The Do's and Don'ts of Writing a Blog
This excerpt is part of Entrepreneur.com's Second-Quarter Startup Kit, which explores the fundamentals of starting up in a wide range of industries.
In the book Start Your Own Blogging Business, the staff at Entrepreneur Press and marketing expert Jason R. Rich explain how to start a profitable business as a blogger by generating income from advertisers, subscribers, merchandisers and more. In this edited excerpt, the authors offer tips on getting the blog content you need, either by writing it yourself or enlisting others to write it for you.
Unlike a company website or an annual report, most blogs should be written in an easy-to-read, conversational style your target audience will understand and relate to. Here are some basic strategies to incorporate when writing text and creating content for a blog:
- Get right to the point and keep postings short. Remember, the attention span of your audience is very short.
- In your posts, answer questions, including who, what, where, when, why and how, related to whatever topics you're writing about.
- Use a conversational and friendly tone, but be professional.
- Proofread your work carefully before publishing it. Your posts should never contain spelling, punctuation or grammar errors.
- Use short sentences that don't contain overly complicated words. Always keep your audience in mind, and write using language and vocabulary they'll understand.
- Keep paragraphs to two or three sentences each, and utilize plenty of white space on the screen to avoid clutter and make the content look more presentable.
- Don't overuse different typestyles, like bold, italic or underlined text. This can be distracting.
- Choose an easy-to-read font, and make sure the text appears large enough so it's easy to view on any size screen. Avoid a font size that's smaller than 10 points.
- Make sure your color scheme is consistent with your image or brand, and that it, too, is easy on the eyes and not distracting.
- Whenever possible, use photos and graphics to reduce the amount of text in a blog entry and help tell a story or demonstrate a key point.
- Don't ramble or include too much information within a single blog entry. If necessary, divide a topic into multiple parts.
- Put yourself in your target audience's shoes, and make sure the blog content you're creating is interesting, well-organized, entertaining, informative, unique and engaging.
- Maintain your branding and image. The content you publish as part of your blog should be consistent with everything else you're doing online and in the real world.
- Use bulleted or numbered lists within your posts to quickly convey information. Posts that focus on a Top X list tend to be popular.
- Be sure to properly brand your blog using a logo, tag line and other relevant content.
If you begin to feel swamped by the responsibility of writing several blog posts per day while also interacting with your blog's readers, you might consider hiring or enlisting the help of blog contributors.
The best place to find such help is among your readership. The people who visit your blog regularly have already displayed a sincere interest in your content. There are probably a few people in your audience who would love a chance to write for your blog.
When choosing a contributor, make sure:
- They're both passionate and extremely knowledgeable about the blog's topic.
- They're credible and can write with authority.
- They truly understand and identify with your target audience.
- They have the ability to write and edit their own work and create professional quality content.
- They're creative and able to generate content that's original, engaging and of interest to your target audience.
- They'll work within a budget you can afford to pay.
On this last point, if you have no budget, then you'll have to find people willing to volunteer their content for free. The drawback to volunteer bloggers is finding people who are reliable and able to create content that's up to par. Plus, you'll often have a hard time imposing quotas on volunteer help--asking for daily content from people who aren't getting paid is requesting a lot. And if you decide the volunteer you've enlisted isn't producing the quality of content that you'd like, you'll have a harder time asking that person to stop. Paying contributors even a small stipend makes it easier to set a minimum number of posts per day and to fire posters that don't produce quality.
Once you start bringing in contributors to your blog, plan to serve as editor-in-chief for any bloggers you hire. You can't take the risk of hiring help without maintaining full editorial control; your blog could suffer heavily from an incompetent, unreliable or uninformed blogger. Until you can trust that a certain person will reliably produce worthy content for you, insist that everything they post passes by you first. This will create more work for you in the short term, but it will pay off in the long run.