Knowing how to write engaging blog posts is not quite as simple as it sounds! Certainly, there are many people, who are experienced writers and can simply sit and the words stream from their fingertips. Most of us need a plan to help with the task of getting an engaging text from brain to screen.
We all strive for the perfect or killer blog post, but these tend to come with time and more importantly with experience. Blogging is no different from any other skill; it takes practice and more practice. Additionally, you should enjoy the task.
If you are writing because the company for which you work wants to run a blog, and you do not enjoy the task, then the risk of failure is high. Businesses with a modern outlook, understand that social media is a vital part of any marketing campaign. Like any other aspect of running a business, it should be undertaken by a skilled team and not foisted off on an unsuspecting and ill prepared section.
Fail to plan and you must plan to fail!
Assuming that you are keen to write a killer blog. where do you start? Without being funny, right at the beginning, with a plan.
As you plan your blog, consider these areas:
What type of blog do you intend to write?
What are you trying to do with this blog? Do you want to teach someone to do something? Do you want to introduce a particular product and encourage people to buy it? Are you trying to get a particular viewpoint across? Is this a type of news story?
The type of blog will determine how it should look. For example, if you intend to teach someone to do something, then a list of steps with clear text and photographs will work, whilst a blog aimed at persuading someone to your point of view will naturally require more text and perhaps statistics or other visual aids to support your text.
Jot down your ideas
Think of what you plan to write and jot down a few ideas on a piece of paper. These jotted down lines will let you plan in your mind, and it is easy to cross out and scribble a new line. All this work brings more ideas to the fore; one idea springs from the previous one. Scribble them down, don’t rely on your memory.
I know this sounds obvious, but really think and consider who you are writing for. Make sure that you aim at the correct group. The language, abbreviations, inferences and style of writing that you use must be correct for the demographic of the group you are aiming at.
Baby boomers may be irritated at the casual use of modern slang, and emoticons whilst millennials will not raise an eyebrow if the blog is peppered with modern slang.
Women have a completely different outlook on life than men do.
People from continental Europe will not view your blog in the same light that those living in mainland America will.
Your customer or viewer is a real human being. Make sure you understand that human being. Know what they will like and dislike as this will allow you to write from and to the heart. A vital skill for the professional blogger!
Collect all your bits and pieces
Make sure that you have collected anything that you may need to complete your blog into one place. There is no point in starting your ‘How To’ blog only to find that the photographs are missing or one of them is out of focus!
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If you intend to link to other sites, ensure the hyperlinks are available and you don’t have to search for them as you go.
It is highly frustrating to be in the midst of a piece, and then have to scrabble around to find something. It breaks your train of thought and the task will take longer and may read in a disjointed fashion as you stop and start. Remember, you are planning your task – get everything together up front.
Put down a title
This is one of the most important things that you will do. An engaging or killer blog needs an engaging or killer title. Initially, your title may well be something simple such as ‘How to build a garden chair’. This is excellent; it is a place to start, and it says exactly what you want to write about.
At the end of writing your blog, revisit this title and try to make it a lot more engaging. ‘Build an all-weather garden chair for those lazy summer afternoons’ has more panache!
The second title evokes images that will entice someone to want to make a chair. It will also appeal to those of us who are not good with tools, to persuade someone to build it for us to enjoy those afternoons as well.
Write an Opening
This paragraph, along with the conclusion, is very important.
The opening is your opportunity to grab the viewer and encourage them to stop clicking and read your blog. Many viewers treat their web experience, in a similar manner to channel surfing on the television. They will click over, read a couple of sentences and if their attention is not caught, they will simply move on. Your job is to catch their attention!
How you grab their attention depends on the type of blog. Obviously, if this is a ‘How To’ blog, grabbing their attention is not that important as the reason the viewer has come to you is obvious. Other types of blogs can use one or more of a number of tried and tested handles such as humor, statistics, facts or empathy.
Manage your content or the body of your blog
Go back to your ideas and start writing around the ideas that you have down.
A few words of wisdom:
- Don’t overwhelm your reader with too much information in one place. If you have a lot of information to impart, try splitting your blog into sections with each section dealing with a small amount of information. Break up the sections by using a section heading. In this way, the reader can take in small chunks at a time and not feel overwhelmed facing a page full of typing.
- Add in widgets to make the text more visually interesting. Photographs, charts, cartoons and highlighted text are all ways to make the body of your blog zing.
- Use the tools that are available on the web to enhance your writing. There are a number of tools that will assist in checking your grammar. Make good use of dictionaries for spelling and use a thesaurus sparingly.
- Keep your sentences short and your language simple. Cut the use of adjectives and adverbs – they add word count and little else.
- Beware the overuse of clichés otherwise you will sound like you are writing a political speech! Again, use the tools available on the web to help.
- If you are really stuck, there are many web assets that can help with broad outlines of blogs that you can use as a starting point.
- Careful with your references. Saying that roses are beautiful on a website for succulents is not likely to bring you many return visits!
Check, check again and then double check!
Do not assume that your writing is perfect. Read what you have written. Make absolutely sure that your spelling is correct, your grammar is faultless (though readable!) and you have not changed font mid-way through the text. If you have someone that can proofread for you, so much the better. A trusted proofreader is an invaluable asset.
Neat, easy to read copy is invaluable. Again there are several tools on the web that will allow you to check how difficult your text is to read. Aim to make it as simple as possible, so it can be understood by as many people as possible. You do not want your blog ignored because most people would need a dictionary to read and understand it. You are not trying to impress people with your language, but you are trying to get a message across.
Finish like champion
Any athlete racing to the finish line does not give up at the last hurdle and neither, should you. Use your conclusion to emphasize your main focus and then decide what you want the reader to do. Do you want them to buy something? Put a link to the product there so that it is easy to find. Do you want them to give you an e-mail address? Then put your subscription link right there. Invite the reader to send you a photo of their finished project if this is a ‘How To’.
All these will make the reader feel more involved in your blog and engender a feeling of belonging to your community. All humans love belonging to a community. If you can engender that type of feeling within your reader, you have people that will return time and again to your site; an invaluable resource.
Writing a blog does mean that you are laying yourself open to criticism. Accept and understand this; you will not please everyone. Writing is not an easy task, but writing on a subject you are passionate about will make it simpler. Build a core of readers who enjoy your writing and encourage them to share it across social media. This will bring you more viewers and slowly but surely you will build a following. An engaging blog post consists of good content, well written and is a pleasure to read. That must be your aim, a killer blog post.