You want to get your blog started, but you don’t want to be burdened with writing articles every time you turn around. The fact is, writing how-to articles is not that much of a hassle once you have a system for it.
Try these methods to create short, how-to articles that will:
- Connect with your audience
- Position yourself as an expert, and
- Increase sales
Give your readers information they need and you will be the first person they think of when they run into challenges.
Consider creating a template for your articles that will fit the needs of your audience. Ask yourself if they want detailed information, or if they’re happy receiving broad ideas that will allow them to tailor the information to meet their specific needs.
If they want specific information, you could always include a teaser paragraph in an email and then provide a link at the bottom of that paragraph. The link can lead to more detailed information about the subject your that audience is interested in.
Once you understand the needs of your audience, place your information in article format. Here’s a system I’ve often used to produce quick, informative articles:
1. Begin with an introductory paragraph: Let people know exactly what you’re getting at.
2. Tell them why they should be interested: This is where you just get into the reader’s world. You will what you’re talking about help them do their jobs better? In essence, that’s all people really want to know.
3. Give short, realistic pieces of advice: Try to stick to the points that have the most impact or the ones that are completely opposite to what people in your industry are doing.
4. Wrap it up. One of my mentors used to always say to me, “Tell ‘em what you’re going to tell ‘em. Then tell ‘em. Then tell ‘em what you told ‘em.” No, he wasn’t senile. His advice actually worked. At the end of every article I just wrap up what I’ve said by reviewing the key points of the article. It’s called a “takeaway.” What’s the one thing you want the audience to take away from your article and use in their daily work lives? Once you’ve answered that question, you have your last paragraph, all tied up in a pretty little bow.
Whatever you do, keep it short and simple. Sure we may want to use sophisticated language if your audience craves that, but you’d be surprised. When reading blogs especially, readers won’t mind short, concise words and phrases. And that’s especially true if those words and phrases add more to the bottom line and/or help them become more efficient.
As a teacher, instructor, and writer, I try to set a good example in order to build trust and credibility. I consider myself more of a writing coach. I teach the steps to becoming a good writer.
Credibility is the act of conveying belief or trust in what you are saying. When you are writing, for instance, credibility comes from how well you back up the information that you are providing. Do you cite your sources? Do you add usable links to websites? Do you provide usable information that your readers can actually refer back to, or are you just writing to see yourself in print?
Once you build credibility, your reader’s trusts that you will continue to provide helpful information, and therefore they may be more likely to come back to your work again and again. In addition, in the future, they may actually pay for your work.
Establishing yourself as an expert in your field will improve your credibility. Publishing is one way that many business owners seek to establish and boost their credibility. Coaching also helps establish credibility. When you position yourself to coach others, you are essentially telling the world you are an expert in your niche. However, there is a difference between being an expert and being an authority.
Authority is achieved when you are considered an expert in your field. For example, Donald Trump is an authority on commercial real estate. Here, authority and credibility often go hand in hand.
Why Does It Matter?
Both authority and credibility are buying triggers. They motivate people to become customers. Robert Cialdini discusses them at length in his book The Psychology of Persuasion. Essentially, people are more likely to buy from someone they trust or consider an expert in their field.
How Coaching Fits Into This Equation
Imagine you are looking to train your dog. Perhaps your dog has begun to misbehave. You have hopped online to search for information about dog training. You find two websites that have helpful information. One site offers an information product, a video series, on training your dog. The other site offers a similar product and they offer coaching. Everything else being equal, you are more likely to buy from the website that offers coaching.
Why? Because coaching implies they have expert knowledge. In addition, if the website has testimonials supporting their coaching program, they have amplified their authority and credibility. They have set themselves apart from their competition.
You too can add a coaching program to your business and set yourself way above your competition. You will give your prospects and customers an impression that you have more authority and credibility simply because you coach. In addition, you will have more credibility and authority with your coaching customers, which results in loyalty and repeat purchases.
Finally, the media often consults businesses with a credible and authoritative presence as well. You may find that coaching opens up a completely new world of possibilities and marketing opportunities.
I do have one word of caution. Be careful. Everyone on the internet claims to be an expert or authority on something. Be sure to back up your claims with education, experience, and real-world applications.
As an instructor of English and Business Communications, I am always telling my students that there are certain things they need to do each and every time they write ANYTHING. Not that any of them listen, but I try. Repetition is the key when teaching new concepts to students of any age. Here is what I recommend:
- Use Spell Checker: It doesn’t matter what you are writing, use a spell checker. Word has one built right into it. Those funny-colored squiggly underlines are there for a reason, either a word is spelled incorrectly, or used incorrectly. You can also copy and paste text into a free on-line spell checker, just Google “free spell checker”.
- Use Grammar Checker: Word also has a grammar checker built into the spell-checker. Use it! It will tell you if it thinks a word is used incorrectly, if something is written in wrong tense, style, or voice, and many other things. All you do is set it up the way you want it under File > Options > Proofing. Or, you can copy and past your text into a free on-line grammar checker, just Google “free grammar checker”. Some internet programs will both spell and grammar check your work at the same time.
- Read Your Written Work Out Loud. If your words sound wrong when you read your writing out loud, then there is usually something wrong with the way it is written. This is also a great habit to get into if you are writing speeches.
- Dictionary.com: If you don’t know what a word means, look it up. If you don’t know how to pronounce a word, use dictionary.com’s pronunciation feature which actually uses audio to let know how to correctly say any word. We all have smartphones and internet access, use them to your advantage.
- Don’t Be Lazy: Don’t turn in or publish a first draft of your work. Take your time, organize your thoughts, spell check and grammar check your work, and write a second draft.
- Don’t use texting shortcuts in written documents. Just don’t do it. Please. Texting shortcuts are for texting only.
- Capitalization and Punctuation. Use proper capitalization for names and proper nouns, ALWAYS capitalize “I”, and always check your punctuation.