The other day I heard a friend joke that she has a Master’s degree and still can’t write a blog post. I laughed…and then cringed…because deep down I know the struggle.
Academia teaches us the formal way of writing. You start with an executive summary, move on to the background, dive into the findings, and finish up with a conclusion. This means we don’t actually get to the insights and recommendations until the end of the report, which often ends up being 10+ pages. If they get through the whole piece, readers struggle to capture the big takeaway.
This is the way we learn to write “professionally.” The more we write this way, the more unnatural it feels to write succinctly, putting the main point up front.
Writing this way is counterintuitive to blogging well.
Think about the way you consume information. When you’re on Facebook and see a link to an article, do you click on it and read word for word? Probably not.
If you want to improve your organization’s blog, I’ve got seven tips you can implement starting today.
7 tips for better blogging
- Include a strong title.
I find this to be the hardest step and because of that I keep it until the last step. Forcing yourself to adopt a title before you’ve got the content laid out is just not a good idea. I find these tips helpful for generating a blog post title that’s interesting to readers.
- You have to hook ‘em.
You’ve got to get your readers interested enough to want to keep reading without giving away the point of the article right away. The first few paragraphs are especially important if you’re emailing your blog posts and want readers to click through to your site. So keep them engaged and wanting to learn more.
- Then get to your point quickly.
People generally read the first few paragraphs and the last. While you don’t want to give it all away up front, you do have to get to your point rather quickly. If you ramble too much you risk losing people off the bat.
- Say what you mean.
The great thing about blogging is that the most effective posts are generally written in a conversational tone. When you read your post out loud it should sound similar to the way you speak.This means go light on jargon and if there’s a more direct way to say something, do it. Please trust me when I say that simplifying does not take away the value or intelligence of your message. It simply allows your message to be more easily consumed by more people.
- Include subtitles and lists for scanability.
We live in a scan culture. We’re bombarded by digital stories on all platforms and decide within seconds if a story is worth spending time on. Using subtitles and lists helps break up text in your post and gives readers a sense of the content without having to read through the body copy.
- Keep it short.
According to Medium, the ideal blog post is a 7 minute. This is around 1,600 words. If you have a lot of photos in your post, they recommend keeping your post to 1,000 words or less. Shoot for this and edit every word (and sentence) out that doesn’t have to be there for reader’s to understand your story.
- Include strong visuals.
Good photos won’t make up for weak content but they do add emotion to your posts. One to two photos is adequate for most posts. Check out this post for free stock photo sites.
- Practice consistency.
My opinion is that if you don’t blog consistently you shouldn’t have a blog at all. Not only does consistent content bring relevancy to your brand, it also helps you as a writer. Remember the old adage practice makes perfect? There’s a lot of truth to that. Blogging at first might feel painful, but give it some practice and you’ll find yourself coming up with blog ideas during meetings, when you’re consuming information, and even when you’re in the shower. I can vouch from experience.
What are some things that have helped you become a better blogger?