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!
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Words of Wisdom for Blog Content Writers – Part A

sharing tidbits of content writing
It’s the beginning of a new blogging year, and I’m looking through my bookshelves, thumbing through all the new business writing-related books I’ve collected during 2019.What would I do without these “reading around” gems, with their different sorts and shapes of advice and reflection?…

Moments are the thing.
“The goal is the thing,” admit Chip and Dan Heath, authors of The Power of Moments, “but for an individual human being, moments are the thing. Moments are what we remember and what we cherish.” The three situations that deserve to be punctuated, the Heaths advise, are transitions, milestones, and pits.

As a businessperson, you have many stories to tell, we explain to new Say It For You clients, including the benefits of your products and services, successful case studies, news of importance to your customers, and your own perspective on trends in your industry. But perhaps even more important to share in your blog, we add, are those “moments” in the history of your business or practice that helped shape the person you are today.

True stories about mistakes and struggles are very humanizing, adding to the trust readers place in the people behind the text of the blog. What tends to happen is that stories of failure create feelings of empathy and admiration for the entrepreneurs or professional practitioners who overcame the effects of their own errors.

Follow thought leaders.
In addition to surveying customers, you can identify opportunities for your business and analyze choices by following thought leaders in your general business area, advises Jeanette McMurtry in Marketing for Dummies.

Readers found your blog in the first place, we explain to clients, because what they needed corresponded with what you sell, what you know, and what you know how to do. Now that those searchers are “meeting” you through your content, you have the chance to establish credibility and reliability. One way to come across as an expert is to share some of the valuable information you’ve learned by staying abreast of the latest developments in your field.

When we care, we share.
Products and ideas that are practically valuable and wrapped in stories are contagious, explains Jonah Berger, author of the book Contagious. We need to craft content which saves time, improves health, and saves money, he says.

Using anecdotes in your blog, rather than just touting the advantages of your company, practice, or product, is what gives your words the greatest impact. One of the reasons I recommend writing in first and second person (I-you) is that caring and sharing are very personal emotions.

Blog content writers, one of the best pieces of advice is to “read around”, finding gems like these and then sharing them!

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Using Skillful Surprise in Blog Content Writing

Blog post titles have a multifaceted job to do, arousing readers’ curiosity while still assuring them they’ve come to the right place. One compromise I often suggest to blog content writers is using a two-tiered title, combining a “Huh?” (to get attention) with an “Oh!” (to make clear what the post is actually going to be about).

In the body of a blog post, surprise can be used in a different way. I remember, several years back, listening to Jeff Fleming of the National Speakers Association of Indiana meeting, talking about misdirection as a way of adding humor to a presentation. Fleming explained the “Rule of Three”, in which the first two statements serve as a “set-up”. The third statement is not what the listeners are expecting, he added. That “misdirection”, Fleming said, causes a surprise, which tickles listeners’ funny bones.

I thought about that Fleming demo the other day when browsing through Coffee House News Indiana:

 

What has four legs, is big, green, and fuzzy, and, if it fell out of a tree would
hurt you? Answer: a pool table.

Now, as blog content writers offering information about a product or service, we’re not necessarily “into” tickling readers’ funny bones. What we are “into”, of course, is engaging readers and sustaining interest.

To be sure, using humor is an effective way to connect with your audience and humanize your brand or company, as Jason Miller of Social Media Examiner observes. All marketing doesn’t have to be serious, he adds, along with the caveat that “being funny is a risk…Some people might not appreciate your company’s brand of humor!”

So what do I think the bottom line is for using humor and surprise in blogging for business? Well,…barring politics (including company, city, state, national, and international), religion, ethnic groups, physical appearance, food preferences, insider information, and anything anyone might conceive as risque – go right ahead.  But keep the humor centered around your own weaknesses and around the consumers’ problem you’re offering to solve.

As for surprise, it can be highly useful in business blogs. At least some of our readers already know quite a bit about our subject.  What they’re looking for is new perspective on the subject, new ways to connect the dots. People are going to want to do business with people who have something different to say. There’s great power in offering strong recommendations and opinions in a blog.

Surprise them with the strength of your convictions, the depth of your knowledge, and the courage to map out a unique approach to doing business!

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Blogging the Lure and What They Say

 

At Say It For You, I’m always on the lookout for different “templates” for presenting information about any business or professional practice. The “nucleus” around which business blog posts are formed is their topic (issues, products, services and advice related to their field). Although the general topic remains the same over time, there is endless variety that can be used to make each blog post special, with one way being the use of different templates.

Browsing through a magazine called Where to Retire, I found an interesting template in a long article naming the 50 Best Master-Planned Communities in the United States. For each community, the report consisted of two longer sections: the Lure (special features of that community) and “What Residents Say” (testimonials), followed by facts and statistics (the name of the developer, the price, the monthly homeowner fee, and whether the community is age-restricted).

Whenever you have several pieces of information to impart, consider different “templates” that can unify them under one umbrella. The “template” is the glue that ties the different pieces of information together and makes the information more usable for readers.

Collating and curating are two ways blog content writers deliver value to readers:

In collating, we gather content from our own former blog posts, newsletters, or even emails, adding material from other people’s blogs and articles, and from magazine content or books. We then organize that material into categories, summarizing the main ideas we think our readers will find useful. The Where to Retire article is a perfect example of collation.

Curating goes one important step further, progressing from information-dispensing to offering the business owner’s (or the professional’s, or the organizational executive’s) unique perspective on issues related to the search topic. When curation is really successful, two things happen:

  1. Readers relate to the “curator” – you, the author of the blog post – as an involved person who is personally engaged with the subject.
  2. Readers realize there’s something here that’s important and useful for them.

Blogging “the lure” is a perfect example of collation combined with testimonials!

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Writing Blogs in the Shower

creative blogging
Everybody knows it – our best ideas come to us in the shower. But why is that? Mental Floss explains that “you’re more likely to have a creative epiphany when you’re doing something monotonous like showering”. Since monotonous daily routines don’t require much thought, the authors explain, your brain flips to autopilot and the prefrontal cortex is activated; you’re able to make creative connections that your conscious mind would have dismissed. What’s more, since most of us shower in the morning or at night when we’re most tired, we’re at our creative peak, the journal Thinking and Reasoning tells us.

But is business blog writing supposed to be creative? Yes, indeed. Creative writing is any form of writing which is written with the creativity of mind. Nonfiction writing can be creative says, says writerstreasure.com, if the purpose is to express something, whether it be feelings, thoughts, or emotions.

The question author Malcolm Gladwell gets asked most often just happens to be the same I’m most often asked when offering corporate blogging training sessions: “Where do you get your ideas?” the trick, Gladwell explains, is to “convince yourself that everyone and everything has a story to tell.”

Continually coming up with fresh content to inform, educate, and entertain readers – well, that’s a pretty tall order for busy business owners and employees, and it’s a pretty tall order even for us professional content writers. 

At Say It For You, I’m constantly on the prowl for blogging ideas that I and my team of content writers can “store up” in preparation for those days when ideas just don’t seem to present themselves. In fact, I’ve found over the last ten years of working with business owners and professional practitioners, just about all of them can think of quite a number of things they want to convey about their products, their professional services, their industry, and their customer service standards. Yet, their biggest fear seems to be running out of blog content writing ideas.

Actually, I realized early on, it’s not that business owners (or the freelance blog writers they employ) don’t have enough ideas – it’s that those ideas need to be developed!  Where the creativity comes in is that in writing about the same few central themes, those themes need to be developed into fresh, interesting, and engaging content.

Next time your creativity seems to have hit the proverbial brick wall – just try blog writing in the shower!

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