Blogging is more of a service than just plain old run of the mill writing.
When a journalist writes a newspaper article they don’t have the issue that us bloggers do. They don’t have to worry so much about the audience because they already have one, the person who buys that paper, the guy or gal who has it delivered to their door, the one with the fluffy slippers and the pipe (well maybe not the pipe).
Our mission is to provide:
Content to those who want it
As part of this information delivery we are trying to find the best way to direct it to the right audience.
At the Right Time
Our audience want to receive certain topics at certain times. If we are writing about business, as an example, people want to read about that at the start of the week or on a sunday when they have time. We can expect that most people may wish to view this between 9 – 11 am and 2 – 3 pm on a Monday. Therefore when sending out and publicising our articles we want them to appear within this time frame.
A weekend activity might be different. Say we are playing a game and need a hint on a Friday, we want to find a site there and then. As a creator we might be surprised to see views coming in quite late in the evening. When is a good day to talk about a new game launch if not on the day? On a Friday when we’ve ripped off the sellophane wrapper or downloaded the digitals.
Timing is crucial.
In the Right Way
The data needs to be presented in an appropriate fashion. If we are producing a useful list, numbered headings and bullet points and going further, a table, may be required. If providing a tutorial a video may suit better but with a step by step list to accompany it.
Appropriate delivery is crucial.
Content is not just there to fill the void
Think of how you might read a book to a child, a book like war and peace, how would you make that interesting? You might use different voices, you might use your body language to try and inflect some action, you might interject some drama.
Of course, if you were sensible you wouldn’t take on War and Peace, and you definitely might think twice about reading it to a child. If you had no choice, you’d have to make it interesting. As a blogger sometimes we are faced with certain black and white facts that aren’t interesting but it is the way we spin the story that is important.
Making content exciting means using different techniques effectively:
Adding images. As humans we respond well to visual images. This is why traffic warning signs are displayed as images rather than words. Our brains can process visual images quicker than words, those with dyslexia can interpret images better than words and they help brighten what would otherwise be black and white. This is why comic books are popular because there is less on the reading and more on the images.
Adding some blank space. It might seem odd to put space into an article because you might think that people blaze through so need it all up front. The truth is, a bit of punctuated white space makes the reading easier. Blog writing needs to be punctuated more frequently with white space than a novel. The writing rules are different.
Adding some accents. Not that quirky Belgian relaxed jazz player accent! Accenting the writing with some quotes, bold, underline and italic text can make the paragraphs more interesting. If you can help your audience steer through an article more effectively they will come back for more. I have picked up the habit of my teal important points. I choose the teal colour because it stands out from the black and white but I also tend to bold and italicise that text.
You end up with an important point without screaming, like this.
Asking the Right Questions
Sorry that it sounds a little scientologist in thought. I’m not personally a scientologist but I know that one of their fundamental teachings is about asking the right questions. You may also know this phrase if you’ve watch I, robot as many times as I have. Spooner [Will Smith] has to converse with a holographic image of a dead man. The recording can only answer if Spooner asks the right question and then it only confirms that he has asked it.
What am I getting at? Every article should try to ask a question at the end. Why? Because by leaving the post open to a question you are asking that reader to take an action to get involved. Why is that important? For the small percentage of those who are likely to leave a message this may tip them over. Social signals of any degree are like gold dust so you should embrace the opportunity.
You can ask questions throughout your article especially if it is an exploration on a bigger subject. There are a few examples where a question is inappropriate such as tutorials but even then you can ask whether the article was of help or not. It’s all about how you can leave that article open ended.
Ask a question!
Does it Add Value?
A very simple question to ask of your article is whether it has any lasting value to your audience.
Does it burn like an ember in their mind?
You don’t have to be disparaging of your own work because the likelihood is that most things you produce in your early life of blogging will have incredibly short half lives by default. Eventually you’ll be able to craft works that people will remember for longer because you’ve had enough social support behind you.
The important thing is whether you are creating items of value, or more offal for the pyre. As long as what you produce provides some aid to someone, you are on the right track.
- Do you only produce one type of content (tutorial, conversational, list based, short, long, video enriched, image enriched, infographic enriched, slide enriched) and does that work for your niche?
- How long do you spend writing each article?
- How long do you spend finding images?
- How long do you spend publicizing and do you think what you do is enough?