Let’s face it: web content can often sound like it was written by a marketing team with a one-track mind because, well, it probably was. Blogs, however, give a website a unique, humanized “voice” with which the company can discuss other facets of the industry that are not covered by “About Us” or “Our Services” pages. The ubiquitous blog is a key component of many companies’ websites, due to its nature of being a welcome oasis in a vast desert of sales-speak.
If your website features a blog, you’ll want to make it the best it can be. Here are Ten Rules to keeping a blog:
1. Update Regularly
Nothing indicates a neglected or unkempt website like a blog where, in the time between the last post and now, the seasons changed, fashion trends went out of style, and children got their report cards.
If you want to keep visitors interested in what you have to say, you must add a blog post regularly. It can be every day, bi-weekly, or once a month, but in order to keep content fresh, it must appear on a steady basis. Making a schedule or having a set date each month helps maintain deadlines for posting new material. Added bonus: Google loves fresh, unique content, and your rankings will thank you for it.
2. Adopt a Casual, Friendly Tone
Good blog posts carry a more personal tone than other web content. They should be more informal and amiable, as if you are having a conversation with your audience. If a blog post sounds like a graduate thesis or a press release, readers’ eyes will glaze over with boredom. Casual doesn’t have to mean joke-filled; even if your topic is serious and substantive, a conversational style will connect more with readers.
3. Get Creative
An adept chef’s spice rack doesn’t have twenty jars of the same three spices. Likewise, to keep your blog “flavorful,” vary your posts in format from one post to the next. Think about something with which you are fascinated or interested. Crime novels? Geology? Take your content and style it to fit that interest. Set up a post like a Sherlock Holmes mystery; compare your products to different rock formations. Lists and interviews also make fun and entertaining blog post styles.
4. Don’t Be Too Wordy
Think of web browsing as channel surfing. People jump around pretty quickly, until they land on something that piques their interest. Maintain that interest by keeping your posts short enough to read in a few minutes.
And, going back to rule #1, if you find yourself short on writing ideas, it is more than okay to make a quick blog post featuring something you found on the web that interested you. Saw a video or image gallery that you liked? Read an article that was relevant to you and your audience? Link to it (giving credit where credit is due), and then write a few short sentences on why it caught your eye.
5. Know Your Audience
Visitors are coming to your website for a reason. If you manufacture and sell doll clothes, your audience is probably not made up of rugged outdoorsmen. Thus, keep your posts relevant to their interests. Even if you spend your weekends fishing and rock climbing, your audience wants to read posts that relate in some way to the wide world of doll fashion.
6. Cover a Range of Topics
No matter how insular your industry, you can still break it down into parts. Focus on writing blog posts about these various parts. Are you a landscaping company? Instead of always writing about the industry as a whole, write posts about green and eco-friendly practices, incorporating ponds and waterfalls into office parks, various flower types and their ideal habitat, and so on and so forth.
7. Encourage Commenting
Encourage your readers to participate in the conversation by commenting on blog posts. You can even end a post with a specific question designed to stimulate commenting. But remember: conversations aren’t one-sided. You should try to always respond to comments. This also humanizes your blog and makes you seem like less of a faceless internet “robot.”
8. Invite Guest Bloggers
Your bookshelf probably isn’t filled with books by only one author, because part of the fun of reading is getting engrossed in an array of subjects written in an array of voices. To add some variety to your blog, invite other experts in your field, whether it’s a co-worker or someone you met at a networking event, to contribute to your blog. They may have a different writing style than you or know something about a topic that you don’t.
9. Edit, Edit, Edit
If you want to maintain an air of professionalism (and of course you do because you’re a professional!), you must edit thoroughly! Typos and grammatical errors imply a lack of precision and dedication in your writing.
Because errors are bound to happen (especially when your creative juices are flowing and you are furiously writing down your thoughts), have another set of eyes read through the post before it goes live. Editing also means trimming the excess “fat” (such as tangential anecdotes) to make your post streamlined and concise.
10. Have Fun!
If you’re not having fun, you aren’t doing it right. You have license to talk about whatever you want (within the confines of your audience’s interests), you can be casual and creative, and you can actively engage with your audience. If you think of blogging as a chore, it will show in your writing.
Blogs have exploded in recent years because they are an enjoyable experience for both the writer and reader (as well as an effective web marketing tool!). Read some really good ones; you’ll be able to tell that the writer put a lot of care into it and had fun with it. Let that person be you!