There’s something quite satisfying about debunking a myth, particularly when the subject of aforementioned myth is yourself.
According to those in the know, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. While I may not be quite ready for retirement just yet, in the greyhound stakes I’d certainly be in the veterans category rather than the puppy derby when it comes to writing blogs.
It’s become part and parcel of my everyday working life, producing content for a wide range of clients from international cricketers to diabetes professors, from opticians to politicians. So when I popped along to a workshop entitled ‘How To Master The Art Of Blogging’ this week it was more with a quick refresher in mind rather than an entire overhaul of my approach to earning a basic crust.
While the basics of decent blog writing are not really in doubt (well-written, engaging copy, in a format to suit the reader, adding value and insight to an interesting topic) the mechanics of ensuring your beautifully written article gets in front of as many eyeballs as is humanly possible are something of a dark art, and seem to change by the week.
With that in mind, it’s imperative to keep up to speed (as best we can) with changes in technology to give yourself the best possible chance of reaching your target audience.
Here’s five things I picked up from the workshop which can help you in your quest for better blogging.
Keep Google happy and you’ll reap the rewards. While your audience (your customers who actually read it) should always be at the forefront of your mind when writing your blog, it’s essential to bear in mind the impact blogging has on your Google ranking. Websites that blog typically have 434 per cent more indexed pages and 97 per cent more inbound links. They’re big numbers and show exactly why you need to keep the geeks at Google happy.
Get creative and see beyond simply words. A picture paints 1,000 words and can lift your blog from the sea of mediocrity. Far too many blogs rely simply on the written word, with reams and reams of text. Experiment with graphics, video and audio to tell your story in different ways. It will help spread your message to a different audience and open up potential new business streams.
What do people actually want to read about? Ever had a great idea for a blog only to go to Google Analytics and felt your heart sink with the crushing realisation it was only read by 24 people? There’s some cracking tools out there to help you find out what your audience is talking. Have a look at Buzzsumo and Quora which give you an overview of discussions going on around particular topics, there’s bound to be blog ideas in there to help address certain concerns or questions. Position yourself as the expert in your field and gain credibility.
Work smarter to reach more people. RSS feeds may be a bit of alien concept to many of us but, used properly, they can save you time and hopefully make you money. By registering your blog to your mailing list using RSS you can ensure your blogs are automatically sent out to your customer base without you having to even lift your finger, meaning your carefully honed article lands in inboxes around the world within minutes of you publishing it. Nifty.
People like lists. Buzzfeed made a huge splash in the world of news with the way it reported stories. The long-standing mantra of ‘headline, picture, story’ was thrown unceremoniously out of the virtual window in favour of clickbait headlines and ’27 reasons why we can only handle information when it’s presented in bite-size chunks’. While this tactic is now commonplace and does anger some users the proof is very much in the pudding when it comes to impact. Articles where streams of text are broken down into lists and bullet points do seem to fare better. Give it a go and see what happens.
So there you have it. A few hints and tips which I’ve picked up (there’s a few more as well, which I need to have a dabble with before explaining in more detail at a later date) and living proof that this old dog is still keen on learning a trick or two.
Have you got any questions about blogging? Would you like a few content ideas to give your writing some sparkle? Get in touch!
If you’d like to boost your knowledge of all things digital, whether it’s building a WordPress website, social media tips or blogging advice, I can thoroughly recommend the free workshops currently being offered by Velocity, the business support service delivered by the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP). There’s a range of courses being held across the region and they’re all free. For more info visit www.velocitybusinesssupport.com/workshops