What were you expecting? A bigger number of tips or a different question?
A headline should do that – make the reader curious enough to continue and find out what’s in it for him or her. If the word “blogging” pulled you in you’re presumably already a blogger or raring to go as one? Whatever led you to take up writing your blog (a desire to share your team’s triumphs with the mini league family and friends, or the step to display your incredible delights for the perusal of other foodies, or perhaps a business decision to provide insights to your clientele), let’s hope all the arm-twisting didn’t make you regret sharing a post a day for 365+ days!
So here are the “three” tips I often talk about in the classroom.
#1 – You are what you write
Write for yourself first
When you first start out, it’s hard to know how things will shape up, what you’re actually going to write about and how often you’ll fit it in. Focus on your own thoughts and ideas, offer your opinions, write about what you know. Sharing what you care about will come more naturally and likely read better. Write the way you speak, tell a story, let the you shine through.
Write to engage your readers
Make what you have to say readable – your readers want an enjoyable, unexpected or helpful experience. No matter if you’re sharing the latest technology tips or whisking your audience away on a tale of high trek adventure through the Himalayas, make it memorable. Provide additional resources: links to other sites, quotes and plenty of visual support. Don’t be afraid to stand out and tackle difficult issues.
Write for readers, not (only) robots
Yes, there are keywords and SEO to consider, but your ultimate audience is human! You might start with a compelling headline of 100 wedding blogging tips to sweep your readers off their feet, but find it hard to follow through on the promise, so be realistic and write with a particular reader in mind. You only have a few seconds to convince someone to keep reading, so put the catchy bits first. Someone said 300 words was a good number to aim for; a better measure might be to write until you’ve made your point.
Find your own voice by listening to others
Don’t write in isolation – find inspiration in the writings of others. Trawl for like-minded writers, search for people sharing on subjects that interest you, subscribe to other bloggers and learn what makes their posts delightful, comment-worthy or aspiring. Learn from others, but be yourself!
#2 – Give them what they want
Knowing what to give them begs the question, WHO is them?
Whether your site is for reasons of business, charity or pleasure, think about who is likely to stop by for a peek – and why. In marketing, your audience always comes first. In blogging, you may think it’s about you, but it’s all about them 🙂 If you already have a potential audience elsewhere (on social media platforms, for example, or offline), listen to what’s going on there and get in on the conversation. Learn about what they want and give it to them!
Interact with your readers
Congratulations, you have your first follower – even if it’s Mom or your other best friend! People are starting to click through on your site, they’re “liking” and commenting on your posts. Check them out: maybe visit their site in return to see what they’re up to. That’s the spirit of engagement and you want to get involved and encourage more of the good stuff. Reply to comments, ask questions. Don’t be afraid to put out a poll or ask what people might be interested in reading about from you. Then show your readership that you’re listening to their pleas for more insights into your expertise by addressing their questions in a blog post or three.
The power of images: want a toad?
The majority of people are visual learners. Tickle their curiosity with quality images. Whenever possible, use original photos, drawings or infographics for credibility or purchase appropriate stock images. Credit where credit’s due, especially for free photos (such as those used under Creative Commons).
Consistency is what your readers expect
Keep your writing to a manageable quantity, both to read and to write. Post regularly (daily, weekly, several times a month…I know, I know, do as I say, not as I do!) and fulfill the promise you made to your subscribers when they signed up to your blog. Figure out when people are stopping by and plan your posts accordingly.
#3 – Share, get found, be noticed
Quality content deserves to be read
Share what you write with your friends and colleagues. Add a link to your site in your email signature or newsletter (“Here’s my new blog, take a gander!”). Copy the post URL into your social media updates and entice people to click the link to discover more readable goodies. Good quality content will be picked up by search engines and in turn by people looking for that subject. Imagine…you’re outputting consistently high-quality content in your area of expertise, people are starting to take notice, you’re being recognized as a thought leader, you receive invitations to guest blog, you start being offered to write for money, to speak at conferences about…oh yes, it’s in you to future cast!
Write to be found, ok, this time for robots, too
Ever since Google decided to put a lock on keywords, SEO experts have been scrambling for the next sure way to rank your website. It still makes sense to use words in your writing that you would expect potential readers to be searching for in their Google, Bing or Yahoo engines. For example, if you have a story to share about Guitars in Space, you might want to drop in a few other names, like Chris Hadfield and the ISS, in the process. See what I did there?! Make use of the tools of the platform that you’re writing on – that might be tags in WordPress, hashtags in Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, keywords in the H1 headline and H2 subline, in the first paragraph and wherever else the WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast sends you! And don’t forget that images need keyword loving, too.
The power of links
Make use of hyperlinking to relevant resources that you write about – both to external sites and to other appropriate content within your own site. This sends traffic to those places you deem worthy of attention.
Build your readership
Remember the call to action! Ask your readers to share your words with their friends, invite them to comment, or to sign up for more of the good stuff. Make it easy for people to follow your posts with a simple opt-in process. Offer incentives to share your knowledge: what’s the price of a subscription, after all?
Push the content
Add social media icons to each post for people to share on their platforms. Similarly, enable likes and follows. Use tools to automate the sharing of your posts, such as Publizice on WordPress.com or HootSuite, to efficiently populate multiple platforms in one fell swoop.
Bonus tip (because who can resist) – give it time
Your first blog post may take you ten minutes to craft, but more likely it will take you hours, as you worry about the content, the tone, the words, the everything. You’re probably on revision #15 by the time you want to publish it, then, as soon as it’s gone public, you’ll be on to revision #16. That’s ok. It WILL get easier with time. (By the way, once you have subscribers, they will only be notified of a post the first time you publish it, not when you update one revision after another!)
Enjoy the process of crafting your words and your images. Don’t be discouraged if people don’t start knocking down your site door on day one or even month one. Keep going, learn from others and improve your skills, one post at a time.
What works for you?