We live and do business in an increasingly competitive world, flooded with content vying for our attention. For someone trying to start a business blog in this environment, the pressure to compete may be intimidating. There are many resources for someone looking to promote themselves and find their blogging niche, but what about the writing process itself? How can you become a business writer who generates content that makes readers sit up, take notice, and ideally, decide to buy from you?
Here are five simple rules for writing effective blog content that you can put in practice right now.
#1 Put the punch line first
The one thing that sets business writing apart from other printed content is that the most important point is made not at the bottom of the page, but in the first few lines. Don’t worry about “giving something away”; if your punch line is that good and the content is engaging, having the best part first will only serve to convince others to read further. Research papers have a summary on the first page, delineating the content and findings of their studies, which serves as the work’s main advertisement. In the increasingly competitive field of business blogging, every means you can employ to convince someone to pause and spend more time reading your content on your website is to your advantage.
#2 Focus on your user personas
When planning your blog content, first decide whom your message is for. Who is your audience? Who would receive the greatest benefit from your product? As a business blogger, your content is not (and should not be) for the internet at large. Narrow your focus. Consider your ideal customers as you write, also known as your business’s “user personas”, and tailor your message and writing style to match each group personally. By defining your user personas, you will be able to consistently create fantastic, personalized content for them. This will convince them to come back to you for more, with your aim being to help them progress through the buyer’s journey and even begin to qualify as business leads. As you write to specific personas, you will spark interest and gain the trust of the people to whom you are aiming to eventually sell your product or service.
#3 Provide a take-home value
Your business blog exists primarily to help people succeed in their own businesses through consumption of your content and, hopefully, purchase of your product. To grow your business through your blog’s reader base, you should provide a useful take-away with every post. This doesn’t need to be anything downloadable (though free “content offers,” as they’re called, can be very effective when you use them wisely) but it should be an immediately applicable way they can see benefit now. A couple examples of this content may include industry tips, unique insights, detailed exposés, tailored lists—remember to target your user personas—these are all valid options. Be creative and have a little fun as you give your readers something they can use today.
#4 Be concise
Use as few words as possible to accurately communicate your point and your feelings on the subject. Most readers don’t have time, energy, or inclination to wade through three thousand words, even of your best writing. Learning to write with brevity means that in addition to your readers not being bored, those who click away before they reach the bottom will receive as much of your thought processes and explanations as possible. And if readers learn that you deliver short, powerful content, they are more likely to return for subsequent articles.
#5 Read it out loud to yourself
When it comes to good grammar, your ears are your own first line of defense. Of course, good editing is crucial to sounding professional, and proofreading is essential to any writing effort, whether it is in the business sector or not, but increasingly, more people who are not writers or editors by training are being tapped to write business blogs. If you fall into this category, take the time to read your work out loud and really listen to yourself. It is much easier to hear mistakes of grammar and spelling than to see them in print. Once it sounds right and isn’t tripping the spell-check, send it to a colleague before publishing. Often others can detect errors in our writing that we cannot. You may not agree with all their suggestions, but asking for a peer review will allow you to see your writing from another point of view.
When creating content, it can sometimes be difficult to use every one of these rules. Constraints such as deadlines and even the structure of your planned writing piece can work against you, but it is still possible. In addition, these are by no means the only strategies you will need to make your blog more successful. A loyal and engaged reader base depends just as much on post frequency, cutting-edge advertising, SEO practices, and other business policy decisions as it does on the quality, focus, and value of your content. However, the structure, concision, and cleanliness of your writing will make people willing to read your blog, and having a narrow focus and valuable content will make people eager to read it. Both are necessary, and will help your blog lift your business above the competition.