You’re on the hunt for information, so you do a search and up pops a list of websites. As you scroll through the list of possibilities, what makes you stay or move on? What is it that makes one blog more exciting than another? In other words, what makes you land on a page and stay there?
Somewhere in the endless list of articles is the information you seek. But where? And how far do you need to mine to find it? All are good questions.
Countless writers can write about the same subject.
As you open blog after blog, you’re likely to see the same content over and over presented in different ways. Rewording is common, and let’s face it, most writers have deadlines, and most readers need answers.
Take heart. There’s only so much information out there; the key is keeping it fresh.
So. This post is for writers who want readers. Those who don’t want to copy every other writer. But how do you do that? Here are some thoughts that might help:
Do Your Homework
Homework and research; it’s the same thing. No, you’re not back in school, even though you are. The good news is that learning never gets old. Sorry but this step is necessary, and we’re not talking about copying other blog posts and changing the words.
Using reputable sources is key to providing valid information—sources such as the Encyclopedia or pulling data from association websites that have years of expertise invested.
If your subject is the health hazards of mold, you will enter the subject into a search engine. When the web page loads, scroll down and see what catches your eye.
Using information from a personal blog helps give perspective, but you also want to use relative documented facts derived from Medline or Web MD sources.
There are a wealth of great blogs out there, and you can read them. But you’d be surprised how many bloggers skip the step of documented data. Research is necessary if you are to help your readers weed out the fluff. Anticipating your reader’s questions is the first step in research; drawing information from documented sources is the second.
Write What You Know
If you’ve had first-hand experience with the subject matter, by all means, include it. Bringing a personal view helps to connect the reader to what worked for you and what didn’t. But what if you do not know the subject? Do not merely rely on what other bloggers write. Chances are you know people who have hands-on experience – ask them.
If your subject is car repair and you are not skilled, ask someone you know about it. What tools do they use, and how often do they have their tires rotated? What do they look for in a trustworthy mechanic?
Somewhere amongst your colleagues, family, or friends, there’s someone who knows at least a little about your subject. Not that you will only use their information, but it helps to give you perspective.
Keep paragraphs short
We’ve all opened an article that has rambling paragraphs, and our first thought is, “Not on your life.”
There’s a saying that facilitators use in training that says, “Your mind can only absorb what your rear end can tolerate.” That’s their way of saying, keep people too long, and you will lose them.
The same is true of long paragraphs; your reader will only read what their eyes can tolerate. If your sections are too long, don’t be surprised when the reader moves on.
Use a checklist
If you sit down to write your blog without a checklist, and you come out on the other end with a readable document that answers your reader’s questions, then you deserve the grand prize. So the first thing on your list should be to anticipate the questions, and then you can methodically move through your blog by answering each one.
Your checklist should include, at a bare minimum, the following:
Questions – what does the reader want to know? Questions should lead to more questions.
Quotes if you can find them, even if you don’t use them
Personal experience from someone (if not you)
Takeaways (What will the reader remember?)
First Write, Rewrite, rewrite
Oh, the dreaded word. Revision. But this is probably the most crucial step. The bottom line is, if you don’t enjoy the rewrite, then you probably don’t enjoy writing. Rewriting is the writer’s playground; it’s where you play with words.
When your goal is to offer the best insight, then the last thing you want is to lose the reader with sloppy work.
The first step is to write with complete abandon. Get it all down. Put the inner editor in you on the shelf; you don’t need it yet.
Once you complete your first draft, you can let your editor out of the box—time to read your work and make changes.
Listen, we know you are on a deadline. But if possible, take the time to let someone else read it. Ask if it makes sense and if anything is confusing. You’re not fishing for compliments; you need an honest opinion. If you sense your reader is dishing out the accolades but not offering any useable feedback, then that’s not the eye you need on your work. How does it read? The people want to know.
If your reader catches typos or something doesn’t flow, it’s time to revise the revision.
Remember, it’s not about the writing. It’s about reading. Write with your gut. Fall in love with your subject even if you hate it. Readers are intelligent; they’ll see right through anything fake.
Write what excites you. If you are excited, then your blog content will be exciting.
Here at Quill Marketing, we hire writers who love what they do. If you are looking for writers who add a crisp voice to their writing with reader-focused research, give us a call today.
Compelling writing is about the reader, not the writer.