By Chanda Temple
I was on a WordCamp Birmingham panel today in downtown Birmingham, Ala. to talk about how to write creative content for a blog. Here are some things that have worked for me:
Write it down
When you get an idea, even if it wakes you up out of your sleep, write it down on paper. Sometimes, these are some of the best ideas or headlines for blog posts.
Everyone has a story
It’s left up to you to decide if their story is good enough to tell. I’ve written posts based on information from workshops, teleconferences, standing in the checkout line, trends, news, television shows, etc. Stories are out there. You just have to find them.
Think like a reporter and ask the why and the how
My pr job recently required me to attend a swearing-in ceremony for new U.S. citizens. As I waited for the ceremony to start, I heard future citizens discuss their love for America. I had only planned to take photos and put them on social media. Their comments encouraged me to write a future post about the event.
Paint a scene and put the subject first
I like to lead posts with a description of the subject or back into a story. But be sure not to delay the hook too long. Folks don’t like to wait. Also, try to avoid saying, “Sorry I haven’t posted in a while.” When you remind us that you haven’t been writing consistently, we’ll wonder, “Well, is she going to drop off again?” The reminder delays us in getting into your post.
Keep it short
An ideal blog post may be 500 to 700 words. I find it hard to always write that short. I have been guilty of exceeding that limit. But if a story is good, sometimes it’s worth going over the limit. Each post should be judged separately. But usually, it’s best to keep things tight and concise. (This entry is almost 900 words. I could have broken it up into two posts.)
Find new ways to present your content
Some people struggle with writing. They find it hard to string together sentences and paragraphs that will yield a good blog post. For those facing writing roadblocks, there are a few easy ways to get going. One approach that I like is to use is to write a short intro and then highlight points with bullets or numbers. Other approaches include:
Do a Q&A
Do a photo gallery
Do a series, Part 1 and Part 2 (Works well if entry is going to be long)
Write a “How to do XYZ” and include pics or video (How to
Write a review
Write about things that interest you
One of the things I like to write about are people with interesting stories that demonstrate overcoming an obstacle or empowering others. Last year while at church, I saw an elderly man get up and sing a solo with so much spirit. He didn’t just move side to side. He really moooved when he performed. I thought, “He’d make a great story.’’ Last Sunday, the man made another appearance in the chorus. Once church ended, I approached him and asked if I could interview him. He agreed. Turns out that he has an amazing story. Look for it in the coming weeks.
Don’t delay, write today
Soon after interviewing someone or doing research for your blog post, start writing. The same energy that got you fired up for the interview, will drive you to keep writing. Don’t be like me. Sometimes I wait a week or more before I return to my interview. (I’m ashamed to say it, but I have boxes full of notebooks with ideas for stories.) Your mind is not as fresh about what the person had to say if you wait a long period of time before you write about that person.
This is a hard thing to do so start practicing now. When you feel a cliche coming on for your post, fight it and find another way to write what you want to say.
If you need help, ask
Writing good content is a skill. It doesn’t happen overnight. But with a lot of practice and even some classes, one can improve their writing. For direction, consider joining See Jane Write, a writing group for women in Birmingham. Founded by Javacia Harris Bowser, the organization presents several workshops throughout the year. Be sure to sign up for her weekly email. There’s also a Birmingham WordPress Meet Up group that meets the third Monday of each month around 6 or 7 p.m. at Pale Eddie’s Pour House on Second Avenue North in downtown Birmingham; Alabama Bloggers and Birmingham Bloggers. Also sign up for Wade Kwon’s Birmingham Blogging Academy weekly e-newsletter. Check out the Birmingham WordCamp site, too.
Read your copy aloud
It helps you find mistakes and lets you know if you are taking too long to get to the point.
Chanda Temple is a former reporter now working in public relations. She blogs about being better in business and more at http://www.chandatemplewrites.com. Follow her on Twitter at @chandatemple. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.