A client who was keen to start blogging came down with writer’s block when it was time to publish. He was eager to get his thoughts out, but became concerned that his articles were not good enough.
A peer from another company asked me to review her blogs in the hope of discovering why her articles weren’t engaging with readers as she felt they should. Although she is a gifted writer and a professional marketer, when it came to writing about her own thoughts and experiences they were not targeted appropriately to her audience, so there was a disconnect and they lost interest.
At an Ottawa International Writers Festival event, radio personality and author Jonathan Goldstein commented that the ability to get to work and meet a deadline even when inspiration doesn’t come is one of the traits that separates a professional from an amateur writer. (Another key difference of course is whether you get paid!)
As a marketing firm with a specialty in Inbound Marketing, we spend a fair bit of time doing blog-related tasks: creating editorial calendars, brainstorming titles and keywords, researching ideas, drafting articles, fleshing out concepts, blogging for us, blogging for clients, optimizing blogs, proofreading blogs, conducting seminars, giving tutorials (here are some basics)… We’ve become well-versed in the book of blog. And through this process we’ve noticed some behaviours that typically bring results.
Professionals and amateur bloggers alike often struggle with a writing project; and the explosion of blogs has created that many more driven, frustrated and anxious writers. Whether you are trying to engage a prospective market, entertain family and friends with your holiday exploits, or write an award-winning piece of prose — these six tips will help you prepare to do it better. Much of being a professional writer is in the process, so as you plan to write your blog consider the following.
Read: Not just about your chosen subject or the industry in which you work, but read about a lot of stuff. Being well-read gives you a more holistic perspective and can colour your writing. It also exposes you to different writing styles and can help you to find your blogging voice. (It also comes in handy making small talk at cocktail parties… that’s right, as a respected and admired blog writer you will be invited to a lot of cocktail parties.)
Research: In addition to being well-read, it is helpful if you have a better than average grasp of the subject on which you are writing. Doing your research will also give you more confidence and allow you to trust that what you’ve written is actually worth reading.
Routine: If you write a regular blog (daily, weekly, monthly) then create a regular routine for the creative process. This includes setting a time and place where you can focus and work uninterrupted. Once you find the right time and place, treat this as an immoveable portion of your calendar.
Relevant: Make sure that your topic is relevant to your intended audience. Your language can also be targeted to the reader, but be conscious of an abundance of industry acronyms or jargon.
Re-read: Once you’ve written your draft, revised it and made final corrections for flow and continuity, read it again. Having someone else provide a proofread or edit is also a good idea.
Reward Yourself: Treats are not just for kids. Once you’ve been a good little blogger and finished all your homework then indulge yourself a bit in celebration. You are NOT allowed to start with the treat — work first, reward last.
You’re right, there is nothing new or exceptional on this list (although it is really cool that they all start “R”). But most bloggers do not follow this simple recipe (another “R”!) for successful writing. The fact is, writing is work. Like virtually any process, once broken down into tasks and approached systematically you can create a successful routine.
Can you think of anything else that I should have added to this routine of blogging preparedness? (Extra points if it starts with an “R”.)