I’m part of a few different blogging groups and a lot of new bloggers end up posting things like, “I’m doing everything right but I still don’t have a real audience. Should I post more? Should I use ads? How many posts should I do on social media every day?”
Then they post a link to their blog and I’ll read a couple of posts. Within a minute or two, it’s totally obvious that their problem isn’t strategy-related, it’s content-related.
You’re not writing an essay
The issue is that a lot of new bloggers (especially small business owners who know they should blog but don’t really know what it’s about yet) write like they’re writing an essay for school or like they’re writing an infomercial. That’s just the truth. Unfortunately, neither works for blogging.
If you want to strike a real connection with your readers, remember that your readers aren’t grading you and they definitely don’t want to be sold anything. They’ll buy eventually if that’s your goal and you’re providing them with some obvious value, but not when they’re being hit over the head with your sales pitch.
Being a “bad writer” isn’t an excuse
You don’t have to be a “good writer” to start a blog, but you do need to be aware of your writing voice. And on that note, what passed as “good writing” in school doesn’t translate to “good writing” on the internet because blogging, in 9 out of 10 cases, should be conversational. Basically, your blog writing should sound like you having an intelligent (but not formal) conversation with someone. If you can speak, you can blog.
Remember you’re talking to people like you
The biggest mistake new bloggers make is forgetting that they’re talking to a human being on the other side of the screen. It’s admittedly difficult to picture your reader sometimes when you’re sitting alone at your computer writing out your blog posts, but you have to put yourself in the reader’s shoes and imagine who they are, why they should care about what you’re writing, what reactions they might have, what questions could come up, etc.
The best content is the kind that you almost forget that you’re reading. It’s not too stuffy or essay-like, there’s a natural rhythm, and the words are easy to understand. The reader should be able to read it quickly.
Here’s an example of writing you don’t want on your blog:
“Have you ever wondered how you could make working out feel more enjoyable? If so, you’re not alone. Many women ages 16-35 are reporting that they do not like to exercise. You may be wondering if you’ll ever lose that weight or if you’ll ever feel good about your body. Well, if you are a woman between the ages of 16-35, you might like our weight loss supplements!”
How do you feel when you read that? Personally, when I read copy that sounds like that, I go back to Google and search for something else to read. This sort of approach comes off as robotic and salesy and does nothing to establish a connection with the reader. Why should the reader come back? This kind of writing shows zero personality, and personality is everything in blogging. I’ll be perfectly honest and admit that if your information is very high quality and specific, you might be able to get away with less personality if you’re not too salesy. But, in general, you want to let your voice shine through.
A quick tip for developing your conversational writing voice:
If you’re starting a blog because you’re just passionate about your niche and you’re not necessarily passionate about writing, there are absolutely ways to develop your authentic writing voice.
What I’ve noticed about people who don’t consider themselves “writers” is that they overthink the writing and they default into “school voice”. A good way to get to know your natural voice is to actually use it. Here’s what you do:
- Grab your phone and open up your Notes app.
- Now, instead of typing a note, tap the microphone button on your keyboard and start talking about your niche. You should see words popping up on the screen as you speak them. Just speak naturally, don’t worry about “um”s and “you know”s.
- When you’re done, go back and read what you spoke. Besides some grammatical polishing and changing up a few words to clean up the verbal static, you should be left with an acceptable, authentic-sounding piece of copy.
You can either email the note to yourself and just copy and paste it into a blog post or social media post, or you can use it as a starting point to edit and expand on using the same sort of voice in your posts until you start to get more comfortable with this stuff.
Becoming a better writer means you have to write, so if you want to blog but you’re not a good writer, the answer is to start. It takes practice. My writing voice has changed over the years and it’s something I continue to try to improve upon. I’ve mentioned before that blogging, especially, is a fluid process. You get to learn as you go. Don’t let intimidation or a lack of information stop you from doing something you want to do because taking action can fix all of that. So make some mistakes, trust the process, and be yourself because you can’t go wrong.