Just like our food, our business blogs need a little spicing up here and there to make them tastier and more memorable. Obviously, as is the case with cooking appetizing meals, too much in the way of spice or condiments can ruin what otherwise would be a delicious combination.
(For a list of the top 10 most helpful articles on blogging for business as chosen by our readers, click here)
Getting it right is all about getting the proportions right. So, here are a few ideas on how to sprinkle the right amount and type of condiments on your business blog posts, to transform them into truly gourmet articles…
Blogging for business doesn’t have to be bland
Even if your industry or professional sphere is very conservative and formal in nature, the beauty of blogging in these areas is that – because it’s a blog post rather than a white paper or official article for a professional journal – you’re “allowed” to relax, put your feet up on the desk, and write in a relatively informal way.
That’s great in itself. But if the subject matter you’re discussing is pretty bland and traditional, should you attempt to “beef it up” with some literary tricks to make it more readable and retainable? I think you can, provided that you do it right. And the payback is likely to be very valuable.
What about credibility?
I hear you, but let’s not get too obsessive about this. In your business blog, no-one expects (or wants) you to hide behind a strict professional persona. The whole purpose of a business blog is, as suggested above, to share your real self – or your company’s/firm’s real self – with your readers in a way that engages the latter in an informal, personal way.
Just because you write informally in terms of “me-to-you,” doesn’t lose you street cred. On the contrary: your readers will respect you for baring your inner self to them and still showing them what a first-class professional you are … without the jargon, formal words and other business bullsh*t they might encounter elsewhere.
OK. Now for the condiments…
Stories / analogies. But not just any story or analogy – especially the old and tired metaphorical anecdotes. People love stories these days provided that they are attention-grabbing, and above all else, personalized. In this recent article by the brilliant Sean D’Souza, he says … “the key to writing better analogies is to write a personal story first … the moment you dip into a personal story, even a tired story of riding a bicycle comes to life.” Make sure your stories are relevant and have a personal appeal – a much tastier condiment.
Case histories … very relevant, short, sharp ones. There is always a danger in using case histories because so often they tend to glamorize you and whichever client was involved, but show no relevance whatsoever to your current readership. If you can quote some quick case histories that show how your business has helped a client – and relate that benefit to anyone reading your post or article – then that’s spicy.
Humor. Never as easy a condiment to use as you might think, especially if you have an international audience: something that’s hilarious for one culture could be downright offensive to another. But if you get it right it works wonders. The trick is to stay well away from jokes and humorous quips that focus on people, but focus on circumstances / situations instead. This article here will give you some ideas on how to do that effectively.
Peppy writing style. Once again if you’re in the sort of business where zappy language is considered inappropriate, remember that your business blog is where your readers will expect you to relax and show yourself to be the agreeable human being you are, rather than someone wearing a smart suit and formal attitude. OK, you don’t need to write in the latest urban street jargon from New York City, but a simple, informal tone will help engage your readers. Imagine you’re chatting to them over a drink at the bar after a networking event … use the sort of language you might speak after one or two Margaritas (but no more than that, please.)
Expletives. Oh, dear me … the jury has been out on this one for months if not years. Needless to say if your business works within social circles in which naughty words are considered the kiss of death, you should avoid using them even within the informality of a blog post. However if you’re in a business where rude language is de rigueur, you’ll be considered a boring wimp if you don’t include at least one 4-letter word per paragraph. Use your common sense, but don’t be held back if that’s what your readership expects.
Images. People bang on about a picture being worth a thousand words and up to a point they’re right, but it all depends on the picture. As I say in this somewhat irreverent article, sticking up any old pic to illustrate your article / blog post does not exactly “cut the mustard.” There are statistics dribbling around all over the place saying that use of images in blog posts / online articles enhances retention and all that. But if you’re going to get the tastiest results from using images in your text, whatever you do, choose some that really add value. And unless the images consist of text, add a caption. I’m told this also increases readership engagement!