Ah, the art of blog or newsletter writing. It's like making the perfect sandwich — it looks easy until you're the one in the kitchen.
Some folks make a generic peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich on sliced white bread so dry a camel couldn't choke it down, while others end up with a roasted pepper, eggplant, and hummus delight on homemade focaccia.
Same for article writing. On any given topic, some writers will produce dry blog posts that sit on the digital shelf, gathering cyber dust. At the same time, other writers will create seven-figure content empires.
What's the difference? Here are a few thoughts.
Write for Someone
Diving headfirst into writing a blog or an email newsletter without knowing who you are writing for is like showing up at a costume party without knowing the theme — awkward and potentially disastrous. Crocheted toga, anyone?
At the same time, "knowing your audience" can be an intangible cliché. So here are a few suggestions to actually, tangible know your blog or newsletter reader.
- Write what you would read. Put another way, write for yourself. Nosce te ipsum et scribe bonum contentum.
- Do keyword research. If you're not so sentimental and are more interested in results, do classic SEO work and find out what your audience searches on Google.
- Solve a problem. This one is another potential cliché, but it works. If my faucet is dripping, I will want to read an article about "how to fix a leaky tap." If a bunch of Taylor Swift fans converge on me in the oral hygiene section of the drugstore, you can bet I would read your post on "how to survive a zombie apocalypse with only a toothbrush."
Choose Engaging Topics
I know a photographer named Eric. He says the secret to taking great pictures is to stand in front of something interesting.
A similar secret for blogging or newsletter composition is writing about something interesting.
Not every cat photo becomes a meme, and not every topic will have your readers hitting the "subscribe" button faster than a caffeinated squirrel.
So don't just randomly pick something to write about. Rather, have a topic-creation process.
SEO Research is The Gold Standard
Think of SEO research as your blog's GPS. It navigates you through the labyrinth of the internet to find those golden topics your audience is secretly craving. Start with keyword tools — they're like metal detectors for finding topic treasure.
Look for keywords with decent search volumes and not so competition.
Consider why your readers will care about the topic. For example, if you are trying to monetize your blog with affiliate links, you need to pick topics related to buying.
Brainstorming Like a Boss
Here's where your creativity gets to flex its muscles. Brainstorming sessions can be as organized or chaotic as you like — think of it as jazz, but with ideas.
Use techniques like mind mapping or jot down everything that pops into your head while waiting for your coffee.
I knew a very successful freelance writer who held monthly brainstorming parties. He would invite over a bunch of friends. Everyone would bring two or three magazines or newspapers and a large bottle of booze. After a few cocktails, folks started going through the periodicals and pitching article topics.
If you decide to use this method to generate topics for your blog, I would be more than happy to attend and bring a bottle of gin.
Staying Trendy (in a Good Way)
Staying current with trends is like knowing all the latest dance moves — it keeps you in sync with your audience.
Keep an eye on social media, news feeds, and even what's buzzing in your local community. This doesn't mean you have to jump on every trend or try to become the CNN of your little blog niché.
Just be aware of them, like a cool aunt who knows all the latest slang but doesn't try too hard to use it.
Useful, Educational, or Entertaining
Every blog post or newsletter should teach something, solve a problem, or entertain.
Think of it as your content's mission statement. If it doesn't do one of these things, it's about as useful as a chocolate teapot.
Develop an Effective Structure
Building the structure of your blog post or newsletter is a bit like assembling IKEA furniture. Sure, you can wing it without the instructions, but you'll probably end up with something wobbly and a few mysterious extra pieces. A solid structure ensures your content is as sturdy and appealing as that Swedish bookshelf you've been eyeing.
Outline for Clarity and Flow
Remember, even da Vinci probably sketched before he painted. Outlining your post is crucial for maintaining clarity and flow.
In this age of generative AI, don't hesitate to ask ChatGPT or its AI buddies for help. They're like the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man of writing aids. And hey, if you find comfort in a trusty blog or newsletter "recipe," stick with it. Some SEO tools even suggest content templates.
Headings and Subheadings Are Your Friends
Imagine reading a block of text as dense as a fruitcake. Not fun, right?
Break up your content with headings and subheadings. They act like road signs, guiding your readers through your post without getting lost or, worse, dozing off.
And let's not forget bullet points. They're like snacks for the eyes, making information easy to digest.
Pick the Right Format
The format of your content should fit your style.
If you're a journalist, go for the inverted pyramid style. Start with the most crucial information and taper down to the less important stuff.
And if you're a humorist, remember to sprinkle in a Taylor Swift joke or two. For example, did you realize that calling a Taylor Swift fan a "Swifty" is like calling a fat guy slim?
Edit and Proofread
Alright, you've got your blog post or newsletter drafted. With luck, it's witty, informative, and about as engaging as bikini models at an insurance convention.
Before you publish, there's a crucial step that stands between you and glory. That step is editing and proofreading.
Think of editing as that brutally honest friend who tells you when you've got lettuce stuck in your teeth. It's not always fun, but it's necessary.
Editing isn't just about hunting down sneaky typos or wrestling with grammar gremlins. It's about ensuring your writing is as clear and concise.
Grammar checkers like Grammarly or Hemingway Editor are like the Swiss Army knives of the writing world. They'll help you catch those grammatical faux pas and stylistic no-nos.
But trust yourself, too. I have found that Grammarly sometimes butchers meaning, transforming an excellent essay into the lyrics of a Taylor Swift song.
Give your post the good old-fashioned once-over (or twice-over). Read it aloud. It's amazing how many oddities you can catch when you hear your words.
Or, get a fresh pair of eyes on it. Sometimes, a friend or colleague can spot things you've glossed over.