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The Self-Help Checklist for Blog Content Writers

 

This week, as I begin my thirteenth year of part-time tutoring at the Ivy Tech Community College English Learning Lab, I’m culling information from the Study Power Leader’s Guide the school offers as a resource to my students. The “Report Evaluation Worksheet”, I thought, was particularly apropos for blog content writers….

Has your topic been focused as a question, issue, or thesis?
At Ivy Tech, I often find that students have difficulty knowing the difference between the topic of a paper and its thesis. Suppose they were instructed to write about graduation cap tassels.  That’s the topic.  But what about tassels?  Are they silly? Important? Should we hold on to that tradition? (The answer is the thesis, or the “slant” the paper will take.) The same set of decisions will determine the focus of a blog post.

Is your approach original and imaginative?
Your client’s business blog, I remind content writers, is part of their brand, and it needs to put the best aspects of their business or practice forward with fresh, relevant content that engages readers. Blogging requires applying a thinking process. When business owners or professional practitioners blog (or coordinate with a professional writer), they are verbalizing the positive aspects of their enterprises in a way that people can understand, putting recent accomplishments down in words, and reviewing the benefits of their products and services. The very process provides self-training in how to talk effectively about their business or practice.

Are your ideas supported with useful examples, quotations, etc.?
You can use quotations in blog posts to reinforce your point, show you’re in touch with trends in your field, and to add value for readers (by aggregating different sources of information in one business blog). Still, I remind both owners and their content writers that the idea is to make their own cash register ring, which means it’s their own voice that must come across strong throughout the post..

Are your punctuation, spelling, and capitalization accurate?
Whether you’re a college student or a blogger, anything that puzzles readers interferes with readers’ interest and engagement defeats the purpose of the writing. Proper spelling and punctuation helps readers know what you think, what you do, and what you’d like them to do about it (give you a good grade or click on your blog’s Call to Action).

Using the Study Power Leader’s Guide worksheet can help blog content writers become leaders in their field!

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The Thesis or “One-Sentence Speech” Can Come Anywhere in the Blog

one sentence speech in blogs

Years ago, at a National Speakers Association meeting, I remember being taught to create a “one-sentence speech”. The idea was that anyone who’d been in the audience should come away being able to summarize in one line what I’d said; otherwise, my speech would not have been well-constructed.

I believe the same rule holds true for blog content writing. The “thesis statement” consists of the words that summarize the whole idea of the post. The “thesis statement” doesn’t need to be at the beginning of the piece, I teach at Say It For You, but there needs to be little doubt as to which sentence it is.

To illustrate that point, I found an article in a journal called BioTechniques (a professional journal left inadvertently on the table at my favorite coffee house the other morning). Not being a physicist, I understood very little of the technical information in the article titled “High-throughput Quant-iT Pico-Green assay using an automated liquid handling system”. Still, the structure perfectly illustrates the idea that a topic statement does not need to appear at the beginning of your essay or blog.

The article begins with a 122-word paragraph introducing the work of the NGS service that processes and tests DNA samples. Then, and only then, is the thesis statement presented: “A novel approach based on fluorescence assays is more appropriate and accurate for DNA input quantification for any applications in molecular biology.”

At Say It For You, I’m fond of saying to blog content writers that their task is to keep the reader engaged with valuable, personal, and relevant information, beginning with the “downbeat”, which is what I call the first sentence of each post. But that first sentence can be used to capture attention and make an impact without actually stating the “thesis” or conclusion of the piece.

Whether your blog is about food, bedding, pet care, or biotechnology processes, you need a one-sentence speech, but it needn’t come at the beginning of the post.

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Build the Thesis Ahead of the Blog

thesis building in blogs

“Before you begin writing an essay or writing a research paper,” the Research & Education Association’s QuickAccess laminated writing guide advises, “draft a working thesis statement.”

That’s great advice for students, even better advice for business blog content writers, I believe.  It’s advice too often neglected, I find, with the operative work being “before”.

The thesis statement should contain two parts, REA explains:

  1. the subject of the essay
  2. your opinion on the subject

As an example of a weak thesis, REA offers this: “High school dropout rates are increasing.”

What’s wrong with it?  Lacks an opinion and is too general.  A stronger version, the guide suggests, would read:  “Because higher education is needed more than ever before in order for members of today’s workforce to be successful, the rising high school dropout rate is harmful to society.”

For business blog writing, though, that second version is far from ideal – too wordy, for one, and lacks “pow”. Two shorter, related sentences might create more impact: Here’s my version:

“Our kids are dropping out of high school; to staff our workplaces, we need to give our education system two major tweaks.”

Writing with impact, as REA is correctly telling students, requires thinking. And not just any thinking – it takes pre-thinking and planning. Composing an effective college essay is serious business; composing an effective marketing blog post IS business. Sure, our blogs may state a business owner’s or practitioner’s case in less formal, more conversational style than essays, but preparing a working thesis statement forces writers to focus, which translates into impact.

Just as REA teaches, the thesis statement should contain two parts:

  1. the subject (ONE main idea, ONE aspect of the business or practice)
  2. the opinion (a slant or unique value proposition, the answer to the online searcher’s questions – Why should I do this now? Why should I choose you?)

Build the thesis ahead of the blog!

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