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“There are two ways to “feed the content monster”, Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick suggest in their book The Art of Social Media:
  1. Content creation
  2. Content curation (finding other people’s good stuff, summarizing it and showing it)
However you’re finding – or ”birthing” your content, the authors tell us, there are dictates to follow:

Be valuable. (What happened? What does it mean? How can readers do that?)
One way to talk “value”, we teach at Say It For You, is to translate a benefit that a product or service has that isn’t typically expressed in dollar terms.

Be interesting. (Don’t assume your followers want to read about only a narrow band of subjects.)
Blog content writing is the perfect vehicle for conveying a corporate message using a a seemingly unrelated piece of trivia.

Be bold. (Express your feelings and agenda.)
Whether it’s business-to-business blog writing or business to consumer blog writing, the blog content itself needs to use opinion to clarify what differentiates that business, that professional practice, or that organization from its peers.
Be brief. (People make snap judgments and move along if you don’t capture interest quickly.)
While blogs should be “small” (readers should not need to scroll down to read “the rest of the story”), the way to make blogs exciting is to find the “bigger idea”.  
Be visual. (Every post should contain “eye candy”.)
Engaging blog posts need to contain visuals, whether they’re in the form of “clip art”, photos, graphs, charts, or even videos, to add interest and evoke emotion.

Be organized. (Structure information in chunks.)
Chunking is one way business bloggers can offering technical information in “chewable tablet form”, because it refers to the strategy of breaking down information into bite-sized pieces so the brain can more easily digest it.

Be a Mensch. (Make positive and intelligent comments, suggest resources.)
Providing external links from your blog post to a news source or magazine article or to someone else’s blog post on your subject shows you’re staying in touch with others in your industry and that you’re confident you have special value to offer within a competitive environment.
Feeding the content “monster” over weeks, months, and years is certainly a challenge. Luckily, as Shakespeare pointed out many moons ago, “There are “more ways on heaven and earth than are dreamt of in philosophy” Could the Bard have been foreseeing the art of social media?
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“When you sit down for a meal, most people don’t expect to eat dessert first.  And when you sit down with a book, you don’t expect to know the ending before you start reading.” So begins the intro to Sherry Deutschmann’s business book Lunch With Lucy.  Nevertheless, Deutschmann, founder and CEO of Letter Logic, Inc. lets us know upfront – and very precisely – what the central theme of her book is going to be.
As blog content writers, our first instinct might, in fact, be to leave “dessert’ for last, offering information using a logical, linear structure. For a variety of reasons, though, that might not be the most effective way to present ideas in every situation.

A blog itself is made up of short, frequently updated posts arranged in reverse chronological order.  Within any one post, topics may be presented sequentially or climactically (building
towards an important conclusion). The traditional structure of a newspaper story follows the model of an upside-down pyramid, with the most important information first and the details filled in later. That inverted pyramid concept may not be right for many blog posts, because readers must be kept hungry for more information in order to keep reading. Ginney Soskey of Hubspot suggests presenting valuable information again and again through the entire article.
Whether readers access the content in the first place, of course, depends on whether they click on the title. There are two basic categories of blog titles, we’ve found at Say It For You. The first simply conveys what content readers should expect to find in the post or article. That type of title is not “cutesy” or particularly engaging, but can be highly effective in business blogging because it’s short and to the point and uses keyword phrases that match up with what a reader may have typed into the search bar. The second category of title arouses readers’ curiosity, but gives only the barest hint of the content to follow. 
With an important purpose of marketing blogs is attracting online readers, blog post titles are a crucial element in the process. Readers need assurance that they will be coming to “the right place” for the information they need.
In blog content writing, at least a little taste of the “dessert” might need to be served straightaway!
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“When asking ‘What do you want?’ you are seeking an answer that is very specific and positive. ‘I don’t want . . ‘” is not something for which you can coach,” explains Laura Poole, author of the book Perfect Phrases for Coaching Employee Performance.

 

How can that coaching insight apply to the content we create for business owners and professional practitioners to offer their online readers?
Some of the areas in which employees often crave coaching, Poole notes, include:
  • Applying new skills
  • Dealing with task management
  • Balancing work and life
  • Improving communication skills
  • Launching a pet project

And, while blog content can address each one of those things, offering valuable information and advice to readers, it’s important to remember what coaching is not, as Poole cautions.  “Coaching assumes individuals know what they want and need. The process helps them uncover it, take ownership of it, and move forward in a productive, sustainable way.” The ‘coachee’s desire should be specific and measurable, so that the result becomes obvious when it’s been achieved, the author asserts.

Three questions Poole suggests coaches ask their clients demonstrate clearly why blog content can often achieve what static web page content cannot:

  1. What would it do for you?  (It’s the employee/client who must find the answer for him or herself)
  2. Who else would be affected?
  3. What is it costing you not to have this?
Like coaching, our Say It For You content writers have come to understanding, blogs are not there to admonish, or warn, or even inspire online readers, who have arrived at a particular blog post on a fact-finding mission, looking specifically for information about what that business or that practitioner does and knows about. The tone of the blog content should assume that with complete information, readers will translate that information into action.
The coach/practitioner/business owner is posing the three questions (what would our product/service do for you, who else would be affected by your action or inaction, and what is the cost of your failing to act), allowing the reader to own that choice.
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Anybody can become a better communicator, a better storyteller, says Carmine Gallo, author of “the Storyteller’s Secret.”.  Tell more personal stories, he advises.  Unfortunately, he laments, most of what we read and hear is 99% facts and 1% story. “I say, turn it around”, Gallo urges.

 

In the 1960’s, a Canadian anthropologist studying hunter-gatherer Bushmen in the Kalahari desert, a society that had existed in southern Africa for more than 150,000 years, found that  the Bushmen were hunter-gatherers by day and storytellers by night. In a place of frequent droughts, floods, and famine, the Bushmen used storytelling to boost their social relationships and create bonds.

 

“No matter who you are, you are a storyteller, says Karen Friedman of the Public Relations Society of America. Research shows that people are more likely to remember a story than a statistic. In a program at Stanford University, students were asked to give one-minute speeches that contained three statistics and one story. Only 5 percent of the listeners remembered a single statistic, while 63 percent remembered the stories.

 

Friedman’s message has direct applicability to blog content writers, and it comes in the form of a warning: …”Using digital content will not increase brand loyalty or enhance your marketing efforts. It takes an old-fashioned story that keeps listeners on the edge of their seats to help you shape your outcome.”

 

But, like every worthwhile endeavor, storytelling takes some skill and demands practice. True, as Elizabeth Bernstein said last year in the Life & Arts section of the Wall Street Journal, “when we share our personal narratives, we disclose something about our values, our history, and our outlook on life. But the bonding benefits of storytelling only work if you’re good at it, and many of us aren’t.”

 

As a professional blog content creator and trainer in corporate writing, I think storytelling is a perfect vehicle for blogging. While blog marketing can be designed to “win search”, once the searchers have arrived, what needs winning is their hearts, and that is precisely what content writers can achieve best through storytelling. Done well, the stories will show why you are passionate about delivering your service or products to customers and clients.
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DORIS Research, I learned in the Indianapolis Business Journal, uses design thinking to organize workplaces. As a blog content writer and trainer, I particularly liked two suggestions DORIS founder Samantha Julka offers for being “more designerly”

1.  “Spend time thinking about people. Think about how they would react or feel about the action you are making or the thing you are creating.”
This statement reminds me of a statement I found in a West Bend Insurance promotional piece: “Much like beauty, ‘value’ is in the eye of the beholder.” Because of that truth, success in blog marketing is knowing your particular audience and thinking about how they (not the average person, but specifically “they*) would probably react or feel about your approach to the subject.at hand.

For example, while you may point out that your product or service can do something your competitors can’t, that particular “advantage” may or may not be what your audience is likely to value. Are you the cheapest (is that likely to appeal to your audience?) or the most expensive (is your audience on that prizes exclusivity?)
2.  “Simple is smart.  Making something simple for other people is actually much harder than making something complex…When it feels effortless to them, you’ve done your job.”
There is actually a Simplicity Score for writers, based on the idea that average sentence length is a good indicator of text difficulty. In preparing blog content, simple can be the smarter choice.  There’s a caveat, though, we maintain at Say it For You. Given the limited attention spans of online readers, we may need to compromise between interesting and simple.
On the keeping-it-simple side, content writers can dump qualifiers (extraneous adverbs and adjectives), while at the same time, using repetition of key phrases to build “blog muscle”.

To be effective, let’s try to be more designerly in our blogging!

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