If your business isn't blogging, it probably should be. At this point, companies that aren't blog writing are in the minority. According to a recent HubSpot survey, 62% of businesses plan to blog in 2012. Further, among those who do, 69% believe them to have increased their sales leads. In fact, according to HubSpot, small businesses blog writing will see, on average, a 55% increase in website visits, 102% more Twitter followers, and 126% better lead growth.
Simply put, blog writing is a cheap and easy way of generating new sales, as well as being a convenient communication tool to get your ideas out into online discussions.
The process of writing a blog can also seem more daunting than it really is. Writers of all stripes fear the proverbial “blank white page” when they don't know what they're going to do with it. However, it's really not that difficult. In fact, with just three easy steps, you can write a good blog on just about any topic.
Here's how you do it: Blog Writing In Three Easy Steps
1. Pick a Topic. This isn't as hard as it sounds. Most persuasive or informative writing is fundamentally based around solving a problem or answering a question. I'd imagine anyone running a business is presented with a dozen problems daily that could be the basis of a great blog post. Have you recently had some success in improving employee morale? Have you seen trends in your industry that you find worrisome and want to try to nip in the bud? Have you come up with a new manufacturing technique that's saving you a ton of money? Have you just gotten a great deal on your car insurance? Just find a problem that's relevant to your business in some way, and there's your basis for the blog. Inspiration is all around you.
2. Pick a Format. So, you've got your concept. What next? Usually, the best next step is to decide on a format for the post. Virtually all blog-style writing is confined to a handful of formats, or templates, that dictate the style of the piece. There's nothing wrong with this. We've been using these same general rhetorical templates since the Greeks, and they've served us well over the millennia. This isn't an exhaustive list, but it should keep you going for some time:
Problem\Solution: This is the most obvious format. You present a problem in the introduction, discuss it in some detail for the body, then come to some sort of conclusion about what to do about it at the end.
How-To: This one's simple. You want to explain a process to people so they can learn from you, so you break it down into a series of steps progressing towards a goal. You can also invert this one, and create a “mistakes to avoid” post that does essentially the same thing.
Top Ten: I'm not a fan of these personally, but folks love 'em on the Internet. Just like John Cusack in “High Fidelity,” pick a subject and then list out your favorite or least favorite examples of it.
News Analysis: This is great for showing off your thinking skills. Find a piece of news that's relevant to your industry, and explain what sort of effects it's going to have.
Prognostication: What's your industry going to look like in five or ten years? Make a broad overview of the current situation, then explain how you think that will change over time.
3. Find Some Citations. While this might not be strictly necessary depending on your topic, a truly effective piece of blog writing usually includes a fair number of citations included as links within the piece. Besides giving you credibility and backing up your assertions with facts, it can also help your SEO strategies by giving you a wealth of external links out to valid sources. Just like back in school, do your homework and make sure everything is well-cited when you're making concrete claims.
Wrapping It Up... That's really all you need to know to jump into blogging. Obviously, as you get more practice, you'll be able to move beyond a set format, or combine multiple templates into a single format.Finally, once you're looking to conclude your piece, try to end it on a question for the reader that inspires some discussion. That keeps your readers coming back.
So... do you have any great tips for blog writing to share? Let us know!