So you want to write a blog. Your business needs it, and you want to try your hand at it. Perhaps you’re a writer by trade, or just by hobby. Or perhaps you just write as work or studies necessitate. At this point, it’s come to the fore that you need to join the masses and produce a regularly-scheduled blog in order to promote yourself, and you want to try the writing on for size.
But smack! You’re faced with writer’s block. How do I start? What am I even trying to say? To whom am I writing? No worries. Here are some tips for finding your blogger voice, and determining whether you truly want to be the one doing the writing.
1. Compare. Read a few competitor sites’ blogs. Get a feel for what they’re saying and how they are saying it. The following questions serve well for determining your own voice in relation to your competitors:
- How do I want to be the same?
- How could I be different?
- What do I like about my competitors’ messages?
- What do I not like?
2. Outline. Conjure up some ideas about what you’d like to present on a particular topic. A common blog format is as follows:
A. Introductory Paragraph
B. 3-10 categories, or tips
C. Concluding paragraph
Using the above format, jot down your ideas for section B only. List them, without describing them yet.
Oh, you’re wondering about the title, that line of utmost importance? Feel free to come up with some ideas at this stage, but leave the tweaking on that crucial aspect for last.
3. Just write. By far, these two words are the most valuable for anyone to get started writing. For the first round, the idea is to not care about grammar, nor syntax, nor spelling. Do not care about perfection. Choose the focused topic, and just. write.
Since most blogs are between 300-800 words, for starters, it might help to write around 300 words to see what that yields you. Some blogs are good things coming in small packages, and yet it can take longer to make writing succinct. (Apropos, Mark Twain is said to have quipped, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”)
Once you’re done just. writing., give it a once-over for grammar/syntax/spelling, but NOT for content. Then, leave it to the side, ideally for a day or two, and at the very least a few hours. You want to come back fresh.
4. Return. Now it’s time to come back to your writing for the second round on Section B. Here’s where the juices can really start to flow. The key: Read your writing out loud. Hearing your writing helps you fill in gaps, fix grammar/syntax, and determine if anything needs rewriting for clarity or expansion. Then, read it to a trusted listener, who might have other questions. If you feel you’d like to write from your own voice, then make sure it feels like you speaking. On the other hand, you might prefer to “act” out a different voice – a veritable ghostblogging of yourself.
5. Introductory and Concluding Paragraphs. Once you have the meat of your blog written (Section B), you can give full attention to how you’d like to introduce it and conclude it. Section B is often more technical, whereas the intro and conclusions can show more of your personality.
For the introduction, try using a vignette, or highlighting a recent news item in order to grab attention for the here and now. Put yourself in the shoes of the reader and ask, “What would entice me to want to keep reading?”
For the concluding paragraph, summarize your points, and leave a sweeping take-away thought. Again, ask yourself what a reader would like to come away with after reading your blog.
Remember two mindsets for writing blogs: Talking with people, not at people, engages effectively. And being personable – while remaining professional – draws people in at a comfortable level.
Once you’ve tried out this blogging thing, you can better decide if you want to continue being the writer for your own blog. If not, for whatever reason, it’s okay – outsource the ghostblogging! You can use your own byline, or create a ghost byline. No matter whether the writer is you or someone else, the most important factor is that you feel like it represents your business in the best way for your audiences. Even if the cat got your tongue, you’re about to get it back. Say meeoow to that!
Submitted by Chaya Leah