The engine that drives a business website most effectively has to be the blog. This is where you communicate with the audience, build up a following, interact, gain authority in a niche, and assert your identity in the vast internet world. The first lesson that one receives when stepping into the blogging business is to “write as if you are talking to a friend” which is vague and slightly clichéd, to say the least. You are told an umpteen number of times that to be successful in online business, you need not be a good writer but only need to have excellent communication skills. Well, since the ‘communication’ here means written communication, it goes without saying that certain writing skills have to be there in the first place. Isn’t that so?
It is not as simple as it sounds to be able to write the way one speaks. How do we translate all the hand gestures, facial expression, and tone of the voice of the verbal communication in our writings? The sincerity in the tone of the voice, the energy, the use of wisecracks, the sarcasm are all part of one’s oratory skills and to be able to import these elements in written communication requires certain dexterity and a way with the words that comes either naturally with experience or honed over time. While this is a skill that will develop fully as one gains an authority in the niche (which will take time), there are certain ground rules that need to be adhered to for an effective communication through our blogs.
#1: Do not over-communicate
Despite the repeated reminders to make one’s information as concise as possible, almost all bloggers tend to over-communicate with the audience. This is mostly because of our fear of missing out on things we want to say by compressing the writing to make it concise. Hence, in an attempt to “drive home the point” most bloggers tend to stuff in as many words as possible, and in the process lengthen the post. But the dictum is not to fill the space with noise and words more than necessary. For most bloggers, it is more challenging to write a clear, concise post than an overdone and convoluted one. The same rule applies to responding to comments by readers. Respond one must, but make sure that you do not say things more than necessary. Many a time, bloggers find themselves at their wit’s end when confronted with questions that are direct outcomes of the over-explanation they did in the response to a comment.
#2: Do not underestimate the intelligence of the readers
Do not ever make the mistake of thinking that you could ham your way through a post and make the readers unaware of your shortcomings. If you want to assert yourself and get the information through, you have to be honest with your words.
#3: Do not let the readers feel stupid
Some bloggers tend to cover up their inadequacies by filling in intelligent-sounding words in their content. In trying to assert yourself if you take for granted the knowledge of the readers in a particular niche, you might well be alienating them. Instead, give them guided tour of your content.
#4: Avoid acronyms and initials
Well, this is in continuation with the point cited before. If you do not want your readers to feel stupid, avoid using acronyms and abbreviations without letting them know what they stand for. The way to do it is to let the readers be aware of what the acronym stands for first and then use the acronym in the rest of the content. Content marketing is full of acronyms – CTA, USP, CTR, SEO, CR, PPC, KPI, SERP, HTML, etc. and it would only be your undoing if you assume all readers to know what these acronyms stand for.
#5: Check your grammar, spellings and punctuation
Correct grammar, spellings and punctuation are the keys to a well-written content. These seemingly small elements could make or break your post in many ways. Readers will form an opinion of you based on the correct (or incorrect) usage of grammar and spellings. The wrong usage of these will result in the readers forming a negative impression about you. So, all written communications should be reread again and again to filter out the inconsistencies so that a crisp, error-free content is presented to the audience. It will only be a disservice to the readers if you make them confused with the easily avoidable mistakes. Double-check your writing or if possible, have it proof-read it by someone before you hit the publish button.
#6: Write clearly and in a concise manner
Imagine reading an entire paragraph and having to reread it again to get what the writer is trying to tell in the content. Remember, we are not offering the readers a literary article where they are asked to arrive at their own subjective conclusions. There can’t be anything worse than the readers finding it difficult to make sense of the import of the message at the end of the reading.
#7: Avoid factual errors
One of the surest ways to alienate an audience is to give them factual errors apart from the grammatical mistakes. When you write factual errors, it sends out the wrong message that either you think the readers are stupid or that you are not careful enough to cross-check the information you are trying to cram down the throats of your readers. It reflects a non-serious persona of your brand.
#8: Be thorough with your writing
You do not write a business blog for your leisurely pursuits. The main purpose of putting up a blog post is to provide valuable information to your audience with the hope that they click through your call-to-action button for conversions. Ensure that your writing is thorough and that you have packed all the necessary information in your content.
#9: Be helpful
A continuation of the above point, the underlying principle that runs through all the points before is to be helpful to your audience. If you are helpful and readily interact with your readers, they are most likely to come back again and again to your site. People like to be helped with practical solutions for their problems. Are you providing good, valuable information that seems almost unprecedented and something that is out of the ordinary? Remember, it is a safe bet to say that there are hundreds of similar posts for a particular search query, and if your blog post is not going to help people by giving them solutions that are workable and different from the mundane hamming of other posts, they will abandon your site immediately.
Good blog posts do not necessarily mean perfect story-telling of perfect stories. Instead, show your readers the ugly, imperfect things and they will relate to your writing more easily. Success stories do inspire people but more than that if you tell stories of the struggle and all the hard work involved, they might find your writing acceptable. Contrary to what most believe, the stories of failures make people sit up and take notice of what you say, especially if you provide the reasons for the failure. If you can write in a manner which tells your readers that you have-been-there-done-that and that you have made mistakes but have practical solutions to their problems, you can communicate more effectively.
There is an intangible connect with a blog post for readers when they find an authoritative voice in the writing. This authority takes time to develop as one keeps on learning about the niche so that the knowledge is more rounded and complete. You are able to communicate easily with your audience when your knowledge is solid. Writers falter when the attempt is on masking the inadequacies through made-up, wordy posts. Yes, whatever the style of writing one employs, it is honesty that prevails in the end. Because when you write honestly, your writing will more relatable to your readers and this is when you will able to write as if you are talking to a friend.