(815) 503-0286 matt@matthewlbrennan.com

You’ve all seen it done. Sometimes you catch the notification of a new blog post in your Facebook feed or Twitter stream, and you just have to check it out. It’s magnetic. There’s something that draws you to it, and then as you read through, you realize that the author hit a home run.

Maybe it causes you to subscribe. Maybe you comment. Maybe you even buy.

Well…it’s not a secret. It’s something that anybody can do. Writing the kind of blog post that wins you customers requires paying attention to a few key components, and speaking to your audience in a way that is sure to resonate.

Idea Generation

I’ve had a lot of people tell me they get caught up in idea generation. If you know your industry well, there’s almost alway something that you can write about. There’s ideas in all of the conversations you and your sales staff have with customers. There’s ideas in all of the industry books, blogs and websites that you’ve been reading.

You can use mind mapping to develop ideas that have to do with a certain issue or subject matter. You can read a book about headlines. They’ll give you creative ideas for posts in ways you’ve never thought about. The methods for finding great blog ideas are endless.

Headline Writing 

You only get a fraction of a second to grab someone’s attention, and convince them that what you have to say is worth reading. The first thing people are going to see is your headline. The first thing they’ll want to know is how what’s in it for them. Make sure that you can convey that quickly through a strong headline.

Give people what they want to know. Make a promise in detail. They don’t just want to know how to do something, they want to know how to do it well. Your headline needs to sell your idea.

Examples: 

How To Lose Weight Quickly Without Giving Up The Foods You Love

How To Check More Off Your To-Do List In Less Time

9 Quick Easy Tips For Buying The Best Pool

11 Ways To Save Money On Your Winter Utility Bills

These headlines all give the readers distinct ideas of how they’ll benefit by reading your blog post. For more great ideas on how to write a headline that sells, I have two extremely solid book recommendations. Jon Morrow’s Headline Hacks (available for free at HeadlineHacks.com) and David Garfinkel’s Headlines That Make You Rich available on Amazon.

Not only will they help you write better headlines. They’ll help you resonate with your audience on a deeper level.

Remember, it’s about grabbing their attention as quickly as possible. While it may seem easy to take a shortcut on the shortest part of your post, remember that it’s a large part of building your audience. Treat it accordingly.

Deliver On Your Promise

I just told you how important it is to make a promise, and to give readers an idea of how they’ll benefit from your post. You can guess what’s next. It’s time to deliver. Make sure that you hit all the points that they’ll be wondering about. It’s time to wow them with information, in an entertaining manner.

A lot of beginning bloggers want to know how long their posts are supposed to be. The answer depends greatly on your subject. Some blog posts are perfectly serviceable at a short length of between 200 and 400 words. Others need to be in the 1,500 to 2,000 range. If the subject matter is treated right, the length won’t matter.

I used to ask my editors the same question on story length when I worked in journalism. The answer I got back from one editor frustrated me, but I clearly see his point. “Long enough to tell the story,” he’d say.

It seems vague, but it’s not. His point is to make sure that you give readers all of the relevant information that they’ll be looking for within the story. The same is true in a blog post. Make sure that your point is well-explained. If it’s a list, make sure that the bullet points you’re using are relevant and bolster your argument.

Your post should have a strong beginning, middle and end with smooth transitions. Some bloggers are stronger at only one aspect. Think about it this way. If an airline pilot told you he only specialized in take-offs, you wouldn’t get on the plane. You need to a successful “flight” and you need to bring your readers in safely. It’s the best way to get them to comment, share or even buy.

Tell A Good Story

Sit down and really think about who your ideal audience is. Are you writing to industry colleagues? Are you writing to potential customers? Who is your audience? Get as specific as possible as you think about who really reads your blog. Once you’ve got that figured out, it’s time to tell them a good story.

Stories amplify the human experience. They make us feel emotion. The better you are at telling them, the better off you’ll be. So think about the stories relating to your business that will resonate with your readers. Do you have someone who’s overcome their problem using your service or product? Tell us about it. But make sure you treat your customer as the hero in the story. They overcame their problem. Your business was simply in the right place at the right time.

Tell your readers how you got started in your industry. Give them something that they’ll be able to emotionally identify with. It can help you in the long run.

Include Personal Anecdotes 

Your readers are looking to do business with someone they know, and can identify with. The more personal information that you offer up in your posts, the better opportunity that you offer them to connect. For instance, frequent readers of my blog know that I’m an avid Cubs and Bears fan, as well as a new dad, and obsessed with music.

I’ve had prospective clients who want to talk about Bears football before we get down to business. The bottom line is that it helps strengthen relationships.

Here’s a word of caution. As you drop these anecdotes, make sure that you stay on point with your blog post. Remember, it doesn’t take much to get your readers to close out the tab. Don’t drone on about your personal life, with no immediate tie back. Instead, offer tidbits into the type of person you are.

If you’re obsessed with music, let us know. If you’re an avid runner, let us know. Sports fan? TV nut? You guessed it. Let us know. Bonus points if you can tie your interest back to the point you’re trying to make in your industry. When people get a strong sense of individuality from your writing, they’ll better be able to identify with you, and they’ll like you more.

A Call To Action

Before you sit down to write the post, consider the type of reaction that you’re looking for. Don’t assume that your readers will know what you want them to do, however.

If it’s comments you’re asking for, ask questions at the end of your post, invite your readers to comment. If it’s social shares you want, write the type of content that resonates with people. If it’s sales, convince people how what you sell really can fix their problems and make their lives easier. Remember that your blog isn’t the place to advertise or be overly promotional, however.

If you want a strong response to your writing, make your call to action strong.

Spelling and Grammar Count

I can’t write about a successful blog post without including this. Not every reader is a grammar nazi, but they do have a sense for proper spelling and grammar. A poorly written post undermines your point, and your expertise. If your readers are busy questioning your use of “there/their/they’re,” they are probably also wondering how much you may really know about your business.

Don’t give them that opportunity.

Promotion

The days of simply producing quality content winning you visibility online are over. If you want to be seen, you’ll need to promote your blog everywhere you go. Your in-person networking peers should be familiar with your blog. Your social media friends and followers should also be familiar. Make sure you’re giving people links as you write the type of posts you want them to read, but don’t stop there.

Those same social media platforms also have groups, chats and communities — many that are probably related to your industry. Make sure that you are contributing to the industry conversations taking place elsewhere.

Your newsletter, email signature, ebooks, flyers and other marketing materials are also great way to promote your blog. Remember, it’s entertainment and information that your readers are after. Your blog is the perfect vehicle for that. By keeping it informative instead of full of hard sells, you can draw people in.

Conclusion

Here’s one marketing truth. Blogging as a way to market your business and expand your bottom line isn’t going away. It’s as important to your business as your bookkeeping. If it falls outside of your skill set, it’s important to hire a marketing writer.

Think about the successful posts you’ve written in the past. You know the ones, where your traffic has spiked, they’ve been shared, or you’ve gotten a few sales. What worked for you? Feel free to share in the comment section below.

Matt Brennan is a Chicago-based marketing writer and copy editor