What's the Secret Formula to Blogging Anyway?
A blogger plays by the SEO and keyword rules. A good blogger couples careful research with an engaging topic with their opinion included in the mix. And a great blogger knows how to mix all of these with a fierce writing skill set and voice that gets you all hot and bothered while reading – and ready to come back for more.
In the most recently aired episode of the AMC drama Mad Men, creative staff member at the fictional ad agency Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce Peggy Olson is in the midst of considering moving to work at another firm. Her work is praised by an opposing agency, particularly by the brand Clearasil, for being copy that is written free of clichés and formulas. And even though the current year on the show falls in the late 1960’s category, there is mention that already ad firms are using formulas to help companies sell their products successfully. Less organic, more mechanic.
A similar tactic is still being employed over 50 years later in the social media world through blogging. The art of blogging is not an art insomuch as it is a method to get ranked higher on Google, use a certain quota of SEO approved keywords, and name drop mentions to get a Google Alert sent your way. As a blogger and social media manager this saddens me because it’s hard to get a message across when you’re too busy doing a keyword count. What’s meant to be a fun and informative way to get a message across is swiftly turning into a fight for the right formula – who does it best, how do they do it, and how can other people copy for similar results.
My secret formula to blogging is the same as any formula for writing I follow: write what you know and burn the rest. There is no real formula employed for blogging though. It’s just too new of a media and a constantly evolving one at that to truly measure just yet. But I do have a couple of tried and true tips I pull out when blogging that seldom lead me astray.
1) Do Your Research
Wikipedia doesn’t count. And unfortunately, sometimes high profile pieces on major news outlets don’t either (ever notice how occasionally those will get editor’s notes in italics on edits made later on after the published date sometimes?) Research your topic thoroughly if need be. If quoting someone in a piece be sure you can both use the said quotes and that they’ve been transcribed appropriately.
2) Take a Stand
You don’t have to blog every single day. I only blog whenever I am passionate about a topic or have a particularly fast set of wheels turning in my head on an idea I want to tweak into something bigger. This is not considered kosher blogging advice and definitely goes against the stereotypical “Must blog! Need more SEO content!” book. Write about a topic that you’re genuinely interested in exploring more about. Take a stand to spice it up – go pro or con but skip neutral. Neutral is not a challenge. If you picked something that excites you to write about, your post will spark the debate and word of mouth it deserves that only your passion can inspire.
3) Know Your Audience
What do they like? What are they interested in? What do they expect to see from you? Why are they even on your blog in first place? Answer these questions first and follow up with this often forgotten one: how can you get them involved?
4) Strong Voice, Strong Writing Style
My favorite word to describe blogging is “conversational.” It’s all very leave your troubles at the door and come on in and stay for awhile. Blogging tells a story that’s in your voice but doesn’t forget to include the mistakes made along the way. It’s not perfect. It’s human. Sometimes there’s a spelling error or an abbreviation you have to Google to find out the meaning of. And while it’s condensed information that seldom stretches beyond 1000, 2000 words tops, there’s still a solid opening, consistent middle, and finished closing end that leaves the reader satisfied.
5) Don’t Forget a Picture and/or Video!
We are a visually based, meme lovin’ society after all. Your actions have and still continue to speak louder than words so whenever you can, include photos and videos that show you in action doing and practicing exactly what you preach.
Always organic, skip the mechanic.
Heather Taylor is a social media enthusiast, freelance writer, and blogger who writes and muses on social networks, business, and fashion and the occasional combination of all three. She has had her written work published with Yahoo! Shine, BettyConfidential, HelloGiggles, The Huffington Post, and more. Contact her on Twitter @howveryheather or directly email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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