A blog is often the best way to deliver written content to your audience. And it has marketing benefits beyond showcasing your expertise. Search engines place great value on original, quality content when determining what sites to rank.
Where do I even begin?
Great question. Think of a topic of interest for your customers. If you’re an accounting firm, writing about taxes or forecasting is sure to garner interest. Writing about your dog’s visit to the vet will not. Know your audience (for example, the Xero blog is a great resource for small business owners and accounting professionals).
Let’s take a look at the different ways you can frame your thoughts in the form of a blog post. For purposes of this exercise, we’ll pretend that we own an ice cream shop (who doesn’t like ice cream?). And you can:
- Ask a question: How do we come up with new flavors?
- Present a statement: Why we all scream for ice cream
- Teach a lesson: How to make the perfect sundae
- Give an update: The latest in ice cream toppings
- And even write a monologue: Why I love ice cream
We’re feeling instructional, so here’s our topic (and title):
An introduction is always in order
Much like any good meeting, a formal introduction (or intro) is a must. The intro is the opening paragraph of your blog, pairs with your topic and title, and sets the stage for the entire blog. Here’s ours:
How to make the perfect sundae
I scream/you scream/we all scream for ice cream. But somehow, your attempt at vanilla and hot fudge goodness doesn’t look quite the same as your local ice cream shop. We’ll teach you the inside scoop for making the perfect sundae that’ll make them all scream.
Note that the intro grabs the attention and offers the quick benefit.
Now let your mind flow
Grab a pen, keyboard, tablet – whatever your writing tool of choice – and literally capture your stream of consciousness. Jot down anything and everything you would want to include in your blog. When you do this brain dump of sorts, you don’t inadvertently edit yourself. For example:
- pick your flavors
- pick your toppings
- pick your sauces
- find a big dish
- grab a spoon.
It’s always nice to guide your readers
We all have those friends or coworkers who go “War and Peace” with their emails. Let’s be honest – you don’t read them. The same goes for a blog. Structure your posts like a well-designed web site or quick start guide. These use subheads to breakup text and guide the readers. We’ve included subheads in the post you’re reading at this very moment (“Now let your mind flow” and “It’s always nice to guide your readers” etc.). For our ice cream blog, some subheads could be:
- two scoops or three?
- the great debate: chocolate chips or sprinkles
- the topper: hot fudge, caramel or both.
No more hiding: write (then take a break and repeat)
Okay, it’s time to put your thoughts together. Remember, your customers are ready to read something from you in your own voice. And in many respects, you’ve already done a lot of the thinking with the steps above. Now all you have to do is write. Then take a break. Then review your work. And post it, too.