0423 835 266 vicki@bloggable.com.au

How to Write Blog Posts Like the Pros

Have you ever read a captivating blog post from your favourite author and wondered how to write blog posts just like it?

They make it seem so simple, while you struggle for hours to write one post for your business.

Tell me.

Have you ever stopped to think what it is about those posts that appeal to you so much?

Is it the way the headline entices you to click?

Or that the writer genuinely understands how you feel?

Maybe it’s because it seems that they wrote it exclusively for you.

How to Write Blog Posts Using Fairy Dust

Perhaps you think there’s a ‘magic’ formula or some trick of the trade?

Perhaps there is. Perhaps there’s just a sprinkling of fairy dust involved.

Let’s take a look at what the fairy dust could be.

Fairy sprinkling fairy dust while flying over laptop

Copying the Masters

Sometimes great writers can make new bloggers feel intimidated and amateurish.

But it’s important to recognise that exceptional writers were once amateurs.

They learned that great writing requires skill, more than talent.

So they studied writing and in the process discovered a trick or two.

They discovered the BIGGEST TRICK OF ALL.

That to be a great writer – they should copy the masters.

‘You want to learn how to write blog posts like the pros, but copying’s cheating.’ (I hear you say).

Let me clarify.

 

Copying doesn’t mean stealing

Copying isn’t about replicating a blog post word for word. It’s about deconstruction —that is, analysing the framework and the writing style, and breaking down each sentence to see what techniques the author has used.

Cartoon Sketch of laptop with a thief on the screen

What about Originality?

There’s a lot of pressure in our society to be ‘original’, to stand out from the crowd. But it’s arguable that originality even exists. Google the question “Does originality exist?” and you’ll get many responses.

(Ah the science of philosophy).

 

Copying the masters has been around for centuries

Since it’s opening in 1793, the Louvre permits amateur and professional artists to copy from its collection. An experience shared with the likes of Dali, Degas, Picasso and Cezanne.

Cezanne is quoted as saying:

“The Louve is the book from which we all learn to read.”

 

Copying Exists Wherever There is Creativity

 

IN LITERATURE

“It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.”

—Ernest Hemingway

 IN FASHION

“Only those with no memory insist on their originality.”

—Coco Chanel

 IN MUSIC

“I refuse to believe that Hendrix had the last possessed hand, that Joplin had the last drunken throat, that Morrison had the last enlightened mind.”

—Patti Smith

 

So why not do the same with writing?

You can bet your bottom dollar that the writers you study use a framework and techniques they copied from their favourite writers. So why don’t you?

 

HERE’S THE FAIRY DUST, THE SPRINKLING OF KNOWLEDGE, THE WHAT IT TAKES TO LEARN HOW TO WRITE BLOG POSTS AND TURN HO-HUM INTO THE EXTRAORDINARY.

…drum roll please

 

ANALYSE YOUR FAVOURITE BLOG POSTS

(this technique works for any piece of writing)

Yep, you’re going to pull them apart, technique by technique, paragraph by paragraph, sentence by sentence, word by word and image by image.

Look for the fairy dust.

Take notes.

Here’s how.

 

10 SIMPLE STEPS TO WRITING BLOG POSTS LIKE A PRO

Step 1: Conduct Research

Who are your favourite blog writers?

Find two or three blog posts from your favourite blogger(s) and print them out.

Then grab a coffee and some different coloured highlighters and a pen, then kick back in a comfy chair — because this will take an hour or so.

 

Are you a reluctant writer?

Reluctant-woman-sitting-at-desk-wondering-how-to-write-blog-posts

If you’re a reluctant writer, you may not be 100% confident on what constitutes good or bad writing.

It doesn’t matter.

What matters is that you focus on writing that appeals to you and interests you.

Once you’ve analysed a couple of posts, you’ll begin to see the difference.

 

EXAMINE THE LAYOUT OF THE BLOG POST

Step 2: Analyse the post length

  • What’s the length of the post?

You don’t need to get specific about this; an estimate will do. The average page – double spaced – has around 200 words. The average blog post is around 1500 words.

If you have more than one post from the same author, check if the lengths of the posts vary? Some may be around 1000 words and others 2,500 for example.

 

Step 3:  Examine the Paragraphs

Good writing means short paragraphs. No one wants to read a wall of text – it makes your eyes glass over –

How does the writer handle their paragraphs?

Prompts:

  • Are they long or short?
  • How many sentences are in each one? Are there any single sentence paragraphs? Do short paragraphs follow long paragraphs?
  • If so, how often is this technique used?

 

Next to each paragraph, make a note of how many sentences and lines it has. 

  • Do you see a pattern?
  • How does this affect the flow and rhythm when reading the post?

Step 4:  Look for Links

Links are essential for SEO. They also encourage the reader to check out your other blog posts.

Prompts:

  • How many internal links are there? (These are links leading to other posts on the author’s website)
  • How many external links are there? (these are links leading to third party websites)
  • How are they incorporated into the text?
  • Are they always relevant?

 

ANALYSE THE WRITING

Step 5:  Study the headline

Magnifying glass analysing a blog post

Did you know that 8 out of 10 people will read a headline, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest of your content?

The job of a headline is to grab attention.

Prompts:

  • How successful is the headline in achieving this?
  • What type of headline is it? For example: Is it a list (top 10) headline? Or a How-To (do something) headline?
  • What compelled you to click on it? Does it promise a benefit to the reader? How long is it? What words does it contain?
  • How do the headlines differ from one blog post to the next?
  • There’s a skill to writing a good headline. It takes lots of practice.

Top tip: Create a swipe file and start collecting good headlines. And refer to them

Step 6: Look at the subheadings

Subheadings work as signposts for information that follows.

They break up the text into sections and to allow busy people to skim over the content.

Their purpose is to capture those skimmers’ attention and entice them to read on.

Traditionally, in blog posts, a subheading appears once every 300 words.

Prompts:

  • How long are the subheadings?
  • How often do they appear?
  • What words has the author used?
  • Do they compel you to keep reading? If so, why?

 

Step 7: Examine the opening sentence

Master writers spend most of their time crafting the first sentence because it has a lot of work to do.

Generally, the opening sentence is a single line, followed by 2 or 3 short sentences. The overall purpose of the opening is to engage the reader.

The job of the first sentence is to get them to read the second sentence.

The job of the second sentence is to get them to read the third sentence, and so on.

Prompts:

  • Take a look at the opening; how does it begin?
  • Does it open with a bang? A statement or a question? A statistic or fact? If so, does it draw you in and make you want to keep reading?
  • Do the opening sentences follow with a statement of what to expect if you continue reading this piece?
  • If so, how do they do this?
  • Where does this appear – how far into the piece?

 

Step 8: Explore the Words

  • Does the writer use short snappy verbs like hurry, guide, slide, shine, grip, grasp?
  • Or multiple syllable verbs like spearheaded, formulated, consolidated, stimulated?
  • Are certain words repeated?
  • Have they used any particular writing techniques, such as alliteration, metaphor, or hyperbole?
  • Do they use words that stimulate your senses like glittering, radiant, lumpy, spicy, mumble?
  • Any acronyms (AFAYK)* or business-speak? (To get buy-in we must touch base with our corporate values)
  • Are there any unusual words or slang? Blah, Gobbledygook, Xertz* (yes really).

*AFAYK – as far as I know. *Xertz – to drink something quickly

Step 9: Go through the post and highlight (using a different colour for each) examples of:

  • Stories or metaphors used
  • Sources
  • Quotes
  • Tips
  • The writer’s opinions, conclusions or points of view
  • Examples of interesting and engaging writing techniques or unusual word choices
  • When the writer has used the word you or yourwe or our.
  • How does this make you feel? How many times are they used? Count them.
  • When the author refers to themselves. For example:

“In the past two years I’ve studied hundreds of blog posts.” or “When I edit, I look for….” How many times have they done this? How does this make you feel?

 

Step 10: Scrutinise the Ending/Conclusion

A good ending wraps up the piece and inspires the reader to implement the writer’s advice. It may also encourage the reader to take action on something.

Prompts:

  • How has the writer wrapped up the blog post?
  • Does it feel finished and balanced?
  • Does it ask you to do something?
  • Does it repeat the essence of the message?
  • Does it sum the piece up or refer to the opening paragraph?

Stop Doubting Yourself

Learning how to write blog posts like a pro is difficult.

At times you may feel overwhelmed.

You may even continue to feel intimidated when you read a staggeringly well-written blog post… DON’T.

Because now you understand the writing techniques behind your favourite posts.

You recognise the framework and the tips and tricks they’ve used.

You are no longer an amateur. You’re a student.

See the distinction?

Whenever you come across a fantastic piece of writing, pull it apart.

Copy the techniques.

The more you copy, the more masterful you’ll become.

Why no-one read your blog post (and what to do about it)

Why no-one read your blog post (and what to do about it)

Dear blogger,

I’ll admit, I didn’t read your blog post.

Do you want to know why I didn’t read your blog post?

It was because of the layout.

Your blog post was too hard to read. 

Now that I’ve admitted that, can I ask you a question? How many blog articles do you read— I mean actually read – from start to finish?”

Naturally your answer’s going to depend on what type of reader you are and that can vary. But did you know that most people scan blog posts rather than read them?

In fact, there are all kinds of statistics that ‘prove’ this. Though how they actually know is beyond me— I read loads of posts and I’ve never been asked. However, the latest stats show that it’s around 43%. Though I reckon it’s higher. Much, much higher. 

43% of people admit to skimming blog posts

How Readers Scan Online Content

On that note, I have to admit something to you—I’m one of them—a scanner. Well, I scan most blog posts, about 95%. That figure could be higher, but I relegate a lot of them to the too hard basket – I don’t even bother scanning them—too hard to read. Which could be a shame because the content might be incredibly valuable. But I’ll never know.

Which brings me back to why I didn’t read your blog post. I’m sorry, but I put it in the ‘too hard’ basket.

You see as one of the ‘scanners’ I read blog posts like they do:

  1. First, we read the blog title; and if sounds enticing…
  2. We read the introduction; if that’s interesting…
  3. We read the first paragraph.
  4. Then, we skim down the page and read the bits that capture our attention, or we look for the section that answers the question the headline promises to deliver on
  5. And then, only then, if the post seems
  • interesting
  • valuable
  • well written and /or
  • entertaining

…and having got the gist of the post,

We may or may not go back to the beginning and read the whole article.

 

Eye Tracking Studies

Over the years there have been numerous eye tracking studies that show when reading on screen, a typical reader’s gaze runs down the left side of the page with brief forays deeper into the line. As they progress down the page the reader steadily reads less and less into the line. This is known as the F-shaped pattern.

Heat Map of F shaped onlne reading pattern

The F-Shaped Pattern
Eyetracking by Nielsen Norman Group: nngroup.com

In addition to the F-shaped pattern, there are other scanning styles that have appeared in eye tracking studies:

 

  • some people scan the headings and subheadings only, skipping the normal text below
  • others skip big chunks of text looking for something specific, such as a particular set of words, statistics, numbers or a link
  • and some readers fixate on almost everything on the page. This occurs when readers are engaged and highly interested in your content. They will read your entire post. This is the holy grail when it comes to writing content. It’s achievable when we make a connection with our ideal reader because it’s written for them and we understand who they are and what they want from us.

How to Layout your Blog Post to Optimise for Scanning

Now that you know this, I want to help you learn to layout your post so that it’s easy to scan and encourages the scanner to read the post from start to finish.

I’ll start with an example of what your blog post looked like, paying attention to the layout only.

How Not to Layout a Blog Post

This blog post is incredibly hard to read because the sentences are overly long, and they are all around the same length, which makes the post difficult to understand. In fact, the more words you write, the harder it is for the reader to get your message. Because of this there is no sense of flow so using sentences of varying lengths is much better because it makes your text easier to read and creates a sense of rhythm to your writing. Also, each of the sentences flows onto the next which makes for long paragraphs with minimal paragraph breaks, which means that there’s not enough white space on the page to rest my eyes. Reading like this is too hard; it actually makes my eyes tired. And the text, because it’s single-spaced, it contributes to making it harder to read than if 1.5 spacing was used instead. Also the font is too small, which means that I have to increase the document size to read it comfortably.

Formatting your text is known as signposting which is an effective way to capture your reader’s attention. There are no sub-headings to capture the reader’s attention which means they’ll likely miss the relevant parts of the post, and valuable or essential information, such as quotes and statistics haven’t been highlighted in the example, so they are easily missed when scanning the page. The blog post is all text; there are no visuals to help bring the words to life or to emphasise the main points. How more engaging it would be if the piece used a visual graph to represent the statistics then they would be more likely remembered. Numbers are boring, unlike visuals which people love to share. Content writers often research blog posts to search for information they can share on their blog posts and social media channels, and visuals, particularly infographics, graphs, quotes and memes are the most popular. So try and incorporate one or two of these in each of your posts.

You have to admit – this is hard to read.

Compared to this example:

HOW TO LAYOUT A BLOG POST

The above text is incredibly hard to read because the sentences are overly long and around the same length. This makes them difficult to understand. In fact, the more words you write, the harder it is for the reader to get your message. Because of this there is no sense of flow. Using sentences of varying lengths is much better because it makes your text easier to read and understand while creating a sense of rhythm to your writing.

Writing sentences in varying lengths makes your text easier to read and creates a sense of rhythm to your writing.

 

Use White Space

Each of the sentences flows onto the next, which makes for long paragraphs with minimal paragraph breaks. This type of layout means that there’s not enough white space on the page to rest my eyes. Reading like this is too hard because it actually makes my eyes tired.

 

Text and Font Size

And the text! Because it’s single-spaced, it contributes to making it harder to read than if 1.5 spacing was used instead. Also, the font is too small, which means I have to increase the document size to read it comfortably.

 

Signpost

Formatting your text is known as signposting which is an effective way to capture your reader’s attention. Here’s how to do this:

 

Use Sub-Headings 

There are no sub-headings to capture the reader’s attention. Which means they’ll likely miss the relevant parts of the post.

 

Highlight Important Information

Valuable or essential information, such as quotes and statistics, haven’t been highlighted in the example, so they are also easily missed when scanning the page.

 

Use Visuals

The blog post is all text; there are no visuals to help bring the words to life or to emphasise the main points.

What you didn't read my blog post - upset man

The post would be much more engaging if a visual graph was used to represent the statistics (like in the example above). Because when you use visuals, the ‘numbers’ are more easily remembered.

Let’s be honest, numbers on their own are boring—unlike visuals—which people love to share on their own blog posts and social media channels. The most popular visual content for sharing are:

 

  • Infographics
  • Graphs
  • Quotes and
  • Memes

Therefore, to encourage people to share your content, incorporate one or two visuals in each of your posts.

Conclusion

As you can see in the two examples, version 2 is considerably easier to scan than version 1 and will increase the chances of your blog post being read.

Bottom Line…if you want people to read your blog post, use a layout similar to Version 2.

I hope this helps.

Cheers,

Vicki

 

PS  Please download the template of The PERFECT BLOG POST LAYOUT to use when writing your next blog post. It’ll keep you on track 🙂

Blog Vs Video : Which is best for my business?

Blog Vs Video : Which is best for my business?

“I’m in the B2B space and have a service-based business.

I want to create content that gives me the most bang for my buck, and I want to do it myself.

I’ve heard that a blog is best, but I’ve also heard that video is best.

Which should I choose, Blog or Video?”

Blog vs Video: The Two Most Popular Content Platforms

Marketers describe content marketing as a hungry ‘beast’ with many mouths to feed. Keeping the beast satisfied and your small business thriving requires a constant claim on your time and energy. It can be overwhelming and confusing. Should you write blog posts, or create video? Should you podcast or focus on social media advertising?

Depending on who you listen to and what they’re selling, any content platform will be judged the best. In addition there’s so much noise online; it’s no wonder business owners are confused.

 

Blog vs Video

Which one is best for my business? Blog or Video?

There are many different forms of content, but the two most popular content platforms for B2B business are the blog and the video. Deciding which side to back will depend on many factors, such as

  • the type of content you’re most comfortable creating
  • your level of skill and knowledge
  • your budget
  • what content format your ideal clients prefer to consume, and
  • how much time you have to create that content – consistently

Whichever content format you choose, stick to it.

If you’re creating content yourself, I suggest you choose one content format and stick with that because it’ll make your life a whole lot easier.  Just remember, whichever you choose, success starts with a strategy.

As Joe Pulizzi founder of The Content Marketing Institute states

One Platform

+ Consistent Delivery

Over Time

= Success

Blog vs Video: The Pros and Cons

 

To  help you make the decision, let’s look at the pros and cons for creating blogs and video, as the #1 content platform for your business.

 

Note:   There are two types of video: short-form and long-form. Long-form is the video referred to in this post. It’s the type of video that sits on sites like YouTube and are typically around 6-11 minutes in length, though this can vary. This form of video is used as the Number 1 content marketing platform for the business. So it isn’t a Facebook live or the 30-second video clip you see on social media.

Pros and Cons

Blog and Video – The Facts

 

1.  Blog vs Video: Content home

 

BLOG

Blogs live on your website – and you own your website. Unless you delete them, blogs stay on your website and attract traffic 24/7.

VIDEO

Video mostly lives on 3rd party platforms that you have no control over — and they can disappear at any time – remember Google Plus?

 

2.  Blog Vs Video: Engagement Rates

 

BLOG

Engagement rates are variable.

43%* of people read the headline of a blog post, then the opening paragraph. They then scan the rest of the content.

*statistic from OptinMonster 2020

 

A blog is a strong vehicle for building trust and long-term relationships. They drive readers to your website where, after reading your article, they typically spend time exploring other content on your site, which includes reading your older blog posts. If they get value from what they see, there’s a very good chance they’ll download your lead magnet – which means you’ve captured their email address. Now that they’re on your email list you can engage with them further via email marketing.

 

VIDEO

Most videos are either hosted on YouTube and embedded onto a website or uploaded directly into the backend of the website.  However, they can slow down the website’s page load time which may drive visitors away.

Uploaded videos are typically short, 30 seconds to 3 minutes in length, (most people these days have short attention spans) and may result in a similar engagement pattern as described in the point above. However, if you place your video in a social newsfeed, like Facebook or YouTube, the viewer will typically remain in that newsfeed. That being said, long-form videos allow for in-depth content and the opportunity for relationship building.

The most commonly created types of video are

 Long-Form

  • explainer & educational videos (72%)
  • presentation videos (49%)

Short-form

  • testimonial videos (48%)
  • sales videos (42%) and
  • video ads (42%).

(Wyzowl, 2019)

 

When measuring engagement it’s important to remember that video engagement is the same as video views – and is measured by the number of people who clicked to watch the video. On Facebook, a 3-second view is considered engagement.

 

NOTE:  Both the blog and video are ideal platforms for creating awareness and relationship building.

Whichever content platform you chose, you may want to keep the following survey results in mind.

A survey of 1200 businesses in 39 countries, undertaken by SEM Rush in 2020, found that written content remains the most common form. The study showed that the dominant content formats are blog posts (86%), emails (67%), case studies (42%), and success stories (36%). Only 28% of respondents stated they produce video content.

 

Content marketing survey results

3.  Blog Vs Video: SEO

 

BLOG

Blog posts are, without doubt, the best content to create for SEO. Every time you write a blog post, you add another keyword rich page to your website. That’s another page indexed by Google – a page that boosts your SEO and page rank which helps drives visitors to your website.

 

VIDEO

As yet, Google cannot read video, only text. Keyword terms are placed in the heading, tags and description to boost SEO. If placing the video on a website, adding a transcription also helps.

 

4.  Blog vs Video: Production Time

 

BLOG

Most people spend 3.5 hours writing a blog post. However, this is generally split over several days.

 

VIDEO

On average, a YouTube Video takes 7 hours from start to finish for 1-5 minutes of video.

*stats Medium.com

5.  Blog Vs Video: Investment

 

BLOG

 Creating any long-form content takes time. With blog posts, there’s time spent on research, writing, re-writing, editing, adding/creating visuals, publishing and promotion. However, once you have a ‘library’ of posts it’s easy to update older posts and republish them, negating the need to write as often. You may also choose to promote your post on social channels, in which case you’ll need a budget for that.

 

VIDEO

Depending on the type of video you create, the cost of video production and promotion can vary. If video is your main content format, you’ll need a YouTube channel and a budget for production. Time is a significant investment, as is equipment for filming and editing. There’s research, scripting, recording, audio mixing, thumbnail creation and SEO to do. Then you have to promote it.

 

6.  Blogs vs Video: Repurposing

 

BLOG

One of the BIG PLUSES for creating blog posts is that it gives you a regular supply of content for social media. On blog post can be transformed into smaller pieces such as; a 30-second video, a quote post, a LinkedIn article, a slide set, an infographic…

Having an established supply of blog content on your website means that you won’t have to be continually creating new content.

Older blog posts can be updated and repromoted to drive more traffic to your website and then transformed into new, bite-sized formats to supply you with more promotional content for social media.

 

VIDEO

Video is not so easy to update. Using tools you can update your titles, SEO and descriptions. But short of reshooting scenes and re-editing that’s about all you can do. (And that will depend on whether you still have the original raw video to edit).

 

7.  Blog Vs Video: Equipment

 

BLOG

You can blog anywhere, any time, any place. All you need is your laptop and an internet connection. You can blog in your PJs at 4 p.m. or at 3 a.m. Most bloggers spread out the process over several days.

Also, hair and makeup are not required. And it makes no difference if the dog barks in the background or you choose to refresh your energy levels with a hot coffee in the middle of writing.

 

VIDEO

Video requires a location and recording equipment. It requires being organised, getting a script written and putting some time in for rehearsal. Of course you can choose to wing it, but if it’s a long-form video, I’d advise against that — unless you’re an expert at presenting. We’ve all clicked on videos that take forever to get to the point —and in frustration, clicked right off again.

There’s also the lighting and sound to consider. Unless there is adequate light outside, the video will need to be shot inside with professional lighting. You’ll also require a decent microphone.

If you’re doing a talking head or tutorial video and being seen by an audience, it’ll be necessary to look professional. That means hair done, clothing ironed and a quick check that there’s no lipstick or food stuck on your teeth.

A quiet location is mandatory – dog ousted from the room.

Blog vs Video

What Content Type Does Your Audience Prefer?

 

Whatever content platform you decide to focus on, first ask yourself “does my audience mostly prefer to watch video or read a blog post?”   If you aren’t able to answer this question, you will need to do some research on your ideal target audience.

For instance, if your audience is young, they will prefer to spend more time watching video on YouTube or Instagram than searching on Google for articles. However, an older audience is more likely to prefer to read a blog post and watch the occasional video.

 

81% of 15-25 year olds use YouTube

The average time spent is 11 minutes & 24 seconds per day

(Hootsuite, 2020 Stats from the USA)

Want the Biggest Bang for Your Content Marketing Buck?

 

Want to hedge your bets?

  • If you choose to go with a Blog — use a mix of short and long-form articles. Ensure your long-form posts are Evergreen – the content is relevant to your audience long after they’ve been published.
  • Then make a couple of short-form videos using a snippet of information from within your post. Best practice is to stick to one topic per video.
  • These short videos are an effective way to promote your post across your social channels. Drive traffic to your post by including a reference to your article at the end of the video plus a link in the description.
  • If you decide to go with long-form Video — have them transcribed into blog posts. And break them down into short videos to promote on social.

     Either way you get the best of both worlds!

     

    Conclusion

    Whichever platform you choose to use for your main content – whether that’s a blog or video – it’s success will be dependent on several factors:

    1.   The type of business you have and its resources

    2.  The content preference of your target clients

    3.  Your personal content preference – after all, it’s important to enjoy the process

    4.  Consistency in content creation and promotion

    and most importantly,

    5.  A strategy that helps you focus your content and stay on track to achieving your goals.

     

    Blog posts remain the most popular content type

    In spite of the fact that video is a trend in content marketing, a blog post remains the most important type of content produced by 86% of marketers.

    SEM Rush (2020)

     

    Happy content creating!

     

    Further reading:  How to find the right target audience for your business blog

    Survey Results: Content Marketing Statistics for 2020 SEM Rush

    10 Reasons Why You Should Never Host Your Own Videos

    So what’s your content preference? Blogs or Video? Or do you choose something else. I’d love to hear your opinion below.

    7 Common Blog Writing Habits You Should Break

    7 Common Blog Writing Habits You Should Break

    Today’s Tuesday, the day I write a new blog post.

    I’ve scheduled it into my diary — it’s one of my blog writing habits.

    So far, I’ve read and answered some emails, watched a 6-minute video and made myself a cup of tea.

    ½ hour’s gone by and I haven’t written one word.

    Like you (and the rest of the world) I’m in lockdown, and I’m finding that the longer this thing lasts, the harder it gets to stick to a routine.

    However, I know that if I want to achieve something TODAY, I need to, stop procrastinating and start writing.

    Which segues nicely into my first point:

    You may delay, but time will not, and lost time is never found again.

    Benjamin Franklin

    The #1 blog writing habit you should break:

    You Procrastinate

    And (obviously) you are not alone. As you can tell I’m an expert at procrastination. Having said that, I realise that it’s not doing me any favours, so I work on it. I’ve implemented a writing routine to instil more discipline into my day.  After all they go hand in hand— routine and discipline. You need them to beat procrastination because it’s a hard habit to break. So, if like me, you love to dilly dally, here’s a couple of tips that’ll help make you more proactive.

    Establish a Blog Writing Routine

    A simple method for creating content

    Planning and writing your blog post takes time. It’s a lot easier to achieve if you break the process down over a couple of days. I’ll show you how I do this later in this post.

    To ensure it gets done, work out how often you want to publish a post, then block some time out in your diary on a set day, at a set time, once a month, or once a fortnight and stick to it.

    It doesn’t matter what day or time you choose; it matters what works for you. For me, first thing in the morning every second Tuesday I nut out the first draft. Then on the following morning, I edit and proofread—that way if something unexpected comes up on either day, I don’t have to stress it. It’s done.

    Bannish Distractions

    Forget about the dirty dishes in the sink, grab yourself a cuppa and sit down at your computer. But first (obviously), shut the office door (if you have one) or go to a quiet place, where you’re less likely to be interrupted, and tell everyone in your house not to disturb you because you are writing.

    Then, log out of everything except Word (or whatever program you write your blogs with). By everything I mean all other programs that can lead to distraction – email, social media notifications, messages – anything that’s likely to pop up and shift your focus.

    AND this includes your mobile —turn it onto silent or better still leave it in another room (out of sight out of mind).

    “Your results are the  product of either personal focus or personal distractions. The choice is yours.”

    Benjamin Franklin

    The #2 blog writing habit you should break:

    You haven’t set a writing goal

    Ask any writer what tip they can suggest for becoming a better writer and the answer will invariably be “WRITE”.

    It’s well known that author Bryce Courtenay (Power of One) was one of Australia’s most successful commercial authors (he published over 20 novels). But what is less known is that he was also Creative Director of a successful Advertising Agency (remember the Mortein campaign – Louie the Fly?)  so, Courtney would get up at 4.30 every morning and write 1500 words before heading off to the office.

     

    Interviewer:
    What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
    Bryce Courtenay:  Use bum glue.

     OK, novels are longer than blog posts, but you get my point.

    WRITE.

    As an example, here’s my routine:

    I will write 250 words, or I will write for 20 minutes – some days words flow other days not so much. Then, I will have a break for 15-20 minutes after which I’ll get back into it until I’ve written an outline and first draft. Then I’ll leave it for a day or two.

    When I come back to it, the draft will be edited, proofread and rewritten numerous times before being published. The idea is to think of your first draft as as a ‘brain dump’. Just get it written.

     

    Pro Tip:   Outlining your blog post first will help the content to flow keep you on point.

    The #3 blog writing habit you should break:

    You haven’t defined a purpose for your blog post (before you started writing)

     

    You know what they say?

    Fail to plan- Plan to fail.

    If you’re going to devote time to your business blog then it’s important to set goals for it.

    After all, why are you blogging?

    So before you type the first word think about this…

    What’s the purpose of your blog post, what do you want it to do for your business?

    Every post should have a purpose, for your business and for your audience. Otherwise it’s just another piece of irrelevant content among a sea of irrelevant content.

    So it’s important to think about why you are writing it before you sit down to write the post.

    Of course, every post will be different, depending on your business goals, but to help you answer this question, here are some beneficial outcomes for blogging:

    • grow your audience
    • educate your clients on your services and products
    • introduce your new product or service
    • get people to come along to your workshop, webinar, XYZ
    • assist in establishing you as an expert

    Sometimes your post may have more than one goal. If so, pick one main one.

    “The secret of success is the constancy of purpose.
    Benjamin Disraeli

    What do your readers get out of your blog post?

    After reading your post how with the reader benefit, what will they gain? People will invest their time reading your post if they think there’s something in it for them. So in the planning stage, think about how your content can make a difference to their lives. Are you helping them learn something new, understand something better or solve a problem?

    Having a clear focus gives your writing direction and stops you going off on tangents. It also makes the entire writing process easier, because it also helps you to structure your post.

    For example, what format the post will take is determined by the type of content you have. Is it easier for the reader to digest in a list format, a step by step process or an article (text based) post? Should you include video?

    And by focusing on the goal you want your readers to achieve, it can help you pre-empt the answers they’re after, which give you your sub-headings.

    The #4 blog writing habit you should break:

    You don’t include a CTA

     

    The #1 purpose of your CTA (call to action) is to capture leads. This is how your blog post works to grow your business and make you money. All good content needs a CTA, especially your blog posts as they are the perfect vehicle for them.

    What do your readers to do after reading your post?

    What action do you want your readers to take once they’ve read your post? Do you want them to further educate themselves by diving deeper into your topic? Then get them to download your ebook. Do you want them to register for your workshop? Then include a CTA to get them to pre-register. 

    All CTAs should link to a landing page on your website, that connects to your email list. From where you can continue a more personalised connection through tailored email marketing,

    CTA’s should be clear, instructive and use persuasive language to lead readers to action. Some CTA’s take the shape of a button, a form or a combination of both.

    blog post call to action

    Image: An example of an effective CTA

    The #5 blog writing habit you should break:

    You’ve written your post in one sitting

     

    Writing a blog post in one sitting can have its benefits but it can also have its negatives.

    The benefits – it’s done. Kudos to you, you’re a blog writing ninja.

    Me, I prefer to write a post over a couple of days.  This is an example of my routine and why I do it this way.

    Day 1:   First Draft written. (as mentioned in point XXX above)

    Once I have this down, I do not touch it. Also known in some circles as the First Ugly Draft and for very good reason which probably doesn’t need explaining except to say that it will need further work. Which I leave for:

    Day 2 or Day 3:   (I may  have a break in between).

    Rewrite. This is where I spend an hour going over my post, rewriting, moving paragraphs around and proof reading. I also read it out aloud.

    Reading your post aloud helps with editing.

    Flow and rhythm are important to keeping your reader engaged. By reading aloud you will hear the flow of your language, from word to word, sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph.

    Take note of any sentences or words that jar— these will cause your reader to hesitate and to start scanning instead of reading— or worse—to lose interest. You can avoid this by being mindful of jargon, wordiness, clutter and long winding sentences that should be split into two.

    The #6 blog writing habit you should break:

    You haven’t proofread or edited your content

    Some people may think that grammar and spelling mistakes don’t matter so much in these days of self-publication. I totally disagree. You can be forgiven one or two spelling mistakes, even the odd grammatical error, but any more than that comes at great risk to your credibility. I’ve seen copywriters publish documents with typos and misspelled words. Copywriters!

    Like wearing a tie splattered with the remnants of the curry you ate for lunch, it’s sloppy. It doesn’t present a good impression and you risk to be not be taken seriously. There is no excuse, proof-read your work then run your blog post through spell check or better still use one of these writing/grammar apps Hemmingwayapp.com or Grammarly.com

     

    Spell Checker Poem common blog writing habits

    The #7 blog writing habit you should break:

    You haven’t promoted your post

    You put your heart and soul into your blog post, so why not make sure as many people see it as possible?

    SEO will only go so far. To gain a following you need to get your latest blog post out there. Once you’ve uploaded and published your blog on your website, let everyone know it’s arrived.

    How?

    • post a link to your post on all your social media platforms (add it to your bio in Instagram)
    • send it out to your email list
    • add a link to your email signature
    • Break down your post into multiple pieces of content to keep it interesting. Then continue to promote it for a couple of weeks after publication to get as much traction as possible.

    When I started blogging it used to take me forever. I’d slave over an article sometimes for days. As I progressed I learned about pacing myself, breaking tasks up over a couple of days, outlining and structuring. I learned as much as I could about the process. I started to feel less overwhelmed and more productive.

    You might think that it’s all to hard. That you don’t have enough time for writing blogs. This is what I’d like to suggest.

    • Start by taking small steps.
    • Set a writing routine and start writing.
    • Set a couple of goals and start outlining.
    • Pace yourself. Write and edit in stages.
    • Remember to proofread and grammar check
    • Then promote the s*** out of it.

    That’s how it’s done.

     

     

    How to Write an Original Blog Post (when its all been said before)

    How to Write an Original Blog Post (when its all been said before)

     

    You’ve felt it. I’ve felt it, we’ve all felt it.

    The blank page blues.

    You need to write blog post. But you’re struggling to come up with ideas.

    You’re questioning how to write an original post for your business—when its all been said before.

    Focusing on that question too much causes a feeling of overwhelm to creep out and paralyse your brain. It’s the last thing you need. So, you take a deep breath and suppress it.

    It’s ok. It’s completely natural to feel like that. In fact, even famous writers experience it at times.

    image of woman scared of writing original blog post

    There are thousands of blog posts published every day on the internet. On every topic imaginable. Some are educational, interesting, witty, entertaining, informative and a pleasure to read.

    Most are not.

    Most are rehashed versions of information already published. And that’s ok. Because not all those blog posts will reach the same audience. And not all those blog posts will appeal to the same audience. They have different writing styles, word choice, content, personality, imagery and layouts.

    Different strokes for different folks.

    So how can your blog be one of the better ones?

    Tips on writing original blog post

    To write an original blog post: TAKE A DIFFERENT APPROACH

    There are several ways to approach business blogging that will ensure your posts are unique— so that they’re different from your competitors’ blog, even though you cover the same topics.  While remaining true to your brand and audience.

    One of the most populated blog topics on the internet is learning how to write. There’s such a huge amount of competition in this online blog space, that I decided to go with this topic to show you how being different can be done.

    These three blog posts are based on the same topic (“How to Write Better”). Each of these posts are written by different authors, and each are original in their approach.

    Example of Blog Post 1

     

    This blog post, from the writing app Grammarly, is a short, 300-word blog post written in numerical list form. It’s simple, to the point and conveys four universal tips on how to write more effectively.

     

    example of a good blog post 2

    This blog post, from the advertising platform WordStream, is, like Grammarly’s post, written as a numerical list, but this post goes into more detail. It’s longer, around 1500-2000 words, incorporates a story, uses plenty of images and communicates a modern and friendly tone both through its imagery and word choice.

    While both these two blog posts cover the same topic, the content they focus on is different and they vary in the depth of information.

    Example Blog Post 3

    This Masterclass blog post is different again. This article focuses on a niche topic within the main topic of “How to Write Better”. The article, like the two previous examples, is written in a list format, but the author (David Mamet) first uses a list of bullet points to answer the question “what makes a good sentence” then follows them with a numerical list with tips on how to do it.

    It’s very concise — 650 words, and it works, because the content here is ‘gold’.

     

    To write an original blog post: OFFER A DIFFERENT VIEW ON A TOPIC

    Image of Nietzsche original minds quote

    Nietzsche, that master of the subconscious recognised that to be original is to look at something that already exists, in a different way.

    You can do this by studying several blog posts on your topic and looking for ways to add to the discussion or even to change it. For example:

    • What’s your point of view on what’s been said? Do you have a different opinion? (This works particularly well with industry news.)
    • Can you add any finer details or information that’s been overlooked?
    • Can you find any research or statistics to back up a popular blog topic and use these as the basis of a blog post?
    • How about presenting statistical information or instructions on how to do something in infographic form and using that as a basis of your blog post? Or vice versa.

    You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. The idea is to take information that has already been written and reworking it into something new.

    To write an original blog post: TAKE OUTDATED CONTENT AND GIVE IT A MAKEOVER

     

    How often have you read a blog post and found the content to be out of date? It’s one of my pet peeves—blogs with no publication date.

    However, herein lies a golden opportunity. That is, to create a new blog post by updating the old content, perhaps adding to it, then putting your unique spin on it.

    Since no one was listening everything must be said again

    To write a unique blog post: ‘BE’ UNIQUE

    You are an inimitable individual and your business is unique. Even though you have competition, probably a lot, none of them are like you, or do things in the same way as you or your business.

    This is a concept of small business branding.

    It’s a fact that the way you present your business to the world will appeal to some people but not to others, and there’s nothing you can do about this. And that’s ok. After all you don’t want to work with everyone. You want to work with people you like, and who like you, and who appreciate what your business can do for them.

    There are millions of copycat bloggers online and it’s easy to fall into the trap of mimicking their style. But it’s important that your blog is representative of you and your brand. It needs to be consistently familiar and to achieve this it’s important to stick to your brand style—

    • Ensure the style of layout is unique to your business and used consistently—it’s important to be recognised. (By all means take inspiration from other blogs, their layouts and style but turn it something that becomes uniquely yours).
    Originality relies on imitation and a bit of theft
    • Stick to your brand colours, fonts and style of imagery
    • Let your personality shine through in your choice of words, your writing style and your images
    • Write content you know your audience will appreciate, in a tone they will relate to
    • Be authentic. Don’t pretend to be an ‘authority’ if you’re new in business—your readers will see through it. Instead, how about taking your readers along with you on your journey. Incorporate stories of your progress, your challenges, your wins and things you’ve learned on the way. Sharing information like this builds a strong level of relatability and trust with your audience.
    Seth Godin quote on writing a blog every day

    To write a unique blog: LOOK TO YOUR PROSPECTS AND CLIENTS

     

    Has a prospect or client got a question? Answer it in a blog post.

     All good writers keep a notebook or use a phone app to record inspirational moments that inspire content creation. If you’re having a face to face conversation, make an effort to remember the exact words the client used, or write them down straight away. That way you can replicate the exact phrasing for your keywords and content. If the meeting is face to face and it’s a bit awkward, simply explain what you’re doing. They’ll probably be chuffed that they inspired you.

    Additionally, a good source of inspiration is via comments on your blog articles or on your social media posts, particularly those in Facebook groups. And in your client emails – what problems are they having, what’s working for them? Keep an eye out for those golden nuggets—the unexpected questions or comments you haven’t heard before.

     

    To write an original blog: LOOK TO YOUR COMPETITORS AND INDUSTRY

     

    Play a game of I Spy and regularly check on blog posts and social media profiles belonging your competition. Likewise check on those belonging to related industry members and their web sites. You’re looking for inspirational comments or discussions that can be expanded into a blog article.

    By the same token, attend their webinars and pay attention to questions asked by attendees, both during and after the session. These can be an excellent source of inspiration for blog posts.

    infographic-how-to-use-original-blog-content

    In Conclusion

    Originality in content marketing can stem from many sources. But don’t get too bogged down on being ‘original’ and instead focus on creating great content for YOUR readers.

    By all means try some of the approaches mentioned in this post and keep the tips handy if the blank page blues should again raise its ugly head.

    Happy Blogging.

    I’d love to hear any thoughts, comments or tips you may have regarding this post. Please feel free to share them.

    Cheers,

    Vicki