Blogging came on the scene in 1994 but at that time it was more of a personal journal or “log” of activities. In 1997 the term was “weblog” for web log or diary. Today blogging is evolving once again. Some are writing their long-form content on LinkedIn as a post and now on Facebook’s revamped NOTES, but whether we call it a blog, a post, or a note, the purpose in our writing is to connect with our readers and share information that is either helpful or interesting.
It’s usually a little more casual in tone. It’s not a novel (which I always have to remind myself) but it should be worth your reader’s time. Here are my 8 tips to connect with your readers in your blogging:
Write with a conversational tone when blogging.
Your reader should feel as if they are sitting at a fireside chat with you, hearing you share your nuggets of wisdom. Speak directly to a person as you write as often as possible. “I often hear …” Unless, of course, you are writing a company blog that requires you speak in third person, posts that are directly from YOU, sound more warm and conversational when you use “I” and “you.”
Don’t speak so formally when blogging.
Using contractions will make your writing feel a bit more casual. Let that voice of your 4th grade English teacher go. It's okay to squish your words together. Instead of “Do not speak so formal that people can not relax into your writing,” “Don't speak so formal.” You’re not writing a textbook, you’re writing a blog post. Loosen your tie, put on a flannel and relax a bit.
Respect your reader’s intelligence but don’t go all corporate jargon on them.
When you write a piece with tips or advice that is so basic or elementary people leave hungry for a meatier piece, you have wasted your reader’s time. If you use so much technical jargon, that they need to Google every other phrase, they go away frustrated. This starts with knowing your audience. Are they beginning their career right out of college and need very basic and obvious information about interviewing? Then write as a friend would write to them. If they are a highly technical audience, use terminology they know, but perhaps explain it once for those who might be visiting or just beginning their journey. You may have been doing something for 25 years, but don’t forget those who are still learning.
To Piggy-back on the last point, write with words real people use…in this century.
There must be some writers who get paid by the number of words people have to look up in the dictionary or ask SIRI for the meaning. Instead of writing, “Basic skills are needed…” I’ve seen “Rudimentary proficiencies are necessary…” SERIOUSLY? Another one of my favorites was “There was nary a sound coming from the room…” NARY? What the heck? Was their writing coach Shakespeare? Use simple language that you would use in casual conversations. A blog post should be a conversation, not a legal document…unless you’re writing about the legal industry…then go ahead and write like Shakespeare, those reading it are probably used to that. You can run your writing through tools that measure readability, like readability-score.com or check your entire website with sites like Read-Able.com
Make others the hero in your stories.
If you’re always writing about your awesomeness, how great your company is, or how amazing your life is, people tune out. We want to hang out with people who make us feel better, not worse. We connect with people who are more like us. Sure it’s great to hear how you overcame adversity or how you did something that was incredible but bring it back to ME. How can I apply what you learned, to my life? Give us 3 tips you learned that we can apply. 5 lessons that will help all of us do something better.
Don’t use ridiculously obvious questions in your writing.
I was reading a post yesterday that started with, “What is it that we breathe in every day? We want it fresh, but we’ll breathe it in dirty if we have to…” I kept thinking it was a riddle and was waiting for an answer that wasn’t so obvious. The answer, of course, was AIR. It was a waste of words. Don’t write long obvious questions that are just meant to add more words to a post without a real purpose. Unless your readers are kindergartners, ask questions that we really want to know the answers to.
Be relevant to your audience.
Unless you are writing for retired executives over the age of 85, using words like stewardess or secretary immediately makes me wonder if the person writing was part of a cryogenic experiment and was frozen for the past 50 years. Referencing Captain Kangaroo or Gunsmoke will send your readers to IMDB.com to find out what you are talking about. (By the way, Captain Kangaroo was the longest running kids morning show in the 60’s and 70’s until Sesame Street dethroned it, and Gunsmoke was an old western TV drama in the late 50’s through the 70’s…but I had to look these up…I’m not THAT old!). Bottom line is, use language, examples, television show references, and anything else that your readers would be experiencing. If you aren’t sure what they are watching or reading, you probably need to do some blog reading yourself. Take a walk over to Huffington Post or Business Insider for what’s hot. These are two of the most popular blogs.
Where’d you find that?
If you are using statistics or a fact that leaves your readers asking, “Where’d you find that?” you should do the work for them and add a hyperlink to the text. If you are writing about a topic in your industry niche and link out to more resources in your industry (even if you are just deep-linking to another post on your website where people can find more information) Google gives you kudos for this. It is providing more relevant information and expanding on the topic. (Linking out to Captain Kangaroo and Gunsmoke, however, probably do nothing to give you search engine brownie points.)
What are your tips for better blog connections? Are there specific things that make you feel disconnected with a blogger or more connected? Are you just starting out with blogging? Check out the resources on starting your blog on FirstSiteGuide!
I'd love to hear your thoughts. Let's CONNECT!