?
Check out these 3 things about 3 things on how to write a post that gets clicked, read, and shared.
Week 3: How to write a blog – 3 things about 3 things
Thing 1: Get the basics right
There is a basic structure to any piece of quality content. Get the basics right and your blog is that much more likely to get read.
The headline presents the first impression of post. It’s important to get it right or readers won’t click through to read the content. A headline should be actionable and keyword-focused. Try to keep it brief. Be clear and definitive, maybe even intriguing.
Research shows certain headlines catch readers’ attention better than others. The ever-popular How to…, is popular for a reason. It works! Other phrases work too:
- The truth about… (e.g. The truth about clarifiers)
- Facts you should know… (e.g. Seven facts you should know about aerators)
There are lots of guides out there on how to write a great headline. Most agree that you can spruce up a mediocre headline by:
- including numbers,
- adding an intriguing adjective, or
- using action verbs.
Make sure the headline is specific. Your post is about a specific and emotionally-compelling idea. Keep the title specific too.
Keep the headline as short as possible. It’s best if it will fit in search results displays. Even before the internet, research proved a title of 8 words or less is most effective.
2. The body copy
Now it’s time to write the post. It helps to start with an outline, even for a short piece of content like a blog post. Organize all the information that supports the one big idea and make sure it follows a logical flow. Use headings and subheadings to divide the supporting information into sections.
Two critical headings to use are the Introduction and the Conclusion. As with a good story, in the introduction you set the scene. You tell the reader what you’re going to tell them. Follow with the body copy, subdivided into sections with headings and subheadings relevant to the topic. This is where you tell them about the one big idea and the problem it solves. Finish with a conclusion that tells them what you told them.
Unique to blogs is the chance to get a conversation started. Find a way to invite your readers to comment. Ask a question. Follow the discussion and contribute solutions.
3. The call-to-action
Finish every post with a call-to-action (CTA). As a powerful top-of-the-funnel tactic, your blog is the perfect place to pull prospects further into the funnel. Tell your readers what to do next:
- subscribe to your blog,
- contact you, or
- read about your product and services on your website.
Go back to your blog plan and check the goal for your blog. Make sure your CTA will help you achieve that goal.
Thing 2: Readability IS the new SEO
Although keywords and keyword phrases remain important, search engines are increasingly focused on readability. Search engines want to be sure your content will fulfill the reader’s intent. Most readers prefer easy-to-read text. Here are some ways to make your text easy-to-read:
1. Keep it concise and to the point
When writing about complex technical subjects, you need to construct your sentences carefully. Direct, simple sentences will help get your point across. In fact, long sentences almost always have complex grammatical structures. This puts a strain on the reader’s immediate memory. The reader has to retain several parts of each sentence before he can combine them into a meaningful whole.
Here are a few tricks to help you keep concise and to the point:
- Trick #1: Keep sentences and paragraphs short.
The average length of your sentences should be 20 words or fewer
- Trick #2: Sentences should focus on one idea
Keep it simple. Cover only one idea per sentence and one theme per paragraph. Get to the point; don’t wander around first. Find one emotionally compelling idea and stick to it.
- Trick #3: Use the active voice
Use the active voice. The passive voice tends to seem evasive:
The standards were breached.
Who breached the standards? As a reader, you might think: Is the writer trying to hide something from me? If you don’t want to appear to be hiding something, you should use active voice:
The refinery breached a water quality standard.
2. Use personal pronouns
Using personal pronouns gives your writing a conversational tone. Personal pronouns seem to connect the reader to the writer. A conversational tone helps your reader focus on your message rather than your language.
Just be sure that they’re are right for the content. Using personal pronouns may not be appropriate in every situation.
3. Avoid jargon
It’s easy to be drawn to words that are common in your industry – jargon. But are they common to your audience? When writing for non-specialists and you have a choice between words, use the common, everyday word.
A couple further pointers on word choice:
- Use positive words. Negatives like don’t in front of a verb can make some readers stumble.
- Avoid long strings of nouns. Sentences with several nouns in a row can be difficult to navigate.
- Use inclusive language. Unless your document is about men, don’t use only male pronouns (he, his).
Sometimes you may have to use a technical term, even when you’re writing for non-specialists. In that case, choose words that will help your readers.
Be careful about words like very, really, actually, or carefully that don’t serve any purpose. Keep in simple, keep it easy to understand.
By adopting an easy-to-read style, you can start engaging your audience. Use personal pronouns, where appropriate. Avoid jargon by choosing the right word and avoid padding your text with words that serve no purpose.
Need help with readability? I’ve designed a plain language checklist that will help you write more readable content. You can download the checklist for free here: https://www.watercopy.com/checklist-readability/.
Thing 3: Design it so readers will move right through to the CTA
You may not want to know this but not all your readers will read your entire blog. Many blog readers (43%, according to Hubspot) admit to skimming content. Rather than being offended by this, play to those readers. Cater to all readers with the design of each blog.
1. White space
Dense blocks of text can intimidate readers. Clever use of white space – areas with no text or graphics – will lessen the stress. Keep paragraphs short and use line spacing to add a little white space between paragraphs.
Putting in a pull quotes add variety to the blog’s visual flow. Photos, graphs, charts, and tables add visual appeal while providing in-depth information in an eye-catching format. Keep graphs and charts relatively simple.
2. Headings and subheadings
Headings and subheadings not only help with the flow of logic of the post, they provide a break from the text. They allow skimmers to get the gist of the blog without having to read the entire article. It helps with SEO to optimize headings for keywords, where possible.
3. Bulleted or numbered lists
Anytime your information allows, break up blocks of text with bulleted or numbered lists. Again, they cater to skimmers, but they also help organize information into short concise portions.
After all the meetings, the brainstorming, the planning, it’s time to write. Writing posts for the company blog may never be your favorite thing to do but with these 3 things about 3 things you can help to ensure your post will get clicked, read, and shared.
Do you have any tricks for writing great blog posts that readers love to read? Please share them here!