Writing Great Blogs: 5 Steps to Take Now

The owner of a custom construction firm asked me recently to take over writing his blog posts and I was delighted to do that. I realized that his earlier blogs had violated some standard rules I have for writing great blog posts. Here they are for your benefit:

  1. Be specific when writing your post. Drive down to the basics of your business and write about the details. How do you fix a gutter? What does a specific insurance term mean? What information should never appear on a resume?
  2. Think like your customer. If you were shopping for your company’s product or service, what would be your first concern? As the owner of the business, your concern may be to relate everything you do and how well you do it. The customer, however, is generally interested in the solution to a specific problem. Write each blog post around a specific problem and how you solve it.
  3. Tell a story. Case studies/success stories, examples from your work day or a single sentence about a customer problem and solution liven up a blog post and attract interest. You may not be able to write a story every time, but keep the possibility in mind.
  4. Choose one or two keywords or key phrases for each post and repeat them naturally. Rather than advocating mindless repetition, this step is a request to not use synonyms and to fit the subject of your post naturally into the content. For example, look through this post for natural repetitions of the words “write, post, blog, writing.”
  5. Write a headline that contains search words. While cute and clever headlines are fine occasionally, the best headline reflects the search words your customers are likely to use, such as “how to write a great blog” or “writing blog posts.”

My own experience as a blog post writer in the nonprofit, health care, construction and service industries has proved the value of the five steps above. Let me help you reach out to your customers with great blog posts.

What Makes a Great Blog Post?

I like writing blogs. I write them for businesses and nonprofits as well as for my own business, TWP Marketing & Technical Communications. Some of my blogs have been picked up by industry organizations, tweeted about and discussed on LinkedIn; some of them have led to requests to become a guest blogger or to contribute articles to print and online magazines. Here is my take on what makes a great blog post:

  1. It contains information that the reader is interested in, and it gives details. The reader comes away feeling that he or she has learned something.
  2. It is short.
  3. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. Every so often, the blog writer pokes fun at himself or herself or turns an industry cliché on its head.
  4. It has a recognizable and consistent voice. When I write blogs for other businesses, I make sure that I’ve heard the business owner’s voice and that I can translate it into writing.
  5. It appears regularly. If your last post went up two years ago, either take down the blog or find a way to post at least twice a month. Writing a blog more than once a week is very difficult; if you tried that and failed, try again with a lighter schedule.

Blogging has many advantages and works well with your other marketing efforts. You can mention your blog in your newsletter; tweet about it; list it on your business card; and so on. Contact me if you need help; that’s what I’m here for.

Before You Start Writing

Before you start writing any marketing copy, whether a blog, newsletter, website, success story, proposal or article, you should know the answers to these four questions:

1. What does your customer want? Your marketing copy must provide a solution for the customer’s problem. You have to know the problem, be able to solve it, want to solve it and know how to communicate all that to the customer.

2. Where do your customers hang out? Do they search the web or newspapers? Are they more likely to read an article in a magazine or a story on your blog?

3. How much time are you prepared to spend? A regular newsletter or blog takes time; so does tweeting and maintaining a Facebook presence. Do you have the resources?

4. What is your deadline? A website or proposal that is four years in the finishing is four years overdue. Your marketing copy can’t start working for you until it reaches your customers.

If you are having trouble defining and reaching your audience or finding the resources and time to complete writing projects, contact me. At TWP Marketing & Technical Communications, our words mean business.

Five Writing Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make

Whether you’re writing an email or a 50 page brochure, a blog or an entire website, a one-page instruction or a success story, here are five mistakes that can cripple your effort to connect with customers:

  • You didn’t identify your audience. Before you can write for your customers, you have to know who they are and what they want. What problem are you solving for them?
  • You didn’t focus. Even major department stores, with thousands of products, focus their brochures, website and blogs on one topic at a time. A list of everything you can do or sell isn’t marketing, it’s monologuing.
  • You forgot the power of pictures. Sometimes the best way to deliver a marketing message isn’t in words but in photos, drawings and charts. (Be sure to label any pictures so that search engines can find them.)
  • You were lured by the phrase of the moment. The strongest marketing messages are those with the most truth expressed in the simplest words. Anything can be a “proactively engineered state-of-the-art system,” even a paperclip. To differentiate your product or service, stay away from the phrase of the moment.
  • You never reviewed your marketing materials as a whole. As a result, your brochure says something different from your website and your website is out of date and neither one supports your latest success story or Tweet.

A great marketing message targets a specific audience, keeps its focus, uses as few words as possible, differentiates you from the competition and is consistent. Maintain those standards, and your customers will definitely get the message.

Need help? Contact TWP Marketing & Technical Communications today.