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Advice for a first-time blogger (what I’ve learned in the last 6 months)

   

Advice for a first time blogger (what I’ve learned in the last 6 months)

It's beyond doubt that blogging is an extremely powerful marketing tool in today's online environment. Done correctly, you're pretty much guaranteed to see positive ROI. So, if you're looking to get started, this advice for a first-time blogger should reduce the time it takes before you start seeing results. 

Blogging works as a marketing tool.

I've personally seen fantastic results from blogging - for SEO, lead generation, lead nurturing, increasing sales, and more. And the stats back this up:

  • B2B marketers that use blogs receive 67% more leads than those that do not
  • Companies that blog receive 97% more links to their website
  • Marketers who have prioritised blogging are 13x more likely to enjoy positive ROI

This was the first blog I wrote for LexisClick back in January. And while I had previous professional writing experience, blogging was new to me -  it shows, too.

Since then, though, I've learned a ton of useful tricks specific to blog writing. Here are the most important ones:

Topics

Before you can start writing, you need something to write about!

And it's hard to just come up with interesting topics on the spot. So, when you find an interesting topic - whether it's a news article, another blog post, or just a random thought that pops into your head - write it down!

Personally, I record them in a notes app on my phone.

If you are short of ideas, though, you can read other industry blogs and expand on their content. It's also worth taking a look at what other content is performing well in your industry.

Headlines

While creating a compelling headline is more an art than a science, there are common themes to good headlines.

For example:

  • Unusual words are good
  • Emotive words are excellent
  • Weak language (e.g. 'could', 'might', etc.) is bad

This headline analyser tool is useful for keeping track of these important factors - and also stuff like length, sentiment, and readability - to create optimal headlines. It gives your headlines a score out of 100 as well as suggestions to improve it.

headline analyser

But don't take these tools to seriously, though. They're algorithmic - don't forget the human audience you're writing for.

Writing style

Before blogging, I was used to writing technical documents - white papers, product briefs, etc. Before that, it was academic philosophy.

And while some of the writing skills I picked up do transfer, the style doesn't. Long, wordy, sentences aren't easy to read. They put people off.

The Yoast Wordpress plugin (used to improve all these blogs) has a useful feature which measures the readability of your work:

flesch reading test

When I started, I was getting scores of around 50 (100 = easy, 0 = difficult to read).

The algorithm it uses (the Flesch Reading Ease test) looks at the number of words and the number of syllables to determine how easy your writing is to read.

There's some debate as to how important this is for SEO. But it seems intuitive that copy which is easier to read will keep readers more engaged, reducing your bounce rate. Like the headline analyser tool though, the human audience comes first. So don't get too caught up with this score.

As a general rule, though, I try to:

  • Use shorter sentences
  • Use shorter paragraphs
  • Keep the tone conversational
  • Use images and bullet points to break up text

Doing this, my Flesch Reading Ease scores have gone up, and the bounce rates have gone down!

comparison of jan and june blog posts My first LexisClick blog (left), and a recent one (right).

There's a place for technical copy, yes, just not in blogs.

On a similar note, I've relaxed my attitude toward proper grammar. It's still important - poor grammar and especially poor spelling are likely to destroy customer trust - but it's ok to bend the rules slightly to make your blogs easier to read.

And that's why I often start sentences with 'and', 'but', etc.

Structure

Before I actually start writing, I create a very basic structure for how the post will look. I write down the separate points I want to make and use them as headings.

This stops me from going off on a tangent mid sentence, making the post easier to follow. Again, this should reduce the bounce rate and increase engagement.

In conclusion

Chatty, easily digestible, but informative, blogging is a unique - and highly effective - form of content marketing.

It's why blogs are so popular: 46% of people read blogs more than once a day.

If you're looking to tap into this enormous potential market, following these basic tips should reduce the time it takes before you start generating, traffic, leads, and revenue from your blog.

   
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