This blog is featuring a guest and good friend of ours, Jeff Goins. Jeff is a successful author, marketing consultant, and online entrepreneur. More than anyone else, Jeff has helped us become better writers & bloggers, which has helped us get more business! We asked him to share some of these blogging tips with you so you can spread your message to more people which helps YOU get noticed!
You can check out his blog (and download a free gift from Jeff) here: http://goinswriter.com/zachandjody/.
“But I’m not a writer.”
This is, perhaps, the biggest reason I hear from folks who want to get better at blogging but don’t. And I think it’s an excuse, plain and simple.
Whether you consider yourself a writer or not, you need to understand the basics of blogging and what it takes to connect with an audience online. That is, if you care about reaching new people to grow your business.
Because whether we realize it or not, we are all writers. Every day, we write text messages to friends, exchange emails with coworkers, and send Facebook updates to the world. We are constantly using words to communicate.
The question is, are you just putting your words out there, or are you intentionally connecting with people?
When it comes to building your business, to creating interesting and engaging content, you have to understand the basics of online writing. You need a process, one that applies to blogging, crafting sales copy, and even emailing prospective clients.
All good writing has structure. Here is the system that I recommend, which I’ve used to help thousands of people become more effective at sharing their message:
1. An attention-grabbing headline
A good piece of writing is about one topic, one story, one idea. Not 57, not 101. Just one. So before you begin writing, figure out what you want to say. Choose a mock headline to give yourself some structure (you can always change it later), and start writing.
Good headlines are attractive, interesting, and descriptive. They should read like the cover of a magazine or a TV news update. You need to dare the reader to continue reading.
If you need help with this, here’s a free resource on crafting catchy headlines: http://goinswriter.com/catchy-headlines
The headling is the first thing your readers see, and the only thing if you don’t do it right. So take time to write a good one.
2. A captivating lead paragraph
You know how much first impressions matter, right? So why aren’t you writing like it? Why are you wasting people’s time with details and anecdotes? Don’t tell us what you’re going to tell us; just TELL us.
When it comes to the Internet, where people’s attention spans are even more limited, your opening paragraph is crucial. Don’t blow it.
Journalists know this. It’s ingrained in them. “Don’t bury the lede,” they say. If you don’t hook your readers immediately, you will lose them forever.
To write a good lead paragraph, start off with a quote, a question, or a bold audacious claim. You only have one shot. Make it count.
3. Interesting supporting points
This is the body of the article. It’s the “meat” of the post and what will back up your main argument.
Every story you tell or idea you share needs to have supporting rationale, something the readers can sink their teeth into. They don’t all need to neatly fit into a three-point argument or a seven-step process, but you can’t be all over the place, either. Consider what you want to say and how you will back it up.
A great way to organize a piece of content is to make a list of bullet points. Then, write the body of the post using these as your main sections (if appropriate turn the points into subheadings, like I did with this newsletter).
If your article is a road, these points are the street signs leading the reader home.
4. A compelling call-to-action
If you’ve hooked your readers’ attention with a good title, drawn them in with an interesting lead paragraph, and led them through with supporting points, now it’s time to wrap it up.
Don’t be vague. You don’t want your audience wondering why they bothered reading your piece in the first place, do you? Give them something to take away.
Want your audience to reflect on a particular idea? To do something? Respond somehow? Be clear about it. It will not just happen. You get what you ask for.
This is the part of the piece where you invite your readers to answer a question, leave a comment, or share this with someone else. Make it clear and actionable.
Now, put it all together…
When I write a blog post, I follow each of these four elements, treating them as steps. Here’s how it works:
- Choose the main topic and write a headline.
- Write the lead paragraph.
- List a few main points in the body.
- Write the call-to-action.
- Edit and revise until you’re happy. (At this point, I usually tweak the and lead.)
- Ship. Publish the blog post, send the newsletter, release the message!
If you do this every time you publish, you’ll struggle less with coming up with content. You won’t ever feel stuck. The process will help guide you to sharing your words and message with the world, and it will ensure that people listen.
At first, it might feel stiff and rigid. But like anything you practice, the more you do it, the more familiar and effortless it will become.
So here’s where you come in. I want to challenge you to apply this process to the next piece of writing you do and see if it works. And if it does (or doesn’t), I’d love to hear from you.
Just head on over to this page to drop me a line and download my three-part series on building an online audience: http://goinswriter.com/zachandjody/
For you and your audience,
P.S. Editor’s note: We’re going to be doing a live online training with Jeff later this month (which will be totally free!), so stay tuned!