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Blogging Tips: Transform Your Content from Good to Great

10 Aug

Are you trying to piece together the overall message and tone of your brand? Do you understand the way your website promotes your business?

Blogging is the most popular form of content marketing, designed to appeal to all visitors at all stages of the purchase cycle.

Not only does blogging convey information, tips, advice, and solutions, but it also conveys the tone of your brand.

Maybe you started blogging a few years ago, but as the days and months passed, your efforts dwindled.

Take a few minutes now to look back at some of your earliest posts. How do they sound? Are they fun, friendly, casual, and warm? Or are they stale; lacking imagination, personality, and creativity? Hopefully you can see how much you have improved!

Evergreen content

If you haven’t updated your website in a few years, its likely holding onto some stale, old content. And this content does very little to convince your audience to stick around, learn more about your products, find out about solutions, and ultimately begin to develop trust.

We’ve collected some of our favourite tips in order for you to lose the corporate speak and instead convey your message – through both old and new blog posts – with purpose.

Editing old blog posts – refreshing them with better formatting, improved keywords, and a friendlier tone – improves the quality of evergreen content on your website.

Determine your tone

Wait… what?

What tone; don’t I just, well, start writing and see what I end up with?

Determining a tone is more about shaping and crafting an overall brand tone rather than picking a word like ‘educational’ or ‘fun’ and using that to describe your writing (and business) tone.

A consistent tone throughout your website and other marketing collateral helps build trust and reputability for a brand. It also helps larger businesses (for example, those that have multiple people creating content for various marketing channels) stay consistent in their messaging.

Get rid of business jargon

Convoluted, heavy, boring business jargon is never fun to read!

A quick Google search of “common business jargon” spits up pages upon pages of results, including these titles:

Basically, we hate business jargon in blog posts.

Business jargon is not only hard to understand, it’s also a flimsy shortcut people take when they want to avoid addressing something directly. And that’s most definitely not the way to gain trust or credibility from potential customers!

(And honestly… I had no idea what “open the kimono” meant until I looked it up. I agree with business professor Bruce Barry when he says it’s actually kind of creepy.)
By the way…

Business jargon is not the same as technical talk. More “techy” speak most definitely has its place – like in a white paper or other more comprehensive download – but it should often be reserved when speaking to potential clients that are further along in the purchase cycle.

Use the words “you” and “I”

This allows you to speak directly to readers when you’re writing a blog post, and can make them understand that there are other people like them, facing the same frustrations or searching for the same solutions.

Using the words “you” and “I” speaks to readers on a more personal level and removes the ambiguity of a large, corporate brand taking to the “masses”.

Use relatable analogies, share relevant circumstances, and don’t be afraid to break down the barriers between company and client.

Your blog post should sound like a conversation, not an address or speech.

Have FUN when you write

You know you’ve created a knockout blog post when you actually enjoyed writing it! [Click to Tweet]

There’s nothing worse than forcing yourself to write word after word simply to fill a quota. But when you actually take the time to research and write about a topic you have an interest in, you know you’ve written a great blog post.

Having fun when you write doesn’t necessarily mean that your blog post has to actually be funny; it can be easy to read, enjoyable, informative, or helpful.

Break the grammar rules

You shouldn’t transform your writing into a grammar pro’s worst nightmare, so do it sparingly, but don’t be afraid to break the grammar rules to achieve that conversational tone we mentioned above.

What kind of rules do we mean?

Start a sentence with “AND” or “BUT”!

For shame!! But (see what I did there?) starting a sentence with ‘and’ or ‘but’ emphasises a point and adds punch to a piece of writing. We do it when we speak, so why not try it when you write?

End a sentence with a proposition

This tired rule, especially when overused, somehow just makes your writing sound like you’re from the 1930s. This is a rule I’m OK with breaking.

Learn to ignore the squiggly green line in Microsoft word

Sentences fragments are technically grammatically incorrect, but – just like a sentence starting with ‘and’ – they can highlight and emphasise a point and makes your copy more personable. So there.

blogging tips

Use one-sentence paragraphs

Not only do they break a page up to create a more visually appealing piece of content, but they also help with narration and emphasis. A single-sentence paragraph is often an important phrase that invites a reader to take a brief break on either side of it.

Use the interrobang

What the heck is an interrobang, you ask? It’s the combination of an exclamation point and question mark at the end of a question to indicate excitement, or at the end of a rhetorical question. Isn’t that cool?!

Read it over and over again… and read it out loud!

No doubt when you’re writing a new piece, you’ll be reading it over and over in your head, trying to distinguish better words and clearer sentences. But there’s more to it than that…
Read it out loud

No matter how foolish you feel, read your post out loud, pausing in the right spots to get a true feeling of the tone you’re projecting. Does it align with your brand? Is it easy to read, or are you running out of breath thanks to sentences that are seemingly never-ending?

It’s always a good idea to leave a blog post and then come back to it with a fresher perspective. A lunch break might be long enough, but you might like to leave it overnight and return to it the following day.

I tend to dedicate one morning a week to iformat’s blog posts, and I come back to them later in the afternoon (after several hours where my mind’s focused elsewhere), or the next day to start my revisions.
Trim the fat

Don’t be afraid to cull clumsy sentences or unnecessary words to create a more fluid piece of writing.

Take a cue from Mark Twain:

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”

Simple tip, but if it’s good enough for Mark Twain, maybe it’s good enough for you and I!

Get other people to read it

Now that you’ve read your piece out loud and edited as much as you see fit, it’s time to get a second (or third, or fourth!) opinion.

Getting a colleague or trusted friend to read a piece of writing promotes clarity – they’ll challenge you (in a constructive way, of course) and pick up things that you mightn’t have noticed, like sentences that don’t make sense (hey – it happens!)

Writing tips

Writing a blog post (or any other content for your website or social media) is more than just spitting out a bunch of words. [Click to Tweet]

It takes research, editing, and careful planning to create a piece of writing worth reading and sharing.

Do you have any other writing tips to share? Be sure to let us know on Twitter and Facebook.