3 Benefits of Blogging Ahead

Blogging for your business increases traffic to your website, builds customer loyalty and drives sales. At such a small cost, what’s not to love?

Blogging takes lots of time and energy, often without knowing if there’s been any real return. When I work with clients creating their blog strategy and individual posts, I always preach the value of “blogging ahead” or writing posts to be published two or three weeks ahead of time.

Why is “blogging ahead” so helpful?

1. It’s more efficient and consistent. You can create a consistent schedule for your posts, so your readers will grow to rely on your blog as their go-to source for information. Writing ahead of time is also much more efficient, since you can write when you have spare time or carve out a few hours to write posts for the next month. In the end, this is faster than writing posts on the day you want them to be published.

2. You stay motivated. Blogging can be draining since you have to continually come up with new ideas and write great content. When you “blog ahead,” you write when you’re more motivated—not crunched for time. You’ll enjoy the process more and, therefore, are more likely to grow a great blog.

3. Your blog’s content is better. When you write ahead of time, you’re more likely to produce thoughtful, well-written content instead of something that’s just thrown together. Take the time to create the best articles you can and your readers will thank you with their continued readership. You can still write highly topical “spur of the moment” articles, but this shouldn’t be your blog’s foundation.

“Blogging ahead” is a great strategy. Try establishing a blog calendar or creating a “bank” of five to ten polished articles that can be published when needed. Or, consider hiring a professional blog writer to help you get started or maintain your business blog. I offer a Blog Post Package service—ten compelling posts to help you build a better blog and incite meaningful conversations.

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Excellent Writing = Credibility

Honest and persuasive communication builds the foundation for your business’ credibility. This is the best way to develop long-lasting relationships with your clients, customers and employees.

Credible writing is more than grammatically correct and coherent. It inspires and strengthens trust in your business’ message and goals; it builds loyalty.

Here are a few important strategy for building credibility with excellent writing:

  1. Explain issues clearly. Readers appreciate clarity and simple, logical writing makes you seem more knowledgeable. Avoid readers scratching their heads at all costs. This is especially important when writing emails, letters and presentations. 
  2. Use specific facts, not vague statements. Whenever possible, reference highly specific information and figures to support your claims. Readers quickly become skeptical if you only use generalizations. This is especially important when proposing a new idea, explaining a new strategy or defining results.
  3. Reference credible sources. Offer your readers several credible sources that support your message. The sources may be from your project research, or simply provide readers with additional reading. This is especially important when writing presentations and reports.
  4. Address concerns, weakness and mistakes. Be honest and forthright—this is the best way to establish and grow trust with your readers. Let them know that you’ve thought about their potential concerns and owned up for mistakes. You can then move on with their full support. This is especially important when writing memos, emails and presentations.

Sleepy Readers

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A recent article on the HBR’s blog was very interesting. Bad writing not only confuses and fails to achieve its goals, it’s downright boring!

Dull presentations, insipid reports and blah websites make zero impact on the readers, wasting writers’ and business’ time and money. Bryan Garner‘s article offers several great strategies that keep you from putting others to sleep and I’d like to add a few more:

Vary Verbs: Often, you’ll need to repeat the same nouns again and again (for instance, when discussing a project title). You can, however, use a variety of verbs to add interest to your writing.

Highlight what’s Not Obvious: You want to make everything crystal clear to your readers, but not so simple that it seems obvious. This makes readers think that they already know everything and, then, tune out quickly. Showcase the interesting and complicated issues instead of boiling them down too much.

Highlight what’s Unclear: Don’t shy away from challenging topics. Take them on. Discuss pressing questions, concerns and opportunities for changes.

My Approach to Email

An email icon designed for my userpage.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a business writer, I am often asked about how to handle email: How can I write messages that get answered or responded to faster? Do professionals at other companies write email differently? Can you believe how my boss writes to us? 

In today’s world, email is the lifeblood of business. It’s how we communicate, motivate and get things done.

Too often, we consider writing email easy since a message is usually less than one hundred words. Worse, we tend to view email as a task that needs to be plowed through each and every day. This type of thinking creates email that actively confuses, give customers a bad impression and breaks down productivity.

Just think of the last rude message you received. It took a few hours or days to move past that, right? Most likely, the person who sent it to you didn’t intende to write a rude message–they just didn’t have the needed email-writing skills.

I believe every email you write offers a small (but important!) opportunity. Every day, professionals have the chance to write messages that:

  1. Build your personal brand. Your personal messages are yours and yours alone. Consider how you want others to perceive you as they read what you wrote. Aim for professional and polished writing that’s also conversational and very “you” in its tone. If your email is confusing and laden with errors, this what others will expect from you in person. If your email is clear, perceptive and promotes productivity, you’ll set yourself apart.
  2. Inform and document progress. Email is a way to get things done. It’s also a great way to keep everyone up to speed. Communication breakdowns often occur when a writer assumes that the recipient knows exactly what they’re discussing in an email. Avoid this by taking the time to give background information and track changes.
  3. Set the desired tone for business or a project. Tone in writing is powerful. Every message should convey your confidence and knowledge, as well as a calm sense of motivation. If a project hits a roadblock, your next message should include encouraging words. If the project has become scattered or frantic, write in a calm, organized tone. This seems difficult at first, but with training and practice all professionals can control their written tone in email.
  4. Build relationships. Since email is electronic, it can often seem impersonal. Yet, email is simply an exchange between two humans–it should be courteous and respectful. Improve relationships with recipients by asking questions, acknowledging achievements and sharing your thoughts. Only one sentence is needed to show your gratitude and motivate others to do their best work.

Take a look at our other posts on email: Do you prefer long or short emails? Learn about the importance of tone. Take a look at some email gaffes and learn how to write subject lines that get results

Would you like to see a particular email topic or question addressed here? Leave a comment! 

Write like a Leader

Business writing can be either clear and effective, or not. Once you have the skills to write clearly and effectively, how can you distinguish yourself further? How can you write like a leader?

Take Me to Your Leader (Newsboys album)

Take Me to Your Leader (Newsboys album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No matter your position or title, you can write like a leader–so your emails, reports, speeches, presentations, etc. become appreciated, admired and welcomed by the entire organization. Here are a few tips for writing like a leader:

  1. Address issues proactively and clearly. Never shy away from something that needs to be brought to light–write professionally about it. When writing, it’s easy to limit the conversation to only what you, the writer, wants to discuss. This, however, breeds mistrust and poor engagement. When addressing important (or touchy) issues, you don’t need to be brash or confrontational, simply recognize them, state some possible solutions and ask your readers about their thoughts.
  2. Motivate others with encouragement and appreciation. All employees–no matter their position–want to be recognized for their talents, hard work and the challenges they deal with on a daily basis. Make sure that every piece of writing that comes off your desk includes a note of thanks for a past project and encouragement for the upcoming tasks.
  3. Write sincerely. In a business environment, employees get to know the writer’s personality by their writing’s style and tone. Your writing should represent who you are and what kind of leader you are. To do this, keep your writing professional and organized, and infused with your signature humor, energy, reflectiveness, thoughtfulness, etc.
  4. Articulate your vision. Leadership guides the organization in reaching its goals. Write like a leader by clearly explaining why and how specific tasks fit into the big picture. For example, when giving a presentation on product’s update, explain exactly why the product benefits from the changes, how this helps you reach target markets and reach long-term organizational goals. This can (and often should) be concise, but speaks volumes about your knowledge and drive.

How do you infuse leadership into your writing? Is anything missing from this list?