A blog, an online communication platform, shares with website visitors timely, authoritative information on topics within a particular area of expertise. As the go-to person for your area of expertise, you may have been asked to contribute blog posts, or you may have decided on your own to create a blog. Our previous blog presented 6 Quick Tips for Successful Blogs. Here are 6 more tips to help ensure your success:
1. Consider weaving in startling but authentic statistics, an illustrative story or example to increase readers’ understanding, or compelling quotes that give a sense of immediacy and humanize your content. For example, an environmental consultant in the United States might weave in statistics or other facts about lengthy project delays and hefty fines or insert quotes about compliance from the Environmental Protection Agency, Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), or other federal agencies. Where have you successfully used statistics, stories, examples, or quotes? To which future blog posts could you add those devices?
2. Crosslink your blog posts for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). That is, to increase traffic to your blog, identify and use keywords (frequently searched phrases) in each post. Insert internal links to information and resources on your own website. Insert external links to pertinent information on other authoritative websites and to additional resources. For example, you can recommend and link to books on booksellers’ websites. Regularly test links to ensure they are still live. What keyword phrases will visitors use to search for your topics? To add another layer of detail for interested readers, where could links be inserted into your existing and planned blog posts?
3. Find a charismatic, personable, reader-respectful voice, and use it consistently. Don’t overestimate readers’ knowledge, but don’t underestimate their intelligence. Provide enough explanation and supporting detail to ensure their understanding, but don’t lecture. Don’t tell readers what to think, how to do their jobs, or what they are probably doing wrong. Instead keep each blog post’s tone upbeat and collegial. Evaluate the tone and degree of professional friendliness of several blogs written by others in your area of expertise. Which appeal to you? Why? What attributes are displayed? For example, did you perceive the author as Accurate? Amusing? Authentic? Authoritative? Caring? Charismatic? Charming? Clear? Collegial? Compassionate? Confident (but not Arrogant)? Constructive? Creative? Credible? Daring? Decisive? Dedicated? Definitive? Dependable? Encouraging? Entertaining? Enthusiastic? Ethical? Experienced? Expert? Friendly? Generous? Genuine? Helpful? Informal? Informative? Innovative? Inspirational? Instructive? Intelligent? Interesting? Knowledgeable? Maintaining High Standards? Passionate? Personable? Positive? Principled? Professional? Realistic? Reliable? Respectful? Sincere? Solid? Solutions-Oriented? Thoughtful? Trustworthy? Upbeat? Well-Educated? Witty? How were those attributes communicated or displayed? Which attributes do you wish to display in your blog writing?
4. Use consultative rather than hard selling. Analyze your audience to uncover your readers’ challenges, interests, and questions. Then keep the focus on what your readers want. Once readers know you care about them, they will be more apt to believe and accept your information. Don’t give away your knowledge or work, but share information that leads to work. For example, after telling a concerning story, use words such as these: “To prevent a comparable scenario at your facility, have a knowledgeable staff member or consultant assess your operations and records for such considerations as AAA, create a compliance calendar to ensure timely reporting, and be your go-to for questions about/Best Practices for local, state, and federal regulations.” If readers have no such knowledgeable staff members and aren’t sure how to assess their operations or set up a compliance calendar, they are likely to contact you or your organization for assistance. What challenges and questions do your readers have? What information can you share to get them one step closer to solutions?
5. Ensure each blog post has a take-away. That is, readers should leave each post informed, motivated, and equipped with nuggets of information they can put to immediate use. Also, encourage ongoing engagement with your website and the topic. When writing a series of posts, end with “In our next blog post, we’ll explore compliance issues associated with YYY.” And then present your ‘homework assignment.’ For example, “What is your organization doing now to ensure compliance with XXX? What are two areas for improvement? Write your plan for improvement in those areas.” What are the take-aways for your recent and future blog posts? How will you engage readers with your topic ongoing?
6. Make each blog post stand-alone but also part of a cohesive whole. In a series of blog posts, mention and provide a link to each previous post: “In our previous post we looked at compliance with XXX. Now let’s explore compliance with YYY.” For cohesion, use the same structure to organize all blog posts in a series. Each post should stand alone for first-time and returning website visitors as well as complement and connect to your other posts. If a reader printed or shared the posts on your blog, would each stand alone? At the same time, does each post contribute and link to the collective knowledge provided by your blog? Do visitors know the specific type and level of expertise you and your organization provide? Will they return to learn more?
Which of the 6 More Quick Tips for Successful Blogs will you implement? What will your readers do with the information you provide?
In our next post, a quiz tests your knowledge of blogging strategies and techniques. You may also be interested in The Writing Center’s previous posts such as Clarity Clinic, How to Use Readability Statistics Scores, and 21 Steps to Create A Customized Style Guide.
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