How to write better for blogging plus…

Have you ever thought just how valuable your blog can be, as the basis for a range of content to promote your business or interest? How to write better for blogging plusNow that more and more social media platforms are not only accepting, but also encouraging much longer posts, you have widely increased opportunities get your message out there.

We were talking about this at meeting a couple of days ago

I was asked to lead a discussion about blogging at a networking event last week and saw a few eyes glance upwards when I mentioned the “B” word. But contrary to the views of some in the room, blogging still hasn’t gone out of fashion. Quite the opposite, in fact.

And when I pointed out to the group the other ways you can adapt and use your blog posts in other ways, suddenly the interest level perked up. Did you know, for example, that you can blog directly on to your timeline/home page even on the biggie platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook and even Instagram?

From a blog to a newsletter with minimal extra writing

A blog post easily can be turned into a newsletter, perhaps pruned a bit as the people on your mailing list don’t always have time to read more than a few hundred words.

If you post a blog once a week and mail your list once a month, in the newsletter you can include longish abstracts of the four posts with a clickthrough to your website if readers want to see the post in full.

What about video?

“Vlogs,” as they’re known, are quite popular and although they shouldn’t replace text (see below for why) they are a good way to get your message across provided that you speak well.

Much as I have whined and ranted in the past about poor quality video, it is now quite acceptable to shoot yourself talking at your cellphone and you can even upload it live to platforms like Facebook and Twitter, as well as the recorded version going to YouTube, etc.

Bearing in mind that popular videos these days run no longer than 3-4 minutes maximum, you need to keep your content very sharp and concise. If you want to share the full length version of your blog, tell viewers to go to your website and continue there.

Video versus written text

Many bloggers still use a dual system – themselves speaking their blog post on video, either with captions rolling or crawling over the image, or with the written transcript shown underneath. This has two benefits.

One, much as Google champions believe that their voice recognition technology is so advanced it can understand word for word what everyone is saying, this may not be, er, quite true yet.

Two, there seems to be an almost equal split between people who prefer to absorb information by watching and listening, and people who prefer to read it. The dual system solves those problems – especially the video with the full text transcript underneath (captions are still being debated in terms of Google availability.)

Blogging directly on social media platforms

LinkedIn … has been offering an article sharing system for some time now, and provided that you write a very intriguing headline followed by a sparkling article, you will get good exposure. The LinkedIn option is particularly useful for people who are starting out with a new website and haven’t built up regular traffic yet. Needless to say you must always include a short bio about yourself and a link to your website.

Facebook … is now actively encouraging people to post articles/blogs directly to the platform, and rumour has it that your post done this way will be made available to more other people’s news feeds than were you to put up an abstract with a link to your website. (Facebook obviously want to keep readers on their real estate, not yours; see below!)

Instagram … even though most posts on Instagram are rather cryptic, in fact you’re allowed up to 2,200 characters which is around 400-450 words. That’s equal to a shortish blog post, and can certainly accommodate quite a useful message. Remember that Instagram posts don’t allow clickable links unless you have a business account.

Twitter … I ‘m surprised at how few people realise that Twitter now allows you up to 280 characters (about 50 words) – not 140 characters as before. This is much more comfortable and means that people no longer have to resort to abbreviations and symbols, thank Heavens. Plenty of space there to create a good abstract of your blog post and refer people on to your website.

Don’t forget your images

All of the platforms I mention above here should include an image – it’s sad to see people who still tweet (on Twitter) text only, because those tweets disappear in a flurry of bright photos and other artwork.

More than ever before the internet is very, very visual. Even if you don’t want to use video (and much of the video you see on social media is “talking head” stuff which, though easy to shoot and upload, isn’t all that exciting or original) taking the time to find the right image for your blog posts really is worthwhile.

There are hundreds if not thousands of sites offering copyright-free images you can use. Just Google “copyright-free images” or “creative commons images.” My own favourite is Google Images – just be sure to select as follows:

  • Type in what you’re looking for
  • Select “settings” along the tool bar
  • From drop down menu select “advanced search”
  • Go to box next to “usage rights” bottom left
  • From drop down menu select either “free to use and share” or, if your site is a commercial one, “free to use or share, even commercially.” There are also some options you need to check if you want to modify an image.

And last but not least, what about writing a book from your blogs?

Provided that you plan your blog posts so that they run in sequence – or else form standalone mini-chapters or short stories – once you have written enough they easily can be turned into a book.

I did this with one of mine a few years ago – “How To Write Brilliant Business Blogs” – self-published it as a 50,000 word paperback book and Kindle. And just as happened with the famous “50 Shades Of Grey,” which also started out as self-published fan fiction, mine got picked up by an American publisher and is now doing very well there. (Unlike “50 Shades,” however, it hasn’t been made into a movie!)

Another columnist on HTWB, Lucy McCarragher, published her series of tutorials on here as a book and that, too, is doing well.

A third series on HTWB, Get That Job, also exists now in book form.

And recently I have been talking to someone (in my new role as an author coach) about a blog she has started writing. This is about her journey as the mother of a young child recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes which, with some planning, will make an excellent self-help book for other families in the future.

So where’s the catch?

There’s only one, really, and that is do not make the mistake of publishing your blogs first on the social media platforms or anywhere else, other than your own website/blogsite.

This is because as Google sees things, wherever your original material appears first, is who gets the brownie points. If you publish your post on Facebook, say, although the platform is Google searchable, you may not get the brownie points for it as the “real estate” doesn’t belong to you.

The other reason why you should always publish on your own real estate first is because of the reason above – the social media platforms are not yours. Should they decide to pull your content for any reason they are free to do so and there’s nothing you can do about it. So play safe.

Timing

If you’re going to use one piece of content across these different media, it’s only polite to send it to your mailing list first, unless it’s a “roundup” piece containing links to the previous month’s content on your website.

It’s also wise to publish your post on your own website a good few days before it appears on social media. And don’t forget to change a few things – headline, first and last paragraphs, and sub-headings – just in case Google decides you’re using duplicate content, which it dislikes…

See these articles on blogging which may help you get started, or even if you’ve started, give you fresh impetus!

 

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