As a longtime and prolific creator of content myself, from back before the times when blogging in its current form even existed, I sometimes wonder what impact my content has on my readers.
Once upon a time you could tell, because your readers would comment under the blog post, and there are still some blogs like some of my favourite content creators Smart Passive Income Blog and Viperchill that get a tonne of comments on any post.
Tim Ferris’ Four Hour Work Week blog posts get hundreds and hundreds, as his audience is SO huge. I’m also a big fan of the WPCurve blog that Dan Norris launched, and he’s grown his company so fast because he’d previously built a great following with some awesome content on his blog.
For the rest of us “mere mortal” bloggers, we wish longingly for comments while counting the number of social media shares!
I always try to write about things that I’d like to read if I were looking for inspiration or instruction. At the same time, I do realise that most of my subscribers, and even customers, are either repelled or attracted by the content that I publish.
That’s kind of the point of blogging. Hang “your arse out” as one of my earliest business mentors, Chris Barrow, told me to do, and see who likes your style! Check out Chris’ straight talking dental business blog here.
So let’s talk about creating good content – the kind that engages the audience and converts viewers into subscribers and even, one day, customers. I often write “straight from the hip”, particularly my Business Diary blog posts, but more often than not, I plan a piece of content before I publish it on a mindmap, so I wanted to share my own system of thinking and writing.
1. Write specifically for the internet
People’s reading habits differ from one medium to another. They may not mind large paragraphs in books, because they are captivated by the plot and storyline, as well as the descriptions, and the dialogues between the characters. Online, things are very different.
My readers take a look at my blog posts during their coffee break, on their way to work in the underground, or during a cab drive. They’ll probably skim through the blog post and decide whether it’s worth their time right there and then.
If they can’t find anchor points such as subtitles, bullet points and other artifices to break up the text and create a good print/white space ratio, they’ll lose interest and postpone reading to later. Maybe, they won’t come back to it, at all.
Keep your writing clean and appealing – you have a very short window of time to “hook” your reader.
2. Speak in a friendly, personal manner
I always use the first person in my posts, because I am expressing my own ideas and I want you to feel that I am talking just to you. I do exactly the same in my autoresponder messages – visualising my ideal clients one by one as I do so. That really helps get the tone right.
No one likes the cold and impersonal tone of a post or an email that seems to originate from a machine rather than a human being.
Everything you write should be:
- and lastly, have just a touch of humour.
If you want to test your content, read it out loud. If it feels like a conversation with a friend, it is well enough written. If it sounds like a public speech, then you should revise it and make it sound more informal.
3. Give a purpose to your writing
In every blog post, I try to recommend that you read a book, encourage you to visit a website — in short, I advise you to do something actively to enhance your understanding or skills.
You should always include a call to action in your blog posts.
People do not read blog posts only for entertainment purposes, or in order to make time pass quicker. They are looking for advice, they are seeking help with an issue and they want to feel that they have achieved something, gained something after they have finished reading.
They want to know that you can help them. For example, you might be looking for Mentoring or a managed Facebook Ads service so I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that I can help you with those things, as well as link to Pat Flynn, Dan Norris, Tim Ferris’ or Glen Allsop’s blogs, like I did above.
4. Back up your statements
Whenever I cite data or statistics, I always include the source. It’s dull sometimes to go searching for it but very important to verify.
Likewise, I always back up various claims with quotations from various books written by experts, linking to the books where possible. This makes me more believable and credible, even to someone who is browsing my blog for the first time.
At the same time, do not be afraid to use personal anecdotes and your own experiences, and share them as a means of proving your point. I feel that by showing how dim I can be sometimes, it makes a safe space for people to ask the questions they are thinking. Being a successful entrepreneur is all about what goes on between your ears, so I often share my own limiting beliefs and daily rituals for helping me get my head straight.
A Final Tip Or Two
People can feel the difference between content that was written for them, to help them, or entertain them, and content written for the search engines, full of “popular” keywords, but with no real substance. So don’t try to “keyword stuff”, it just doesn’t work.
Write real content for real people and you’ll do ok with your content marketing and start to build a loyal audience.
Then… don’t forget, it’s up to you to promote your content across your social media accounts! It won’t get much traction otherwise, because you can’t rely on the search engines!