Monday, 28 July 2014

I Wrote a Blog Post about Writing a Blog Post

Clever title, huh? I came up with it myself.

Lately I've been delving more and more into the blog writing business, much to my personal delight. Writing is something I've always enjoyed, so when I was tasked with managing the blogs of some SWAGGER MEDIA clients and creating content for them, I was ecstatic.

Since I started writing for these blogs, I've come up with 5 tricks that have helped me improve the content of my posts and engage my audience better, and now I'm going to share them with you.

1. Know What You're Writing About 

This may sound obvious, but in my experience, writing about subjects on which you are well-informed is always more enjoyable for both you and your readers than writing about what you don't know or care about. However, there's usually only a limited amount of subjects that fall into the former category. In addition, if you are like me, you might be writing for a highly specialized blog on subjects you've never even heard of. So my advice is: research, research, research.

Remember to add at least an hour or so for research as part of the time you allot to writing each blog post. You don't need to get your PHD on the subject, but you do need to know enough to at least answer teh following questions: What is my subject? How is it defined? Why is it important for my audience to know about this? If I didn't know anything about the subject, would this piece enlighten or confuse me?

2 .Write Passionately

Perhaps you've heard people say that you should write about what you know, what you're passionate about. That's good advice, but, as I mentioned before, it's not always feasible. So here's a better one: write passionately. Write as if your life revolved around the subject at hand, as if you've just spent decades studying the very thing you are now writing a blog post about, as if you couldn't wait to tell the world about... I don't know... dog dander, for example.

You get the point.

3. Come Up with Content Ideas Beforehand

A good way to make sure you have enough time to research your subject and write a great-looking article is to have a list of content ideas written down beforehand. This way you won't find yourself scrambling for topic ideas the day you're supposed to write and publish the blog post.

Also remember to cater to your audience. Say you are in charge of posting content on a blog that specializes on pet care and you really really like snakes, so your first instinct is to write a series of posts about caring for pet snakes. While snakes might be interesting to you, your audience might actually be more interested in dogs and cats. One way to find out what your target audience is actually interested in is through Google Analytics. If you have analytics set up for your website, you can actually get your hands on tons of information about the people who visit your site (age, gender, main interests, etc.) as well as which search terms they've been using to get to your site. This way you can take those search terms and use them as topics for blog posts.

4. Optimize for SEO

If you are writing a blog post there is no reason not to try to make it as SEO-friendly as possible. We could get WAY more in-depth with this conversation, but we'll keep this simple. Three quick ways to do this are:
  1. Include pictures
  2. Include internal links to your website and external links to another blog or website
  3. Include the main keywords on your title and URL
5. Use Pictures, Videos, and GIFs

Folks like to look at pretty pictures. Admit it: you might not have gotten through this entire post if it wasn't for the GIFs. 

What other steps do you take as part of your blog writing process? What are the essential keys for your audience? Let me know by commenting below or by tweeting @swagger_media!

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