Ten tips on writing a blog

Ten tips on writing a blog

Though I am a website designer by trade, I am also manage my own website and like many have considered starting a blog.

There are several reasons I wanted a blog. For one, it is a straightforward way to add new content to my site. Most of my site is by nature relatively static—a description of services, examples of my work… But with a blog, I am always adding new content. As I tell my clients, with new content your visitors have a reason to return. And an increased likelihood that  you will have new visitors since you will be covering topics people search on.

Personally, having a blog is a big motivator for me to keep learning. By looking for inspiration, I read other blogs and do research on topics that are important to my clients and me. There probably isn’t any field nowadays that isn’t changing and website design/development certainly is one of them. By writing down what I learn, I retain it and I can build on it. Sharing that with others feels good and builds connections.

But, as I discovered, writing a blog takes effort. I am not a writer by nature and each blog entry comes slowly. I estimate about 4-6 hours for each blog entry. The first few weeks were easy; just getting anything down was a success. But as time went on, I became more focused, and each blog took longer to write. The blog began to fall by the wayside.

So to get support, I started a discussion in a LinkedIn group for web designer, asking the question “How to write a blog?”  The responses were generous.  I found out I was not alone in finding blogging hard work. But also encouraged to hear about the many benefits that people have found blogging . For some it opened up new opportunities and income-producing potential that they hadn’t expected

The first question to ask, I was told, is why are you blogging? What are you hoping to achieve?  Are you doing it to connect with new customers? To increase you search engine rankings? To build your credibility, i.e. your brand? You need to know who you are writing for and what you have to offer them.

It became clearer to me that there are basically two type of blog posts. One is for branding your message and values to help you connect and engage.  The other is for targeting and building traffic for specific keywords/products etc.  It helped to know that I was in the first category.

I  summarize here the  advice that was helpful for me:

  1. Only blog about a topic you have some passion for.  If you don’t have an interest in it, no one else will.
  2. Define your target audience (i.e. the people who hire you) by first defining who you are, what knowledge or expertise you want to offer. Then define your ideal client and write as if you are writing directly to that one person.
  3. Answer their most common questions and concerns and work from there. These are usually basic questions like “How do I get more people to visit my site?” and not technical at all.
  4. Think about what you clients would search on. Start with a keyword or phrase.  Turn that into the title of the post: for example “Getting More Visitors to Your Website”
  5. Add a dose of your personality. The whole idea is to build trust and a comfort level around what it’s like working with you. Don’t hesitate to have a sense of humor.
  6. Invite and encourage comments. Comments will help you discover who you’re writing for and what is important to them.
  7. Put yourself on a posting schedule and commit to a frequency you can maintain. At least once a week, but to create visibility, you probably need to be posting 3x/week or more. (Personally, I am aiming for once a week)
  8. If you find writing difficult consider having someone interview you about a topic you know something about. Record and transcribe the interview. Alternatively you could look into the possibility of working out a trade with a writer.
  9. Build readers for your site by announcing each new blog post on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Send emails to your customers and contacts highlighting a blog article
  10. Follow a few blogs regularly. Reading and reflecting on others’ blogs helps to inspire and guide your own blogging.

And most importantly, just keep blogging. Only by doing it can you sort out what works and what doesn’t.

NEXT WEEK: Finding stock photos that work

3 Responses to Ten tips on writing a blog

  1. +1 for #10.
    It never ceases to amaze me when people who never read others’ blogs expect to publish compelling content on theirs.

    “Hey, can you teach me how to play the mandolin?”
    “Sure. Who are your favorite mandolin players?”
    “I don’t have any. I don’t really listen to any mandolin music.”
    “Oh. I see…”

    • These days I’m reading a couple blogs religiously (by which I mean I at least scan every post, sometimes daily, sometimes weekly in catch-up mode):

      Seth Godin
      http://www.sethgodin.typepad.com/

      John Saddington
      http://www.john.do/

      (I also religiously read the blogs of my clients.)

      There are many others I follow (in my RSS reader, Facebook, Twitter) for specific topics (A List Apart; CSS-Tricks; DigWP; and a whole slew of blogs related to WordPress, SEO, Marketing, PHP, MySQL, politics, etc.).

Anything on your mind?