• Jen Haken

How to write brilliant blogs ... when you'd rather stick a pencil in your eye!



Blogs are a great way of keeping in touch with your customers and targeting prospective new customers, and should be an essential part of your marketing strategy. Not everyone likes writing them, or has the time to. But if you can't get someone else to write them for you, give them a go yourself – you may be surprised at how well you do! And hopefully you won't need to go to A&E because you've stuck a pencil in your eye... 


First, make a plan. Have a list of subjects to write about. Brainstorm with colleagues to come up with subject ideas, and aim to write around one a week. Schedule the topics into categories so that you’re not always writing about one thing, such as how wonderful your products are. Keep in mind that your blogs need to be helpful and entertaining – less salesy, more interesting. Subjects could include:

  • ‘How to’ guides on the use of your products.

  • Five top tips on getting the best out of your area of expertise. For instance, finance tips if you’re an accountant, or photography tricks if you’re a photographer.

  • Your opinion on the latest news topics relating to your business.

  • Latest news within your organisation, e.g. new people, charity fundraisers, latest profit figures.

  • Request product feedback, or ask people to enter a poll on something to do with your business ... or even something totally unrelated for a fresh change and to help engagement!

  • If you get really stuck for ideas, there are several online blog topic generators that could help.


Listing out your topics also helps you to figure out what your keywords are. Remember to include them in your blog titles, as well as scattered naturally throughout the content.


Now to start writing. It’s easy to write hundreds of words on your topic of interest, your passion or your products. But to write something that’s short and snappy, eye-catching and attention grabbing, takes time and patience.


Less is more!

Blaise Pascal famously said about a letter he’d written: “I have made this longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter.” Mark Twain said similarly: “If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.”


Optimum blog length

It depends on the subject and your product. In general terms, though, blog length can be anything between 250 and 1,000 words. For specialist areas such as the sciences, writing well over 1,000 words is perfectly acceptable. Keep in mind that people are busy and don’t necessarily want to read long tomes.


If you realise that you’re writing about two or three different subjects in one long blog, separate them out into different posts to provide more content sharing opportunities across your social media channels.


Remember – less is more when it comes to the words, but more is better for sharing!


Edit and proofread

Don’t post as soon as you’ve finished writing – leave it for an hour or so, ideally a day, then look at it again with a fresher mindset. This helps to improve your editing, and you should spot all the errors. Cut, rewrite, and cut again to help your content end up clear, punchy and focussed. Cutting out the fluff is important!


Delete all those extraneous words that may read beautifully, but makes your blog far longer than necessary. Your readers are more likely to read to the end if it’s short and snappy.


“When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done.” Stephen King

Get someone else to proofread it, too, for both a ‘sense’ check and to spot any other typos.


Images

Ideally, always include an image. If you’re using pictures of staff or customers, make sure you have their permission before publishing. Ask a local photographer to take good quality pictures, or if budget is tight there are some great free online photographic resources, such as Free Digital Photos, or Pexels. You may need to put an attribution in a caption.


Call to Action

Always have a CTA at the end asking your prospective customers to visit your website, shop, showroom, or whatever it is you want them to do (I’ll write more about CTAs separately), and always have a link to your website in your blogs, which should ideally have a page of their own there too.


And finally, I rather love this quote by William Zinsser – American writer, editor, literary critic, and teacher:

“Look at the clutter in your writing and prune it ruthlessly.”

If writing blogs seems far too hard and you really would rather stick a pencil in your eye, then you'd better let me help! Drop me an email or give me a call on +7799 648321. Or check out my website for further information.

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© 2020  Jenny Haken