4 Blogging Tips
There are millions, maybe even billions, of blogs. Why would you start a new one and add to the noise? Or, if you already have a blog, what makes it worth reading? A group of bloggers here in Chattanooga has a Facebook group, and we get together about once a month. We talk about all sorts of blogging-related things, and I really enjoy the conversations because my husband doesn’t want to listen to me talk about developing an editorial calendar, and my friends look at me funny when I talk about plugins and templates. Occasionally someone in my blogging group will issue a writing challenge or prompt of some sort, and figuring out if I can incorporate the topic into this blog is fun. Last week the challenge was to write a post about your best blogging tips, and that fits in pretty well with what goes on at Smiling Tree Writing.
Before we get to my juicy tips, let me clarify that I assume you write, at least in small part, for professional reasons. You may not manage a corporate blog, but if you were applying for a job you wouldn’t mind your prospective boss looking over a few of your posts. I understand that lots of people write for other reasons – maybe you are documenting the remodeling of your house, or you write about gardening, or knitting, or some other hobby. There are plenty of people who use a blog as a journal or diary, or as a platform to promote a social or political cause. This blog is updated with the expectation that potential clients might read it and find out I can string together some sentences coherently, present clients might read it and learn something about content marketing, colleagues might read it and nod in agreement, or strangers might read it and send me spam email. My tips are geared toward small business owners who are either writing posts about their businesses or wondering if taking the time to write posts would be worth the effort.
1. Choose an umbrella topic. If you own a restaurant, it’s probably going to be food, and if you are a farmer it will probably be growing things. Here it is content marketing for the small business.
2. Be creative, and write about all sorts of stuff. That may seem to conflict with the advice given in Tip 1, but really it’s not. You can write about anything as long as you relate it back to your umbrella topic. You’ve probably seen posts with titles like “9 Things I Learned About Knitting from Snowboarding,” or “How Painting and Engineering Are Alike,” or whatever. The more disparate the topics, the more intriguing the title.
While this might seem like a challenging tip, it’s really not. I think about writing pretty much all of the time. When I’m running, I’m telling myself stories, or working through story ideas. When I’m gardening, I’m thinking of plot and storyline. When I’m driving, I’m brainstorming words that would work for titles, or thinking about how to lay out ideas in a brochure.
Whatever your vocation or avocation may be, you probably think about it as much as I think about writing. So finding connections between other things you do and your umbrella topic will not be hard. Just start looking for the connections and you will find them.
3. Say something useful. A couple of weeks ago, I saw one of those little bumpersticker-type things on Facebook that said “If you are against child abuse, click ‘like.’” Who is PRO-child abuse? Are there really people out there advocating the abuse of children? That status update offered no value whatsoever. I felt robbed of the 1.5 seconds it took to even read it. If your blog posts state the obvious, offer zero insight, and don’t even make me smile, why would I read them?
You probably aren’t going to knock it out of the park with every post, but you should give your reader some reason to click your link. Way too many business owners find a “formula” that works one time, and then just repeat it until I want to track them down and tell them just how annoying they are. This tip is useful for every platform – if every newsletter says the same thing, why would I continue to open them? If you post the same message on Twitter 52 times a year, why would I bother to continue reading it?
4. Respond. Again, this tip applies to your blog and anywhere else you have a presence. Can you imagine sitting in a meeting, presenting what your company does to a prospective client then walking out when that person asks a question about what you do? That’s how it feels when you don’t respond to comments on your posts. Even if you get LOTS of comments, it doesn’t take much time to respond. And if you get hundreds of comments, why are you reading this rinky-dink post?
I get almost as many comments on Facebook when I post links there as I do here (not that there are that many). It would be nice if the entire conversation could happen in one place, but that’s not the way it works. Even if you are doing everything in your power to encourage people to comment on your blog, some folks are probably going to comment on your Facebook Page, or via Twitter, or in a forum, or wherever you post a link. So what? Respond there.
If you aren’t sure you are doing these things, you might as a professional to take a look at your last few posts and give you an honest assessment. Examine the posts that get the most views or comments and look for common threads. While these tips are mainly for people who blog for professional reasons, they apply to anyone who wants people to read what they have written. And, if you don’t want people to read what you’ve written, why are you taking the time to post it publicly? Wouldn’t a document in Word or Google Docs or whatever you use do just as well?
I would love to read any additional tips from other bloggers, or if you are just beginning to blog and you have questions, I’d be glad to answer them, if I can. The comment section is open. And I will respond!