Each morning, on my drive into Bournemouth town centre where my offices are, I listen to BBC Radio 5 Live (I am the perfect demographic for them; into sport and current affairs, right age group, slightly more male oriented etc) or Radio 4 (if I’m being slightly more high brow)… Then I think about what is on my mind, what is in the news, what I am keen to write about, or get off my chest…
Upon arriving at my offices, the first of many distractions presents itself… Emails. I trawl through all the emails I have received overnight, sometimes I reply to an urgent one, but I tend to just get them straight in my mind and choose to reply once I have written my blog entry for that day.
I pop a green tea bag into my love mug… This is a mug that my wife made by hand for me, painted and gave to me as a gift, so I get to experience sentimentality as well as the caffeine while drinking it…
I need to fill it up in the kitchen here and maybe pass someone in the corridor that I say hello to, small talk about the football match on telly last night, or prime ministers questions the day before, or how hot it is again today, or I attempt to make a gag of some kind with varying levels of success and laughter responses…
Then I get to my desk to start writing… And here I am. Quickly check the emails to see if any further emails have come in during the last 2 minutes while I was fetching tea, then open the window to get some air in here, stare out for a moment and start to gauge how I am feeling and what my tone is going to be like on the blog today… And how much of my emotional state I am prepared to share on the blog, do I think “f@ck it, they get me how I come” or do I offer up a more educational stance today and be factual without disclosing too much of myself? Hmmm… The agony of choice… Choices? That would make a good ezine article this week, I’ll write about that in my ezine this week… I may well start writing extracts for my ezine until I get to the stage where I commit to the blog, all goes quiet… that is, I shut myself up inside my head, there is far too much buzzing and I have far too much to say for myself and then I have to do a full days work after this blog entry and that all needed to be considered, weighted up and thought about, I need to plan, plot and… Get on with the blog Adam.
Rub forehead, sip tea… Ouch, too hot, I drank too soon. On to the blog.
I make no claims at being an ex-spurt, but I’ve been writing 1-2,000 words a day almost every day for the past few years… That’s the most important tip of all when it comes to blogging. To be any kind of a blogger, or writer, you need to start writing. Most of the other stuff you figure out along the way.
During recent weeks Keith (my business partner and less visible face of my business) and I have been running a webinar series for a small group of my students. We are helping them to set up websites, get social networking, and eventually get down to seriously monetising their online business as well as running a credible therapeutic career… That includes blogging.
Several of them have asked me what the keys are to writing a blog… Just the writing stuff… Not all the technical stuff that we have been teaching them… So here is my attempt at offering up some blog writing tips and pointers.
Even though my earlier ramblings here suggest otherwise, I do have a routine, this blog is usually the first thing I do with each working day. It is part of my routine. All the good blogs I read regularly, regularly update, whether it is weekly or daily, bi-weekly, they have a regular input happening at the blog. I see blogs that offer up an entry one month, then nothing for 4 weeks, then another entry, then nothing until they want to advertise a course or a product 6 weeks later, and the blog is never going to establish any loyalty that way. So as my Nana used to say as she ladledÂ All Bran and prunes from her breakfast bowl into her mouth each morning – be regular!
Importantly, I’d suggest you move from the general to the specific when you write. It is an important idea, and fairly simple to apply. Give people a concept and then tell them more about how they can use it. Travel is joyous and explorative; here’s how you can actually travel the world on a shoestring. Be a great hypnotherapist by adding this process into your work. To be happy in life you have to have self-esteem; here’s one way to do that. Offer up ways of doing X,Y and Z.
Right up until his death, my favourite music radio DJ was a man called John Peel. He championed unsigned bands and new music, he loved obscure and varied taste and would always challenge the state of the music industry and play music he loved even if it was not on the mainstream playlist. The thing with John Peel was, he spoke to me. During his shows, he was speaking to me personally. I really felt that. He seemed to be personally attentive with his tone… All the blogs I see doing really well, with very a very good following have a similar tone, they really treat the reader as an individual and not appear to be writing dogma for the masses.
While writing, think about your audience. Over the years, I have had much feedback, criticism, praise and interaction with my audience. While writing I bear much of that in mind whilst retaining the essence of who I am. Without wanting to attempt to please everyone in the world, I do ask myself from time to time, whilst picture them and thinking, what would so-and-so think of this? Would he get it? Would she find it interesting? Is this useful for her?
Write in the same manner you’d talk… Let your mannerisms and idiosyncrasies come to the fore and avoid at all costs attempting to be a biege, magnolia painted, template of a shadow of who you really are, afraid to ruffle feathers and speak your mind… The people that like you and your writing will keep reading if you are yourself, and those that don’t like you, will go and read something else, somewhere else. If you are bland, wear biege (metaphorically speaking of course) and sit cowering in the corner wanting to blend in to the fields of pretty flowers in the world, then it is unlikely people will be attracted to regular reading… I mean, they could just stare into space instead, right? Or pop on an Enya album, no? If you have a good sense of humour, use it. Have fun, have a laugh, be yourself to the end.
If you want to be heard, then take a stand. Contrary to what many people may have you believe, readers want to know what you actually think. You’ll need to have the courge of your convictions and stick your head above the parapet from time to time, and heck I have a few bullets whistling past my ears every now and then… And double heck, if consensus is overrated, so is neutrality. That is why all the major newspapers employ daily, weekly and monthly opinion pieces from people with specific types of opinion. Tell your reader what bothers you, and you’ll want to include what you are doing about it too! A good blog does not fear speaking its mind (just go check out one of my favourite blogs, despite being a Derby County fan, Tim Brownson at his very well read blog)
So do also be aware of punctuating your writing with the cliches that everyone else seems to use, especially if they are not typical of you and who you are.
Think about the reason that anyone would choose to read what you are writing and what you have to say. Do all you can to answer the reason why. Why should someone care about what you have to say? Ideally, you’ll know your audience and who you are writing for, and some of your readers may be your friends and your family who are certain to care about what you think, but what about everyone else? have you given a clear reason for the rest of the world to care enough to read your writing?
Edit later. Not on the go. Go back and edit later. As I said before, although I have a convoluted morning routine with distractions, when I start writing, smoke emanates from the keyboard and I have a frenzied spell of non-stop writing… If you keep editing, you’ll never get anything written. You can come back and edit it, for now, get your main content down there… You can add afterthoughts when you check it through later. When you edit, you”ll end up feeling like you need a break and in the blogosphere, having a break is for wimps! Hahaha, I had to write that, just like a 1980s city worker, self-styled yuppy with a brick-like mobile phone would say “lunch is for wimps.”
Then once you have your bulk of writing down on the page… Read it back to yourself, even consider reading it out loud. There is something about hearing your work out loud that helps people notice the things you miss or took for granted when you read in your head only.
Be vivid and go into the detail! Resist being vague, unless you are writing about Milton Erickson’s artful use of hypnotic language of course… Provide information, tell your story. It really does make a massive difference. If it appears that you have invested the right time and energy into your blgo entry, then your reader will know that, and sense it and invest reciprocal amount of time and energy reading… And they may just come back and read again…
In my hypnotherapy training diploma, I often talk about innoculation – that is, overcome some objections in your writing before the reader or listener offers them up for himself. it is useful in marketing and also important in your blog writing. be sure to build a case. If you want to get your opinion or viewpoint over, consider the potential objections, and every now and then preempt them and address them in your blog.
Lastly, recognise that any creative act worth doing benefits from an ongoing process of continuous improvement. Writing your blog is no exception. I look back and grimace at stuff I was writing in my ezine 5 years ago and what I blogged about this time last year… I am certain that this time next year, I’ll probably be grimacing again as I read this back. That’s the way it is (comedy cliche use there!) and the truth is that you cannot improve on anything until you have written something… So get blogging, get writing, get doing it regularly and then you have much to improve on.
Get blogging, don’t stop… In fact, dont stop til you get enough: