How to Write a Great Business Blog Post
Whether you're a seasoned blogger or new to the scene, these tips can
freshen up your work and give you ideas on how to get people to regularly
follow your blog.
By Maddie Grant, CAE
Seems that everyone's churning out content these days — but
that doesn't mean that everyone knows how to write a really good blog post that
grabs member interest and keeps it. Here are just a few tips that might just
help your blog writing stand out from the crowd.
- Write an attention-grabbing title. I
usually have a basic title that states what my post is about while I write it,
but then when I am done, I’ll spend a decent amount of time thinking about
different versions of the title that stand out in some way. After all, in this
age of information overload, your boring title may be the reason your blog post
gets ignored — even if the post itself is deep and wonderful. (How-to’s always
work — you're reading this, right?)
- Have an opinion. This is not the
news. We already have plenty of sources for getting objective facts and lukewarm, non-committal analysis. Blogs give us the opportunity to learn more than that —
by giving us access to the unique insight and intelligence that you bring to
the table. Don’t waste that opportunity.
Are you worried that you’ll be
wrong, or that someone will disagree with you? Don’t. Because sometimes you are
wrong, and pretty much every time there is someone who disagrees with you — and
in the blogosphere, that is all welcomed and expected. In fact, it is through
those conversations and disagreements that we all learn, and that makes us all
better. Don’t rob us all of that opportunity just so you can play it safe.
- Have personality. I suppose
that is strange advice, because we all by default have personality, don’t we?
Yet in all our years of schooling, we have learned to remove that personality
from our writing. It has been considered "unprofessional." Well, not so in
blogging. This is not about being silly our outrageous or even overly serious
just for the sake of being so. This is about being you. Be true to yourself,
and your readers will appreciate it — even if it rubs them the wrong way. Be
authentic in your writing. Write like you talk.
- Write for yourself. Blogging
is ultimately a personal art. The life and experience of the blogger is
typically the source of inspiration and insight. So listen to yourself. Pay
attention to what matters to you in your work and write about that. If you find
yourself shaking your head at what you just read in Harvard Business Review
because it seems contradictory to the really cool experience you had at your board
retreat, then take a few minutes and write up your thoughts. Tapping into what
matters to you typically generates good blog posts.
- Write for your audience. In
the digital age, the user is the center of the universe. So for blogging,
that’s the reader. This can be a challenge, since readers are often an eclectic
group, but this means you need to be paying attention to the comments and to
which posts are getting the most traffic and shares on social media. Stay in
tune with what the readers care about, and make sure you give them enough of
what they are looking for. Sometimes this means writing posts that you might
feel are basic or introductory, but that is still meeting an important need.
- Ask for others' opinions. Many
of us are still wary of writing down thoughts that feel unformed or incomplete —
but those moments of opening up your ideas to the feedback of others create
really great blog posts sometimes. Tell your readers that you’re working your
ideas out as you write them. Ask specific people, if you can, directly in the
post or indirectly afterwards, to share their comments in response. Bloggers
love to talk to other bloggers.
- Think curation, not just creation. We
often get stuck staring at that blank page, thinking "I need to write something
about x" — but your blog feeds (the sources you read) are full of industry
content you might be able to report on, refer to, disagree with, or otherwise
mention for some useful reason. Collect stories that interest you — every once
in a while, you’ll see a theme emerge that you can write about and link to
multiple other articles. But don’t just aggregate by listing a bunch of
articles — provide context and your own specific perspective as to why you are
- Mix up your media. Include
videos, slide decks, embeddable infographics — and always use good images.
Visual content attracts the eye and images can be used metaphorically as well
as literally to underline the point you are making. And if you’re still using
stock images, please stop. Search Flickr for photos with a Creative Commons
license. Think real, not fake.
- Be generous. If you are
lucky enough to have a decent-sized audience for your blog, share it with
others who have good content (even promotional content) to share. If a
colleague needs help promoting a relevant webinar, write about it. If you’re
asked to be part of a nonprofit blog campaign, do it. If someone is doing
something super cool in your industry, interview them. Karma is important when
it comes to building loyalty among your readers, and only writing about your
own stuff is boring — even if you’re super smart and expert at what you do.
- Think like a blogger. This
means that every experience could be something worth sharing on your blog. That
great article you read, that debate you had with a colleague, that vacation
that made you reconsider a decision, that conference you went to… This is
something that may be partly innate, that those of us who have blogging in our
blood just do naturally. But I think it’s a skill that can be easily learned —
and you start by keeping a bunch of ideas in draft somewhere. Keep a list, or
draft posts in your blog platform, or notes in a moleskin, or clippings in a
folder… Good bloggers are always thinking about things they could blog about.
They always have an eye out for topics or stories or happenings that might
interest their readers. Specifically, think about what readers might want, what
Blogging is a collaborative experience — opening yourself up
to that in large and small ways is ultimately the key to every great blog post.
Maddie Grant, CAE is
editorial director at SocialFish.