New blogs are created every day. Thousands and thousands of them.
By some estimates, a new blog is set up every half a second.
In total, there are over 150 million blogs. And only 400 million blog readers.
If each blog reader only read one blog, that works out at three readers per blog.
With only a limited pool of readers, how can you make your blog stand out from the crowd?
One way of doing so is to improve your writing skills. Chances are, there are thousands (if not millions) of blogs on the same topic as yours.
What will make your blog – and your business – stand out is the way you write.
Here’s how to write in a way that grabs the attention of your readers.
1. Know Your Audience
Find out everything you can about them. Talk to them. Listen. Have coffee with some of them, if you can.
Why? Because when you know your audience, you can craft content that’s just for them. More than anything else, this is what will make your blog engaging to readers.
2. Write for Skim Readers
The internet has changed the way we read. In a big way.
When we’re reading online, we skim read. We scroll through articles faster than we can take in words.
Why is this?
The problem is TMI. Too much information. There’s so much information out there that we have to filter. Skim reading is a way of filtering.
When you skim read, you’re looking for a headline or subheading that hooks you in. It’s new or relevant to you. When this happens, you pay more attention.
Then you go back to skim reading.
So, how do you write for skimmers?
First, you must write freaking awesome headlines. If your title fails to grab attention, then your article will be ignored.
Second, divide up your article into sections. Give each section a subheading. And don’t make your subheadings cute or coy. Your subheadings must point to your exact destination. Skim readers want this simple, to the point guidance.
Finally, make your important points stand out. Bold text is a handy tool for doing this.
3. Don’t be a Show-Off
No one likes a bragger, especially not online. When it comes to creating content, you need to avoid showing off in two important ways.
1. Don’t show off your products. Yes, creating content is a way of marketing your business. Ultimately, it can help you sell more stuff. But it’s not a sales tool. I’ll say that again: Content marketing is not a sales tool.
Content marketing is about being useful to your audience and engaging them in conversation. First, you provide value. Then, people think “this is great, I’d like more”, and they check out your products.
In simple terms, content marketing isn’t about you. It’s about your customers. Put them first in everything you create.
2. Don’t show off your flowery writing style. You might believe that you deserve to win the Nobel Prize for literature. But your content is not the place to show off your literary talents.
When readers are engaged with your content, they shouldn’t feel like they’re “reading”.
Let’s take a look at why that is…
4. KISS (Keep it Simple, Stupid)
When you’re writing content, use short words, sentences and paragraphs. How short? Shorter than you think.
With everything you write, ask yourself:
- Is there a shorter word I can use that means the same thing?
- Can I make this sentence any shorter?
People don’t have time to “interpret” your writing. It’s got to slide into their minds, smooth as silk.
Short words and sentences help people to skim read.
Remember, many of your readers will be visiting your blog or website after a hard day’s work. Fail to make life easy for them, and there’s plenty of other places they can go.
That’s not to say that writing in short sentence is easy. In fact, it’s a lot harder than it looks.
To get a feel for really short sentences, read a Jack Reacher novel. Or sign up to an email list from Andre Chaperon.
5. Do the Heavy Lifting for Your Readers
Pretty much anyone can write a sentence these days. We all learned to read and write at school. What’s hard is writing clean, simple and engaging prose.
Why is this hard?
As a rule, writers resort to long, complicated words when they’re not really sure what they’re talking about. You have to understand something inside-out before you can explain it in everyday language.
So, do the heavy lifting for your readers. Write about subjects you’re expert in, or do the research before you write.
6. Inject Voice into Your Writing
Voice is what makes you stand out from the competition. Anyone can share information. No one has your voice.
How can you find your voice?
In some ways, this is a nonsense question. Do singers “find their voice”?
No, and yes.
No, singers don’t find their voice. Every singer is born with a unique voice. No one else will ever sound exactly like them.
The same is true in writing. When you write, you can’t help but write in your voice.
On the other hand, singers spend years training their voice. They practice and practice for hours a day. They seek advice from professionals. They play around with the many different ways they could use their voice.
So, to “find your voice” you need two things.
Number one, yourself. That’s easy. You’ve already got that.
Number two, discipline. The discipline to practice. The discipline to try different approaches to writing. The discipline to learn about writing from professionals.
A really simple way to practice is to write out articles written by other people, especially if they’re in a style you like. This allows you to “try on” other voices. You’ll pick up tricks and techniques to add to your own voice.
Over to You
What writing techniques do you use to make your blog stand out from the crowd? Let us know in the comments section, below.