In a previous post, I explained how writing a regular blog can help you launch your business or career. TLDR? I’ll summarize: Writing a personal blog can help you position yourself as an expert in your field. You’ll show potential employers and/or clients that you care enough about your industry to write about it regularly, and by sharing your personality and philosophy through your writing, you’ll help those potential employers and/or clients feel out whether they will work well with you before the lengthy interview process. Writing a blog also helps you to market your personal brand online, which means that you’re more likely to be found by the right people/businesses who are offering the right opportunity.
(Want to know more about how this works? Read my previous blog here.)
If you were following along with my last post, you have yourself a shiny new website on which you’re about to start blogging. The only problem? You don’t know what to say! You’ve probably read blogs that were less than appealing because they stuff all the important information at the bottom and make you read through a bunch of useless anecdotes with attached affiliate links to get there. (Recipe blogs, I’m talking to you!) You’ve also probably read blogs that contained a whole lot of information but were so dry and clinical that getting through that information wasn’t easy. You want to hit somewhere in the middle – good info, great personality, and hold the boring. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a professional writer to produce that type of blog post. Simply follow the 5 steps below and you will be well on your way to blogging greatness.
- Get to know your audience and choose topics that resonate with them.
In my last post, I explain that the best blogs are themed blogs that align with your goals. Your goal is to engage your readers so deeply that they get excited about you’ll post the next blog – that they’ll anticipate it!
When I was a kid in the olden days – before Netflix even came in the mail – I used to wait with much anticipation for the release of my favorite show each week. For me, that was the X-Files. I remember it well. I had to be home on time. I could only get up and get a drink during commercials. I set the VCR 10 minutes before and 10 minutes after just to ensure I didn’t miss the opening, and I prayed that there wouldn’t be breaking news that would push the show back. Do you remember something similar from your childhood? Or, if you’re too young for that, can you IMAGINE not being able to binge your favorite show and instead waiting for it to come on TV ONCE and only ONCE? If you missed it, you either had to wait until summer reruns OR hope you had set the VCR correctly, which basically required a master’s degree in electrical engineering.
THAT level of excitement is what you want your audience to feel each time you release a new post. So, how do you do it? The word audience is key. Think back to the TV show analogy. I was most definitely in the audience for the X-Files. I had the Mulder and Scully Barbies, the fake FBI badge, the T-shirts, and even the hat. During the same time period, Friends, Seinfeld, and Boy Meets World were all popular shows. Sure, I watched them occasionally and might have even laughed out loud, but I didn’t get VCR programming-level excited. I wasn’t their audience.
So, who is in your audience? If you had one – who would have your hat?
If you’re blogging as part of a career journey, think about the bigwigs in your industry with whom you would like to network. You would love to be on the radar of the C-suit execs of which companies? You would love for which thought leaders to share your blog on LinkedIn?
If you’re blogging to start a business, these are your prospective clients – even if they don’t know it yet. For which groups does your business solve a problem? Who is going to be excited about what you have to offer? Who is going to be searching the web for the information you plan to provide?
Take a few moments to write down what you know about your audience and what they want to know, learn, or do that you can teach them. Choose your blog topics from this list.
- Provide clear, well-organized information targeted to your audience
How many blogs have you stumbled across that tell great stories that don’t seem to have a point? How many are purely sales pitches? How many make you wade through paragraphs of useless info before they get to the point? (Again, recipe blogs, I’m looking at you.) Often, my clients ask me why I’m recommending that they write blogs when there are a lot of blogs out there. Isn’t this market already a little saturated?
I maintain that while there are a lot of blogs out there, there aren’t a lot of quality blogs out there. And even among the few hundred quality blogs that exist, there might not be one that connects uniquely with your audience. That’s why you’re writing your blog – to reach out to those who are attracted to you and the way you do things.
To stay competitive, do what not a lot of the competition does – provide clear, helpful information that is specifically targeted toward your audience. It’s helpful if your blog can help the reader achieve something in a relatively short period of time. That’s why I like the “how-to” style blog, and I’m a big fan of using headers, numbered lists, and bullets, but other styles work too. Just ensure that your blog provides real information that your audience can use – the sooner the better.
For example, if you’re a software developer hoping to be noticed by some of the bigwigs at Microsoft, you might want to write a blog reviewing some newly released or cutting-edge software. Sure, you could write a blog that explains to a user how to use Microsoft Word in 5 easy steps, but I’m guessing Microsoft thought leaders aren’t going to be interested in that one. They might be curious about your take on their product. Break down your review into a few key areas and use headings to separate them so the blog is easier to read.
If you’re a parenting coach specializing in gentle parenting and focusing on families with preschoolers, you might choose to write a “how-to” blog on helping your child choose healthy foods without causing a fuss. This topic is specific enough so that it will work in a short post. It’s interesting and helpful to your audience, who will be able to apply it right away. You can also break the “how-to” down into 4-5 steps that will make it even easier to read.
Of course, just because your blog is helpful doesn’t mean it has to be dry. In fact, I’m clearly in favor of inserting a little (or a lot) of personality into your blog. Just be sure it works for your audience and for the topic. Most of you know that before I became a career coach, I ran a small, part-time copywriting company. One of my clients was a fertility clinic. This clinic kept coming back to me because I was able to get the tone right. Articles had to be uplifting and light, but they needed to deal with a challenging topic and sometimes present scientific information in a relatable way. So, I created a tone of “you’re not alone – let’s get through this together. Here’s some hope.” Even when I had to write a paragraph about something pretty challenging, I would end with a sentence that perpetuated that tone, and it helped that company connect with its audience.
Take a few minutes to brainstorm – how might you present and organize information in a way that is of value to your audience? What tone would be best?
- Write an authentic, honest, and captivating title!
Blogs – well, all of them except this one – are short and typically delivered via social media posts or email, so a good title is essential. Think – would my audience take time out of their day to click on and skim this article? Now think back to the examples above. If the Microsoft piece were titled, “Brad’s musings on the latest software releases from Microsoft,” my guess would be that only his mom would be reading it because people who don’t really know Brad don’t care what he thinks. (Sorry, Brad). If the blog were titled “Brad Pitt’s musings,” it might get a little more traction, but probably more from TMZ writers who think it seems weird than from the C-level executives that Brad is hoping to attract.
(Also, it’s very important to be honest and authentic when you title your pieces. If you’re not, that’s called clickbait. People don’t like it. You might get one click, but you won’t get loyal readers.)
But what if the blog was titled, “Accessibility and User Engagement – Two Things Microsoft Got Right.” Now that might catch the audience’s eye. What’s even better about this title is that it suggests to the reader’s already busy brain that this is going to be a short-ish and easy read. And Brad is going to deliver on that promise by segmenting his article into one paragraph about accessibility and one about user engagement. He’s even going to use headers to make those paragraphs stand out. Now, Brad has attracted some loyal readers. They set out to get good, quick, well-organized information and they got it! Way to go, Brad!
Sometimes, writing a good title can be harder than writing the blog itself, so be sure to give yourself some time to do this well, and test out your title on a few clients, colleagues, or friends before running with it just to see if they would click!
- End with a call to action
Don’t ever leave your reader hanging! I know a lot of people that aren’t natural salespeople. Whether they’re tasked with selling their own skills and experiences in a job interview or they’re selling their business’s products and services, they just don’t feel comfortable selling. So, they don’t. And sometimes – I would venture to say often – they deny people who could really benefit from them the opportunity to use their product, service, or experience.
You don’t need to sell in your blog. In fact, I recommend against hard sales blogs for the most part. (There are some exceptions. If you want to talk about that, get in touch with me.)
However, you should end with a call to action. Even if it’s one as simple as this:
I hope this blog helped you get a better understanding of how to write a blog that will captivate your audience while marketing your personal brand. If you’d like to talk about how a blog might serve you better in your business or career journey, you can book a free 15-minute call here: www.morleycareersolutions.com/contact