The proliferation and commoditization of the Internet has made it possible for everyone to become their own marketer.
Establishing a brand, whether a personal one or an aura to surround your business, is done largely by the content you create. The words you speak, the images you share, and the references you collect end up defining your online identity. Whether you’re an aspiring journalist, a self-employed creative, or someone who is responsible for managing a blog for a business, I’ve got a few tips that are sure to help the content you create, connect with your audience.
I spent nearly eight years at Engadget, one of the world’s most influential technology publications, writing and editing tens of thousands of articles. In the high-pressure world of news, it’s imperative to understand your audience and have confidence in your tone and style. For personal or business blogs, enacting these same lessons will enable your writing to cut through the noise.
Here’s how to write creative blog content that’s sure to connect with your audience and drive in targeted traffic.
1. Recognize Your Audience.
Who are you writing to? You can’t just answer this with vague terms and expect it to truly, genuinely resonate with anyone.
Writing is an intimate exercise, designed to connect directly with a very specific group of people. Those who cover sports on a daily basis understand that those reading their content (or poised to read it) are people who obsess over their teams. They religiously follow league injuries, trade rumors, and standings. By recognizing that, it enables the writer to consider their interests and tailor their articles to said interests.
If you’re a budding set designer, for example, begin by asking yourself who you hope will read your articles. Then, dig deeper and ask yourself what topics that sect would be interested in. Then, ask yourself the tone and style that’d be most appropriate to reach them.
2. Read (and Learn!) Daily.
Before you write, read.
Billionaire Warren Buffett aims to read a staggering six hours per day, as what he learns by ingesting the insights and inputs of others enables him to more successfully manage his companies. The average Joe or Jane probably won’t have six full hours to devote to reading, but I’d encourage you to create a Twitter list or a dedicated RSS feed and populate that with publications and authors that you respect. The Internet is full of fantastic writing, and once you stumble onto a piece from someone you appreciate, make sure you follow that person.
Beyond that, the goal is to dissect that prose and figure out why it connects. Is it the metaphors they use? Is it the boldness with which they speak? Is it the facts that they reference to substantiate their beliefs? Every writer has unique characteristics that add color to their work. By honing in on certain tactics that make you less likely to skip their next piece, you’re able to learn what you should include to bolster your own writing.
3. Respect the Backstory.
A story in a vacuum isn’t a story at all. When I consider the stories that were published in the wake of Steve Jobs’ death, I realize that the most powerful stories were those that had the greatest understanding of what happened prior to his passing. The death of a tech CEO is sad, for sure, but what made Jobs’ death deserving of international attention? The backstory.
Jobs’ tumultuous history at Apple, his departure and return to the company, and Apple’s recent resurgence after nearly crumbling, all shaped the importance of his passing. Without respect for the backstory, it’s impossible to write about the present with any authority. By ensuring that you add an element of research into each article you write, you’re giving yourself a chance to be viewed as an expert on a given topic.
And, as it turns out, experts are the ones that people enjoy reading.
4. Offer Unique Perspective.
Let’s say you’re a wedding photographer. Much like other wedding photographers, you probably capture weddings with a camera, edit those photos, and return them to your clients. On a base level, much of what you do is the same as what others do. But in practice, every wedding photographer is different.
Perhaps it’s your choice of equipment, or your penchant for unique angles. Maybe you prefer black-and-white photography, or maybe you capture moments with a softer filter than most. Regardless, you probably offer something unique along the way — that’s why clients choose you over others.
This same approach of weaving your unique competitive advantage in, should apply to writing.
Even if you’re contemplating a blog post announcing a seasonal promotion for your business, consider what can make your writing unique. Inject a bit of comedy where appropriate. Target a unique segment of customers. Consider slanting your piece to address an audience that you’ve been struggling to reach, such as mothers or teenagers. Toss in a personal anecdote so that your article reads more conversationally and less like a self-promotional puff piece. Truly compelling articles are differentiated.
Join my class on Writing Blog Content that Drives Traffic and you’ll learn about my personal tactics for building a powerful online presence.