By Peter Springett | @PeterSpringett
Can’t write a blog? Yes, you can.
Most of us already have the raw skills to draft a blog. Look at the caption you just wrote for a holiday photo on social media. Or that online argument about the new manager for your football (soccer) team.
Facebook is often the place where I start when coaching aspiring writers. That’s because many of us have found our voice with friends and family, and that’s a good start. Most successful bloggers have an informal, personal voice that wouldn’t look out of place when discussing politics, books, cooking or sport with a group of friends.
How to talk a good blog
It’s all about holding a natural conversation with your audience. As well as the social angle, I always encourage people to imagine, when they write, that they are talking to a friend over coffee, or holding forth at dinner party.
Talking is the key word here. One of my favourite ‘writing’ tools is the voice recorder on my smartphone. Rather than start with the blank page, I record my ideas, and then transcribe them. I stumble over my words to begin with, but as I get more confident, I explore different tones of voice. Or I imagine I’m in conversation with a friend, colleague or boss. This helps me to unlock the best turn of phrase.
Keep it punchy
What next? When I’m transcribing my recording (or just getting ideas down on the page) I try to break the copy down to the smallest possible units of sense. Often a list of short bullets. This makes it easier to organise ideas and arguments before I combine phrases into longer sentences.
That said, many of the original statements survive. Short and sweet is best. If I’m not sure where to break the copy, I’ll read it out again. Does it sound natural? Am I running out of breath as my sentence runs across two or more lines? Try and be a ruthless editor with your copy. Less is always more.
Add ‘sign posts’ wherever possible
Building on that idea, I’m a big fan of ‘sign posts’. These are the elements of copy that steer your reader through your article. Add short sub-headings that direct the reader’s eye to important information. In the same way, the opening sentence of a paragraph should be as short as possible. Think of it as the headline for the copy that follows.
Bringing copy to life
The harsh truth is that it takes years of practice to become a Seth Godin – or Tim Hughes for that matter.
The one advantage you have over anyone, even Seth and Tim, is your own experience. So keep a notepad or digital equivalent with you for when inspiration strikes.
The co-founders of Digital Leadership Associates, Adam Gray and Tim Hughes, are past masters at bringing a personal anecdote to life. This could be anything from an argument with a colleague or prospect, a sporting event, or an article they read over the weekend.
It’s been emotional
Blogs can be emotional as well. Anything that made you laugh, or cry, or both, will help bring an article to life. Here are 10 ideas to inspire your next blog post.
And don’t be afraid to imitate the voice of your favourite writer. I have one ex-colleague who was stuck for words until he discovered that he spoke fluent Jeremy Clarkson. Thankfully he went on develop his own style. But imitating a popular writer gave him the confidence to write some of the best blogs published by that business.
BWA (Be writing always)
Final tip. Be writing always. I try and get down at least 500 words a day, often over coffee and before work starts. Not all of these efforts result in published articles. But as Tim Hughes says, you need to exercise your writing muscles every day to keep up with the competition. Go write!
Digital Leadership Associates: We are Global Social Media Management Consultancy. We do three things: Social Media Strategy, Social Selling and Social Media Management. Drop us an email or call one of our founders on 00 44 7823 534 557 and let’s talk about how we can make an impact on your organisation.