Blogging Archives - Klaxon

How to Write Amazing Blog Posts, Even When you Don’t Feel Like It

Writers’ block is an excuse used by lazy writers (and marketers). There, I said it!

Writer's Block in action

We’ve all felt like this…

Having a ‘block’ is a luxury which only creative sectors can get away with, and sure, some days creativity may be harder than others. Though I completely reject the idea that there is some part of your brain which is inherently halting your ability to write. It is not an excuse to put your pen down, push away the keyboard, and submit to a lack of desire to write.

I’m not belittling writers, or bloggers, or anyone who has the courage to publish work which may be critiqued. After all, I have happily, and proudly, fallen into all three camps over the years. I just believe from the bottom of my heart that writers’ block is not a true barrier to writing. Rather a combination of entirely manageable factors. All of which can be rectified and when they are it’s easy to produce content which is amazing, powerful, and insightful.

Here are the four tactics to help you get over your  block and write amazing blog posts

1. Not understanding your audience

Staring at a blank screen can be either terrifying or liberating. Knowing that it’s possible to bring every combination of every sentence, word and letter into existence, can be a bit… overwhelming, especially when you have no idea who you’re writing for.

Steven King once had a great quote about his art;

[Writing is all about] “enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well.”

… which is just about the last thing you want to hear when you’re pondering whether every word you’re writing is garbage or a linguistic gourmet.

Spending a few moments to understand, or even just contemplate your audience can provide a true moment of clarity. It doesn’t require saintly levels of empathy, or even thousands of hours spent on research. Sometimes in can be as simple as setting a personality type and seeing if your work would be read by that group. Maybe you’ll even enrich their lives a little.

Let’s take this post — you’ve likely been pointed here by a friend, colleague, or possibly in a fit of desperation, you’ve typed some variant of “how to write amazing blog posts when I can’t be bothered” into your search engine of choice. If it’s the latter, it means that: firstly our search engine strategy is working, and secondly, you’re frustrated, and want to read something which reassuringly points you in the right direction.

After you’ve developed a rough concept of the type of person who would read your work, think of everyone you know and see if you can find someone who matches that type. If you’re writing for 60+ people about pensions, then think of your parents… if you’re writing about the latest lawn mower, think of your proud, fastidious next door neighbour. The only thing which matters is that you know them well enough to say whether they would read your post.

Now it’s simple, you’re writing for them. No longer a nebulous blob. You’re writing for a real life human being. Next step is to make sure you don’t look silly for your new audience.

2. Not understanding your topic

Coming from a background in journalism, this is the part which always racks me with fear. It’s been an excuse I’ve used more than once to stop me from writing, a barrier I’ve put in the way, knowing that at worst I’ll have to make a correction, and at best it could start a great conversation.

Doing a little research, and getting some information down before starting to write can save a tonne of lost time, and sanity. Just a few quick bullet points to list out the core areas and facts can easily develop into the basis of a solidly structured post. You could number these points to give your audience a list, making structuring easier, and also creating breaks for your readers. Not only does this make your content easier to read, but is likely to have more people finish reading your post as well.

Fundamentally all quality posts have the same structure — If you were in education during the 90s you likely had PEEL hammered into you by your English teachers — a simple structure for making a written argument.

Point – Research and notes makes writing easier

Explanation – Use bullet points to develop your content and make structure clearer.

Evidence – This structure is often turned into list, or fleshed out, this is how many posts are written.

Link – Now I’m going to talk about how your managing time is as important as the content itself.

3. Not giving yourself time

It’s so easy to find the time to write if you’re enthralled by a topic. That time may be 3am, or the second after an event. If the topic really grabs you, makes you think, and makes you desperate to discover more, then time or place are not an issue.

But what happens if you’re not enthralled by your material? What if you need to just get it written and out?

Give yourself time and find a space which makes writing the post comfortable. Admittedly time isn’t always a factor you have control over, sometimes a deadline is final. Though when you have the luxury of time, make sure you use it, because time gives you the luxury of writing badly.

Peter De Vries was quoted as saying;

“Sometimes I write drunk and revise sober, and sometimes I write sober and revise drunk. But you have to have both elements in creation — the Apollonian and the Dionysian, or spontaneity and restraint, emotion and discipline.” 

Just get something down initially, write drunk if you have to. Time allows you to just write, time to just get ideas down, and then time afterwards to hone your work into something which you’re proud to read. Some content just takes time, and writing badly does not make you a bad writer, it just means that your ideas need time to develop.

There has been a lot of research performed on developing ideas. Sometimes we just need the time to break a topic down subconsciously, giving ourselves the room to breathe, relax, and do other things.

Alternatively giving a poorly written post to an editor can be one of the most empowering tools a writer has at their disposal. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve said “all the information is there, just please make it readable”. There’s a reason that editors are paid well in publishing, it’s a skill, just like you have a skill in writing, and the’ve likely been in the same panicked position as you. Passing your work onto someone, just to give it a read through and clean up the message can turn an informative, yet rambling post, into something which you’re both proud to have your name on.

All I ask is that you stick their name at the bottom of the post to give them credit.

4. Not being proud enough to post

Over the years I’ve seen fear get in the way of more published posts than I care to mention, with this fear often at its worst in people who’ve just left the academic world. It’s far too common to think that every word uttered online will later be cited as a mark against your name — for better of worse.

That goes against what are arguably the best features of the internet:

  1. Anyone can read your post, with almost no feedback, unless they feel the need to comment.
  2. Anything can be edited after the fact.
  3. Anybody who reads your post, has likely read hundreds of other pages that day.

Arguably, the last fact is as frustrating as it is liberating. Knowing that there are billions of websites, with trillions of pages, means that being lost in the sprawl of content is no longer a possibility but rather a burdening probability.

For now, let’s not worry about getting found, little steps after all, let’s just worry about getting out new posts and being more entertaining and informative than sites in your field. And remember above all else, this quote from John Campbell.

“The reason 99% of all stories written are not bought by editors is very simple. Editors never buy manuscripts that are left on the closet shelf at home. “

Utility Marketing is All About Adding Value

I spoke at a British Dietetics Association event in London this week about utility marketing and blogging…

Alongside me was founder of Engaging People, Mr Bernie Mitchell. Between us we attempted to convince an audience of professional dietitians that they should be blogging.

Well actually we took it a bit broader than that, promoting the idea as a professional you should generally be adding value to your target audience. That’s essentially what utility marketing is all about. Blogging is just one tool, but you could also use all and any online media to support this objective.

We were speaking after a lady called Ann Gates who runs Exercise Works. Ann spoke beautifully about the value of social media and how she is growing her business using twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Ann is a force to be reckoned with and a useful case study for dietitians to follow.

The point about utility marketing is that you should be providing exactly that. A utility for your target audience.

Find out:

> who they are

> what they want / need, and

> the questions they have that relate to your field of expertise

Once you know the answer to these questions, start engaging with them on the platform of their choice. If your audience reads blogs to get information, write a regular blog. If they watch videos, post short clips and YouTube. If they engage with pictures more, curate a Pinterest board. You get the point. Produce something of value to your target audience and you are half way there.

The real secret sauce of course is bringing together all of these resources into a platform of expertise. Something you can be known for, whether that’s a paediatric nutritionalist, or an expert in cloud security topics. Once you have a platform of authority that you own and control, you have a significant marketing opportunity to build on.

If you attended the event (or even if you didn’t attend) and have any questions please add them in the comments below. Bernie and I will do our best to answer them for you.

Thanks again for having us BDA London and for sending us away with a bottle of wine and some divine belgian chocolates. Now that’s what I call a diet.

A Cardinal Sin of B2B Marketing

I have to hold up my hands today. I am guilty of committing one of the cardinal sins of b2b marketing. Not just once but twice in the same day. In both instances I was able to overcome the issue, but only because I had been communicating on a one to one basis.

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Are Blogs Valuable in B2B Marketing?

Are blogs valuable in b2b marketing?

I was asked this today. The first time in a while actually. It surprised me as I was under the impression most people now know the value of blogging. We certainly do.**

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Interview: Mark W Schaefer on Blogging

LBM AudibleAt Klaxon we started blogging back in 2006, just before blogging became a fashionable marketing and communications platform. Not long after that we started running a little known community of bloggers called the London Bloggers Meetup (affectionately known as LBM).

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100 Bloggers in a Room

As part of Social Media Week London this year we organised a bloggers meetup called ‘How Blogging has Changed my Life’. We had a panel of four great bloggers talking about what they have achieved. Many had achieved a book deal, but all had made lots of new friends and connections, learned a hell of a lot, gained acess to great places and people – one had even met the queen. We’ve been running blogger social events in London for over 4 years now and it’s been a grand journey for us too.

You can enjoy a handful of photos from the evening below. If you are a blogger and would like to know more, visit the London Bloggers Meetup page.

London Bloggers Meetup with The Huffington Post

Last night saw the latest edition of our London Bloggers Meetup taking place in Covent Garden. We had approx 80 bloggers join us for an interesting talk about how the Huffington Post (aka HuffPo) UK got started. Carla Buzasi, Editor in Chief, talked about how she claimed the Editor’s chair and alongside Jody Thompson and Caroline Frost started building an army of bloggers to provide the content. Thanks to Carla, Caroline and Jody for the talk and for fielding questions for over 45 minutes.

Huffington Post London Bloggers Meetup

Picture courtesy of Bernie Mitchell.

Overall an interesting night with some great bloggers in attendance. Look forward to more conversations with the team from Badoo, Dylan Lowe about his new travel magazine venture, Eshan and many others. Nice to hear of another book deal coming for a London Bloggers Meetup member too.

Blogging for Construction Industry Professionals with CIMCIG

I was delighted to be asked to speak at the Chartered Institute of Marketing Construction Industry Group (CIMCIG) conference on digital marketing this week. It was part of a packed day for me, sandwiched between running a half day conference for a large software company and enjoying the b2b social media event Dell organised with Google and FIR.

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Social Media Week

Social Media Week LondonIt was Social Media Week last week and I won’t be the first to say it was great. At Klaxon we had our fingers in two events: the Meetup Organisers Group party at the start of the week and a speaking session on blogging at the end.

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Why Should Businesses Have a Blog?

I’ve spoken at a few events recently about business blogging. In fact, I’m talking about this exact subject again on Friday as part of Social Media Week London. This time the event is being hosted by the good people at TalkTalk’s Customer Experience Centre.

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