There are all sorts of reasons why people start blogging, but it all boils down to the same thing – they have a message they want to communicate, whether it’s about the products or services they offer, a political or ideological viewpoint on world affairs, or advice about how to slow down and take care of yourself. Put simply, the aim of blogging is to build an audience of loyal followers who are interested in what you have to say.
Blogging is a big commitment. It takes time to do it right and it’s such a waste if, having put in all that time and effort, nobody reads it. First, you need to tell people your blog is there and get them to have a look. Once they’re there, you want them to stay and read what you have to say. Otherwise, your message stays hidden on your unread website and all your hard work is for naught – no one hears your message, no one gets to know you and no one hires you. Finally, you want readers to come back to read more.
So how do you get people to stay and read? The secret is – don’t make your readers work too hard!
Putting Yourself in Your Readers’ Shoes
Think about it. When do people read blogs? In their downtime, between one brain-heavy task and the next, during lunch, in the evening after a hard day’s work – NOT when they are at their sharpest and ready to concentrate. In this state, people have very short attention spans. They’re not going to stick with something that requires them to concentrate or look up unfamiliar words. You might give loads of great information and advice, but if your blog is too hard to read, people will click away and find something less challenging. Remember, the whole world is blogging! The internet is a busy place and there’s a lot of ‘noise’ for you to compete with in the battle for your readers’ attention.
So it’s in your interest to write clear and simple blog posts. This means not assuming your readers know your subject – or your jargon. It means taking them through the subject of your blog slowly and carefully, and explaining what might be unfamiliar to them, in plain English. This can be hard when writing about something you have studied for years. It can be difficult to think back to the time when you didn’t know all the ‘short-hand’ or technical terms you use in your industry. But this step is key to building your readership.
If you’re using your blog for marketing purposes (as 7 Graces Founder Lynn Serafinn and I advocate), there is self-interest in blogging. You need to inform your readers about what you do, what you know and keep them on your side. If they like what they read, and understand it, they will (hopefully) hire you or buy your product. If you’re blogging as part of a marketing strategy, you want your reader to pay attention to what you’re saying. You don’t want them struggling to make sense of what you haven’t explained clearly.
You also can’t assume they have read your blog before and understand things you’ve explained in previous posts. You need to assume every reader is visiting your blog for the very first time, with no knowledge of your subject.
Rules of Thumb When Writing Your Blog Posts
Here are some tips to help keep your readers informed and entertained without making them work too hard:
- Assume they are brand new to your blog and to your subject.
- Avoid all technical jargon or ‘industry speak’. If you can’t avoid it, be sure to explain it simply and clearly.
- Keep it simple – each blog post should be about one idea. If you want to say more, save it for next time. Then remember to write your next blog for brand new readers who missed part one (making sure you summarise what was in part one and providing a link so they can catch up if they want).
- Keep it structured – ensure there is a logical flow from point to point, so it’s easy for your readers to follow your train of thought.
- Explain the connections between your thoughts and the points you’re making – be explicit (never imply ANYTHING).
- Write in plain English – try not to sound like you swallowed a dictionary. Don’t try to be (or sound) clever by using big words or unnecessarily long sentences.
- Be informative, clear and concise.
- Follow our template for writing good blogs.
- If you feel you need help making your blog work for you and your business, you might consider our Platform Building Package or a similar programme with another reputable online marketing strategist.
Blogging is a great way of communicating with your audience and getting your message out, whether it’s an ideological stance or part of a marketing strategy for your business. But in order to do that effectively, it’s important not to fall into the trap of trying to sound knowledgeable and ‘professional’ by using language that bamboozles your readers, or a deeply academic structure that leads them into a web of arguments they can’t fight their way out of.
Be kind to your readers; share your expertise in easily digestible chunks. Entertain, inform, stimulate – but don’t intimidate your audience, confuse them or make them work too hard.
If you manage to walk this tightrope, your readers will not only stay to the end, but they may come back for more and maybe even tell their friends to pop by – and that is how you build an audience of loyal followers who want to listen to and share your message.
22nd November 2014
Nancy V Goodyear is a Business Mentor and Coach who loves to help social entrepreneurs and small business owners cultivate their relationship with self, their business and their audience. With a BA (Hons) in Learning Disability Nursing, she has extensive professional experience working in health & social care within the non-profit sector. She is fluent in French having lived in France for some time. She is a graduate of the Coaches Training Institute and the Co-Active Leadership programme. She is also a director of The 7 Graces Project CIC.
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Find out more about how changing the paradigm can help make the world a better place:
The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sell, by Lynn Serafinn, where you can learn how the 7 Deadly Sins and the 7 Graces impact the world through media and marketing. Brit Writers Awards Finalist eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian & Ecological Social Issues
Tweep-e-licious: 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically by Lynn Serafinn, which can help you learn how to create meaningful collaborations through Twitter and other social media. eLit Book Awards Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.
Get instant access to a free 90-minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com
The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging: An Effective, Creative & Ethical Way of Marketing for Visionaries & New Paradigm Business Leaders. To receive an update when that book is available, just click here. As a thank-you gift for showing your interest, you’ll get instant access to an exclusive, free 5-page PDF revealing the exact same blogging template we use with our clients and we teach to participants on the ethical marketing training courses at the 7 Graces Project.
LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales. Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors.
Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.