The last time you saw me, I gave you three rules for writing better blogs. One, make them personal and emotional. Two, keep them between 500 and 1,000 words. Three, give them a good headline.
I’m David Rosenbaum, editor in chief of the Bloom Group, a thought leadership consultancy, and I hope those three rules help. Now I’ve got three more rules for writing better blogs. Hopefully, these will help your business’s image and your bottom line.
Rule 1. Write about One Idea
Rule 1: write about one idea. I’m sure you have a lot to say about your business or your product or your life. Everyone does. But a piece of writing that’s between 500 and 1,000 words can only express one idea well. So first, before you start writing your blog, decide what’s most important to you, what your reader may not know, what’s most interesting and most entertaining. That’s what you’re going to write about, and that’s all you’re going to write about in the blog.
Rule 2. Lead with the Most Exciting Information
First Paragraph: The Lead
Begin with what’s most dramatic and entertaining. Say your company makes, oh, I don’t know, promotional videos for businesses. You want to write a blog about how one of your videos increased the client’s revenue by 200 percent and allowed him to buy a sick private jet. How should you begin that blog? You’ve got some choices. You could start with a brief history of promotional videos. You could start with a paragraph about how you got into the business. You could write about the fact that a client’s revenue shot up 200 percent. Or you could start with the fact that one of your clients bought a sick private jet.
If you answered “private jet,” you win. That’s your first paragraph. “I was flying in client X’s private jet when . . .” That’s what journalists call a lead. The lead’s job is to hook the reader into reading the next paragraph. It’s the most important paragraph you have. Don’t waste it. Don’t fool around. Use it to grab your reader by the throat. Don’t save it for the end. If you think the good entertaining stuff is a payoff for the reader at the end, you’re wrong. Nobody will get that far.
Second Paragraph: The Why
Your second paragraph should be about why it’s important to you and your reader. That’s when you can start talking about the impact of videos on business revenue.
Third Paragraph: The Example
Your third paragraph is an example that shows why it’s important, ideally with data to support it, because people love numbers. Maybe how more promotional videos are being viewed on YouTube these days than ever before.
Fourth Paragraph: The Call to Action
Your fourth paragraph is about what your readers should do or what they should think about when considering a promotional video, like how to vet video producers. That’s the call to action. That’s why you’ve written the blog in the first place and that’s why your reader has read it.
Your fifth paragraph . . . you probably don’t need a paragraph. Your English teacher probably taught you that you need to wrap up everything by repeating everything you’ve just said, and that’s dull. You don’t need it. And like David Byrne saying in Psycho Killer, “if you say something once, why say it again?” That’s good advice.
Rule 3. Sound Like a Human Being
Don’t be afraid to sound like a human being. The reason most blogs and most business writing in general is so dull and so bad is because we all went to school where English teachers gave us good grades for writing like pretentious robots. And by the way, I am ranking on English teachers and just to note I was an English teacher. I know whereof I speak. This only got worse in college. One way to make sure your blog sounds like it was written by a human being and not a blog-writing bot is to read it aloud. If it sounds good to you, it’s probably pretty good. If it sounds like something you would hand to your high school or your college English teacher, it probably isn’t. You should trust your ear. Better yet, trust somebody else’s ear. Read your blog aloud to someone who doesn’t work for you. Take their feedback seriously.
So again, Rule 1. Have one idea and one idea per block. Rule 2. Lead with the best, most interesting, and most entertaining thing you’ve got. Like that sick private jet. Rule 3. Sound like a person, not like a bot. Read your blog aloud to yourself or, even better, to someone you trust who doesn’t work for you.