If you’re an expert and you share your expertise to help your clients, writing a blog (or doing a video blog) is an amazing way to show potential clients that you know your stuff.
OK, you may be saying “But you would say that, you’re a writer.” Yes, writing is easy for me, but put me in front of a camera and I mumble and stutter and a lot of rubbish comes out of my mouth. I focus on that bit of hair that is sticking up and lose my train of thought. I find I’m not looking into the camera, but somewhere where I think the camera lens ought to be (i.e. right in the middle of the screen, of course)! We all have our strengths.
If you find talking to the camera easy, then maybe a video blog will work better for you. But if you’d like to write something here’s my cheat sheet to make it easier.
1: Get focused on your subject
Pick a core subject that you know a lot about. That’s your starting point. I have a list of these in a spreadsheet and work through them one at a time. It saves me arriving in front of a blank screen and using lack of focus as an excuse to find something else to do instead of writing blogs!
2: Write a list of key points about your subject – or an aspect of it
Not sure where to start? What do clients ask you about the subject? What do you find yourself chatting to business contacts most about? What are the biggest mistakes that people make in relation to the subject? There are three possible blog titles – and lots of material to fill them out.
3: Know your key phrases
Hold up! I’m not suggesting you learn how to do SEO – unless that’s your area of expertise, of course. I am suggesting that if you know what people want to know about, it will give you plenty of ideas. There’s a website that makes this really easy – answerthepublic.com (answer, not ask) where you put your core subject in e.g. ‘blogging’ and the website generates tons of questions that people ask about the subject. You get one free search per day and can download a spreadsheet with the results. If you really have no idea what to write this will give you tons of places to start.
4: Fill out your bullet ‘skeleton’
Introduce your article explaining why it’s important and then fill out your bullet list with more information under each point. You can use your bullets as subheaders to guide your reader.
5: Write conversationally
Stick to straightforward language that everyone understands. The rule of thumb is to write at the level of a 12-year old. People who have university level English won’t notice and everyone else will get your message. Write the way you talk, so people feel as though you’re ‘speaking’ directly to them.
6: Don’t get hung up on length
There is no rule that says a blog must be a certain length. Say what you have to say and then stop. If it’s 200 words or 800 words doesn’t matter, as long as it has value.
7: Polish it up
If your English grammar, punctuation and spelling isn’t totally accurate, don’t worry too much. You can always run your copy through a tool like Grammarly to tidy it up, but as long as there are no glaring errors in spelling, you can get away with a lot if you’re writing a chatty article.
I often write one day and review the next day so that I can cut out the waffle and sharpen it up. Or get someone to read it and suggest improvements.
8: Craft a captivating headline
The late Ted Nicholas said you should spend 80% of your writing time on your headline. That is probably a bit extreme, unless you’re writing hot marketing copy, but your headline is important as it’s the point where the reader decides ‘I need to read this’ or ‘That looks boring’.
Brainstorm a list of possibles and leave them to ‘stew’ for a while. Then revisit them and see what works best. When you’re getting the headline habit, it’s a good idea to suspend the headline writing until after you’ve written the article. However, I admit that sometimes the headline is the trigger for the article. It’s trial and error, see what works best for you.
9: Add visual focus
Most people are more likely to start reading when the headline is accompanied by a picture. I use royalty-free image libraries such as Pixabay, Unsplash, Pexels and then often play with the image in Canva.
10: Schedule time in your diary
The secret of consistency is to have your blog-writing time blocked out in your diary. Firstly, it reminds you to do it, secondly, it avoids that ‘I don’t have time’ excuse!
If you really find writing a blog article is a massive pain, then try a video version – but many of these tips will be equally useful in creating a video blog too.