The inexperienced blogger’s guide to blogging like an expert

BloggersGuide3

Leonie emailed me recently for advice on blogging.

My immediate thoughts were:

I dunno! Why ask me?

Granted, I describe myself as a blogger in my LinkedIn profile but I’m not a professional writer.

Although, when I came to think of it, I realised I do make money through blogging and I’ve sold quite a few books, which sort of means I am, kind of, well, a bit, you know, professional.

Anyway, having acknowledged these impressive credentials to myself, I sent Leonie some tips. I was so pleased with what I came up with I thought I’d share them with you, in case you’re looking to blog as part of your marketing strategy.

1. Be clear why you’re blogging

It’s dead easy to set up a blog. Google the word ‘blog’ and you’ll be presented with zillions of free, user friendly options. Plus, of course, if you’ve got a LinkedIn account, just click ‘Pulse’ in the dropdown under ‘Interests’ and then ‘Publish a post’ at top right to start blogging.

Just one thing though.

Be clear why you’re doing it. Is it to build your online presence? Connect with potential clients? Win business? All of the above? For fun? If you’re not sure, don’t let that stop you, just be aware that writing takes a lot of time you could spend doing something else.

2. Keep posts short and to the point

Churning out blog posts can be difficult at times, so keep your posts between 400-800 words long and focus on just one issue in each.

If you find you can’t stick to this word count it may mean you need to split your post into two or more separate posts. Remember, people have got to read this stuff, so make it easy for them.

3. Always use an image

The image is the first thing people will notice.

I have no scientific explanation why, just is.

If you don’t have an image, therefore, there’s a good chance nobody will notice your post. Even if they do, having no image equates to boring in internet language, which means fewer people will click through to read.

4. Put some thought into your headline

No point in grabbing attention with a great image if your headline doesn’t do the same. Trouble is your headline needs to intrigue and excite your reader, make it clear what your post is about and be less than about 70 characters long (see point 4 of this HubSpot post). Because of this, writing decent headlines can be spectacularly difficult.

Fortunately, Jon Morrow has produced A Cheat Sheet for Writing Blog Posts That Go Viral, which I use all the time to help with my headlines (what d’you mean, it doesn’t show?). Jon’s blog is also great for learning other stuff about blogging.

5. Have a call to action

I used to think a call to action (CTA) was something military. I now know it means to suggest a next step, such as putting a link at the bottom of your post where, in exchange for his email address, the reader can download your 7 Applications for Self-Insulating Ceramics in Cars or How to Grow Your Coaching Practice Working with Corporates or whatever your specialism.

The idea is, once a person has signed up to your list, you can email them new blog posts, position yourself as a thought leader and even sell stuff. Alternatively, you can encourage comments or ask him to connect with you on LinkedIn, Twitter or whatever.

6. Insert links to other posts

Remember point 2 above? A problem with keeping your posts short is that you can’t fit much in. A solution to this is to mention something and insert links to other blog post you’ve written or to relevant posts by others, such as:

Fed Up Fixing Under-Performance? 7 Steps to Winning Business Coaching High Flyers

7 Steps to Agreeing Coaching Outcomes You Can Measure

7 Pricing Secrets All Coaches Should Know

I know. Crazy! But that’s the beauty of the internet, you can shove links in here, there and everywhere, which will keep your readers reading, foster engagement and build your reputation.

7. Write guest posts

When you’ve written a few blog posts and you’ve had 27 reads and 3 likes, and picked one follower, who doesn’t seem to have any connection to your target market, you tend to start looking to increase your reach. A way of doing this is to guest post, which basically means writing articles to send to more established blogs with a bigger readership, and getting them to publish them.

Of course, ideally, you’ll have a call to action in your post or at least a link back to your own blog, to pick up followers.

The only thing to remember is that the blog you guest write for needs to have readers who are in your target market.

8. Have share buttons

If you’re blogging on LinkedIn you should already have buttons for readers to share your posts on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Undoubtedly, whatever blogging platform you’re using will also include them or have an option for you to enable them. Or you can inset them yourself for LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or any other social media – just Google ‘share button for [social media platform]’ and copy and paste the code.

The point is, you want as many of your target market to read your posts as possible. So, if one reader shares it with their contacts, you might get another 10, 50 or 1,000 readers. However, if you don’t have share buttons, you won’t pick up any additional readers.

9. Engage with your readers

Whenever, someone comments on, likes or shares one of your posts always thank them and ask a question to keep the conversation going. You’re not trying to sell them anything, you’re just engaging with them, developing the relationship and building trust. You can also ask them if they want to connect with you on social media. Don’t forget to insert the link to your profile page on the appropriate platform. By the way, you can connect with me on LinkedIn here just choose ‘Friend’ when prompted.

There are loads of people I have very strong connections with online, who I feel like I know quite well and who I’ve never met.

10. Read other blogs

A great way to learn about blogging is to read other people’s blogs. Follow a few to see how others do it and pick up tips, such as:

Enchanting Marketing

International Coach Federation

The Huffington Post

And don’t be shy!

I used to be very reluctant to sign up for stuff online but now I do it virtually every week and if I find I’m not reading what’s sent or keep getting sent too many emails trying to sell me stuff, I just unsubscribe.

11. Ignore everything I’ve said

The hardest thing about blogging is actually doing it. At first, therefore, ignore everything I’ve said and just enjoy writing a few interesting, useful and readable blog posts. At the very least it will help you organise your thoughts on your coaching services, your target market and the difference you make for them. And it’s fun!

 And finally …

Thank you for reading my post. Before you go you could share it via the links at the bottom. You could also connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter or like my Facebookpage, and why not add a comment telling me what you want to write about or post a link to your blog.

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