November 1, 2014

6 Tips to Writing Better Blog Posts (or Anything Else)

Tell the truth – you resent your small business blog a little bit, don’t you? It’s OK. You’re not alone. Reading all these reports that more businesses are blogging than not and constantly watching your competitors hit it out of the ballpark is creating increased pressure. And that pressure, when added to our already busy schedules, sometimes makes us look at blogging not as an effective way to spur lead generation or market our businesses, but as a burden. The result isn’t pretty.

Actually, the result is horrible, horrible blogging.

If readers aren’t connecting with your blog posts or you simply feel like maybe you need a refresh, read these six tips to writing better blog posts. Sometimes it really is just about getting out of your own way and letting the magic happen.

1. Stop comparing yourself to everyone else.

Competitive intelligence is great…until you use it to psych yourself out. While it’s sometimes helpful to know what your competitors have going on, it doesn’t really matter what they’re doing, how many Twitter followers they have or how many comments each of their posts receives. You’re not in competition with them. You’re in competition with yourself.

Darren Rowse had a great post on Problogger last week about why he doesn’t worry about the competition. And while Darren doesn’t worry because he arguably has no competition, the point he makes is a valid one. Concern yourself with bettering your traffic, your leads and your momentum, and you start looking at things from a much better place. Don’t worry about beating your competitor’s blog; focus on making yours better every day.

2. Reconnect with your passion for your industry.

You know what happens when you take the pressure off something? You start to enjoy doing it again. And people can sense that in your writing. Actually, it changes your writing. Perhaps you started blogging to connect with other small business owners, to comment on what you’re passionate about in your industry, to work out common issues. Get in touch with that place and that passion again–because that’s what’s going to attract people to your blog and to your company.

3. Remember the goal of your blog.

Maybe you didn’t start out with a passion for educating people or connecting with the masses. That’s OK. But why did you start blogging? There was a goal, whether it was to spur lead generation, increase rankings for long-tail search terms or market yourself as an expert. Focus on that goal and the activities it takes to get there. When you turn it into a competition to increase your numbers for things like traffic, comments, leads, it becomes a game. Games are fun, and that brings a new energy and passion you didn’t realize was there.

4. Find inspiration in stories.

It’s not the best marketers or the best business owners who make the best bloggers. It’s the best storytellers — the people who can make us feel something and then tie that feeling to a larger goal. If you want to improve your blogging, learn to tell better stories. One way to do that is to continually seek out good storytellers. That means taking in books, magazine articles, podcasts and movies that feature these stories. It could mean re-reading your favorite novel from high school or going on a hunt for people who make you feel something. Study their writing techniques and then make them your own.  It’s the story that matters.

5. Show no fear.

It’s hard to put passion in your writing when you’re afraid of what the Negative Nancys of the industry are going to say. Or maybe you’re not worried so much about angry trolls, just that you don’t know everything and that someone may point it out to you. So what? Let them! Once you remove the burden of having to know everything and always be right, you help bludgeon that inner critic and allow yourself to share again. Often it’s the fear of “being called out” or having someone tell us we’re “wrong” that inhibits us from being able to express ourselves or share an unpopular opinion. Find power in creating something people want to talk about – good or bad. Don’t let fear silence you.

6. Just write.

When you’re feeling inspired to share something, allow yourself to share it. Just write, and don’t stop writing until you’ve gotten out everything you needed to say. Many times we interrupt the writing process by trying to edit as we go or letting insecurity change what we’re trying to say. When we do this, we neuter our content and dilute its impact. Allow yourself to write without edits, without fear, and without the voices of those pesky Internet trolls chatting in your ear.

The above are six things that help me keep life in my writing. What works for you?

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Lisa Barone


Lisa Barone Lisa Barone is Vice President of Strategy at Overit, an Albany Web design and development firm where she serves on the senior staff overseeing the company’s marketing consulting, social media, and content divisions.

16 Reactions

  1. great post, thanks, i needed a bit of blogging inspiration this morning.

  2. Only compare your efforts to your previous efforts. Are you doing better? Have you made progress? Sometimes we have to look back a little bit before we understand how far we’ve come.

  3. Love #1. Comparison is a killer. There are plenty of readers to go around. Make your content the best it can be.

  4. Reconnecting with your passion for the industry is a big one; if you don’t like what you’re writing about, you might as well not write about it. It’s going to reflect your indifference.

  5. Disclosure: I work for compete.com

    While I understand the motivation for this article and agree that sweating the small stuff is not going to be a key driver of success. Ignoring the competition completely isn’t exactly wise either.

    Competitive insights can help you get ahead, especially in highly competitive markets. While this information is never as easy as how many followers the competition has it’s typically something more like, “I noticed my competition was successful doing x or y, would that also work for me?”. So instead of it being an observation it’s more of a hypothesis.

    Kudos on tips – well written.

  6. I’ve learned that just write like you are talking to a friend or associate. Make it friendly and non-threatening or pushy.

  7. Lisa, I love that you mentioned about story-telling. Most often, I come across blogs that look like it was written by some article spinning software. Then, there are those that sound really dry and it turns me off, really. I guess, people go online because they want to read something fresh and interesting. Sadly, a lot of blogs have been written to talk about ‘me, myself and I’ instead of sharing something worthwhile. Just a thought…

  8. Great post, Lisa! I agree with all these tips. Maintaining humility and staying focused on the goals of your blog is a great way to keep it going strong.

    I have an idea for an additional tip to writing better blog posts.

    Be personal. So, so many blogs I read are “all-business.” Meaning, I don’t get to really get an idea what makes a given blogger tick. I usually follow blogs that blend personality into their tips and advice. Doesn’t means going into rants, but also sharing the personal connection to a given topic — and hopefully they have that. ;-)

    ~Joseph

  9. Remember, too, that sarcasm doesn’t translate well from print. Also, no one wants to read negative blogs. That said, don’t think you need to be perpetually cheerful either. If you feel your subject strongly, your audience will, too. And the audience will respond to that feeling.

  10. Great list to take into account when writing a post. Maybe I would have added on more bullett: Find your voice.

    Thanks for the info.

    Salva

  11. Most business owners have no idea what the goal of their blog really is (or should be). To make matters much worse, they read advice on blogging which is for bloggers instead of business owners who are marketing. The difference is huge and so are the mistakes which are made. Business owners end up growing their blog the wrong way for the wrong people for the wrong reasons, and it becomes the tail that wags the dog.

  12. Great post – lesson 1 is sometimes difficult to follow but is essential! Must admit I got myself in a spin last week and it was all down to the fact that I was comparing myself to others – how stupid! You are so right about storytelling – I try to be personal, but it is difficult not to go off on a tangent and start ranting!
    Thanks for the tips,
    Simon

  13. I am taking in some very good information and hopefully I become a better blogger.

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