Everyone is telling you to write blogs, but no one is ever telling you how. That’s where I come in. My name is David Rosenbaum. I’m editor in chief of Bloom Group, a thought leadership consultancy. We do strategy work, but we also help our clients improve their articles, white papers, business books, website content, and blogs. Today let’s focus on blogs and making yours better.
First, why blogs? People say that blogs are the best and cheapest way to get your business out there, to be seen on Facebook, to post on LinkedIn, or tweet linking to your website. Some of these benefits may be overstated, but a lot of it’s true. Blogs can make you a real person to your potential customers, creating an intimate connection, a relationship, at least digitally, and that can turn into revenue. And let’s be honest: revenue is what you want. You may have other reasons for running your business, and I hope you do, but if you’re not making money, you’re not really running a business. You have a fairly expensive time-consuming hobby.
Unfortunately, a weak blog won’t do any of those things for you and a lot of blogs are weak. You know that, I know that, you don’t read them, I don’t read them, no one reads them. So I’m going to talk about three rules for how to write better blogs so that people read them and you can get all the good stuff, including revenue, that a blog can bring you. Here’s how to begin.
Rule 1. Make It Personal
Make it personal. Make it emotional. Blogs are not articles or white papers. They originated as diaries that people kept on the web. That’s where we get the word ‘blog.’ So you start with something you care about and don’t be afraid to put emotion in it. Especially if your emotion reflects the readers that you want to reach. Say you’ve created a new app for finding missing socks or an easy way to return all those wire hangers from the dry cleaners that clutter up your closet. Begin your blog by talking about how much you hate losing half a pair of socks, or the last time a pair of wire hangers fell on your head, and don’t make it about an impersonal somebody or a hypothetical person. Make it about you.
You should always start your blog with the most emotional, important thing you have to say. Don’t wait till the end of the blog to reveal it. It’s not a payoff. No one will get that far. And maybe your English teacher taught you to avoid emotion in your writing. Forget that. In fact, forget everything that your English teacher taught you about writing. Ninety percent of the bad writing in the world is due to English teachers. They have a lot to answer for, believe me, and I was one. Emotions create connections, and creating connections is a big part of what blogs are all about. That’s rule one. Make it personal and make it emotional.
Rule 2. Keep It Short
It’s really hard to say anything worthwhile in 500 words and after up to 1,000 words you’re really trying your readers’ patience. So a blog should be between 500 and 1,000 words. So start with what’s most important. Make it personal and keep it short.
Rule 3. Write a Good Headline
The web is like a tabloid newspaper. Remember them? A lot of stories, a lot of content crammed onto one page, with a lot of headlines screaming for your attention: “Ford to New York: Drop Dead,” “Headless Body in Topless Bar.” You’re going to read that. People are going to read those stories. So what makes a good headline, which is the first thing your reader is going to see. One thing, it has a number. People want to know what they’re going to get from an article before they read it. Nothing tells them that more quickly than a number in the headline. I’m giving you three rules for writing blogs–not two, not four–because not all numbers are created equal. Three is a good number. So is five. Seven is lucky. All the other numbers up ten are worthless. No one cares about two, four, six, eight, or nine. Why? I have no idea. But you’ve got to trust me on this. Above ten, nothing is good until you get to 25, 50, 99, 100, or 101, like the Dalmatians. But if you’re going to have so many, they better be short, because remember, no one wants to read a blog longer than 1,000 words, so you can really forget about those.
Also, a good headline uses verbs. Headlines without verbs are labels and labels belong on cans, not blogs. Verbs say something is happening, something exciting, something you need to know about, or something you need to do right now, like “How to Write a Better Blog, not “Rules for Better Blogs.” “Rules for Better Blogs” is a label. Also, it sounds like something you might hear in school and nobody really likes school. “How to Write a Better Blog” sounds like a friend offering help and you want your readers to be your friends.
So those are your three rules for writing blogs: 1. Keep it personal and emotional. 2. Keep it short. 3. Put a good headline on it. Next time you see me, we’ll have another three rules for making your blog better.