You know why you’re blogging from having read Part 1: The Blog Boost Cycle- How Blogs Grow Your Business. Knowledge is power, but now the real work starts. It’s time to sit down and actually write the thing. This is also is the part when even the strongest of business owners seize up because they’re not sure how to go about writing a good blog.
Never fear: by following these six steps on a regular basis, you’ll soon have blogs that satisfy the holy trinity of:
- Creating intimacy with your audience (customers and clients)
- Ensuring repeat visits and new unique visits to your site
- Encouraging sharing of your blog
… all of which grow your business.
#1 Start by letting go of your end result
Try not to think about how your blog will look on your website and about the 100,000s of people sharing it on Facebook. Let go of the fear that they’re going to find a typo (they won’t- see #6) or that they’ll roll their eyes, or that it wasn’t your blog you posted at all but a picture of you in your underwear… All of this vorangst (pre-fear in English) will right freak a person out and can cause writer’s block before you even start.
Instead, come back to present time and think of something concrete: your customers. After all, this blog is for them. Now consider one of your customers, just one. Joanne! She’s so nice. Think about Joanne and what she would like to know about.
- Does she want product information?
- Does she have questions about a certain component of your services?
- Does she have an interest in something that is one part of your field you haven’t told her about?
Write it for her. Be charming, authoritative, sparkling. Joanne will appreciate the gesture.
#2 Aim low
All that said, even though you know later on this is going to be a delightful, interesting piece of work, for now, aim low. Aim to write the crappiest draft you possibly can. No one will read this draft, so you can let your ideas rip- this is your only chance to get what’s inside your head onto the page.
That’s not a tidy process. Not even professional authors type happily, hit print, whip the pages off to their publisher and go celebrate their great day with a smoothie.
Imagine your first draft this way: it is a translation of what is inside your head and heart into words. That’s a gawky process. You’re shifting platforms, for starters, going from amorphous swirling clouds of idea into articulated black and white human constructs that have their own rules, internal music, and purpose. Perhaps it is as if you poured half a puzzle’s worth of pieces on top of the other half. You’re joining the puzzle, but the pieces won’t naturally settle into their right positions until you start tinkering with them.
The pouring is first, and the tinkering comes next. After #3.
You and your draft need to rest overnight so you can return to it with fresh eyes. After reading a piece over several times, we become habituated to the words, phrases, and ideas to the point where it stops making sense or we can’t see it in full anymore. You want it to look unfamiliar so you can find the essence of it. Giving it an overnight or at least a chunk of hours away from you is the best way to do this.
#4 Return to the blog draft to find its key idea
Most blogs should be, as Edgar Allan Poe called it, a “single effect” of experience, meaning in this case, it should be about one topic and should remain connected to that topic.
(*Note: this may not be the case for blogs that are creative and/or tread into creative nonfiction/personal essay territory whereby the opposite may apply such that the initiating subject or the “triggering subject” may serve to provoke the true subject, which is found through the act of writing itself).
When you return to your crappy draft, bear in mind that while you’d originally planned to talk about X, it is possible that your unconscious mind felt like writing about Y.
If you’re seeing X, brava, you have a tidy little chunk of cohesive experience ready to go. If you’re seeing Y, this is not at all a problem; in fact, it’s great- because now you have both this new blog about Y plus your original idea, which won’t spoil, meaning you can still write it later on, giving you two blogs for the price of one! An off-roaded blog is a happy piece of luck, I like to say.
#5 Sculpt the draft
- The opening:Start with your key idea OR lead into your key idea by “hooking” the reader with a premise, anecdote, or a “problem.” Then hit the reader with the solution, which you will go on to explore in the blog body.
- The body:Keep the body to the point that you established in the open. 300-500 words isn’t a lot. If you find you have a lot to say, joy! You have a Part 1 and a Part 2! (How do you think this blog became a Part II?) Everyone’s a sucker for a cliffhanger, so this is a built in audience return visit.
- The end:Sum up and get out. Nobody wants to be the last guy at the party. Clean a few glasses, thank your host, say something pithy, and dash.
#6 Proofread it
Ready your blog for publication on your website by reading it aloud, then get another person to proof it. Never post your blog until a second pair of eyes has been on the material.
Consider this: you could be a brilliant contractor/florist/therapist, but if your blog has errors, you will be planting the idea in your reader that if you are careless with your writing, you are careless in your work. Is this fair? No. But it is so. Readers will consider you less careful generally, or simply have a niggling sense that something is off or missing, which will bleed into how they feel you may perform your job/service.
Creating a “blog posse” of trusted friends/colleagues or getting an editor to do a quick pass of the material will ensure you’re posting the best quality you can.
All in all, this 6-step method enables you to write your first blog draft more or less inside of a cup of coffee; from there, it’s tweaking and finessing, a few throw pillows, and a bit of authentic conversation with your reader.
Regular blogging is a vital part of caring for your business- and the good news is, like jogging or diapering a squirming baby, the more you do it, the easier it gets. Plus the more you do it, the more audience engagement you have, the more sharing that happens, and the more visibility your business gets overall. Everybody wins and the world is happier for it.
Wishing you and yours happy blogging,
If the thought of blogging alone, fills you with vorangst, sign up for our 6-part self-guided course: The Blogshop, so you can learn, bulk plan your blogs, and know you’re doing incredible things for growing your business.
Plus, join us in Writers’ Lounge, the free online writing community of One Lit Place, where bloggers have a dedicated space for sharing blog drafts and getting/giving feedback, networking, exclusive events and more.