By Jennie Wong
The Charlotte Observer.
This week’s “Ask the Mompreneur” features an interview with Juliana Weiss-Roessler, a professional ghostwriter and online content creator, who formerly worked as the head of the Web content department for Cesar Millan of “Dog Whisperer” fame.
Her company, Weiss-Roessler Writing, specializes in blogging, social media and other forms of digital content.
QUESTION: Lots of business owners know they should be blogging, but few are actually doing it. Given the many benefits of creating original content, what tips do you have for writing blog posts that will get read and shared?
ANSWER: Making time to write isn’t easy, but as search engines have evolved, blogging has become an increasingly important means of getting greater exposure for your business. You may want to rethink leaving “update blog” at the bottom of your to-do list.
Google’s latest algorithm, Hummingbird, is emphasizing quality content more than ever by boosting sites that regularly add unique, well-written blog posts to their websites. And it’s not just Google that likes clever and insightful blogs, the better your blog, the more Web users will visit your site and post links on social media (which, in turn, will get your site ranked higher on Google).
So how do you come up with the kind of quality content that’s actually going to attract readers to your business blog? Here are 6 simple tricks to try.
-Know your target audience and their interests: The first rule of blogging is that you can’t be everything to everyone. If you want to have any kind of success, you need to focus on a niche area, like tech, lifestyle, or marketing, that relates to your business. If you’re not sure what kind of posts you should be writing, think about who your target audience is and what kinds of things they’re interested in.
-Answer a question that’s been on your readers’ minds: These days, most people turn to the Internet when they have a burning question. By answering commonly asked questions about your industry, you’ll provide a service to those people looking for answers and establish yourself as an authoritative voice. If you’re wondering what people have been asking, search popular Q&A sites like Quora and Yahoo! Answers.
-Offer a practical how-to guide: Has your business supplied you with the knowledge to perform tasks that your readers want to learn how to do? How-to guides are always popular, especially if they offer suggestions for how to do things more efficiently or less expensively. If you’re looking for ideas about how to make a how-to article more than just a numbered list, the popular blog Lifehacker has some great examples.
-Incorporate images and videos to add visual appeal: Large chunks of text quickly scare most Web users away (no one wants to read what looks like a novel on their computer or smartphone screen), so break your paragraphs up into small chunks and try incorporating images and videos into your posts to make them more accessible. Don’t think you have the time to film and edit videos for your blog? Try creating fun, 6-second looping clips using Vine.
-Tell stories that readers can connect with emotionally: Blogs aren’t meant to read as if they were generated by robots. Add a human touch to yours by sharing stories that are relevant to your business. For example, you might write a post about how you decided to start your own business, or how you recently encountered and resolved a problem in a creative way. The global cycling site Tour d’Afrique has one of my favorite storytelling blogs right now and is definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for inspiration.
-Show your personality, and sense of humor, in your writing: This goes back to the not-being-a-robot concept. You don’t necessarily need to bill your site as a humor blog, in fact, you probably don’t want to if your site is business-based, but you should let your own unique voice shine through in your writing. A casual, conversational tone typically goes over well in blogs.
The more your readers feel like they’re interacting with a real person, the more likely they are to share your blog and keep checking back for new posts.
Blogging doesn’t need to become the sole focus of your business, but try setting aside a bit of time each week to write one new post. If blogging doesn’t come naturally to you at first, the best way to get better is to keep practicing, even though it sounds like a cliche. Eventually, you’ll get more comfortable with your writing voice and start to figure out what kind of content your audience wants to read.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Jennie Wong is an executive coach, author of the e-book “Ask the Mompreneur” and the founder of the social shopping website CartCentric.com.