“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
― Ernest Hemingway
Blogging is a great way to connect with the vertical(s) you are selling into and, if managed properly, a way to organize your thoughts in a larger schema. Your time is precious, so you need to figure out a way to blog efficiently and avoid the process becoming a huge time sink.
Use an Editorial Calendar
This is the most important step to take to make your blogging process efficient and is therefore worth taking some time to think through. Your calendar should be structured around the challenges that your audience have and that your offering addresses. Organize these topics logically, as if they are chapters for the book – you may in fact use this material for an e book at a later date. Take some time to develop a matrix with a date, topic name, tag line and brief description about what you will write.
You should schedule a post no less than every four weeks – more often than this if you can accommodate it. Having a clear, well thought out editorial calendar will make it much easier to blog regularly, while in the middle of running your business.
Develop a System…and Stick to It
Be systematic about how you write, develop a schedule and stick to it – follow your editorial calendar and do not let things slip. Writing your blog should be as habitual as flossing your teeth (and a lot more fun!). I like to develop a simple outline for each blog post – in this case within WordPress – and then generate text directly on the screen. Rules that help you improve the blog’s SEO – e.g. how you use links, headings, key words and tags – seem to change every six months, but you can internalize these and hew to them as you write. And, most blogging tools (e.g. WordPress, Blogger) have plug-ins that will monitor this stuff for you.
Develop Your Own Voice
It is much easier to write if you are being authentic; your editorial calendar (above) will ensure that you are writing about things that are important to your audience and you must do so in your own voice. If you are not good at writing – say, if your first couple of posts look like a series of tweets tenuously knitted together – have one of your team act as your copy editor. And, the more you write, the bette you will get at it; solid writing skills, along the ability to think and present in visual metaphors are core competencies for someone running a startup.
A caveat here: you are writing for a business audiences so your language should be clear, direct, using active verbs and not too flowery. In fact, not at all flowery: you are not writing a gothic novel. Elmore Leonard, the late American author and screenwriter, said “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.” – there is some truth in that.
Keep it Short
A well written blog is short and to the point – my rule of thumb is 300 – 500 words; more than that and you should split it into two posts. Brevity is a good thing for a couple of reasons: 1. readers won’t spend much time looking at your latest post (Many “bounce before reading anything, most don’t scroll and 50% only make it halfway through your text.); and 2. you should be able to spit out that many words without burning through too much time. From an SEO point of view, you do want the length to stay above 300 word – Google’s search ranking doesn’t like a slew of extremely short posts.
Your editorial calendar will help you here — blogging works best in connecting with your audience when you deliver on a schedule and do so regularly. Stephen King’s fine little book about writing (“On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft”) makes the point that good writers treat their craft like a job. They don’t wait for the muse to speak, they just sit down and work. So should you when writing your blog.