Best Blog Content Writers Read Around and Toggle

“Dreams, I’m convinced, are just one more dimension of our minds,” writes Sylvia Browne in her best-seller, Book of Dreams...

At Say It For You, I teach the principle of “reading around” in order to attain “go-to industry authority”.  In fact, I stress, business bloggers are going to need to spend at least as much time reading as writing. Even after almost a decade and a half creating blog content for business owners and practitioners, I continue to need to keep up on what others are saying on the topic, what’s in the news, and what problems and questions have been surfacing that relate to what my client sells and what it does for its clients. At least half the time that goes into creating a post is reading/research/thinking time, I’ve found. The writing part can flow only after prep time is complete.

Just last month, I quoted Carina Rampell of the Content Marketing Institute, who explains that our reading needn’t be limited to the subject of our blog content.  Poetry, she explains, can teach us clarity and precision, while the classics can teach us compelling storytelling structure. Browsing through the Sylvia Browne book on dream interpretation (hardly my usual choice of reading topic!) made me realize the truth of Rampell’s statement that “reading helps us get away from our subject or product expertise and unlock our creativity”.  

Every dream experience, Browne posits, is one of five kinds:
  • the prophetic dream
  • the release dream
  • the wish dream
  • the information or problem-solving dream
  • astral visits
“Knowing what type of dream I’m trying to interpret, Browne explains, “is always my first step in unlocking its mysteries.”

Business blog posts also come in different varieties.  From the content writers’ point of view, I’s generally a good idea to toggle back and forth among those varieties over time, keeping returning visitors engaged, but also in order to appeal to different types of reader. There are “how-to” tutorial posts, resources and link lists, reviews, opinion pieces, interviews, case studies, breaking news, and personal story posts. But, precisely as Sylvia Browne observes, knowing what type of post you are presenting helps unlock its “success”.

The best blog content writers have learned to read around and then – toggle among the types!

Business Blogging to Help Maintain Control Yourself

take control
In this time of Coronavirus anxiety, I suggested in my latest Say It For You blog post, our focus as blog content writers should be firmly on showing readers how our business owner and professional practitioner clients can help their readers maintain control. As the TIME piece by Hallie Levine emphasizes, anxiety in short bursts and in the right amounts can actually help people fulfill tasks and achieve results. The secret for hitting the anxiety “sweet spot” (not too much nor too little), Levine says, is maintaining control over as many aspects of the situation as possible.
Now, let’s examine how we can use that same advice for our own benefit.
Get real.
In The Art of Social Media book by Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick, there’s a little section called Be a Mensch, with “mensch” being defined as a “kind and honorable person who does the right thing in the right way”.  One thing for sure is that a mensch is real. You can’t give a reader a sense of control without showing that you’re dealing with the very same issues facing them. Emotional intelligence, closely related to mensch quality, is the capacity to express and then manage emotions. So first of all, allow your content to “get real’.

Be organized.
Even while letting readers see your own “humanity”, keep your blog content well-organized and well-written to convey a feeling of being in control. Maintaining a consistent schedule of posting sends a reassuring message to readers.

Share, don’t “give” advice.
As content marketers, we want to present the business or practice in a very personal, rather than a transactional way. Still, since the business owner or practitioner is, after all, the SME (subject matter expert), practical advice on how to best use the product or service is very much in order.  The tone, however, should be one of “sharing” a useful insight or tip, rather than “handing down” advice.

It’s interesting that Kristin van Ogtrop in that same TIME issue on anxiety, realized that “there is a fine line between setting boundaries and controlling, between guiding choices and telling your kids what to do.”  The message for marketing content writers, I believe, is to acknowledge that the reader is the one in control.  We’re the ones sharing some valuable mechanisms to arrive at a state of “anxiety contol”. 

Thanksgiving is a Good Time to Talk Turkey About Blog Posts

Despite the flair of those TV Chefs who seem to nonchalantly add “a dash” of this or that seasoning, as you’re preparing the Thanksgiving feast, it’s a good idea to measure the ingredients and the cooking time. Is it important to measure your time in blogging for business? Well…“It’s better to be roughly right than precisely wrong,” observed English economist John Maynard Keynes almost a hundred years ago.  I think that saying holds true when it comes to measuring the effects of SEO marketing blogs.

I realize that our Say It For You business owner and practitioner clients want to be able to measure the success of their blogging initiative. Still, I tell Indianapolis blog writers that Return on Investment is more than “analytics” and charts. Why is that so?

  1. Even using today’s analytics, it’s not always possible to associate a specific ROI measurement to blogging for business without regard to all the other initiatives the client is using to find and relate to customers.  All the parts have to mesh – social media, traditional advertising, events, word of mouth marketing, and sales.
  2. Blogging for business carries benefits in addition to helping increase sales, I’ve found. Continuously producing and making available quality content helps demonstrate that you care about quality in all dimensions of your business.

On the other hand, I teach content writers to measure, and the Thanksgiving turkey is a good metaphor to keep in mind. Just as in preparing the turkey, it is useful to measure where you business blogging time goes, I teach at Say It For You. Say you’ve allotted two-three hours of your time for each blog post. One fourth of that time might be devoted to finding, reading, and processing existing content published relating your topic. Then, the bulk of the blog creation time is taken up in thinking about the topic, and actually composing the post. Finding just the right photo or clip art to capture the theme of a blog post and inserting it into the post might take 10 minutes. Then, there’s formatting the text to make it more readable, editing, strategically employing keyword phrases – all that will take the reminder of the time involved in the gestation of a single blog post.

Measuring is important in blog marketing in another way. Blog posts should contain at least a third less content than a promotional brochure or a website page, and should focus on one idea having to do with the business – highlighting one product or service, debunking one myth, making one comparison, offering one testimonial from a customer or one true story. This is a case where increasing the amount or number of ingredients is going to take away from – not add to – the eating pleasure!

Thanksgiving is a good time to “talk turkey” about blog posts!