Does writing come naturally for you? For me it doesn’t, I keep at it because I find it’s a good way to develop ideas and share information. One thing that has helped me is the mindset I take while writing, that is pretending I’m presenting this blog to a room full of people at a conference or meetup. This helps to picture the flow and identify the key sections or points I want to make.
Titles are a big deal and people make decisions based on the title alone. When you’re at a conference scanning the agenda, do you select “must see” talks solely based on the title? Imagine your blog listed in search results, why would someone click the link for yours over others?
Start with knowing what you are covering in your blog, then let title ideas flow from there. I’m rarely happy with the title until I’ve finished the blog so revisit the title to check its accuracy. Does it grab the audience? Will it stand out in conference review boards? Maybe leave a bit of mystery!
How you cover the topic
The topic is as important as the title, you want people to actually read what you’ve written. Nowadays, it’s rare to get topics that haven’t been covered before but how you cover them can be unique. Conference talks that cover known topics presented in the same way will quickly lose the audience, like with blogs, so approaching from a different viewpoint that will encourage the reader. Personal experience adds extra emotion and will help people connect with your story. Put yourself in the reader’s position, would you be interested in how your topic is presented or would you move quickly onto another blog?
You need a start that engages people
The start is one area I’ve struggled with! Imagine someone scanning through a number of blogs reading the first paragraph to see if they want to continue. You want to entice them to continue, like with an audience you can lose the attention of the room very quickly if they are not engaged from the start.
I’m still not sure I get this right in my blogs but drawing from experience with personal stories or giving a tl;dr overview can entice people to want to read more. Remember time is precious, you need to give a reason why someone should spend their time reading your thoughts or paying attention during your presentation.
Ultimately, be unique, bring your individuality into the blog from the start.
With any talk being concise makes it easier to follow, the same with a blog, a long-winded paragraph attempting to make a point will quickly lose the reader.
It is easy to ramble especially while speaking, this is typically when you’re not prepared fully. Rambling with writing is usually related to sentence structure or repeating areas in a confusing way. To avoid this read through each paragraph or section out loud a number of times, pretend you’re talking to an audience. Does it flow? Are your points clearly made? This is important when writing doesn’t naturally flow, I need to rework sentences a few times but usually, I’m glad I did!
“I have made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it shorter.” Blaise Pascal
One way to engage with people is to ask questions, this works well in conferences as it does in blogs. Get your readers thinking about something that can apply to them and what they would do in a certain situation.
The key points of any talk or blog have to stand out from everything else. The content is essentially preparing your audience for those main points, you want to build up the context allowing the main points to stand out.
What do you want the reader/audience to take away? Understand this while planning the structure of the blog.
How will your audience know the key takeaways? With a presentation, key points will usually have their own slide with very little or no distraction away from the statement. With blogs, there are a few ways:
- Make key words or sentences bold – an easy way to highlight a point, but use sparingly
- Use section headers – make them clear and on topic
- Share quotes – a related quote adds weight to your point and can be a welcome break in the text for the reader
- Add images with text – can be pleasant on the eye and adds emphasis (imagine a powerful slide during a presentation)
Repeating points for emphasis is a useful tool but much easier during a presentation. Repeating a sentence while speaking is a common technique but when writing will look like an error. But points can be repeated with care using quotes or images. In addition, avoid repeating something verbatim, wording the same point differently can make a big difference for the reader.
Don’t expect everyone to read your blog in detail. If someone scans through your blog will they know your key points?
Your work is done so finish in a brief and concise way. What are the main takeaways you want to highlight? Is there a call to action? Summarize the key points without the depth. Leave your reader with something positive!
I’m no English literary, this is in many ways a note to self! But if you found it useful it’s a bonus!