The pride and achievement of knowing you did a good job.
You feel it at work. You’re good at what you do.
Now you’re running full speed down that yellow brick road toward the blogosphere. Some days you wonder if writing even matters at this point.
It does. Good writing matters.
While you don’t have to be another William Faulkner, you do need to organize your thoughts so that people will actually read them. You can have the greatest ideas and content in the world and promote them like a rock star. But if you’re not saying it so they’ll read it, they’re still not getting it. And if they’re not getting it, you’re still not effective.
The whole point of your blog is to put your story and your ideas out there. Be heard. Get noticed. Be somebody. Make a difference.
The good news is, you’ve got an idea that people really want to hear right now. That’s half the battle! Now it’s time to take it just a step further. Here are five tips to keep in mind when you sit down to write.
Tip #1: Know your audience.
When you sit down to blog, who exactly are you talking to? Knowing who’s listening lets you tighten up your message and address specific needs in particular. You can get super clear on who you’re blogging to each time by using the X who Y formula.
Here’s what the formula’s all about. You get to fill in the blanks.
“I’m writing for (this type of person) who (needs ___, knows___, is interested in ___, is afraid of ___).”
Now for some tips that will help you target your writing just to the audience subset you’re writing for today:
- Write to one person. Don’t worry about the others. Writing for the one who needs your message the most today will cover your entire audience subset anyway.
- See their face. Visualize them sitting right there with you as you write your blog post today.
- Read your post out loud in their voice. Let this one person read your writing to you. As you revise along the way, you’ll be surprised how your most effective tone comes through.
Check out these examples that use a writing tone that speaks to one person with one specifc need:
- Are You Scared or Are You Just Selfish?
- We Learn Better When We Combine Work And Play
- How Eating More Fat Helps You Lose More Weight
Tip #2: Decide the shift you want to create.
Now that you know who you’re writing to and what they need, think about what shift you actually want to create. Do you want to change your readers’ minds? Do you want them to believe a certain way? Do you want to create a need? Do you want to affect their behavior?
Knowing your own agenda helps you blog with a sharper focus.
Here are a few different angles to consider when determining the shift you want to create:
- Waking the reader up to new beliefs so they adopt a new behavior
- Giving the reader a reason to initiate action
- Changing the reader’s focus from can’t to can-do
- Providing the reader with confidence and capability
See how these bloggers created shifts in their posts:
- Waking the reader up to new beliefs: Stop Waiting to Be Picked
- Giving the reader a reason to initiate action: 15 Great Excuses Not to Form the Fitness Habit
- Changing the reader’s focus from can’t to can-do: Salary Negotiation: How to Negotiate Better Than 99% of People
Tip #3: Use an appropriate publishing model.
We’ve talked about the who, what, and why. Now let’s get into the how to make your post stand out.
Your publishing model defines the format of your style. It can be casual and whimsical, or technical and serious, or anywhere in between. Depending on your goals, publishing models can vary.
But if your goal is to get noticed and make a difference, the expert blogging model works.
Take a look at some different publishing models and how they’re useful:
- Expert model: you have amazing ideas and teach them to others by writing everything yourself. You’re turning what you know into a business.
- Journal model: used for self expression and cataloging your experiences. You may grow a list, but you’re not interested in monetizing your blog.
- Host model: used to showcase personalities and thought leaders who align with you. You do podcast interviews or videos and use them as your expert blogging.
- Publisher model: used as a repository for guest bloggers.
- Curator model: similar to the publisher model, as a curator you use free content and repurpose it for your own site.
Browse through some sites that use different publishing models:
- Journal model: Unfiltered.me
- Expert model: Tim Ferriss
- Host model: Mixergy
- Publisher model: Copyblogger
- Curator Model: Upworthy
Tip #4: Structure your post based on your message.
Along with your overall publishing model, it’s important to structure each post to fit the goals of your message. Structuring also helps you to stay focused and streamline your writing process.
Here are some structural types you can use:
- How to: instructional advice moving the reader to new competency levels
- List: a collection of related material supporting your theme
- Roundup: a collection of resources on a particular theme
- Newsjack: building your message around a relevant news item
- Case study: using a detailed example with story and data to illustrate your message
Here are some great examples of blog structuring:
- How to: 5 Tips for Creating a Stress-Free Sanctuary at Home
- List: Houston Outdoor Designer Shares 5 Creative Ideas from 2014
- Case study: 5 Brilliant Strategies That Make Honda One Of The World’s Most Innovative Companies
Tip #5: Create an irresistible title.
Lastly, spend a fair amount of time brainstorming just the right title. Your title is the precursor to your blog message. It lets your readers know what to expect. But it also acts like a gatekeeper to your message. If people can’t get past your title, they won’t even read your post. So you want to make sure it’s a good one.
Here are some elements of an effective title:
- It completely captures the reader’s need. When they read it, they should say, “Yeah! That!”
- It’s accurate. It can stand alone as a true statement and completely parallels the content of the post.
- It’s short. Try to keep it around 70 characters or fewer.
- Its style fits the structure of the post. That means, if you write a numbered list, use the numbers in your post title.
- It’s clear and concrete. Not cute and clever. Just tell them exactly what’s coming next.
- It moves you in a promised direction. Great titles don’t just make statements (“Writing Tips,” or “5 Writing Tips”). They promise where you’ll go if you read on (“5 Sure-Fire Writing Tips That Get Your Blog Noticed”).
Check out these articles with titles that make you want to click on through:
- How to Be Smart in a World of Dumb Bloggers
- Success Is a Story and You’re Telling It Wrong
- 7 Things You Can Do Right Now to Be a Better Leader
So you don’t have a published book. You never took that Writing 101 course in college. Don’t worry — it’s still all good. Blogging’s a different game. But your writing still matters. (TWEET THAT!)
Knowing who you’re writing for and the shift you want to create sets you on a clear path about why you’re even blogging to begin with. After that, your own style and structure are just icing on the cake. Top it all off with a killer title, and you’re writing posts that readers just can’t refuse.
Your Turn to Weigh in
Your blog is important, and people are waiting for you to get the word out. Real quick, meet me in the comments and let me know:
Q: Which one of these tips did you sit with the longest? How will you use it?
A: See ya in the comments!
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