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So you’ve developed a new website and opted to include a blog page to develop content, build a community of readers and, fingers crossed, improve your online authority and search engine standings… but what do you write? A blank page has never looked so daunting! In the following blog series I’ll share some tips that have helped me find fresh inspiration or find my way out of writing doldrums.
Know why you are writing
Why do you even have a blog? Answer honestly! Can you articulate the value of a blog to a business in 2015? Was creating a blog your idea or has the responsibility perhaps been thrust upon you? However you have come into your new position of influence you must own it if you are going to write effectively. If you have a newsworthy story to tell you should communicate it on every channel you can. Especially the channels your customers are tapped into.
Why write a blog? It’s actually a big topic, one that will be unpacked in greater detail in future posts, but for now ask yourself – how do you find solutions to problems you’re having at work or home? When you have a perceived need where do you go to research products or services that will address the need? I’m sure most of you have said ‘Google’. I did. And when you do search for an answer on Google what factors influence your decision to click one search result over another? Its position on the results page? The accuracy of the title tag to your question? The site’s apparent authority or trustworthiness to give you the right answer? Probably all of these factors and plenty more.
I’ll put it to you that sharing your expertise by writing blog articles will aid and abet your increasing level of trust and authority with your potential customers, those people who are using the Internet right now to ask questions that your product or service offering is the best answer to. You already have a good business, now you just need to give those inquirers helpful, timely words to read about you and your website.
Give yourself permission to write
Any writer will tell you, ‘you have to write through the bad to get to the good’. Don’t expect to produce a manifesto in your first writing session. It’s very acceptable to write a bunch of insipid, anaemic copy. Just don’t publish it! In the same way a designer will sketch concepts before sitting down to the tools, you should freely unload all of your blog ideas on to the page, digital or physical, and get all the clichés out of your system before you concern yourself with writing any lines.
Make time and space to write
Writing well will be assisted by a carefully curated environment in which to work and be creative. Squeezing out a few lines while you’re on an overcrowded train ride, then adding a few more at home amidst a barrage of interruptions probably won’t render the results you or potential readers are interested to read. Carve out a good chuck of time (hours not minutes) and steal away to a quiet, nicely furnished room or café. Somewhere that’s aesthetically agreeable. Somewhere you naturally want to go to be creative.
Know who your audience is
This point is so imperative that perhaps it deserves to be first in the list. You can’t write for everyone just like your product or service offerings are not everyone, but rather select and target groups of people. You’ve probably spent some time and energy defining who your customers are. So as you get to know these targeted groups you will better equip yourself to write for them.
Create personas of your ideal audience members
You might have already done this exercise for your customers, if you have you’ll know its benefit. If you haven’t, that’s ok too. Either way, read on! Think about who your ideal audience member is (they are likely to be your best customer segment or the kind of customer you would like more of). Describe them, what is their age? Is gender important? What are their interests? Do you know their education background or how they might spend their disposable income?
You might well create two or more audience member personas with different sets of attributes and triggers that drive them to buy products or choose a service. The better you can ‘get to know’ your audience persona(s) the more pointed and effective your copy will be when you write ‘to’ them.
Make a list of great blog topics
The next step is to create a list of blog topics to research and write about. Let your audience personas lead you to great topics. What questions are they asking? What problems do they have that they are researching solutions for online. This is what you want to be writing about. When you write don’t simply state what is known or what is obvious – you must provide content that adds value or cannot be easily found all in one place online. Would you want to read it? If you don’t love it no one else will either.
Don’t be put off, you’re on your way. With the preparation complete you are ready to compose lines for the ages. So go for it. Write with unbridled licence and read my next blog on crafting killer blog topics that arrest readers and draw them into your story.