Blog Writing: How to Capture an Audience

woman typing

 

If you are a business owner, you’ve likely pondered over the idea of a blog. Or, maybe you’ve already started writing. In my opinion, launching a blog is the easy part. For most of us, the challenge lies in finding the time to generate new content. As a writer, blogging is something that I feel compelled to do and therefore seems to come naturally.  With that said, I do realize it can be an unpleasant chore for some; especially those of you who find it difficult to write or don’t have the time.

Here are a few tips to help you become a better blogger:

 1)   Post content that is interesting, relevant and informative

You will often hear that you need to post content on a certain day at a certain time, every week. I don’t believe there are any hard rules when it comes to blogging. In my opinion, it’s more important you create content that people will actually want to read. There’s so much information out there. Our in boxes are bombarded with content everyday. So make sure your blog stands out from all the others.

2)   If you aren’t good at writing, find someone who is

Grammar mistakes, punctuation errors and spelling mishaps don’t make for an easy read. Trust me – hiring a writer will make your life much easier. Remember, it’s also a reflection of you, your business and/or organization.

3)   Keep it informal and conversational

Although you want to make sure you dot your i’s and cross your t’s, blog writing is meant to be more casual – similar to a conversation you could be having with your clients. Keep it personal by writing in the first person. You should write full sentences. However, you can keep the tone casual, friendly and light.

4)   Schedule time to write

If you have difficultly finding time to write, then you may want to consider adding it to your schedule. By setting aside time each week to write, the task will be less daunting.

5)   Create a blog topic list

By keeping a blogging list on your computer or at your desk, you can jot down topic ideas as they come to your mind. That way you will always have content. One of my favorite tips is to keep a pen and paper with you at all times. You never know when you will be inspired!

6) Make sure it’s original

Nowadays, you can purchase content online. Some business owners go so far as to plagiarise. You don’t want to do this. Your reputation is too important. Your audience will follow your blog because they trust your brand and what “you” have to say. Your content doesn’t have to be lengthy; it just has to be interesting.

7)   Include photos

People love to see photos. It also helps to break up the content, making your blog more interesting. You can purchase royalty-free photos from websites like iStock – or better yet, take your own! Why not blog about a conference you attended, a company event you hosted or the renovation project you are undertaking at your office.

8)   Share it with everyone!

Be proud of your blog. Social media makes it easy for you to market directly to your target audience. Use tools like Facebook and Twitter to share your blog. You can even create sign up lists so that you can automatically email your blog to your readers. Always create links to your website.

9)  Keep it interactive

By adding surveys and polls to your blog, you are encouraging your audience to communicate with you. This is a great way to create rapport and get feedback on your business/organization. You may also consider running a contest or an ad on Facebook to generate more likes on your page and drive traffic to your blog.

Need help with your blog? At hire-a-writer.com we offer a variety of writing and editing services!

 

 

Fun With Dashes

Friday, January 7, 2010

Do you ever have difficulty figuring out which type of dash to use when writing? Rest assured you’re not alone. Dashes come in three basic forms: the hypen, the en dash and the em dash. To ensure clarity when writing, it’s important to know the difference between them and when to use each one.

Hyphens are connectors that help avoid confusion. They are used to break a word into syllables at the end of a line and to join certain compound terms.

Example: twenty-six; self-conscious

Not sure what words take a hyphen? Be sure to check a dictionary.

En dash (the length of an uppercase N)

Use an en dash to indicate range or to replace a hyphen in a compound adjective containing an open compound, or for a hyphenated compound. Use an en dash to indicate linkeages, such as boundaries, treaties, or oppositions.

Example: 2002–2005, $25–$50

San Francisco–based firm
Low–income–high–income ratio

Nursery school–home school policy

The Chinatown–Tremont area.

Em dash  (the length of an uppercase M)

Functions like a comma, parentheses, or a colon to explain or amplify, and is considered less formal than these marks.

Example: He was getting on people’s nerves — especially mine!

2Em dash (the length of 2 uppercase M’s) indicates missing letters in a word.

Let’s go to the ——. It’s a nice day.

Writing an Effective Media Release

As a journalist turned PR practitioner, I feel fortunate that I’ve had the opportunity to work on both sides. By both sides I mean the bright side versus the dark side. In the world of communications, these two sides definitely exist. The dark side being Public Relations with the bright side being Journalism. But this is a topic we can get into another time.

Today I’d like to share with you what I took away from each of these fields: the power of the media release. As you may already know, a media release is a great way for you to gain publicity. But writing one can seem like more work than it’s worth. And getting to the top of a reporter’s pile can seem even more hopeless.

Well, it’s true. Having worked as a reporter, I definitely ended up with more media releases on my desk than I could ever handle. With that being said, a well-written media release with a good story angle is something that is highly sought after by editors. And believe me, they will get to the top of the pile if they are newsworthy and well-written. To help you get started, I have included a few tips below.

5 tips to writing an effective media release

Always include the 5 w’s in the lead of your media release (Who, What, When, Where and Why).
If you are in Canada, make sure you follow the Canadian Press Style guide.
Always quote executive members of your business or organization in the media release, not the communications person.
Make sure your story is newsworthy and be mindful of your target audience when sending it to the media.
Lastly, there shouldn’t be any spelling or grammar errors. If writing isn’t your strength, consider using a resource like hire-a-writer.com!

Create “attention-grabbing” Content

With so much information available on the web, it can be tough to create content that stands out. But, if you are able to master this, you will enhance awareness of your brand and create confidence in your products/services.

As a former journalist, I still abide by the strategies I used when working in the newsroom. Whether it’s a blog, newsletter, media release or feature story, the ingredients that make up compelling content are the same.

1) Do you have a lead? In the journalism world, a lead is the first sentence or paragraph that is intended to hook the reader. When creating content, it’s important to put your most important information at the top and the least important information at the bottom. That way, if they only read the beginning, they will still get your key message.

2) Is your content well written? Does it have proper spelling, punctuation and grammar? If writing isn’t your fortay, then it would be best to work with someone who has these skills. If your content is not well-written then it probably won’t be read.

3) Do your research. Although your readers likely want your advice, there are times when you may need to site a source. If the information came from somewhere else, always make sure you let your audience know. Otherwise you are plagiarizing!

4) Know your audience. By understanding your audience and their needs, you can create unique content that they won’t find anywhere else. This is a great way to ensure they keep coming back.

5) Keep it short. With so much content available, our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. In journalism, we abide by the 5 w’s: Who, What, When, Where and Why. This is a great principle to follow when writing a media release or feature story.

6) Plan ahead. Create an editorial schedule with topics that you want to write about. That way you won’t ever run out of ideas!

7) Be timely. It’s important to create content that’s newsworthy. For example, consider the time of year, holidays or events that are happening. Make sure your content is current. You can be the go-to news source for your customers!