5 tips for better blogs

Writing blogs is easy, right? Well, not quite. Here are 42group’s 5 essential tips for creating better blogs.

Here are five things that we’ve learned over the years about writing blogs that make a difference and, as a generous and kind content marketing agency, we’re happy to share them with you.

This isn’t a cheap way of dragging you to our website; these genuinely are the principles that underpin our business.

Approach your blog as a journalist, not a marketer

The biggest mistake you can make when starting to write a blog is to approach it like a marketer.

Marketers have a special set of skills that they use to sell a product or a service, but that’s not what a blog is about. A blog should be about sharing something. That could be an insight, an opinion or some news about you or your organisation. What it isn’t is a product description or crude attempt to sell.

Repurposed sales content is easy to spot, and is an instant turn-off. It’s fine to reference a product or service, but to make it work effectively you need to do this within a coherent narrative framework.

Tell a story

Journalists tell stories, and they do it well. Approaching your blog like a journalist involves you planning out your story – the beginning, middle, end and conclusion before you start writing.

Some argue that the optimal time a blog should take to read is 7 minutes, others 3, but we like 5.

The point of someone reading your blog is to learn something. You need to give the reader something new. We always ask: ‘What is 5 minutes of your time worth?’

If we can repay the reader with content that’s worth more than their 5 minute investment, we’ve done our job – and you will have done yours. More importantly, they’re likely to come back for more, developing a relationship with your readers.

Pyramids Matter

Barbara Minto’s classic text the Pyramid Principle provides a great way of structuring a blog. Minto developed the method while she worked with management consultants McKinsey. Turning traditional business material on its head, she discovered that starting with a conclusion was the best way of engaging busy, power-dressed execs.

via GIPHY

You may not wander around in an expensive suit dispensing advice for eye-watering fees, but the Pyramid Principle is a good way to structure your content. There are 3 elements to the Pyramid Principle, which we’ve briefly summarised:

  1. Make sure you start with the answer first.
  2. Methodically collect, structure and summarise your supporting arguments.
  3. Structure these logically to support your key principle.

The Pyramid Principle of stating your conclusion first makes sense when writing a blog. It’s because of the way we consume content online.

When you consider that most visitors will only read between 20 – 28% of your blog, if you start with a strong proposition first, it’s likely they will read on.

Whether consciously or not, you’ll see that the best in the business use this principle themselves to present their content – we’re talking national media and web giants like Buzzfeed. If you want some advice on how not to write a headline, we’ve written about that here.

It’s about quality, not keywords

In the past, Google could effectively be tricked by stuffing keyword-rich content into a blog post for SEO, but not anymore.

Approaching your content like a journalist extends to all aspects – spelling, grammar, referencing, sourcing and sub-editing.

The new Google algorithm assesses your blog content for its quality. You’ll need to create something that’s new, engaging and well structured.

Something like this one you are reading is a perfect example (if you’ve made it this far).

If you want to talk about SEO to the experts, then our favourites out there are IS Digital Marketing.

Create content that makes a contribution

We’ve told you not to approach writing as a marketer, but you should approach it like a CEO.

Your content strategy should be aligned to your marketing, social media and overall business strategy. It should help you grow your business, positioning you within the marketplace and promoting you across platforms.

Part of this is about ensuring a strong and coherent sense of identity, a continuity of messaging and a tone that presents your business in a compelling way.

Your blog should be an integral part of your overall approach to communications and marketing. It should be shared across platforms to support your business objectives, engage new customers and inspire existing ones.

That’s the idea anyway.

Do all that and you’ll have a blog worth reading.

There’s another lesson here that we’ve not included in the list, but it’s one to reflect on, not act on.

Sometimes it’s better to pay a professional

We would say this, wouldn’t we?

Yes and no.

In some cases, organisations are more than able to create content that fulfils all of the requirements we’ve outlined above. Other organisations either can’t do this, or don’t want to do it.

At 42group the principles outlined above are the way we do business, but unfortunately it’s not the same for everyone. Content mills may promise to produce brilliant content cheaply, but they produce cheap content brilliantly.

To get a professional product you need to pay a professional price.

That’s not a lesson, that’s just fair.

42group is a leading Bristol communications and marketing agency that helps organisation to tell their stories. We also aren’t afraid to share our insights either.

We help our clients to help them develop, design and deliver marketing, communications and content  campaigns that make a difference. If you’d like to chat about how we can help you tell your story, contact us today.