So, you’ve decided to start a blog. You’ve read countless articles on how it can drive business to your site and make your brand more visible. You started by creating a WordPress account of your own, and it doesn’t look half bad (if you do say so yourself). But now what?
For your blog to gain traction, it not only needs to be linked correctly, look reputable and contain eye-catching graphics, but it needs to be something others will want to spend time reading. Good, effective blog writing is not necessarily the same as the technical, long-winded language you used to defend your senior thesis. It should be succinct, easy to understand and geared towards your target audience.
While it can be helpful to have a unique voice that speaks to your specific readers, remember that most people choose to read articles that above all clearly tell them what they need to know. If you work in a casual environment or an industry where colloquialisms, slang and witticisms are widely accepted, feel free to intersperse your points with personal anecdotes and less formal language. Just remember that ultimately your blog will be of higher value to your audience if you deliver useful knowledge in a clear, informed voice.
1. Know your audience. I’m sure you’ve heard this tip before, but if you subscribe to the tenant of serving your audience right off the bat, you’ll save yourself time and money in the long run. Invest in some initial ads with Google AdWords or a similar ad-tracking service to gain substantial market research on your target readers. Then, continue to monitor who is frequenting your page, which articles they’re reading and how long they tend to stay on the site.
The more you know about your audience, including demographics, interests and career paths, the better you’ll be able to tailor both your writing and the topics you cover to them. Was your latest post on writing newsletters popular? Perhaps try something on effective email marketing campaigns. Do the majority of your readers have extensive experience in the marketing industry? Remember to keep your language and topics challenging and informational for even the most educated and experienced of your audience.
2. Choose your words carefully. Many blog writers advocate for simple language and universally understood diction. This school of thought is grounded in statistics that show the average adult to be at a 9th grade reading level. To capture the largest audience, reasoning follows, you’d choose words that your average high school freshman would be comfortable reading.
Still, this philosophy fails to take into account the education and experience levels of your particular audience. Remember that talking down to your readers can be just as off-putting as forcing them to visit dictionary.com every third paragraph and that an overly simplistic article might send the message that you don’t have a high level of expertise on the subject.
Instead, try to strike a middle ground by keeping an educated, yet unpretentious tone and choosing words that are challenging, yet still accessible. A good thesaurus can be your best friend during the writing process; just remember not to use words that sound stilted when read aloud or that scream, “I only appear in articles when the writer is trying to find a way not to use ‘innovative’ for the fourth time.”
3. Make your writing visually pleasing. A big block of writing with no organization is intimidating. Instead, break up your writing into logical points and paragraphs. Grouping your thoughts beforehand is highly recommended as a first step towards creating a blog post that reads well, is clear and concise and that is attractive to a reader upon first glance.
If you work in marketing, you’ve likely seen statistics that cite how important visuals are to captivating an audience. Up to 40% of people respond better to visual information than plain text, so remember to keep your posts exciting and pleasing to the eye by interspersing text with pictures and infographics. In addition to upping the aesthetic appeal of your blog, graphics will also help show your readers what you mean, rather than just telling them.
4. Focus on tone. Readers of various careers use the Internet to research industry trends for many reasons: To find a wealth of up-to-date knowledge, for convenience and to interact with like-minded individuals on various topics. When it comes to blog reading, your audience likely chooses to follow your site rather than, say, read a book on the same subject due in part to the easy-to-read, conversational tone that blogs employ.
If you can get it right, tone is an important factor that will help you create a blog that informs rather than lectures, similar to talking to a good friend who happens to be the most knowledgable person on a topic you find intensely interesting. A well-written blog should in many ways be like a well-prepared lecture or a flowing conversation: So well thought out and interesting that you barely realized you were learning the whole time.
To improve tone, try avidly reading some of the best bloggers in the industry and notice things like sentence length, syntax and the use of casual versus formal language. Try taking those tips and writing your own post. Ask a friend to read it to you aloud and pinpoint what you like, what you don’t like, what’s easy to understand and what requires a second reading. In many ways, good writing is just like any other skill; with sustained practice and exposure to good examples, you’ll soon form an intuition as to appropriate tone for your audience.
5. Edit, edit, edit. Even if you finish your latest blog post and immediately feel the euphoria of knowing it’s your best writing yet, chances are there are ways it could be better. While it can be tedious to spend additional time tweaking a piece you’ve already spent hours researching and writing, it will absolutely improve your writing in every aspect.
While everyone has their own ways to edit a piece, I recommend roughly reading through it at least three times to catch the obvious: Grammar, misspellings, awkward word choice and redundant language. After this, try another read through aloud, where you’ll likely pick up on general readability and tone.
Further editing is where you can get even more nit-picky and ruthless. Take out anything you feel wastes your readers’ time and takes away from your general points. Remember that a sentence can pack more punch without superfluous language. Phrases like “in the event that” or “during the course of” may have their place in writing, but your article on b2b marketing is probably not one of them. As a general rule, the more technical the industry you’re appealing to, the more succinct your writing should be.
After several rounds of revision, you’ll be left with a clear piece that readers will look to for easy-to-read writing that conveys valuable knowledge.
How do you tailor your writing to make your blog more readable? Let us know!Share this post