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A Recommended List of Reading Genres for Better Business Blogging


“Reading fiction, it seems, could be a way to break old habits and unlock more effective, empathetic marketing,” Carina Rampell of the Content Marketing Institute observes, quoting William Faulkner. (Good news for me; since the pandemic stay-at-home thing began, I’ve worked my way through some 18 different novels!)

Like all writers, marketers have a lot to gain from exposure to literature, Rampell continues. “Marketing is all about empathy and storytelling, and great stories are proven to make us more empathetic.”’ But not all reading – and not all stories, she cautions, are the same, and “some genres are more effective than others in helping you “improve your marketing chops”.

 

Rampell lists advantages we content writers can gain from reading:
  • Reading poetry teaches us clarity and precision.
  • Reading the classics teaches us compelling storytelling structure, building tension to pull an audience along to a satisfying resolution.
  • Reading helps us get away from our subject or product expertise and unlock our creativity.

One of the principles I stress at Say It For You is that, in order to create a valuable ongoing blog for your business, it’s going to take equal parts reading and writing.  I’m often asked when I train business owners and employees or newbie blog content writers for hire is this: Where do you get ideas for blog posts? My answer is – everywhere!  But that doesn’t mean the ideas are going to jump right onto your page. At least half the time that goes into creating a blog post is reading/research/thinking time! The lesson I try hardest to impart in corporate blogging training sessions is: “The more you know, the more you can blog about”.  Business content writing in blogs is the result of a lot of reading and listening on the part of the blogger.

 

The Rampell article discusses the value we blog content marketers can gain by reading and classical novels. A genre I can add to her list is one that, on the surface, seems the very antithesis of the “fresh” content we aim for in blog writing – historical fiction.

The insight I gained? Material doesn’t need to be “new” in order to be “fresh”. Readers may already know some or all of the information you’re presenting in your business blog, but they need your help putting that information in perspective.  In fact, that’s where blogging for business tends to be at its finest, helping searchers with more than just finding information, but helping them understand its meaning and significance.
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What’s Tops in HVAC Blogs is What’s Tops in Blog Content Writing – A


What makes for a good heating and air conditioning blog?  Well, some of the qualities marketing company Broadly.com looked for in choosing “the Top HVAC Blogs of 2018” can serve as a guide for blog content writers in any field:

A focus on industry changes
What I’ve learned over the years of helping Say It For You clients in different industries create content, is that customers expect their service and product providers to keep them up-to-date by condensing all that website/newspaper/magazine/trade journal wisdom into bite-sized pieces..

Checklists and troubleshooting guides
Blog readers often download a checklist and often share it with someone else., and, often, a checklist serves as a Call to Action.

Energy-saving advice
The whole concept of offering practical, usable, advice, especially if it’s a bit out of the ordinary is a perfect fit for business blog content writers in any industry or profession.


Energy myths
Myth-debunks are a great use of blogs, I’ve found, because many of the misunderstandings about a product or service present themselves in the form of questions and comments from readers and customers. Shining the light of day on that misinformation shines light on your own expertise.

Descriptions of new technologies
Repurposing involves turning existing blog posts into new ones. The content in the new posts reinforces the content from the former posts. But the new version progresses to new information about developments in your field.

Easy-to-understand articles
Readability is a critical aspect of online writing, with the idea being to match your writing to your intended audience. There are tests you can put your blog through, including the Flesch-Kinkaid, which shows what grade in school a person would need to have completed to  be able to understand your content.

These six important qualities which Broadly.com pinpointed in “Top HVAC Blogs of 2018” are just the beginning. In our next Say It For You post, we’ll note even more ways in which those good tips from the HVAC industry can “heat up” blog content writing.
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Top Ten How-To Titles in Blogging for Business


There’s a reason “how-to” blog post titles work, marketing gurus Guy Kawaski and Peg Fitzpatrick show in their user guide on social media. How-to titles might start out with those very words, or take forms such as:

  • Quick Guide to…..
  • Complete Guide to….
  • Questions to Ask Before…
  • Rules for….
  • Essential Steps to….
  • Most Popular Ways to…..
  • Tips for Busy……..
  • Tactics to….
  • What No One Tells You About……..

There’s a “biology” to selecting effective business blog post titles, I wrote in a blog post some five years ago. (Since, as blog content writers, one big challenge we face is selecting the best title for each post, I had found an exercise in an Ivy Tech Community College textbook in which students were to select the best out of four possible titles for an article about humpback whales.)

In composing business blogs, I reminded my Say It For You readers, we need to keep several goals in mind:

  • write engaging titles
  • include keyword phrases to help with search
  • be short and to the point
  • use power words

The overriding goal, though, in composing a title, I pointed out, has to be making promises we are going to be able to keep in the body of the blog post itself.

The correct answer in that student textbook was #3: “The Digestive System of the Humpback Whale”. That’s the one, the writer explained, that includes the writer’s focus in the paragraph.  The other titles were either too broad, too specific, or limited to only a portion of the paragraph’s content.

The best “How-to”s are neither too broad nor too limited. They have a “news-you-can-use” feel. The response you’re after from readers is, “Aha! “I have found the right place to get the information I need.

There are lots more How-to titles where those Top Ten came from, Kawaski promises. In fact, he’s got a chart of no fewer than “74 Compelling Fill-in-the-Blank Blog Post Titles” on a Twitter infographic. Try these on for size:

  • Key benefits of….
  • Essential things for….
  • Examples of things to inspire you…
  • Key benefits of….

How-to titles are the perfect tool in blogging for business!

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What’s-Really-in-Your Blogging For Business

fear blog titles

There’s a reason the cover of Consumer Reports has a picture of a cow on the cover of this month’s issue, along with this very compelling question: “What’s Really In Your Meat?”  Titles catch the eye (that one certainly did mine) and set up readers’ expectations for what kind of content they’ll find if they open the magazine and read the article. As a blog content writer, I’m interested in titles.  What elements in the titles listed on a magazine cover, for example, are most likely to induce a browser to buy that issue? Then, which titles tempt the magazine reader to read those articles first?

I categorize this particular title, “What’s Really in Your Meat?”, as a “truth-about”. This type of header is meant to instill fear, one of the two dominant buying motives (desire for gain and fear of loss). In fact, people are drawn to articles with negative titles, my friend and fellow blogger Lorraine Ball pointed out a year ago.

A few other salient titles in the October Consumer Reports issue fall into the “How-To” category:

  •  “Beating Back Surprise Bills”
  •  “Keeping Your Data Private”
  •  “Simple Ways to Add Convenience and Security”
  •  “Good Riddance, Robocalls!”

Less disturbing (some might argue less compelling) than “truth-abouts”, in blogs, “How-To” titles perform the very important function of confirming to searchers that they’ve arrived at the right place to find precisely the kinds of information they need. 

Using a consumer question in a title, then answering that question in the article or blog post is yet another approach.  Three such pieces in Consumer Reports were:

  • “My car is starting to smell musty, and an air freshener isn’t cutting it.  What else can I do?”
  • “Can I catch food poisoning from another person?”
  • “How can I keep my leftover paint fresh enough to reuse?”

Truth-abouts, how-tos, and question titles, I teach at Say It For You, can all be effective blog titling techniques, with the purpose being to tell readers why they should bother to read what you’ve written in the blog post.

Most important, when choosing a title, design it so that it conveys not only the nature of the content, but the value readers can expect to receive from that content! Ask yourself this question:

For my readers, what’s really in my blogging for business?

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Why-In-The-World Business Blogging

It wasn’t a blog post, but the article might well have been just that, I thought, reading the advertorial in Senior Living, in which David Ring, owner of Indiana Funeral Care, answers the question “Why In the World Would I Plan My Own Funeral?”

Last November, in my Say It For You blog, I quoted the advice of speaker Todd Hunt.  Hunt suggests “the next time someone asks you a seemingly stupid question, stop and look at it from their side.”  As business blog writers, we need to impress readers before they’ve had the chance to ask us their questions, “stupid” or otherwise, I explained.  In fact, readers find our blogs precisely because they’re searching for answers to questions they have and solutions for dilemmas they’re facing.

In the Senior Living article, Ring does just that – he anticipates, and in fact lists, the many questions our survivors are going to face our survivors if we don’t face them ourselves:

  • Full tradition service or private graveside?
  • Open casket with cremation to follow or cremation with memorial service?
  • Wood or steel casket? (What’s the difference?)
  • What’s a burial vault?
  • What should be done with cremated remains – bury, scatter, in an urn?
  • Newspaper obituary, online obit, or both?
  • List several charities for memorial contributions or just one?
  • What if I move to another city or state?

The final paragraph of the Senior Living article reminded me of a second important business blogging principle: Since our content is often being ready by people who are not yet our clients or customers, how can we address their expectations? Readers need to envision how they will be helped by using our products or services.

As a retired financial planning professional, I know that most planners begin a meeting with new clients by asking the simple question “What is it that brings you here today?” One innovative planner, though, goes further, as a Journal of Financial Planning article reports, asking, “At the end of our meeting today, how will you know that it has been successful?” Through the design and language of each of the corporate or professional practice blog posts we compose, we need to bring readers to the point of figuring out “why in the world” their time with us has been – and will be – well spent.

“The other comment we often hear,” Ring relates, (referring to surviving family members of someone who has passed), “I am so relieved they planned this ahead!”

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