This is a contribution from Gary Dek from StartABlog123.com.
Starting a blog is easy. Step-by-step tutorials to creating a blog and one-click CMS installations have ballooned the number of online blogs to over 200 million. But creating a blog isn’t the part you should worry about.
Unique and creative content can be hard to develop, especially when you are writing for a wide demographic. Am I producing something interesting, practical, actionable, valuable, and shareable? Would another blogger actually choose to link to it in the sea of other content available online?
Concerns like these are not uncommon when learning how to create a blog. All amateur and professional bloggers should evaluate their business strategies on a regular basis. It’s what drives us to constantly improve.
Fortunately, if you analyze some of the most successful bloggers online, it’s not that they are employing tactics or strategies that me or you can’t. There is no secret recipe or special club that builds traffic.
It’s the little things. Successful bloggers consistently execute on the little things that make their content relatable, shareable, and linkable.
Below, you will find a checklist of writing tips to help you create great content, increase your traffic and promote your blog. Don’t expect overnight results, but in the long-run, you and your readers will notice the difference. And to be more targeted, we’ve divided up the list between general writing advice, B2C, and B2B best practices.
Best General Writing Tips
- Start with a good headline. A good headline makes people want to click and read your content. Impart a sense of urgency, be dramatic, promise better results, or use a big number like “101 Ways…” Readers will be enticed out of curiosity.
- Write a good introduction. Your headline can get readers to click, but your intro needs to hook them to continue reading. Make an outrageous statement. Ask a difficult or relatable question. Tell them how the article is going to improve some aspect of their life.
- Have a conversation. Do you talk to your friends using 15-letter words or long, complex sentences? Readers don’t want to reference an online dictionary every other sentence, nor do they want a subject matter so complicated, they don’t understand what they are reading. Make reading easy by using simple words and sentences, which also makes for more shareable content.
- Talk directly to the reader. This is similar to the above point. Don’t alienate yourself. Use words like “you” and “I” freely. Write as if the reader were in front of you.
- Don’t BS. Don’t ramble to meet a word-count. Delete the fluff and unnecessary discussions. The sooner you make your points, the longer you will have them engaged.
- Write short paragraphs. No offense, but readers have short attention spans. I probably lost half the readers of this blog by now. There is no hard and fast rule, but generally, 5 to 7-sentence paragraphs are easier to comprehend.
- Break up your content with subheadings. Subheadings help organize content, making it easier on a reader’s eyes to scan the page.
- Use images. Start your post with an interesting, relevant image. Research shows that images increase click-through rates, shares and links. In fact, images (charts, graphs, spreadsheets, graphics, etc.) can often facilitate the transfer of information better than text.
- Tell a story. Everyone loves a good story. Don’t just present facts and figures. Share how the topic of discussion has changed or influenced your life or someone you know.
- Connect with your readers. You’re a human being with character, personality, and experiences. Allow your readers to relate to you and build a stronger connection.
- Write a good closing. Don’t leave your readers hanging. Just as a good intro hooks them, a good closing makes them feel that they didn’t waste their time.
- Proofread and fact-check. The facts and statistics you use to support your opinion/argument need to be accurate if you want to be seen as credible. Similarly, one or two typos is acceptable, but an article littered with poor grammar and incorrect spelling won’t get shared.
- Make social sharing buttons visible. It’s hard to expect social shares when you make the act of sharing difficult and tedious. If you are a B2B blog, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook are your top platforms. If you are a visual B2C brand, such fashion or foodie blogs, you will want to leverage Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook. Research your target demographic and be active on the social mediums they utilize.
Tips For Business To Consumer (B2C) Blogs
- Be timely. Timing is crucial to earning exposure. Write news when it breaks, not days after.
- Be consistent. If you’ve been blogging for a while, you have undoubtedly developed a loyal following. Don’t let your readers down by posting randomly. If you don’t post on a daily basis, make sure your readers are aware of your editorial calendar. Furthermore, there is an SEO benefit to posting fresh content regularly.
- Keep up with pop culture. Consumers keep tabs on pop culture, and if you want to get their attention, you have to keep yourself up-to-date. Read, listen, and watch so you can write about current trends and make your content relevant and relatable. This is especially important if your target demographic is Millennials.
- Rotate between evergreen and trending content. Trending content can last a few weeks or months, but evergreen is timeless. Intersperse your content with both. It’s the equivalent of diversifying your investment portfolio between equities and bonds – one can offer huge upside, while the other is more consistent and stable. Combined, they offer balanced growth.
- Use videos and images freely. A creative or beautiful image at the start of a blog post can really draw in a reader, especially if it organizes information more effectively and clearly than a textual description. This is especially true with B2C writing because consumers often don’t like to read long, in-depth articles.
- Experiment with different types of content. Text may be the backbone of your blog, but if Upworthy and ViralBuzz have taught us anything, don’t underestimate the power of well-curated videos and images.
- Tap into emotions, but don’t exploit them. Consumers are prone to emotional stimuli, the most popular of which are humor, wonder, and empathy. But don’t exploit it and purposefully tug at the heart strings of your readerships. You will build a bad reputation of being overly emotional.
- Respect your readers. Be honest, open, and treat your audience like you would family. Even if your blog is instructional in nature, don’t talk down to them. Present concepts thoroughly, but assume a certain basic level of intellectual sophistication.
Tips For Business To Business (B2B) Blogs
Writing for business requires you to make slight adjustments. One positive is that B2B audiences are more focused and willing to spend money if your product or service genuinely solves a problem and furthers their professional interests.
- Use credible headlines with statistics. Headlines still need to be catchy in B2B writing, but business people are more likely to want data-driven analysis and results. For example, “How I Grew My Email List By 329% In A Week” explains the benefit of reading the article. However, don’t be full of it and use outrageous claims – they will hurt your brand and reputation. No one wants to feel duped.
- Narrow down your topics. Ever heard of “inch wide, mile deep”? This concept suggests you limit the scope of each article, but thoroughly and comprehensively cover every aspect of the subject matter. Businesses don’t need general information. Instead, B2B readers want very specific, actionable content that addresses an issue or problem they are dealing with.
- Write more evergreen content. Evergreen content is timeless and will always be relevant. For instance, “How To Start A Business” gets 40,500 monthly searches in the United States alone. A focus on this type of content will bring you consistent traffic for years.
- Provide credible supporting evidence. Use white papers, government figures, research studies, and professional publications to prove your point. Business people don’t want unsubstantiated opinions, but arguments molded by reputable sources.
- Offer step-by-step solutions to problems. To build a reputation as an authority in your niche, you must demonstrate that you understand the factors, issues and obstacles facing the industry. Delivering reliable solutions via free content builds trust and confidence so when you eventually want to sell a product/service, your readership sees the value in working with you.
- Show personality and liven things up. Veer away from the stereotypical dry, boring B2B content. Crack a joke now and then. Share an anecdote. Business people are human, too, and are not immune to humor.
- Highlight your achievements. Credibility is paramount in B2B writing. Use an author profile somewhere on the page, and craft a story that showcases what you have achieved. It’s not bragging. It’s telling the audience that you know what you’re talking about.
- Always over-deliver. It’s a matter of developing goodwill. Instead of selling a guide or eBook and earning a quick thousand dollars, give it away for free. In the long-run, the loyalty and brand value you build is worth far more.Don’t ever forget that blogging is your business. When running a business blog, remember that you not only represent yourself, but your company’s brand. As such, maintain some level of professionalism and always emphasize great customer service, support, and satisfaction.
Content creation doesn’t need to be a difficult process. Many successful bloggers don’t even consider themselves great writers. The key is to focus on finding your place and unique value-add to the internet, and you’ll develop your own niche and loyal community. Incorporate these writing tips and you’ll already be ahead of the curve.
What other ways have you leveraged to produce great content?
Gary Dek is the founder of StartABlog123.com, which provides a free step-by-step tutorial on building and growing a blog.