When you compose a blog post, it’s immediately personal. Readers can react within moments. You’re not preaching from a pulpit or talking to yourself in the mirror and you certainly don’t need permission to write.
You’re engaging in the fine art of conversation. So what makes for a great conversationalist and how might you use that in your writing?
The High Five
When you meet your friends, you want to give them a hug and say hello! Blogging is no different. Just look at the strong, friendly (slightly irreverent?!) way this blogger opened a recent post:
Can you remember the last time you directly spoke to your audience? In the opening line of your blog post? Try it. But if you’re feeling timorous, then you need to…
One of the joys of blogging is the huge variety of voices. You don’t have to try to mimic the above. Actually, I wouldn’t suggest you mimic anyone. Be yourself. Some voices are formal and organised, some colloquial, some downright foul-mouthed. Bring it on, I love it all. Relax into your own voice. Imagine you’re talking to your best friend over a shared bottle of wine. Maybe with less slurring.
Have An Opinion
The best conversations end up being debates – and the easiest way to spark a debate is to have an opinion of your own. Instead of blogging about, ‘I made a dress,’ why don’t you share your take on what you’ve done? This dress stinks! Oh man, I love this. I’m torn on this one… Opinion invites opinion. I’d only add two caveats – make it genuine and keep it polite.
Actually, make that three caveats…
Be A Good Listener
We’ve all encountered the party bore who only wants to talk about themselves. It’s a bit too easy to slip into this danger area with blogging. So I chose a pattern and then I bought some fabric and then I cut it out and then... We don’t mean to be self-obsessed, but take a minute to review some of your past blog posts. Did you acknowledge your readers at all? Wince. I know. Same here – guilty as charged too many times for comfort.
So open up the conversation. Reach out. What do you think? Have you ever had the same experience? I’m sure I’m not the only one. A touch of humility goes a long way. Take a look at some of your favourite blogs and see how often they use the words ‘we’, and ‘you’. I like to invite expert opinion from the silent majority of readers who have much more experience than me. Ask and listen. It’s almost as important as writing.
Be interested in the response
Take the time to respond to what people are saying, with more than a hasty ‘Thanks!’. The comment section of a blog post can be the most interesting part. See my recent request for sewing tips, which generated 180 replies full of really useful content. Or my ruminations on the topic of Customer Versus Community. Written at 5am, my thinking was a bit muddy – but readers left some really insightful and intelligent comments that took the debate to a much higher level.
To be a good blog writer, you need to be a good listener. To be a great blog writer, you need to have the generosity and wisdom to share the platform. Yeah, you might be the one stringing the words together, but a lot of other people are contributing. Never forget the two most powerful words in a blogger’s vocabulary: thank you.
So, here’s another PRACTICAL EXERCISE if you still want to play along. In your next blog post, set yourself the following tasks:
- Directly greet your readers in the opening paragraph.
- Share a clear opinion on what you’re blogging about.
- Find a question that invites the reader to empathise. Has this happened to you, too?
- End your blog post with a direct call to debate.
- Then reply to readers in your comments and see if you can keep the conversation going.
I’d love to know if this invigorates your blog. Do let me know!