(Warning - I'm going a bit meta here...I'm writing a blog post about 'writing a blog post'....)
One of my favourite aspects of my job is being able to help small businesses sharpen up the messages that they are sending out to the public, whether that's on their website or on their printed materials.
Most of the people I work with have a real passion for the product or service they provide but it can often be difficult to transfer that passion into clear writing for somebody else to understand. Sometimes they get too wordy - leaving potential clients wading through the excess to try and work out exactly what it is being offered. Some are not wordy enough and the reader is left, perplexed, wondering what is it that you actually do. If it's not immediately clear then people won't stick around to ask questions, they'll just move on to the next business.
When you're really close to something it can be difficult to view it objectively: wood/trees and all that.
As an outsider to your business - and one that prides herself on having a really good ear for how language should sound ( one of the best writing tips I ever received was to read everything I write out loud, it's amazing how different it is from just hearing it inside your own head) - it's much easier for me to take a step back and assess the communications you're sending out. One thing I'm often asked to take a look at is blog posts - which are a curious mix of personal and professional writing.
A great way to attract people to your website and, therefore, to persuade them to buy from you, is to offer them extra value by way of a blog. A blog can give your website personality: you can use it to speak directly to your readers and allow them to meet the person behind the service. If they feel connected to you then they're much more likely to buy from you!
There are lots of other reasons as to why you should be blogging - not least from an SEO perspective. A regular blog gives Google more fresh content to index, pushing you higher up the search pages. That makes it more likely that people will find you when they're looking for somebody in your line of work.
I'm always happy to write multiple blog posts for clients who either aren't sure how to go about it or just don't have time to sit down themselves but I often find that simply by getting that first one down for them, I'm giving them a reliable template that they can then copy.
With all that in mind, here are some simple starting tips for creating sparkling blog posts...
1) Wow with your words
You want to excite people with your blog post titles and intros so choose interesting language that will make them really want to read what you have to say. If your title doesn't grab them then your entire post might as well just read 'blah, blah, blah.'
Which would be much quicker to write but isn't going to add much to anybody's life.
So think hard about which words, phrases or questions would stop you in your tracks and persuade you to read something - then use them.
2) Write in your voice
I know this sounds bizarre, coming from someone who often gets paid to write other people's voices for them but your content needs to reflect who you are. Don't try and adopt a tone that clearly isn't your own.
When I write a blog post for somebody else I like to get to know them a little first to ensure that, while it's my words that are going to be read, it's their personality that is actually doing the talking. You want to make a real connection with your blog reader and you can only do that if you are honest about who you are.
3) Don't just sell, sell, sell
Your website is there to explain and promote what you do; your blog should give your customer added value. Make your posts original, informative and engaging. Choose topics that are relevant to your business but above all, make sure it's a subject that you're interested in. If you don't really care about what you're writing it will show through - and who's going to want to read that?
Careful use of keywords throughout your post will increase its visibility in the search engines - they can do the work while you write the fun stuff!
4) Add links to your posts
I recently wrote the first blog post for a lovely garden accessories website. Caroline, the owner, has some beautiful products for sale so I interwove links to the site's shop into text about 2017's garden trends, along with pictures of the items.
Readers of the blog could simply click on the links and go straight to Caroline's shop, where they could buy whatever they fancied. They immediacy of this is likely to gain you more sales: we all expect things instantly now, so if people have to go out of your blog to search for things themselves, chances are they won't bother.
If you're writing an info blog then you can also add links to other, reputable, sites to back up your stats or claims.
Hopefully the above tips will give you some ideas for starting your business blog but if you'd still like some help getting going, please don't hesitate to contact me.
Next week: it's the fourth part of my Freelancer's Guide for Getting Out of the House - the fab Harris & Hoole in Guildford!