Posted by HennekeD
The web is full of rehashed content.
Hype-filled headlines may grab our attention, but blog content often disappoints. It’s bland. It’s superficial. It doesn’t make readers smile.
But we know why that happens, don’t we?
Writing good blog posts is hard work. Damn hard work.
You sit at your desk. You stare at your laptop. Your brain hurts. Whatever you write feels robotic.
We’ve all been there. We’ve all struggled to come up with the next topic, the next intro, the next post.
So, how can a business blog truly enchant readers and win business? How can a blog stop boring readers to tears?
To write an enchanting blog you simply need to do two things:
- Dream up interesting topics (even in a boring industry)
- Write in a seductive way
Follow the five steps below, and you’ll never run out of interesting blog post ideas.
You can make your company seem fascinating, even in a yawn-inducing industry. You can build authority without sounding like a stuffy professor. Your readers will hang on your every word.
It’s easier than you imagine. Let’s start, shall we?
1. Draw a picture of your reader
Let’s briefly sidestep …
How do you chat up someone?
The first rule is to make them feel special. You charm them. You flatter them. You might brag a little about what you’ve achieved, but only if they find your achievements interesting.
So why do we try to enchant our blog readers and address them as a crowd? The biggest mistake bloggers make is trying to write for too many people. It makes our messages wishy-washy and watery.
You can’t chat up a person if you talk at him or her as if you’re standing in front of a classroom, can you?
Instead of blogging for a crowd, try to describe and visualize one ideal reader. Knowing your ideal reader makes your blog posts more engaging. You start writing about topics your ideal reader craves reading. Your writing voice becomes conversational. Your content becomes a pleasure to read.
To visualize your reader, decide:
- Is your ideal reader a man or a woman?
- What age?
- What profession?
- What income?
- What education?
- Where do they live?
- Do they have children?
- What car do they drive?
You might think it doesn’t matter what car your reader drives, or whether they or male or female. But the truth is this: you can’t visualize a person that’s 60% male and 40% female. And if you can’t visualize your reader, you keep addressing them like a crowd.
Now, think about the other sources of information and entertainment your ideal reader enjoys. This helps you understand the topics they like, and the voices that speak to them:
- What books or magazines do they enjoy reading?
- What social media platforms do they use?
- What are their favorite websites?
- What are their favorite movies and TV programs?
Lastly, sneak into your ideal reader’s mind, so you can learn how to help them:
- What do they dream of achieving?
- What keeps them up at night?
- What are they afraid of losing?
- How do they make decisions?
- Who do they trust and ask for advice?
- What’s most important to them in life?
If you’re in a B2B environment, consider:
- What’s your reader’s business mission?
- What are their business strengths and weaknesses?
- What are their opportunities and threats?
- How do they make business decisions?
Your reader should become a real person in your mind, someone you can imagine calling for a chat. Notice them shaking their head when you hit a typo. Hear them chuckling about a joke. Sense when they are ready to start an argument because they disagree with something you’ve written or said. Know the questions they would like to ask you.
Now, give your ideal blog reader a name. Find a photo that resembles this “person”, or draw a picture. Hang the image next to your desk.
2. Use the no-fail process for finding fascinating topics
Do you write blog posts to please your boss?
… or to seduce Google?
To engage your readers and win business, you must write for your readers first. You must write about the topics they crave.
Don’t wait to generate blog post ideas when you’re under pressure to write your next post. Instead, plan 30 minutes this week to dream up at least 30 ideas. Because that’s how you become more creative.
Get away from your computer. Go to the park or a café. Think about your ideal reader, and kick-start your brainstorming session with these questions:
- What are their dreams?
- What are their struggles?
- Which difficult decisions must they make?
- Which hot industry topics do they follow?
- Which mistakes do they commonly make?
- Which buying decisions do they need to make?
- Which choices do they find most difficult?
- What resources could be used to educate them?
- What could experts teach them?
- What questions do they have?
When you keep your ears and eyes open, you never run out of valuable blog post ideas. Ask your customer service desk for frequently asked questions. Check with your sales team to learn what customers are struggling with. Interview experts about industry trends. Chat to a customer directly and ask what they’d like to know when shopping for your product or service. Find out what products and services people compare most often, and create the most useful buying guide in your industry.
Whole Foods, for instance, shares recipes, Sofa.com inspires with interior design advice, and Turkey Hill entertains its ice cream fans with flavor tournaments. Help Scout educates about customer service, and HSBC reaches expat communities with their helpful tips for living abroad:
When you pick an idea for your next blog post, ask yourself: Does my ideal reader want to learn about this? Do they crave reading about this? How will they benefit from reading my post?
3. Apply a proven template for reader seduction
You probably think of Picasso as a champion of originality, right?
You find his paintings in leading museums across the world—from New York to Amsterdam and Barcelona. Picasso was one of the leaders of the Cubist movement. An innovator in the world of art.
But the truth is this:
Picasso snatched formulas from other painters.
- He created 44 new paintings based on a scene from Las Meninas—a 17th century painting by Diego Velázquez
- He copied the central figure, five-year old Margaret Theresa
- He repainted the arrangement with the maids of honor, the dwarfs, and the reflection of the king and queen
- He even re-painted the large dog
Does anyone think Picasso committed plagiarism?
I don’t think so.
These 44 paintings hang in the Picasso museum in Barcelona.
Picasso didn’t plagiarize, because he didn’t outright copy. He added his personal touch and his own style to create new paintings.
And that’s the secret to fast and seductive blog writing—apply a proven template. This is my favorite template:
- In the opening paragraph, empathize with your reader and promise a solution to their problem. The opening paragraph of this post, for instance, empathizes with the struggle to consistently produce interesting blog content—a challenge for many bloggers.
- In the main body of your blog post, write down a series of tips in a logical order. I’ve numbered the steps in this post, for instance.
- In the final paragraph, encourage your reader to implement your advice with pep talk or key takeaway
Don’t reinvent blog writing. Apply proven formulas to write faster and better.
4. Add zing to boring blog posts
I’m no great seducer.
I’m no modern Cleopatra.
I’ve always thought I’m a rather boring person.
However, since starting my blogging journey, I’ve discovered that even the most boring persons and the blandest topics can be made interesting with a few simple tricks:
- Use metaphors—this post, for instance, compares aspects of dating with writing seductive blog posts. Surprise your readers with unexpected comparisons and avoid cliched analogies by being specific.
- Add examples—notice how I sprinkled examples over this post? Fresh examples make rehashed topics more interesting. They also demonstrate your practical knowledge.
- Tell stories—no need to write lengthy novels; 200-word mini-stories add pizzazz and drama to your posts. And you know stories are engaging, don’t you?
- Use powerful quotes—these immediately boost your credibility and are great for sharing on social media.
- Create visual content—don’t decorate your content with drab stock photography. Use visuals to clarify your ideas and to strengthen your brand with a strong visual style.
Large pictures on the blog of outdoor goods seller REI make you want to run away from your desk:
5. Streamline blog writing to save time
Worried that writing good blog posts takes too long?
The “secret” to faster writing is taking advantage of percolation time. Plan to write your post over a series of days. Follow a follow a proven process to speed up content creation:
- On day 1, pick a topic, research it, and write a working title. My working title is usually a how-to. Using that format helps me stay focused on solving a specific problem for my readers. Example: How to Create More Interesting Blog Content.
- On day 2, outline your content. The biggest time wasters in blog writing are restructuring and rewriting content. So before you start writing, write down one bullet point for each section of your post.
- On day 3, write a first draft when you are feeling energetic. Even though I’m not a morning person, writing a first draft is usually first on my to-do list (before breakfast!). Shut down all distractions, and write your first draft as fast as you can. If you’re prone to procrastination, set a timer for 25 minutes. Make your timer visible so you see the minutes ticking away. At the end of 25 minutes, take a short break, and reset your time if your draft is not done yet. The time you require depends on your writing (and typing) speed, and the length of your post.
- On day 4, finalize your headline and edit your draft:
- Check for content flow—re-order paragraphs and eliminate redundant sections if required; check to make sure you’ve not missed any major points
- Review each sentence, and replace weak phrases with more specific, sensory words; or simply cross them out
- Read your content aloud to improve rhythm, and chop up any unnecessarily long sentences because they’re tiring to read
- Proofread to catch spelling and grammar goofs
- Do a visual check—add bullet points and cut long paragraphs in two so that content invites visitors to start reading
Seducing your readers requires getting the details right. So get a haircut and choose a clean shirt. Don’t rush out of the door with mismatched socks.
Editing is where the magic of seduction happens. Take your time, and apply a few touches of make-up to make your content look its best.
The simple truth about blog writing
A large collection of wishy-washy blog posts might generate traffic, but won’t win you customers—because the traffic won’t stick around.
Rather than churning out blah blog posts, focus on quality.
Know which readers you want to seduce. Understand their wishes, dreams, problems and secret desires. Serve them the content they crave. Be helpful. Be generous.
When you follow the five steps above, your blog will become more popular. Your email list will grow. Your social shares will soar.
And above all, business will be booming.
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