I enjoy reading and writing blogs and I believe that they are a fantastic medium for a business to share insight, experience and knowledge with their audience. They can help win new business and also reassure existing clients that they have chosen wisely. But there are a few guidelines to follow to ensure that your blogs don’t alienate the very audience that you want to attract.
Stick to one message, one thought or learning. Keep it simple and don’t over complicate things; this is a blog not an in-depth article. If your one thought doesn’t quite stretch to 600 words, then 400 words is fine. Do not be tempted to add waffle or superfluous words to pad it out because it will bore the reader and may make them stop reading.
Tell a story. Have a beginning, a middle and an end. Introduce your topic, and then tell the reader more about it, perhaps saying why it is important to you or your industry and the impact it has. Give some context with a brief example or two to demonstrate the point that you are making. Include stats to back up your point if applicable (and always include a link to the source of the facts). Then end with a positive conclusion or action and links to other reading materials if relevant.
Keep it informal but professional. A blog is meant to be a personal account. If you have a PR or professional writer who is writing blogs for your team, make sure that the blog reflects the author’s personality and that the topic is one that they want to write about. Don’t force long or complicated words into the blog to make you sound more intelligent - it does the opposite.
Keep it short. A blog should ideally be between 400- 800 words long. It’s a good length to be able to get a point across well and should only take a few minutes to read.
If you can’t keep it short, consider why. Mark Twain famously said “I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead”; it can be harder to explain a topic in a short, concise manner.
If you really can’t keep it short then turn it into a ‘long read’. If your topic is really technical, complicated or needs a more in-depth explanation you may wish to split it into several blogs, or publish it as a ‘long read.’ It is fine to do this but do ensure that the ‘length of time to read’ is published at the top of the blog so that the reader can commit the time to read it, and even make themselves a cup of tea to accompany the journey. You may also like to break the blog down into a list format (like I have done with this one – which is now just over 900 words – whoops!) so that the reader can easily see the different points and sections easily).
Always consider the reader. Who are you writing for and what will they want to hear? How can you inform or educate them? They have chosen to read your blog so make sure it is an enriching experience for them. You are self-publishing content, so in theory you could publish anything you like, because you don’t have a magazine editor as the ‘gatekeeper.’ But just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should. Consider why your reader should give up their valuable time to read your blog – would you read it if it was published by another business?
Be generous. Share your knowledge, insight and experience. Make sure that the reader comes away from the blog knowing more that they did when they started. Give them a reason to come back to find more great content that they will benefit from.
NEVER try to sell your products. Blogs are not the place to do that, instead ‘sell’ your experience, thoughts and knowledge. The reader is putting their trust in you and they are investing their time to read your blog so you have to ensure that their time is spent wisely and that they come away educated or informed and above all, feeling positive about your business.
Don’t preach. Be friendly, warm, helpful and welcoming. Never preach but instead give guidance and educate your audience.
Use humour. Bring your personality into the blog, share short humorous anecdotes to show that you are human and relatable, but don’t over share (this is a business blog after all).
Ask some to proof read it for you. It’s really hard to proof your own writing because you will read it as you think it reads rather than what’s actually there, so it’s hard to spot tiny mistakes and double words. Make sure you have your spell checker on but don’t rely on that because it won’t flag up when you’ve written ‘to’ instead of ‘too’.
Sleep on it. If you can, write it, sleep on it and revise it in the morning with a fresh pair of eyes. You’ll pick up on more mistakes and you may reconsider and re-work the tone or language.
Leave on a positive. Make your conclusion positive, forward thinking and upbeat. It’s ok to rant a little (after all, it’s probably a subject that you feel passionate about) but do end on a positive - perhaps giving suggestions of what the reader could do instead.
Blogging is a really powerful medium and it dovetails very nicely into social media to create a powerful social media strategy. If you do them well, they will prove to be a very influential communication tool for your company.