Writing Blog Posts with Personality (No Matter What You Do For a Living)
Unless you were a journalism major, you probably exhaled a large sigh of relief when you handed in that last college paper, thinking you would never have to write another long-form story again.
Now, you find yourself working in a decidedly non-writerly field (read: sales, tech or even HR), but all of sudden, you’re being asked to dust off those writing chops and contribute to the company blog.
With the exponential rise of content marketing as a sales tool, marketing departments have been thusly torturing unsuspecting engineers, customer service reps and sales pros with blog demands for the last few years. While your initial reaction may be, “Isn’t writing their job?” there’s a reason you’re being tasked with such requests: you’re interesting.
Even the best writers and marketing reps have limitations when it comes to creating the best possible content, simply because there’s no substitute for the real-world experience and knowledge their coworkers have in certain areas. Believe it or not, you may hold the key to the information and expertise your customers covet most, learned through years of experience in your role.
If you’re tasked with writing a company blog, don’t fear: your marketing department will undoubtedly help polish it before it goes live. But to get you started, here are a few tips for writing a killer blog from the first draft on, no matter how long ago you sat in a classroom.
Give it a personal touch.
There’s a reason you specifically were asked to draft the post; your team members feel your company’s readers would benefit from hearing your angle or insights on a certain topic. While your writing tone and voice should mirror that of your overall company, feel free to add your own background, experiences and flair to your piece.
If you need some inspiration, check out Bill Gates’ Gatesnotes blog. Gates rarely launches straight into information in the way a reporter would. Rather, his stories are just that — stories. Wondering how to add in a personal touch? Gates utilizes a few strategies for doing so.
First, he speaks from first person point of view and incorporates real anecdotes from various moments in his life. He also gives insights only he has from dealing with those situations, and explains their significance on a larger scale.
When including personal information and insights, focus on how you can make it relatable to your readers, your industry or the greater population.
Use real-life examples.
Whatever idea you’re explaining, support it with real, day-to-day examples you’ve seen through your role. This is the exact insight your marketing team is looking for; as you’re the one on the front lines, you have experiences that some of your coworkers and customers would never guess.
Be wary of getting too personal; for example, leave out customer personal information and try to refrain from speaking poorly about a customer, even if you’re touching on some of the challenges you often face in your role. Rather, incorporate common issues your customers face, how you help customers overcome common issues or how a scenario you experienced could give readers insight into how your services could help them.
Put yourself in the shoes of the reader.
Work with your marketing team to find out exactly who you should speak to in your piece. You may be surprised by the information your marketing team has on your audience members, including gender, location, age and other demographic details. Ask them for specifics on who to gear your post toward for the biggest ROI.
This should help you understand who the audience is, what their needs are and what your marketing reps are hoping to gain from the post in order to make sure you’re hitting those targets.
For example, if your audience is mostly business professionals aged 35-50, it doesn’t make sense to insert pop culture references only millennials will get. If your marketing reps are hoping to drive more traffic to a certain services page, it’s important for you to know that so you can include relevant links and content to push audience members there.
Also, think about what you would want to learn from the piece if you were in the audience. This can help you ensure you’re including the most relevant information from a customer’s point of view, while speaking to their specific needs and challenges. Talking to customers on their level can also help keep your writing from becoming too “sales-y,” and more personalized instead.
Take a structured approach.
While it’s okay to make your blog post conversational and unique, you should at least pre-plan your blog with an outline before writing.
Following the same format you learned in school — intro, thesis, three supporting body paragraphs and a conclusion — can ensure your blog reads wells, makes logical sense and is organized. Pre-planning your blog’s structure is especially important for non-writers, who often struggle with putting their thoughts into an organized and logical flow.
If you’ve already starting drafting your blog, you can always go back and put what you’ve written into an outline to ensure it truly makes sense.
Wrap up with a CTA.
Let your readers know what to do next with one succinct call-to-action (CTA). It’s unlikely you were simply writing a blog post for your health; your marketing team is often looking to use content to drive traffic or boost conversions.
It’s okay to include relevant links throughout your post, but make sure you end the blog on one strong, easy-to-follow direction. For example, you could insert a link to take readers to a landing page or a link to sign up for your company’s newsletter to learn more. Make the value of following the CTA obvious to the reader, and call it out by bolding it or making it larger than the rest of the text in the blog.
Writer’s block happens even to the most experienced of writers, but following a basic structure can help even the most finicky of authors get the wheels of creativity turning.
Share this blog with your coworkers to quell their writing fears and get them off to an organized start.