Tools and Tips of the Trade
· Writing Blog Postings
· Writing Forums
· Writing Columns
· Writing Articles
When you're thinking about writing a short piece, whether it is a blog, a posting for a forum, a column, or even an article, getting your thoughts in order with the use of keywords will help you to stay focused, on topic, and move logically from one point to the next.
There is nothing more irritating to a reader than to read someone's ramblings that never seem to have a point or focus. If your blog or forum really doesn't have a point, then this step won't matter to you.
However, for the people who use blogs to reach a greater audience for their business, you want to come across as an individual they want to follow because the material is valuable and makes sense. You don't need a road map to figure out the point of a short written piece.
Writing Blog Postings
For this section, I will give you an example of a very short keyword outline that I will use to write this section on writing blog postings:
- Timely topic
- Pose a question
- Answer the question
- Anticipate reactions and objections
- Answer objections
This is a very short outline, but it will help to demonstrate the point of using a keyword outline to speed up your blog postings without compromising their quality.
Start by choosing a timely topic. Obviously your blog is designed to reach a particular audience already, so each blog posting will be a very specific point to make. The idea is to cover this point completely without heading off on any tangents.
Blog Posting Outline:
- Timely Topic - Writing a client newsletter.
- Pose a question – Will clients look for your blog?
- Answer the question – No!
- Anticipate reactions and objections – Most people don't do anything until they're told to do it.
- Answer objections – By sending a newsletter, you tell them what you want them to know, and you can direct them to your blog.
- Recap – People have to be told what to do.
- Conclusion – If you don't, you lose clients.
I was having a conversation with my stylist today.
As we talked, I asked if they provided a newsletter to their clients. She said, "No, but we have a blog, and we are all putting our biz up on Facebook, and we're on Twitter too."
As I pondered that, I realized the problem…while all the social media steps are good, they rely on their clients to do something!
Let me ask you this, when you get home from a tough day at work, are you going to necessarily go looking for the blog or Facebook or Twitter posting from your stylist?
Chances are good that you would not do that. You'll check your own personal email, do a little web-surfing on your own on ocean kayaks or something. You probably aren't going to be actively searching for information about your stylist and her salon…are you?
I realized that at the very least, they should have all their clients on an email list and email them to tell them to go to their blog!!! So simple, and yet it seems to just rush past people…the average person isn't going to do something until they are told to do it.
That's why a newsletter is a key.
If you were to send a newsletter (ok, electronically, if you absolutely cannot create, or are unwilling to create one in hard copy), to your clients, they would like open it and enjoy all the articles that you provide. They will then read the article about the new training that you are providing to your stylists. This way, your clients will know that all your stylists are up on the latest color and cut techniques. Who doesn't want to be on the "cutting" edge of the latest styles in hair? Right?
The point is, don't count on your clients and customers taking the initiative and looking for your Facebook, Twitter, or blog pages.
Direct them! Tell them!Most people have to be told what to do
If you don't they'll be told by someone else, and all of a sudden, your client base will disappear.
As you can see, your blog can still have a fun and conversational tone, but by following a short keyword outline your blog posting can be written very, very quickly, and still be on topic without losing your audience.
Writing for a forum is very similar to writing a blog posting, however, most forums are even easier to write because when you write for a forum, you are presented with a question that you need to answer.
Because you already have a question posed, all you have to do is rephrase the question and then answer it as completely as possible. When you are considering your answer, using keywords to provide a complete and concise answer is a good idea. This way if you need to provide a link to support your answer or remind your reader of lesser known points you'll have the reminder right at hand.
The problem with forums is that once you post your answer you usually cannot delete it and rewrite it if you misspoke yourself or added the wrong link to the forum. Getting your facts right before posting ensures a single, well-considered answer.
Being able to answer a question well will make you a favorite on the forums you monitor.
Column writing is a little different type of writing, it most commonly employs an approach called the "inverted pyramid style".
With this approach, the most important or interesting part of the column is told first. Keep in mind what the reader will consider is most important, and be sure to answer all the journalistic questions:
The next portion of your column is where you add the extra details that help to support the beginning of your column. This is then followed by the lesser details and a small conclusion that finishes your column.
Writing articles is one more short writing assignment that can benefit from using Speedwriting techniques. Articles can run from 400 words to well over 4000 words. For the shorter articles, you can write a very abbreviated keyword outline as we demonstrated for the blog posting.
For longer articles, go back to the mind-mapping, outline, and potentially the blueprinting methods.