We all know how important it is to have regular updates to websites, to show that the company is still active and has information to share. If you’re a small business owner, you may feel that a blog is the ideal way to demonstrate your credibility to your potential clients. You may have been asked to contribute posts for the company you work for, or you’re writing articles for the in-house magazine.
If you haven’t done much writing since school, you might be worried that what you produce might not be up to scratch. It doesn’t have to be perfect! Professional copywriters have been honing their skills for years (2017 was my 20th year!) and know instinctively how to structure a piece. You don’t have to do this, and nobody should expect you to.
Where to Start with Writing
Before you start, there are a couple of things to think about that will help. First, who is your audience? Is it staff, contractors and suppliers – people who know the business well? Or are you giving information to new or existing customers? The level of detail and industry-specific language you use will vary depending on who you’re writing for.
Then, what are you writing? Is it a sales piece, a news item or an article? This will affect the language you choose and the tone you write it in – articles for publication in a magazine or on a website will be more formal than an advert for your latest product.
Don’t forget, whatever you write doesn’t have to be long, and a blog only needs to be updated enough so you stay top of mind for existing and potential customers – do what feels right for your business and workload.
Get a scrap of paper and note down the topic (write the title after you’ve written the whole piece) and one or two bullet points on what you’d like to include. Add notes if you’ve already got some facts and figures that will be useful, and any ideas you’ve had.
Check if there’s a company style guide, which will give you an idea of the dos and don’ts when putting something together. It’s perfectly acceptable to take ideas from elsewhere, so if you’ve seen a style of writing, such as a weekly column from an expert, think about putting your own spin on it.
What to Write
So, now you need to think about what you’ll write. If you’re writing for someone else, they may have already given you the subject or theme, but here are a couple of ideas that will give you a good starting point:
- Weekly roundup: What have you been up to? Talk about where you’ve been, and include some behind the scenes details or even a photo
- Interviews: Speak to a new hire or the CEO and find out a bit more about them. You could interview long-standing customers to learn about their business and what they like about your product or service – this gives them publicity and is a great testimonial for you that looks more natural
- Competitors: Maybe not direct competitors, but people in the same sector but with a different set of customers? For instance, if you’re a solicitor dealing with family law, speak to someone who does work disputes or criminal law
- Product or service launch: Have pictures of the item or people using the service, explain how it will benefit the customer and how it fits with the business. Or give an update on something introduced earlier in the year
- FAQ: What do your customers ask about the most? Make a list of them and write a blog post for each of them, giving plenty of information but with no jargon
When You’ve Finished Writing
Get someone else to read it over for you, to check for errors, to make sure it’s easy to read and understand and you’ve got all the details right. NEVER rely solely on the spelling and grammar checker on your word-processing programme or an online tool, as these aren’t completely accurate.
If you need to quote someone, get their permission in advance and make sure you have their quote before you put the article or blog together.
Make any edits after you’ve had a second opinion and a couple of days after you write the first draft – you need to give yourself a bit of breathing space.
And that’s it! A short, relevant blog post will please your readers and will have them coming back for more.