7 tips to vastly improve the quality of your blog content
Writing online marketing content, like the kind of thing you would read on a blog or a corporate website, is a lot harder than people usually expect it to be.
When most businesses try to generate copy for their websites, they usually only have experience writing whitepapers or other formal reports. Even if you have a good grasp of the mechanics of the English language, writing web content that captures the attention of prospective customers is much different than writing for a technical audience.
If you’re looking to update your website or start a company blog, you’ll need to start with great content that people actually want to read. Here are 7 tried-and-tested copywriting tips that can help keep things interesting, engaging, and on-track. After all, the benefits of keeping up a healthy business blog are well worth the time and effort.
1. Start with a working title
Get a name down first, something that’s clear and specific enough to point you in the direction you’re trying to go. You can always change it later to make it a bit more punchy; but in the meantime, you’ll have a temporary placeholder that sets the tone and helps determine what your end goal really is. Deciding where you’re headed from the start will make it much easier to begin staking out the path you’ll take to get there.
2. Organise your ideas with an outline
It’s one thing to have an idea for a blog post and a much harder thing to succinctly communicate it to others. In the same way that your temporary title will keep you focused on the purpose of your post, an outline can help you to get the basics down and make sure all the important stuff gets covered.
Try using headings to form your outline. Each heading should represent a point you’re trying to get across to your audience. The body paragraphs that follow should aim to prove that point the same way you would if you were writing a short essay. Your introduction should do just that—introduce your ideas—and your final paragraph should very plainly summarise everything you covered and wrap it all up into a neat and tidy package.
3. Write the way you talk
A big problem that many businesses face is that the style of writing you would find in a whitepaper isn’t generally what people actually enjoy reading. It’s often full of industry jargon and acronyms, and it’s not engaging enough to hold most people’s attention for very long.
I’ll never forget the first time I read a book by Elmore Leonard. As a young teen, I was completely awe-struck by his style of writing. Up until that point, I had only ever been taught to write with a very formal and rigid structure. But here was someone who had dozens of books published and all of them were full of these simple, choppy sentences that flowed as if you were reading a voice-to-text transcript of his unfiltered inner thoughts.
Keep things simple and be direct in getting your points across. Use words that you would actually use in a conversation, and don’t be afraid to let your personality show through your written voice.
4. Produce content regularly and consistently
Do what the pros do and create an editorial calendar. It’ll help you to organise all your post ideas and plan for when and where they’ll be shared.
Just be sure your schedule is realistic and something you’ll be able to stick to so that your campaign doesn’t get derailed by the first bump in the road. Try and work ahead as far in advance as you can so there is always something fresh ready to go, even when ‘real life’ gets in the way and you are suddenly faced with competing priorities.
5. Back up your claims
In the same way you’d stay home from work if you were sick to protect your team from catching your cold, make an effort not to spread fake news. Use only data and research from vetted sources (with links) to back up any statements you make in your post. Learn the differences between presenting your ideas as fact versus theory, and what qualifies something as editorial versus reporting, to avoid getting dog-piled by people eager to embarrass you in the comments section.
6. Always take the time to proofread
This one should be non-negotiable. When readers find typos and grammatical errors in your writing, they’ll see you as less professional and less intelligent. Plus, it’ll hurt your SEO if key search terms are spelled incorrectly.
Give yourself 30 minutes to edit your post, ideally on a different day than you initially wrote it. Our brains are really efficient at glazing over words to pick out pertinent information, and you’ll find tons of things that you quite literally didn’t see before when you look at it a day later with fresh eyes.
If you absolutely have to get something out the same day you write it, try changing the font when you proofread it. Giving your brain slightly new shapes to look at will help you to better pick out errors.
It’s also important to remember that, sometimes during the writing process, your ideas can evolve in a different direction than you first expected. Be sure to double-check your title and headings when you’re done to make sure everything still accurately reflects what’s actually in the post.
7. Tell a story
Stories are what help us connect emotionally with each other, and storytelling is the single most important tool for engaging with your audience. Here’s an entire post to explain why.
If you think you might need some hands-on assistance with creating content for your website or stepping up your blogging game, I would be happy to help! Reach out to learn more about the different content marketing and copywriting services I offer.