One of the big buzz words right now is content marketing. If you want people to engage with your business via your website or your social media platforms, then it pays to have great content. This means you’ll need to know how to write blogs and articles. LinkedIn itself is one of the world’s largest publishing platforms where absolutely any of it’s 575million+ members can publish their content directly onto it. It’s all very easy, you just write some content and publish it, right? For many, perhaps not.
If the thought of writing leaves you either nervous, scared or running for the hills, take a deep breath, calm down and let’s see if we can find some way of helping you over that hurdle. Articles only need to be around 500-800 words. Somewhere in the middle is ideal, as if they are too short it is hard for Google, or LinkedIn and their mythical and ever-changing algorithms to find it and index it. (If you find your Mojo, up to 1,500 is perfectly fine too.) Now 500 words may seem a lot, however, if you break it down it isn’t that hard. So, let’s try and work through some practical steps to help you learn how to write blogs and articles.
8 steps to teach you how to write blogs and articles.
Step 1 – Do not make it just an advert.
I’ve seen some pretty horrific posts and articles. They’ve had great titles and then I’ve clicked. Let me give you an example. The title was something like “Simple tips to help protect your small business from a Cyber-attack.” Sounded really helpful. When I went to this LinkedIn post, it said, in the first 3 sentences, something like” Cyber criminals are after yours and your customer’s data, you are at risk and defenceless. To protect your business, you need our services and products. Click here to download our brochure”, with a big Picture of their company logo beneath it, to boot. I didn’t click, I clicked off and went somewhere else for the info. Please don’t do this.
Step 2 – Get a topic.
Try to think about your area of expertise, and what issues or problems people may be facing in that area. What advice or help can you give them in a blog to help them with these challenges? To give you an example; If you provide accountancy services, then write an article outlining the 5 or 6 simple steps any business owner can take to help keep their records up to date.
If you’re still struggling try Quora. It’s a great site, which is free to use, where people are posing questions they need help with. Using this can give you an idea what your target audience are concerned about, so you can tailor your content to them.
Step 3 – Pick a title.
The old saying goes, you should never judge a book by it’s cover. However, Google certainly judges your blog by its title. Some of the cleverest titles may be mysterious and cool, but the poor old search engines just can’t work out what it is, and how to categorise it. A simple tip is that people are looking for help with their day to day tasks and operations, which is why headings like “X habits of successful people…” do very well.
There is a raft of sites which are designed to help you with picking SEO friendly blog titles. We like and use this one from Hubspot and this one called Title Generator.
Step 4 – Have a clear introduction
For many first-time writers, starting is the hardest part. So let’s break it down piece by piece to try and help you.
- Talk about the main issue or problem you’re helping with. Keep this high level, sentences like, “many people in the tech sector are faced with the challenge of..”. You can bring in recent examples from the media if there are any, or even use Google to help you find stats to back up your case. (If you’re using stats, then it pays to credit where they came from with a simple link.)
- Then give a couple of sentences around why people are finding this an issue, and maybe show some empathy or understanding that it is a difficult problem.
- This is the important part: Make it clear to the reader what they will get from reading on. i.e. What advice or tips are there in the next 400-500 words or so. (Breathe easy, you’ve probably written the 1st 100 words in your introduction, so you’re doing well.)
Step 5 – Using bullet points or numbering
I’ve used 5 steps here, it is a simple and straightforward way of giving your article or blog some clear structure. Each bullet point should have a header, either written in bold, or underline it to help it stand out. It gives clarity, and the reader feels comfortable as they know what is coming next.
If you have 5 bullet points, with each being around 80-100 words, then you’ve written at the very least the next 400 words. Which means you’ll have written approximately 500 words now, so you’re done.
Within your bullet points, if one links to one of your web-pages or one of your landing pages, then it’s okay to have that link for further information. But keep it as a nice to read, not a sales pitch. Sales pitches drive readers away.
Step 6 – Check the Grammar
It’s a good idea to write it in Microsoft’s Word, as that will pick up a lot of typos and some grammatical mistakes. I would also recommend installing Grammarly, a great free resource that helps pick up on grammatical errors. To help make your blog more readable, you can also use the free version of the Hemingway App. Finally, you can also use the oldest non-tech solution of all, ask a friend or colleague to proof-read it for you. They can pick up on mistakes and also suggest improvements.
Step 7 – Close it out, what’s the main takeaway?
A short paragraph is all you need now. Just summarize the main points from the article, and leave the reader with one key point that they can action. In short, what is the one key piece of advice that your article gives?
Step 8 – Have a sign-off
Great for LinkedIn and other publishing platforms. Have an author’s bio of 2-3 lines, no more. Have a sentence or two encouraging sharing or commenting on your article. There’s nothing better than your potential customers engaging in conversation with you online. Then, if you have a service or product linked to your article, by all means at the end have a Call to Action (CTA). A simple line like “If you’d like help with…or want to know more about…then click here”.
Congratulations, you did it
Great news, if you have managed to follow the 8 steps above then you’ve created you’ve just learnt how to write blogs and articles. Congratulations, you should have publisehd your very first article. Now post it on your website or directly on LinkedIn. You are on the way to building your personal brand. But don’t rest on your laurels, it’s already time to think about writing your next article.
To get expert tips from content writers and magazine editors read, “How to write great content, from those in the know.”