4 Signs You Should Write That Blog Article - And How to Do It
This step-by-step instruction will help you decide what blog article to write and guide you through the potentially brain-wrenching process to make your content stand out from all the attention-grabbing text noise of the internet.
I’ll say it right away: The safest way to a successful blog article includes a very sincere assessment whether you should write about that topic at all, and in which way precisely. The user (= reader) of your piece should be able to gain real value out of their time reading it. After all, you don’t want to add to that overwhelming noise of internet nonsense and leave your reader regretting their time investment in the end, right?
As a general rule, writing blog articles only really makes sense if you have something important and relevant to say -- that is, when you’re an expert in some way. This can be either as an experienced professional in your domain, but also if you gained rare knowledge by coming across something rather unusual, or even a beginner who finds existing sources of information misleading or inaccessible (that is, if you’re kind of an “expert on learning” in this field right now). Whatever it is you choose to write about, make sure it is something you have unique access to in your special situation.
The typical situation for writing a blog article is if there’s something you want the world to know. Now, make sure the world wants to know it, too!
So, how can you know what of your expert knowledge is interesting to “the world”? You should really consider writing a blog article if at least one of these descriptions apply:
- There is something in or about your field of expertise or personal experience that almost everyone gets wrong.
- Someone asked you something that you found hard to answer even after some googling, or you found a How-To leaving many questions unanswered, made the effort to find out yourself, and now you’re able to write that blog article that you wished you had.
- You know of common mistakes people frequently make, or something really bothers you and you wish that more people knew about this easily avoidable behavior. Now it’s your chance to explain the benefits of the alternatives!
- You simply came across some surprising and counterintuitive fact that the most high-ranked Google search results don’t seem to be aware of, and you think the world should know. (Make sure to double-check your sources!)
Of course, well-made summaries and overview articles can also pour some charm, but chances are that your carefully crafted content is already covered by articles on Wikipedia or similar platforms, which are usually more effective with summary-like content by design.
Now you're probably asking yourself why to write a blog article at all if most content has already been covered? Here is the answer: Individual blog articles are especially interesting if they include personal experience or your unique and informed perceptions as an expert or learner. If you keep this in mind, you'll be able to add to that existing knowledge in a rare and valuable way.
To further define your content, it is advisable to do a little user (=reader) research and thus answering the following questions:
- Does this kind of content already exist? If yes, make sure you strengthen your unique viewpoint on the topic and enrich the text with your personal experiences and respectful judgements. (Because, just as Herbert Bayard Swope, the inventor of the Op-Ed, puts it: “nothing is more interesting than opinion when opinion is interesting.”)
- If not, is anyone interested in your topic at all? There is a chance that there is sparse or no content in search or little search volume on this topic, indicating little or even a lack of interest in such an inquiry. Try checking google searches and keywords, e.g. by using a tool for keyword research, on this. The more there is to find on a given topic, the more specialized your article must be - and vice versa.
- Do common misconceptions exist that should definitely be addressed? Is there something “that almost everyone gets wrong about” your topic which makes it interesting to learn about “how it really is”?
- In what possible situation could a potential reader of your content be in, which makes him or her susceptible to invest their time into your text product? What do they care about? What do they hope to get out of it?
After having done the research and having answered these questions, you're ready to write your first draft. Set the stage for concentrated, uninterrupted writing. This is not the time to look up new sources or reconsider your whole project. Just write something down. All you have to do right now is to produce the raw material for collecting vital feedback on your ideas.
In the next step, let someone read and briefly summarize it. When asking people for feedback, make clear that this is not yet about grammar or style, but:
- Did they understand your key message?
- Did they find it interesting or even funny?
- Can they think of a person with whom they’d like to share the article?
- Are there any unanswered questions left?
- Would they have clicked the article if they only knew the headline? (Headline is key!)
Now it’s time to work the feedback back into your draft. Maybe your draft was not understandable at all, or simply too long. This is really no death-sentence for your text--you can work on this. Remember, you’ve done your research before. Your job is now to effectively get your message across. Be as clear and helpful as you can, and envision your reader as someone who really craves to know. Once you reworked your text, repeat the exercise of letting someone summarize your message (but be aware of a certain wear-off effect with repeated sparring-partners ;)).
If you managed to make your case, it's time to fine-tune the whole thing. Now you can:
- craft a (even more) compelling and descriptive headline.
- work out some details and add real-life examples.
- make your text easy and enjoyable to read.
- check if you get right to the point without lamenting.
- get a night’s sleep and rethink the topic the next day.
- have a chat with friends & co-workers about it.
- Most important here: Write clearly! Because, just as Peter Peter Medawar said,
«No one who has something original or important to say will willingly run the risk of being misunderstood; people who write obscurely are either unskilled in writing or up to mischief.»
At this point, you've got some petty good blog article material to further perfect. You can now gather more detailed feedback on specific aspects. Make sure to consider everything at least as a side-note--it can only improve your text, for an increasing amount of different readers will find themselves represented in your deliberations. And these are, after all, the people you write for. If appropriate (that is, if your topic is not purely technical), try to see it from multiple angles while remaining your general stance on it. Even if you’re trying to convince your audience to do something differently, it helps to first consider their viewpoint. People who feel heard and represented are more open to suggestions and will appreciate your work even if they still disagree in the end.
So that’s it! Go ahead and give it a try. There’s really nothing to lose, and aside from all the repetitive and pseudo-objective advice out there, there’re still tons of fascinating and helpful contributions for you to make if you’re writing from an honest, well-informed, courageous and deeply caring perspective.
Do you think this blog article was worth writing, measured in its own metrics? Was it worth reading for you? Let me know!
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