As a freelance writer in an age where content is King (scratch that—where content is Queen), one of the things I get asked to do most often is write blog posts on behalf of brands. Blogging is something so many small business owners want to do, but don’t actually know how to do. Today, then, I’m officially giving away all of the magician’s secrets (gasp!) and letting you in on my top tips for writing blog posts. Read on for all you need to know to craft engaging, effective content.
1. Engage with an issue. (Commiserate before you communicate.)
What problem are you solving for your audience with this post? What irritating thing are helping you them alleviate? What nagging question are you answering? When I write blog posts, I always start by engaging with an issue. If there isn’t one, your blog topic probably isn’t a good one. Make sure you choose topics that solve a problem, answer a question or alleviate an issue.
If I were writing a blog post on pro tips for removing pickle jar lids, I’d start my copy by stating the issue, like this: “Hate how hard it is to get the lid off the pickle jar? Me too! Fortunately, I’ve spent years troubleshooting this pesky problem and have finally found the ultimate solution. Read on for my top tips for easy-peasy pickle-jar lid removal.”
Another way you can look at it is this: start every post by commiserating with your audience. In your intro paragraph, immediately state the thing that sucks (aka: the question you're answering or the problem you're solving). Tell them how it annoys you, too...and then provide the solution or answer to the problem in your body copy (and walk away the ultimate hero).
Starting your post by commiserating with your audience is your "hook"—it's what gets your audience to think, Yeah, this person gets it...I think I'll keep reading to see what solution they provide. PRO TIP: The purpose of your post may be to promote your company, but that should never be the topic of your post. Instead of "5 Reasons [insert your company name] is Awesome," try, "5 Ways [insert your company name] Solves [insert super annoying problem]."
2. Break your content into sections. (Bite sized, please.)
Use headers, sub-heads, paragraphs breaks and/or bullet-point lists to visually break your content up into digestible pieces. If a reader gets to your post and sees a screen full of page-long paragraphs with no headers to break up the content, they won’t read it. I promise you.
Everyone hates long paragraphs. Your dog, your mailman (or mailwoman #USPSfeminism), your neighbor, Beyoncé—literally everyone.
Breaking your copy into sections also makes your job easier, as you can use your predetermined sections to help guide you as you write. PRO TIP: People love lists—3 Tips for Pickle-Jar Lid Removal, 5 Ways to Teach Your Grandma to Kiki, 6 Reasons Pink Highlighters are the Best Highlighters. Plus, lists make your job as the writer so much easier. Once you have your numbered points determined, you can simply flesh out a paragraph to go with each.
3. Use literary devices for added edge. (Don’t put ‘em to sleep.)
Blogs are a great place to be a little playful. I’ve literally mentioned postal-service feminism and Beyoncé in this post already—that’s because I want to use my blog as a place to be authentic, to give my reader a feel for my everyday voice, and to ensure I don’t put them to sleep as they read. Use literary devices like alliteration or imagery for added edge in your content. I'm also a huge fan of parenthetical asides. Parenthetical asides (ahem, like this one), are a great way to create the impression that you’re talking directly to the reader. This helps keep your audience entertained and engaged.
The best blogs are informative, while still remaining full of energy and voice. You can achieve the perfect balance of both by first ensuring your content answers a question or solves a problem—and then going back through and peppering it with literary devices, parenthetical asides and other tools that add color to your content.
Ready to start writing for your brand? Head to The Shop for easy-to-follow article templates and DIY marketing guides. (You can thank us later. Preferably over wine.)