One thing we hear a lot from frustrated business owners or freelancers, is that they know they should be blogging but they just don’t know what to write, or worry they’re not interesting enough.
But actually, we’re going to let you into a little secret – you don’t need to be interesting to write a great blog! You just need to understand a few key fundamentals of blogging, and learn how to give your readers what they want.
How I realised I wasn’t interesting
I know this because yesterday, while clearing through some old possessions, I came across a travel diary I had written when I was 16. And was confronted with the uncomfortable truth that I was naturally most definitely NOT an interesting writer.
In fact, as I turned the neatly-written pages over I was horrified to discover that at 16 I was really, really boring. My month-long travel journal wasn’t packed with interesting cultural observations or social commentary. It didn’t even have any soul-searching teenage angst. Instead, it simply listed what time I woke up, where I ate breakfast and (a particular low) featured gems like a parking ticket my mum had been issued.
And how I learned to be interesting
As I said I definitely didn’t show any signs at 16 of being a budding writer. And yet today, not only am I am award-winning copywriter with plenty of famous brands and advertising agencies under my belt, but over the past 11 months, tens of thousands of people have read and shared my articles on here.
So what changed? Well apart from growing up, I learned how to write not just what I wanted to say (which apparently isn’t much!) but what other people want and need to read. You see, writing blogs for your business or freelance work is much less about you and much more about your readers, and when you realise this, it’s not difficult to write something they like.
Working out what people want to read
So how do you work out exactly what your readers want to read? It’s actually much easier than it may seem at first. At some point or another, you must have sat down and thought about who wants or need the services or products you’re selling (and if you haven’t done this yet, you can read more about how to do it here).
Once you’re clear about WHO you need to get the attention of, you can start to think about what type of things they like to read. For example:
- What worries do they have?
- What do they find interesting?
- Where do they like to go?
- What do they like to do?
- Who do they enjoy reading about?
- What knowledge can help them?
- What do they find amusing?
Think about what your customers like or need
Don’t just limit yourself to your products or services. Think about what related subjects may interest and help them – and write about these. Not only will it help generate traffic for your blog, but it can help to establish you as an expert in your field.
Here’s a quick example of the breadth of topics you can cover. If you own a dog grooming business, it’s a pretty safe bet that your customers love dogs. So as well as sharing great grooming tips, tales and pictures, you could write blogs on:
- Canine health.
- Canine diets.
- Funny dog stories and pictures.
- News articles related to dogs.
- Great walks you can go on with your dogs.
- Dog-friendly restaurants and hotels.
- Dog psychology and body language.
- The history of different breeds.
- Popular or funny dog names.
- Famous dogs, or dogs belonging to celebrities.
- Dogs who look like their owners.
This is just a tiny selection of topics your fictional target audience may find interesting, written off the top of my head in two minutes, with no knowledge of the dog grooming business. So imagine how many real ideas you could come up with for your industry with a bit of time and thought!
Where do you find inspiration?
If you’re still stuck for inspiration, one good place to start looking is other blogs in your field – especially popular ones. So try to devote a couple of hours to research and start scanning through other blogs and articles.
Find out what kind of topics other people (including your competition) are writing about. Which ones are most appealing to you? And which ones attract the most comments and social media shares? By using a combination of personal interest and available stats, you can start to see what type of subject your readers enjoy or find useful.
So even if you don’t have natural instincts for picking a good story, you can soon learn how to spot or come up with them.
Once you have your subjects, you simply need to understand how to write a blog in a way that will make it appealing. For this you’ll need to think about your blog title, your introduction and how you keep people on it once they’ve found you (you’ll find out how to do all this in this article).
Practise makes interesting
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t nail blogging straight away. It may take you some time to find your voice and get a sense of what works for your readers, and what doesn’t.
When I look back at articles I wrote on here when we first launched less than a year ago, I can see how my style and instinct for a good blog has improved. And I am sure I’ll look back on this article in another year with yet more wisdom.
The main thing is to keep at writing, experiment with different types of subjects, and hone your tone of voice. It’s also important to keep an eye on your statistics to see what’s working. If you keep at it, you’ll get there (just like me… I’m MUCH better now than I was at 16!), and soon you’ll find it easy to be interesting.
Get other people to be interesting for you
You don’t need to generate all your own content for your blog. If you’re worried you won’t be able to maintain a steady stream of interesting blogs, let other writers know you’re open to guest contributions.
Other bloggers, freelancers and business owners are always looking for ways to get their name and expertise in front of a new audience (links back to their own site also helps drive traffic and boost SEO), so as long as their blogs or articles for you are unique and on-topic, it’s good to welcome their content – and ease some of the pressure on you.
If their blog or website audience is right for you, you may even want to suggest a blog swap, and give them some content too – and help to raise the profile of your own site.
Why being interesting is only the beginning
Being interesting however, is only part of writing a blog that attracts a big and regular audience. It’s also just as important to find your audience and reach out to them through channels like social media (again, you can find out how to do this – and how to avoid our expensive mistakes here).
After all, it doesn’t matter how fascinating a writer you turn out to be, if the only one who is reading your blog is your mum!
How have you found blogging?
So that’s our experience of learning how to blog. But what’s yours? Did you find it easy in the beginning, or did you too need to work at finding an interesting voice and content?
Or maybe you’re thinking about starting a blog, but worried you’ll have nothing to say? If so, has this article helped you? Let us know in the comments here, or share your thoughts with us on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook.Hannah Martin