Resident FitPro writer and sub editor Aislinn Kelly shares her thoughts on getting started with writing a blog post.
I’ve been tapping away at the keyboard for years now – and not all of what I produce is great stuff. I’ve been known to scrap huge swathes of content with one ruthless click of the ‘delete’ button and start again. Hey, it happens. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Sometimes it’s best to give in and start again, rather than to doggedly power on with a piece that feels clunky and inauthentic.
So why would I write a blog anyway?
Good question. We already know you’re brilliant at what you do, so why boil your expertise down to a 1,000-word piece on the perfect squat? (Yes, you read it right – 1,000 words is now the recommended minimum length for a blog post. It used to be around 800 words and the new guidelines are good for making your head spin!)
Having good-quality blog posts linking to your website will help drive traffic to your site. They’ll also demonstrate how knowledgeable you are and give people the confidence to get in touch and book your services. If people feel they already know you a little before they come face-to-face with you, then it ramps up the comfort factor for something that can be quite daunting for many people. Blog posts can also get you noticed – if you’re the master of a fine blog and you drop us a line at FitPro with a content idea, it gives us something to go on and, hey, maybe we’ll sign you up! Seriously, we always love to hear from you guys, so hop on over and say hello.
Enough of the flirting – back to the science bit …
Where will I find inspiration for my blog posts?
If you’re anything like me, you’ll be plagued in the middle of the night by ideas, snippets of content and random craziness that choose to pop into your brain when your brain should be sleeping. Oh yes, being a writer is a real sleep stealer. Don’t allow this night-time blast of inspiration to get the better of you. Even though it feels like such a drag, scribble your thoughts down in a notebook. Or, if you’re like me, pull up the voice recorder and speak into your phone. This way, when you hear your thoughts back the next day, you can feel the energy in your ideas coming through your voice. Works for me, anyway (even if does go against all the advice to never look at your phone overnight).
Take inspiration from your clients (but always ask permission to use their stories if you’re going to refer to them directly). What challenges have your clients overcome with your help? How did you approach those challenges? There is a wealth of inspiration to be found within the people you meet every day. Keep a little notebook handy for any flashes of brilliance throughout the day.
Check out the latest trends. Get on google and see what everyone else is harping on about – then either take your own spin on a popular subject you know people are interested in (never plagiarise) or, if you’re that way inclined, head in the opposite direction to bring added originality to your blog posts.
Remember, the world is your classroom and everyone is your teacher. So start listening.
How do I go about writing my blog post?
First of all, if you’re not feeling it – if you’re sitting at the laptop, fingers poised, and there’s nothing flowing down to your fingertips – abandon the task (unless you have an urgent deadline – then you’re just going to have to take some deep breaths and start writing!). There is no point wasting precious minutes fretting over your empty head. Just get up and go and do something else. I can guarantee that, if you have the subject in mind, there will come a moment in your day when the language starts to flow. Then you hit the keyboard (or the voice recorder, depending on where you are) and let it flow.
If you don’t have time to abandon the task – or you’re someone who has a methodical mind – you could try mindmapping your ideas. Grab a blank sheet of paper and your favourite pen and write the topic in the middle, ringing it with a big circle. Then start to write your key thoughts around the main topic, linking them with a line to the centre circle. From those key thoughts, go into more detail, linking those details to your key thoughts with a line. Once you’ve got all your main points scribbled down, use that to plan your piece and structure it. You’ll soon find the blog post is almost writing itself.
Choose a header that incorporates your key word or words (here, we’re going for ‘blog’, in case you hadn’t noticed). Then, in your standfirst (that’s the intro paragraph at the start) make sure your key word appears there too. Try and get your key word into as many as subheads as you can as well. It all helps with that alien thing they call SEO.
My grammar and spelling aren’t great – help!
Don’t panic – while I may point out spelling mistakes on restaurant menus to my husband, most people aren’t sad like that. Most people will cut you some slack if you put an apostrophe in its at the wrong moment. The world of blog writing is fast paced. Today’s blog is tomorrow’s chip paper … or something like that. So, sure, try to get it as correct as possible but don’t spend an inordinate amount of time doing so. Ask a friend you trust to read through it and pick out any glaring errors. Use spell check. Use search engines – there are loads of free resources online to help you check your grammar. A quick google is all it takes.
And, if you’re a terrible typist, why not check out the Dictate function on Word? Speak into it and it literally types it up for you. Say “full stop” and “comma” and it’ll whack those in for you too. Genius. Of course, if you have a Yorkshire twang like me, you may have to tweak your accent so it understands you, but flipping heck, what a find that is for the slow typists among us! (Do go back and read it through though – you’re going to need to do a little bit of editing. It’s not perfect.)
How do I keep up the momentum for my blog?
Ah yes, that old chestnut: you start a blog because you have a great idea for a blog post. But that’s just it. You have a great idea. As in one idea. Just the one. It’s fabulous but it’s lonely. How do you keep up the momentum?
Don’t overstretch yourself. Don’t decide to rattle off two blogs a week, start strong and then, by the end of the month, find you’re writing about what your dog had for tea in the absence of anything else. One brilliant, well-thought-out blog a month is worth a hundred dogs’ dinners. Start slowly. Build up. Kind of like how you approach a PT session.
Plan your content ideas in advance – know what you’re going to focus on in three or four blogs’ time. Then, if inspiration strikes for a blog you have planned for three weeks’ time, you can get ahead. If you’re having a day where the words won’t stop coming, you can get ahead. It’s also a good idea to have an emergency blog in your back pocket – something you’ve written that you can pull out at any time when the brain won’t co-operate. Your readers will be none-the-wiser and you’ll have eased the pressure on yourself.
You are your biggest asset
Remember that you are, for sure, your biggest asset. People choose you because they like you – sure, you’re great at what you do, you know your stuff but, hey, if they didn’t like you, they sure as hell wouldn’t feel comfortable sweating away in your presence. So make sure you get some of that gorgeous personality in there. Don’t reduce yourself to facts and figures, references (don’t forget the references by the way – always credit other people’s work if you refer to it) and dry instructions. Be authentically you. If you’re outrageous, be a little outrageous (not offensive, mind!); if you’re theatrical, throw in some jazz hands once in a while; if you’re a fact fiend, go hard with the facts – just do it with a twinkle in your eye. People buy from people.
When you put thoughts to paper (screen, whatever), you’re putting yourself out there. It’s a little nerve-racking. A little piece of you has just gone live, for anyone to see. But the main thing to remember is that other people’s perceptions of you aren’t your business. If someone chooses to be rude, that’s their problem. Scroll on. And keep writing.
It may seem like a daunting task if you’ve never written a piece to go public before. But, honestly, what’s the worst that can happen? You may just find you enjoy it. You may find it helps to consolidate your own learning. You may even find it secures you a few clients.
And if you got this far, thanks for reading my take on how to write a blog. And hit us up in the comments – what would you love to write about?
Aislinn Kelly is a writer, editor and proofreader and has been with FitPro for 13 years. She is also a mum to two young children. As a freelancer, she can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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