Perhaps the best advice on blogging I’ve ever seen…
Perhaps the best advice on blogging I’ve ever seen…
Since pre-historical times, people have been using the art of storytelling to communicate. Cavemen drew pictures on cave walls depicting great hunts and deeds. As language developed, oral tradition started, where people would tell and retell the same stories over and over again to communicate their history and values. And then to help our forgetful minds, we found ways to preserve these stories on stone, paper and eventually electronically.
There are lots of stories that provide pure entertainment value, but most stories strive to teach us something, whether it’s an actual lesson, or our history, or perhaps the human condition. If you think about some of the movies that you’ve seen which, years later, you can still recall and enjoy – there was a lesson in there that stuck with you.
Do you remember, “Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” Sure you do, that’s from The Wizard of OZ! Dorothy has an experience after her home is struck by a tornado and it teaches her to love and value the people she has in her life.
Ok, how about, “Houston, we have a problem.” Of course you remember Tom Hanks delivering that classic line as Jim Lovell in Apollo 13. The simple understatement of the line is even more profound considering most people who watched the film were familiar with the story it was telling, and knew that the astronaut’s troubles were just beginning. But we love that story and that film because of the fantastic triumph of the human spirit it portrays.
And what about, “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.” You know that one. The Godfather, right? What’s the lesson there? I don’t know, maybe, don’t mess with the mafia?
The point is, those were great stories which touched us and taught us something. We enjoyed them and related to them and remember them to this day.
What if you could do that for your clients?
One of the most effective purposes for a business blog is storytelling. You can tell stories about your clients and your products or services, but one of the best ideas is to tell stories about your actual business. But what do those stories look like? Here are six different kinds of stories you can tell, as well as some general tips on great storytelling.
Do go the source and read the rest of his perspective. You already know the rationale behind having a business blog — Mike’s article may give you the confidence you need to proceed for to expand on what you’re already doing…
Susan Harrow writes:
So many people call themselves thought leaders now – but they aren’t. To be a thought leader takes some doing. It’s not so much about being original as it is about putting things together in an original way. It comes down to packaging your knowledge, skills, abilities, experiences, and yes, your thoughts in a way that makes you media worthy and worth listening to by your audience—a huge audience. Follow these nine steps to get going on the path to be respected, heard and reverberated out into the world.
Susan has some great ideas on how to achieve thought leadership, however, I think she leaves out one important point in her article: you have to document your work in a way that people can find it! Maybe I’m being Captain Obvious here, but while you read her article, think about how you can leverage business blogging and social networking to provide social proof of your thought leadership…
If this is all geeks to you comment below and asked me how you can get started! I have developed an efficient, cost-effective workflow that you can use as a platform for transformational thought leadership…
What is a blog? It can be everything and it can be nothing. As the Bard said “Nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so”. During my blogging career, I estimate that I have created between 15 and 20,000 blog posts on every topic from A-to-Z — most of them, unfortunately, ineffective…
In this next phase of my business I’m attempting to become more mindful and intentional about what I’m doing online and why in this post is an attempt to unpack blogging from that perspective; more mindfulness and awareness of why we actually do social media and what we can expect from the effort.
A get rich quick scheme. If you are thinking that this was one of those articles I think you’ll be happier somewhere else on the Internet. But if you’re looking for deeper insight into what blogging is from perspective of mindfulness and intention and what it can do for you then please read on…
Michael Hyatt shares this:
Now is a good time to review your previous year’s blogging results and see what you can learn. I just went through this exercise today and thought I’d share what I learned. Hopefully, it will encourage you to do a similar assessment.
Recently thought leader Michael Hyatt had two guest posters on his blog; both had some interesting perspectives that serve as great instruction [or gentle reminders for seasoned bloggers] on structure in a blog post. The first is from Philip Rothschild who says:
I do, in fact, use a blog post template. I don’t follow it slavishly, but I always start with it. It includes all the elements that I have learned make for an effective post. It also helps me write faster, because it provides me with a track to run on.
My blog post template consists of five components:
- Lead Paragraph. This is key. If you take too long on the wind-up, you will lose readers. You have to get into the premise of the post and make it relevant to your readers. After the title, this is the second most important component of your post.
- Relevant Image. I use images for the same reasons magazines do: I want to pull my readers into the post itself. Pictures do that. I get 90 percent of mine from iStockPhoto. (Click here for a 20% discount.) Occasionally, I use a screenshot or an embedded video or slideshow.
- Personal Experience. I always try to share my personal experience. Why? Because readers connect with stories. The more honest and transparent I can be, the better. In fact, my most popular posts generally come out of some failure on my part.
- Main Body. Everything to this point has been an introduction. I always try to make my main content scannable.I use bullets, numbered lists—and often both. This makes the content more accessible to readers and more sharable via Twitter and Facebook.
- Discussion Question. For the past few years, I have ended every post with a question. I don’t intend my posts to be a monologue. Instead, I want to start a conversation. As a result, I measure my effectiveness at this by how many comments I get.
I also follow a few overall rules when writing my posts:
- Make the posts short.This is my biggest personal challenge. I have a tendency to be too thorough. Consequently, I aim for 500 words. This usually means I have to write the post and then go back and tighten it up.
- Use short paragraphs.I try to stick to 3–4 sentences. If it’s more than this, the content looks too dense. Readers will give up and move on. (Notice how newspapers usually follow this rule.)
- Keep short sentences.As a general rule, I try avoid compound sentences. A period gives the reader a natural stop—and a sense of progress as they pass one milestone after another. To quote a common copywriting axion, short sentences make the copy read fast.
- Use simple words. I love language, so I am often tempted to use big words. However, I have learned to avoid this. My goal is to communicate, notto impress my readers with my vocabulary.
- Provide internal links. I can’t say everything in one post, so I link to other posts where I have developed a thought in more detail. This has the added vantage of increasing my pageviews and session times. I think it is also genuinely helpful to my readers.
While your template might be different, it is worth outlining and tweaking as you hone your writing skills. This will allow you to write faster and more effectively.
Blogger Ali Luke offers these insights on basic types of blog posts…
These are the three simple post structures you can use:
- The How-to Post.A how-to post aims to teach the reader something, by taking them through a step-by-step process. It’s usually structured with numbered, sequential steps. And, where appropriate, these steps might include a screenshot or photo to show the reader what to expect at each stage.If you’re writing a how-to post, the easiest way to begin is with a careful plan. Work out the necessary steps. You may find you need to break complicated procedures into several parts, or merge simple ones together. Get them into the best possible order.Once you’ve done that, your post will be straightforward to write—and straightforward for readers to follow.Variations:
- “How I ____ and How You Can Too”: Readers love to hear how you succeeded with something. This formula lets you explain your own steps and offer action points for them.
- “Why ___ Matters and How To Do It”: If you suspect your readers need to know the why before the how, spend the first third or half of your post explaining the why, then move on to practical steps.
- The List Post.A list post offers readers a selection of ideas, tips, suggestions, or resources. These are normally numbered. If you’ve been around the blogging world for long, you’ll have come across this type of post—probably many times.The key difference between a list post and a how-to post is that readers don’t need to follow the list from start to end: they can dip in and use those points that seem most applicable to their own situation.As with a how-to post, pre-planning is essential. Aim to come up with a couple more items than you need, and cut the weakest. Think about the order of your items, too: easiest to hardest works well, or you could alternate “do” and “don’t” tips.Variations:
- “The A–Z of ___”: You may well have seen this format used in magazines. An A–Z list post usually aims to produce a comprehensive overview of a particular topic, in bite-size chunks.
- “Roundup: ___”: This form of post gathers together resources (generally blog posts) on a particular topic, meaning each list item includes a link. You could also use this to list, say, the top 20 tweeters in your niche.
- The Review Post.Review posts offer an informed opinion about a particular product or service. These are a great way to serve your readers, who might be debating whether or not to purchase a particular item. They also help establish your own knowledge and expertise in your field.It’s up to you what exactly you include in your reviews, but one simple structure you can use is this:
- Overview—what’s included, how much it costs, and so on
- The good—mention the two or three aspects that were most enjoyable or useful to you
- The bad—write about what didn’t work so well – this adds credibility, especially if you’re an affiliate for the product / service
- Verdict—should your readers buy the product / service?
- “Product X vs Product Y”: Often, readers will be struggling to choose between two similar products or companies. A comparative review helps them make up their mind.
- “Top Ten Books On ___”: Similar to a roundup list post, but with added opinion, a “top ten” of books or other products in your niche offers readers bite-size reviews—and a resource to return to.
Of course, these aren’t the only structures you can use. But they do give you a great basis to build on. And they help ensure that your reader gets real value from your writing.
If you’ve had success with one of the above post structures, or if you’ve got a favorite structure of your own, let us know in the comments.
To Ali’s list I would add a 4th type of blog post which I call a ‘curative’ or curation post. That’s the type of post you see here! I could have just tweeted this two links or emailed them to a few friends, but I took a little extra time to glue the relevant parts of the two posts together and when I’m done, I’ll share this post with a couple of hundred people I work with but it will also be posted here on the blog for anyone who might find nature Google search or be searching for something specific on my site. While some people may frown on the concept of curation, curators provide a valuable service to the original writer, to their readers and to themselves when their curation truly adds value. As an added bonus, here’s a link to a recent post that shows my curation workflow…
I invite you to interact with me through the comment form or the connect menu option above — I’d be happy to talk with you about how I use all of these tactics for effective blogging…
Danny Brown writes:
“When you read a blog, what’s your preferred method – desktop browser or mobile (say, smartphone or tablet)?
According to the analytics for this blog, my mobile browsing traffic accounts for just over 6,000 visits per month (or around 10% of my traffic), and they tend to stay on the site longer than desktop visitors.
So it makes sense for me to ensure these visitors are looked after. Because I run on WordPress, my blog is automatically mobile-friendly (meaning visitors on mobile browsers will get a nice replication of my design on their phones).
I could also install a plugin like WPtouch Pro, to optimize the mobile experience even more. But I’m not a fan of either of these approaches – instead, I much prefer a responsive design for mobile visitors.”
I agree with Danny and that’s why e1evation focuses on responsive WordPress websites! Comment below or use the connect form to talk about how this applies to your situation…
Blogging plus Social Media
The rise of social media has allowed bloggers to display and market themselves and their content globally without having to pay a cent to a newspaper, television mogul or to the mass media elite.
Bloggers that were previously undiscovered became global brands on topics as diverse as food, fashion and technology. Marketing your blog was no longer restricted to building an RSS or email subscription list.
Publishing and marketing has been democratized. Freedom to express yourself globally is available in seconds and it is also mobile.
The age of the printing press is now threatened after 573 years. Print media marketing has now been surpassed by digital media for the first time in history.
So How do you Become a Better Blogger?
It is quite simple really.
- Blog late or early
- Blog while travelling
- Blog on holidays
- Blog even when your friends think you’re mad
- Blog on the bus
- Blog on the plane
- Blog when the boss isn’t watching
- Blog when your partner nags you to stop blogging
- Blog when your passion has taken a holiday
- Blog when you think no one cares about your blog
Jeff has a great perspective on the importance of blogging. Comment below or connect with me so we can talk about how this applies to you and your situation…
Some good thoughts from the Content Marketing Institute for bloggers that getting serious about blogging ‘on purpose’…
If one thing is certain in life it’s that very few ideas are genuinely groundbreaking, never-seen-before moments of genius. The reality is that almost everything that we do now is either a reinvention of the wheel or a plain-and-simple rehashing of something that has come before.
Some might say these ideas are lame concepts created for and by people too lazy to come up with something of their own. If you believe that, then you’re missing out on a lifetime of learning. Put simply, ideas are very rarely about the concepts themselves but more about the execution. It’s in the execution that brilliance lies.
I use reverse engineering a lot, and when it comes to content strategy, there are few better ways of using this little trick than by “borrowing” content flow and content strategy from the guys and girls who know it best.
Magazine planning has been perfected over decades of iteration, and the very best print-based titles leave a footprint that offers the ultimate blueprint from which you can create your perfect content strategy online.
For years I said I don’t need no stinkin’ editorial calendar but my results got better when I started thinking like a publisher. This article will help you understand how so go to the source and drink it in…
I think someone must have peed in David Meerman Scott‘s cornflakes a couple of weeks back. He was so hacked off that he went off on a rant on content curation:
You may have noticed that content curation has grown very quickly as a way for people and organizations to publish on the Web.
Sure, there are some benefits to this effort. But as a strategy for generating attention for yourself or your business, content curation is nowhere near as powerful as generating original content.
Unlike writing your own blog post or shooting your own video, content curation simply involves pointing to others’ work.
Services like Scoop.it and Paper.li have sprung up to make it easy for anyone to publish an online magazine by linking to anything on the Web.
Yes, there is value in pointing to others work. But that is the point – it is other people’s work, not your own.
Many organizations use guest writers to create content, which in my mind is another form of content curation. Nothing wrong with having a guest blog post now and then, but if you never showcase your own peoples’ ideas, I think it is a mistake.
Original Content: The focus a successful marketing [sic]
You brand yourself as an organization worthy of doing business with. Done well, an added bonus is that the search engines rank the content highly and people are eager to share the content on their social networks.
And hey if you generate some interesting stuff, then the content curators will link to you!! Wouldn’t you rather have the links come in?” via Content Curation: A Poor Substitute for Original Content | Social Media Today.
Now David’s a really smart guy — I even own his book “The Rules of Marketing & PR” — but this article doesn’t reflect that especially on the topic of curation…
The kind of curation David talks about is only one kind of curation — linking to other people’s content. This post is another type of curation. Sure, I point to David’s site and quoted a couple of his paragraphs but I’m adding my own value by pointing out that there’s another form of curation that David chose not to consider but that actually adds value. It looks alot like this…
There is a ‘wrong’ way and a ‘right’ way to curate and a lot of it carries over from the ‘wrong’ way and ‘right’ way to write a term paper; correctly leveraging a quote is appropriate and brings power to your writing and your Search Engine Optimization [SEO] done properly. Like this post.