Rant, whinge, whine, barely transparent sales pitch, waffle, unconvincing – we don’t want our blogs (or book) to qualify for those epithets. Powerful blogs are both persuasive and respectful. They outline the views of the author, then give readers all the arguments in a debate, including those on the opposing side. They leave the reader (that’s us) to decide for ourselves if we agree. Respect, right?
Write your truth
I’ve no doubt that everyone in the Sticky community (that’s you) is committed to blogging in the respectful way outlined above. But have you noticed how hard it is to achieve? How can we take a strong position on a topic and not come across as a bully? How can we allow our readers to decide and not come across as indecisive?
How can we write our truth?
To be honest, it took me years to learn this art as a feature writer. Be patient with yourself, but work on this. If there is one writing skill you need to master, it is this one. Respect breeds respect. Get this right and you will attract intelligent, thoughtful clients to your business who understand your value, believe in what you do, and are excited to join your community.
7. Audience first
Understand your readers’ pain points and make direct reference to them in the first few sentences of your blog. If you are writing for small business owners about staffing problems, you might start with a startling fact: ‘Staffing tops the list of problems that keep small business owners awake in every survey.’ Now we know your audience, your topic and your sympathies.
6. You’ll know you have the story when you’ve done the research
I was reminded again of the liberating impact that thorough research has on the writing process recently, by my friend and colleague, Annie Bolitho, who runs a remarkable alternative funeral business (Kinship Ritual). After she read many books and interviewed key people in her industry, she felt a surge of confidence in her topic, arguments and expertise as she wrote her manuscript – out soon so watch for it. You might not need to conduct interviews (although it is a lot of fun), but reread relevant books and articles before you start.
5. Be willing to be wrong
Every blog (and book) is a thesis – a proposition investigated and a result concluded. If you start out with a closed mind, that will come across. Even if you have been in your field for decades, you might discover something new that changes your mind. Great. Tell the world: ‘I once believed the world was flat, and then I found out it wasn’t.’ Ha! You’re human. Your readers will like you for it.
4. From the general to the specific
Now you have the data, you want to include it all, right? Maybe. You only need to include as much as your reader needs to understand your point. And you need to frame each piece of data so your reader understands why you are including it. I might tell you that only two in every 10 headlines get a click. But what is the point I am trying to make? That headlines are poorly written? That people are too busy to read? That there are too many blogs in the world?
Make the general point first, and then follow it with specific data.
3. But not too general
Sadly, it’s possible to be too general. Continuing with the example above, I might start my blog with a point that is way too general: ‘Everyone is talking about headlines these days.’ It’s not specific enough.
2. Take your reader on your journey, but start at the finish line
We all look for a story to start at the beginning, have a middle and conclude in a satisfying way – even a blog. Heaven knows how our lives on the African grasslands ingrained our story ‘gene’, but we all know just how powerful it is. We get annoyed if stories stray from the formula – if they don’t have an end, for example.
But no one will read a story unless they have a hint of the payoff from the beginning. The hook. The benefit and the reason for reading.
1. The more you care, the more you dare
Be passionate about your beliefs and convictions, do. But be more passionate about your readers than anything else. If you have a tough message for your readers – that they need to change or think differently, or work harder, or work less hard, or be nicer to their neighbours – think hard about delivering this message in a compassionate way. The stronger your feelings that you are right, the deeper your care about communicating that message in a caring way.
That’s a wrap
Rock writing; it’s easy if you know how. When you rock your blog, you respect your readers. It’s not rocket science, but blogging takes knowledge and practice. When you uncover the secrets of blogging, your blog will add to the world’s wisdom and respect. Which is cool.
PS: Want more? You might like: 21 Reasons Why Blogging Will Never Die