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The “How to Write a Blog” Blog

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Blogging is not an exercise in corporate formality. It is not a call to script something deep and profound for the world. It is not an instruction manual or a public test of your industry know-how. It does not have to be time-consuming, nor does it have to hinge on a groundbreaking company announcement. And you don’t have to be Ernest Hemingway to write one.

But if you want your brand to have a consistent presence and a voice that extends to your target market and beyond, you should probably start writing one.

Related: Why Disruption Doesn’t Happen Overnight

Related: Humor Is a Powerful Way to Capture an Audience

It’s doubtful that you as a business have fully saturated your market and maximized your exposure. And your audience probably does not understand you or your brand exactly the way you’d like them too. Blogging can increase traffic to your site, boost reader engagement, potentially drive sales, and amplify your voice. But it’s also an opportunity to showcase a side to your brand that doesn’t fit into a press release or marketing collateral.

Here are some tips on how to get started:

It’s a Blog, Not an Ad

Your blog shouldn’t be a jargony reprise of your corporate message. And it shouldn’t be an overt sales promotion. While everything you write should in some way promote your brand, your blog shouldn’t hawk a new product or tout some company press release development. It’s more important to have a sense of humor or share an insight about the world that engages your readers.

Find the Right Idea

Don’t underestimate the interest in what you have to say. Hubspot says the average company that blogs has 55 percent more website visitors. A blog can be an opportunity to reveal your personality, share an experience, or weigh in on an industry development. Do a search on your topic to ensure you’re not repeating information that’s already been exhaustively covered. No one wants to slog through a tired viewpoint. It’s a chance to inform, enlighten or just entertain. Offer new insights to advance the conversation. Sarcasm, self-deprecation can go a long way—as long as they don’t conflict with your brand’s voice or message. Read this biting take from Oliver Emberton, founder of UK-based software company Silktide, on becoming an entrepreneur with 3,262 social media shares. Maybe you’re a financial advisor who recently taught your children how to save for college. Or maybe you’re a retail shop owner who witnessed a simple transaction with a street vendor that said something about the value of customer service.

Know your Audience

This isn’t a test of your industry knowledge or a competition to showcase your expertise. And it’s not a teaching moment. You’re writing for your readers, not yourself. So, what does your audience want? What is their demographic profile? What problem do they have and how can you solve it? Your blog should stay on message, but also cater to the interests of your readers. You need to have a clear directive that connects readers to your company, such as sending them to your website, but you should also offer something beyond your own objectives, such as actionable tips they can use.

Minimize Sludge; Maximize Exposure

Today’s highly-mobile generation “scans” content instead of “reads” and demands visual stimulation. Think short sentences and bulleted lists. Aim for 400 to 700 words, and include subheads, photos or infographics to break up your content into digestible parts. Captivate readers with an enticing headline. Include outside links to create a balanced source of information, but don’t overload your text with too many links or include them too high up so that you’re redirecting readers before they’re engaged. The links should build on your information, not serve as your blog’s primary source of information. Include search engine optimization (SEO) terms to help people find your information through search engines. Don’t forget to promote it on multiple social media platforms.

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