We all have something to say. A blog is one way to say things. You can blog to inform, inspire or entertain and in doing so, you connect with others. The key thing is to be yourself when blogging. Here are tips to help first-time bloggers get started…
Know your audience. Who are your audience? Who are you writing for? This could be students, sports fans, researchers, teachers? Decide before you start and keep it front of mind. If you are used to academic writing then take care to consider whether academic terms will chime with your chosen audience.
Your unique voice. Add your own personal touch, this could come from your professional experience, your personal story, your humour, opinions or passions. Ask yourself, what do I have that will help readers to connect with me and with this post? Or you might give voice to Marjon’s values and our shared belief in encouraging the ability and the aspiration to improve lives for all.
Get straight to the point. Your readers are time pressured and alternatives are just a click away. In a blog you cut straight to the punchline. Get straight to the point and then break down how you got there.
A strong start – take time over your headline and opening paragraph. Your headline is the main influence over whether readers will click on your post. Aim for headlines of 6-8 words in length. Use a free headline checker to help you craft your words. I use CoSchedule Headline Analyser because it helps me to come up with a compelling mix of words, including uncommon words, emotional words and power phases (e.g. ‘need to know’ and ‘will make you’). Your opening paragraph needs to hold the reader’s attention. I use Readable.io help create strong opening paragraphs, it helps me to cut out the noise. Here are some techniques, with examples, for connecting from the start:
- Turn of phrase e.g. ‘It was Autumn and unlike the trees, love was beginning to blossom’.
- Paint a picture e.g. ‘The Winter Olympiad is a bunch of rich cyborgs playing in the snow’.
- ‘How to’ statements e.g. ‘How to smash your University interview’.
- Compare e.g. ‘To help you figure out which platform — Instagram or Snapchat — is more suitable for your business, we analyze the differences between the two platforms.’
- Fact or statistics e.g. ‘Including emoji in Tweets is shown to increase engagement by 24% over emoji-free messages’.
- Make it relateable e.g. ‘My first moving-in day at Marjon’
Length. When starting out write posts of around 1000 words. Your reader is time-pressured so keep it clear and concise. Don’t go too short, you need to say enough for it to be of value.
Proof read. And proof read again, or ask someone else to do it. Errors and typos can undermine the authority of your message and interrupt the flow of the reader.
Media. Blogs with media (images, infographics, video etc) get more views than blogs without. You need media. If you don’t have anything ask the Marketing team and we’ll help.
Find your blogging voice
We all have different strengths. You don’t need to be a good writer to be a blogger. Let’s take a look at some of the different voices you can use as a blogger and you can consider which one (or more) is a natural fit for you…
The Storyteller is comfortable telling stories, to entertain, to welcome or to raise awareness of something they care about. They may chart their personal experience, reflect on something they have been involved with or tell the story of someone or something that inspires them.
The Challenger likes to discuss and share ideas, either those of their own or others, they enjoy exploring topical issues. They might draw on academic learning, professional experience or research.
The Teacher is able to draw on their own experience to help people learn. They write ‘how to’ posts, ‘myth busting’ posts, ‘faq’ posts and ‘checklist’ posts, all with the aim of making life easier for their readers. I’m writing in this style right now, drawing on my experience in digital marketing and blogging to encourage others to contribute to the new Marjon blog.
The Collector is a list maker, an expert who loves to share their expertise. They write posts like ‘10 reasons to do X’, ‘5 things you didn’t know about Y’ or ‘10 hacks for Z’. They also write ‘round up’ posts, perhaps outlining opinions on a topic or lists of must-read resources.
Now that you’ve read these tips for first-time bloggers it’s time for you to pick an idea, get writing and get your first post out there! Remember to enjoy yourself and to be yourself when you blog!