Drinking more water. Taking the stairs instead of the lift. Blogging for your business…
They’re all things we know we should do more, and we know the benefits of doing them. It’s no secret, for example, that blogging regularly increases your customers’ trust in you, improves SEO and positions you at the top of your industry.
So why don’t we do it more?
One of the complaints I receive from business owners is that blogging takes so long. They wish there was a way of writing a blog piece quickly and effortlessly.
So, here are 5 methods that will cut your writing time in half.
1.Find a subject quickly
How can you think up blog ideas that will resonate with your customers?
Marcus Sheridan, founder of www.thesaleslion.com and author of They Ask, You Answer, recommends looking at life from your customer’s point of view. He suggests writing a list of the questions your customers ask – whether they’re about your product, your industry or the service you provide. It’s a quick and easy way to create ideas for your blog posts.
And do you know what?
My most-read recent blog was ‘How long does it take to write a book?’ It’s a simple question, but I know it ranks highly in search engines. By answering it honestly and in detail, my customers could tell that I know what I’m talking about.
Not sure what questions your customers ask? Use Google to find out. Type in a question you think your customers ask and then scroll down to look at the ‘Searches related to’ section at the bottom of the page. This is Google giving you a helping hand by revealing previous searches on your topic. Once you have a list of these questions, whenever you’re stuck for an idea you can grab one and turn it into a blog post.
2.Create your title first
By writing your blog title before you start, you identify early on the one thing your reader can learn from your blog. This will keep you on track as you write and avoid wasting time by adding unnecessary points.
If you are using the question method above to find the subject for your blog post, you’ll already have your title. If not, other types of headline include the List (‘5 ways to…’) and the Personal Experience (‘How I…’)
Whatever you do, make sure you include words that are key to your industry and inspire emotion. The social media management company Coschedule has a useful tool called the Headline Analyzer (https://coschedule.com/headline-analyzer). Use it to score your headline according to how powerful it is, then tweak as required.
Even if it feels like an extra step, planning your blog before you start will cut down the time it takes you to write. A quick scribble on a piece of paper is all you need to stop yourself going off-piste – the number one cause of slow writing.
Use your blog headline to focus on one idea instead of trying to tell your reader everything you know. Split your idea into 3 or 4 points (or more if you are writing a list-style blog) and write them in a logical order. Keep your blog short: 300 words is plenty to start off with. You can increase this to 600-800 words as you get quicker at blogging, but the aim right now is to give yourself some practice and a quick reward.
4.Use strong, simple language
Don’t faff around with the thesaurus. Searching for ever more sophisticated words eats your time and creates clutter. Write simply, using short, everyday terms. Cut the waffle. Don’t use three sentences to say something you can say in one. Don’t make the same point twice. And don’t overdo it on the adjectives. You can also cut down your writing time by not stopping to analyse your first draft. I use the copywriting mantra ‘say it straight, then say it great’. Polishing can come later – your first job is to get it down.
5.Read your blog out loud
If you want to speed up your editing time, read your blog out loud. By speaking your blog post instead of reading it, you will hear which sentences don’t work and need rearranging. Anything you stumble over will need a tweak. Editing in this way is a game changer: I cut my editing time in half by reading my draft out loud.
Still stuck for ideas? GoWrite! magazine is a free, online magazine for entrepreneurs and business owners who want to improve their content writing skills. Each issue has blog ideas, writing tips and articles by professional content creators as well as book reviews and blog recommendations. Subscribe at publishing-workshop.com/gowrite