How to Write a Blog Post

As you know, if you’re a subscriber or frequent visitor, I’m passionate about blogging. I believe a blog can be the centerpiece of a company’s social media strategy.

But writing a blog post is different from writing, say, an ad or product flyer. A blog is an informal conversation with your readers. You’ve got to put your personality into a blog. Visitors want to know what you stand for and your honest opinions about things – both good and bad.

Stick Your Neck Out

"When writing a blog, stick your neck out"

When writing a blog, stick your neck out

You’ve got to stick your neck out a little and risk offending. You don’t want to be hurtful, but as an example, in my post about Home Depot, I wanted the company to know that the needs of Manhattan residents without cars are different from folks who live in the ‘burbs with big minivans to haul things away from the store. I guess they’ll never hire me to write a blog for them, but that’s the chance I took.

In social media, you hear the term “authenticity” all the time. You’ve got to be authentic in everything you write and every connection you make. There’s just too much information out there about you to get away with half-truths or exaggerations.

Informal Rules of the Road

So what would a blog post be without a list? Here’s mine about writing a blog:

  1. Be authentic. Say what you mean and mean what you say. You’re building relationships and you want them to last.
  2. Write in the first person. Remember when you were a kid, your parents taught you that humility is a virtue and don’t use the “I” word too often. In journalism school, you were taught to write objectivity. Leave yourself out of it. Blogging turns that rule on its head. Whether editorializing is correct in a news organization’s reporting is a story for another post.
  3. Respect your readers. Don’t talk down to them. Try to understand and respond to their information needs. Ask for their feedback. You’ll learn a lot that way.
  4. Respond to comments. If someone is nice enough to comment, send a thank-you note either via a reply in the post, or with a quick email.
  5. Don’t stuff your post with key words. You want readers to find your posts – if no one reads a story, does it exist? So naturally you use key words to attract visitors. But if you’re writing about social media, don’t use the term in every sentence. That’s called keyword stuffing and readers are smart enough to know it and tune you out – maybe forever.
  6. Make it readable.  Break up copy into short takes with headlines. Make it easy for your readers to get through your copy. I read a ton of blogs and when I get to a site and all I see are long paragraphs of dense, small type with no sub-heads, bold face or graphics, I don’t stay long.
  7. Write with emotion. This may sound strange. But really enjoy what you’re writing about. Put yourself into it with gusto. Laugh a little if you’re writing a post primarily to entertain. Feel the pain if you’re writing about a serious subject like the misery of the people displaced by the tsunami in Japan. It’s called empathy and your readers will embrace you for it.

Thanks for visiting. I really appreciate it.

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Comments

  1. Great stuff Jeannette.

    I do agree with sticking your neck out…if you aren’t pushing somebody’s button on an occasional basis, then not many people will read a blog. Same in leadership…if you aren’t ticking off somebody, you are probably a “fence straddling” leader.

    One comment I will add is this: Make your post relevant. Don’t post old news. It makes you look like a dinosaur. Bring in something current and relevant, and people will be more interested, because the topic is already top of mind and being searched on the big gun engines.

  2. Thanks, Susan and Bea, for your comments. It isn’t easy coming up with fresh content, but being relevant is one of the most important rules. It’s right up there.

  3. Jeannette:

    The one thing that turns me off from a blog faster than anything else is keyword stuffing. If they got me there through a search on keywords I am not going to stay just because of it. Engage, show emotion and passion. Great reminder.

    Rob

  4. Good post Jeannette that I agree with. Stuck my neck out when I published “Be yourself -instead of parroting” and it was hugely successful. And the revenge of the parrots failed to take place.

  5. I think many bloggers face this decision at one point or another. You just never want to cross a line that will blow up in your face, but it’s your forum and you should respectfully be able to have an opinion or rant. You made some great points and it reminded me about the post I did on the woman who thought I charged way too much for logo design. When I finished it, I thought to myself… “what if someone reading this sees what a smart ass I can be and decides to look elsewhere for design services”. Well, I took a chance, and it paid off. I’ve met more creative professionals because of that post. Because they could relate.

  6. I’m so glad this blog resonated within my blogging community and thanks for your comments. Sticking your neck out is always scary but if we never express an opinion about something then why will people visit our blogs? Otherwise, we start coming across as plain vanilla. So be courageous!

  7. As a new blogger, this is extremely relevant. I especially like your tip on Make it Readable. I enjoy reading short-witty posts and when I come across blogs that are long with no definition I find my self skipping to the next.

  8. Man, I wish I’d had this list when I started blogging a few years ago! 😉 Awesome tips. I’d rather have a strong voice and a concentrated audience than a bland voice and no audience. The blogs with personality and strong opinions are the ones I enjoy the most, and that’s no coincidence! You can’t please everyone, and you’ll likely fail if you try to do so. Thanks for this advice, Jeannette!

  9. Thank you Jeannette. Appreciate the tips. Completely agree with sticking your neck out and making it readable. But there are times when I get carried away 🙂

  10. Hi Jeannette,

    I love your tips and the reason I was first reluctant about starting a blog is sticking my neck out. I think as I write, I am beginning to see that it’s ok and readers to a good extent respect your opinion. I enjoy being authentic and for me that’s the only way to write. I haven’t really been focusing on keywords but will do so down the line. There’s just so much to learn and blogging for less than a month, I just want to get into the routine of it first.

    Really enjoyed this post!

    • Diana — I just toured your site and I admire your commitment. I would advise that you begin to use your keywords as soon as you can. You don’t want to stuff your posts with them, but they are a magnet to bring visitors to read what you feel passionate about. Good luck with your blog! You’re off to a good start.