Blogging is getting very competitive these days, and there are more and more blog posts clamouring for attention - 56.6 million per month (or 1,268 per minute) on the WordPress platform alone. That’s a lot of posts. Increasingly, the emphasis for bloggers has to be on quality rather than quantity alone.Here at Equinet, we have offered a fair amount of advice on how to improve the quality and content of your blog posts, but let’s get to the root of the issue - how do you, yourself, become a better blog writer?
1. Keep up to date
There is nothing worse than acting on out of date information, especially in technology-heavy industries where changes occur frequently. Demonstrating out of date knowledge is a quick way to lose the trust of readers and any authority you may have had. So your blog has to keep up with the times, the techniques, the processes, the issues. In fact, as a trusted advisor, you actually need to stay ahead of the game and be able to write posts that allow readers to plan strategies for their business’ future.
So environmental scanning (in a business sense) is essential. Make sure you are up to date with your industry.
- What are the latest techniques, processes, products?
- Are there any threats to traditional, techniques, processes or products?
- Who are the major players - has that changed?
- Who are the latest entrants?
- Are there any global factors affecting the industry?
- Are there any new legal, political or environmental issues affecting the industry?
And so on.
Also essential, is keeping up with your own organisation’s products or services.
- Talk to customer services and find about what the latest issues are.
- Talk to the product/service development staff - what’s in development? What’s new?
- Talk to directors - what’s the planned strategy for products/services?
- Be fully versed in all products/services - get training if necessary.
Being able to advise your customers and prospects on what is happening in your industry and with your products/services is a useful, valuable service that they will greatly appreciate. More importantly, it will lead them to return to read your posts time and time again.
2. Find out what the market wants
This is one of the most important steps and one we have talked about many times before. Giving users what they want is the absolute key to a successful blog. However, you cannot do this if you don't know what it is that they want.
So spend some time keeping in touch with the needs of your customers and prospects.
- Talk to your sales people and find out what their customers are asking for.
- Talk to customer service personnel and see what problems customers need solving or what they need help with.
- Undertake research and study other research in your industry.
- And, of course, talk to your customers and prospects.
The more you can find out exactly what it is that your readers want and then deliver it, the more successful your blog will be.
3. Read and learn from others
It is very easy as a blogger to shut yourself off and not read anything by other bloggers. However, this would be wrong - you need to read other blogs to widen your experience, get ideas and to keep your writing fresh. Blogs from your industry are the obvious place to start, but also try and read other popular or famous blogs from all over the web.
- What do those bloggers do?
- How do they write?
- What types of posts do they publish?
- How do they engage their readers?
Keep a notepad by your keyboard and when you see a technique or idea you like, make a note of it. This could be electronic and on your computer if you prefer - that way it is easier to store links and copy and paste little snippets. Microsoft OneNote is a great tool for this. Be constantly on the lookout for new ideas. Let your reading trigger new ideas. But don’t steal – be inspired.
Look at magazine articles.
- How are they constructed?
- How do they deal with complex subjects?
Enjoy reading articles and blogs, but also stop and think, analyse.
- Why do you enjoy it?
- Why do you like it?
If you hate a blog, don’t just stop reading it, work out why you hate it.
- What doesn’t work?
- How could it have been improved?
To become a great blogger, you almost need to embrace it as part of your life, always on the lookout for great ideas and always analysing the things you read.
4. Write and write well
The most important thing you can do as a blogger is to write - write, even when you are finding it hard. Just start writing, don’t worry about the quality or content too much to begin with (you can always go back and rewrite/edit later). Just write.
Once you have the first few paragraphs down, it will become easier. The old adage, "practice makes perfect" is mostly valid, but in order to improve and become a better blogger, you should learn about the craft of writing too. So some of the blogs you read in the last step should be blogs about writing and blogging. (And, obviously, you should include this one - of course!).
The smoother your writing and the better it flows, the easier it will be for the reader to follow your post, to understand the message, to gain the benefit. If the reader stumbles over bad writing - making the post feel disjointed or worse, amateurish - then they will struggle to understand the message and lose interest rapidly.
Similarly, incorrect spelling and poor grammar will also trip the reader up and "wake them" from their experience of reading and absorbing. Most word processors have spelling checkers that will catch the basics, but they will not catch correctly spelt words used in the wrong context like "their" for "there" or "sometimes" for "some times". Equally, they will be unable to catch punctuation errors such as "it’s" for "its". Specialist tools like Grammarly can help with this if you are blogging on your own, but it still doesn’t beat the eye of an experienced editor/proof-reader.
5. Analyse and learn what works
To be the best blogger, you must know what works and what doesn’t. Here analytics can help. Most blogging platforms offer some form of analytics these days, and even if they don’t there are tools like Google Analytics that are free, easy to install and give you a range of useful statistics.
- Look at what blog posts people visit.
- Look at the posts that generate the most clicks on your calls to action.
- Look at the dwell time - how long they spend reading a post?
- Look at the links that they followed.
- Read the comments that are left.
- What posts create engagement?
- Which posts are being shared the most?
- Talk to customers and prospects and find out which posts they liked and why.
There are plenty of other things you could do to become a better blogger, but these five listed here are a great start.
Being a better blog writer means better blog posts, which builds better business as a result. (Now, just try saying that after a beer or two!).