In today’s world, your online presence is essential for growth. That means you need content to engage with your visitors. Ever since the invention of a blog, (a weblog), they have become your queen of content. But if they don’t match your audience's needs it’s a giant red flag. You need the right blog content in the right format.
Whether you’re writing it yourself, assigning the task to a team member, or outsourcing, there are some secrets to a blog's success.
They come in different lengths and styles. They can be funny, inspiring, or informational.
As with so many choices, it comes down to your audience and their needs.
My son Brian’s wedding brought on the need to make decisions. Lots of decisions.
I started talking with Brian and Ladene about their wedding dreams, then we made lists.
We got through the location, guest lists, her dream dress, help with hair, etc., but then ran into a challenge...
That was the stickler. Brian’s not into chocolate, but he loves lemon. On the other hand, Ladene is definitely a chocolate lover.
“Have you decided on the cake flavor, Ladene? Chocolate or Lemon? I don’t see them mixing.”
Her laugh rippled across the room. “Agreed. I need to figure out a good way to handle this. I know my family can never agree on cake flavors. It can make birthday gatherings pretty messy.”
I thought about it for a minute. “Cupcakes? I’ve heard of people doing cupcake trees or platters with assorted flavors.”
She wrinkled her nose.
“I’ll take that as a no. How many layers did you decide on?”
“A little topper layer to save for our anniversary and two others.”
“What if they were different flavors inside? Or what about an alternating flavor frosting scheme?”
Her big blue eyes widened, “I like it. I’ll see what my Mom can do with that idea.”
“Sounds good to me.” I was glad to delegate this sensitive task to her very creative Mom. And I liked easy solutions.
Blogs are like wedding cake layers. They can look like an article from a distance. However, they have some inherent differences. You need to make sure you use the right one to meet your visitor’s needs.
I’ve been writing articles, columns, and blogs for over 20 years. My experience is that if you miss the mark and publish the wrong content type, your readers may never get past the opening sentence.
That makes the work a huge loss for you. Instead, like choosing cake flavors, you want to get the right ones for success.
You have to keep in mind your USP, the WHY people come to you, and make sure that your blogs fit that target audience. So your success starts with knowing the differences between blogs and articles.
Articles are a more formal way to share information. They often have citations and sources. They can be written in the second or third person. It can feel like they are written speaking to no one in particular.
Articles are much longer than blogs. They can range anywhere from 700 to 5000 words. Keep in mind, the longer the article, the fewer people will read it. Because articles are more formal, they generally go through a more sophisticated editing process than their counterparts, blogs.
Google used to give preference to content exceeding 2000 words, but now that has dropped to 1500. And if you look at the numbers of opens and reads, people prefer them even shorter.
Blogs are more casual, conversational, and written in the first or second person. They also include your views or opinions, which doesn’t happen in more formal writing.
Blog length is typically 200-600 words though you can find them as long as 1000. Like articles, the shorter the blog, the more people will read and engage with it.
Lastly, blogs use SEO keywords to boost how search engines respond to your content. These aren’t a part of articles, but they are essential to your online success.
I recently checked out a website marketing skincare products. It was a beautiful website. Then I started checking out their “Blog.” The content wasn’t blogs. It was articles. Each was written in the third person and used formal style and language.
For me, it was a vast disconnect from their audience of consumers.
The information was great, but it wasn’t written to the average consumer wanting to learn a little more about the skincare products they were buying. As the author of an esthetics textbook, I recognized they were more written to professionals who might be working with the products in their clinic.
The flavor is a mismatch. Those articles would be much more effective if they were rewritten as blogs. Write to your ideal audience, and help them in a way they can easily consume.
First, identify your audience's goals, interests, needs, and pain points. Use their demographics and write to them, not over their head. Use first or second person and have a conversation with them. There’s a lot of power when you include “you.”
Keep your sentences and paragraphs short. Give them some white space to enhance the ease of reading. Many layout designers like to make “matchy” blocks of text. From a distance, it makes the page look good. But from the reader’s point of view, it’s harder to read.
Even if you’re offering educational information, keep it conversational and easy to assimilate. Things like headings, subheadings, lists, graphics, and images help make it more digestible —and memorable.
If you have to choose between looking pretty and readable, go for readable.
To maximize your results, keep your reading score low. Readability reflects the education level a visitor needs to read something and comprehend what is being said.
So a page written at a level 7 can be read and understood by a seventh-grader. A level 18 is at the doctorate level (imagine a grade 18).
According to all the research, the best speakers keep their speech to grade eight or lower. The Washington Post reported that 40% of Americans only have basic literary skills. Even highly educated people prefer to read easily assimilated material.
Most politicians keep their writing and speeches at the sixth-grade level to be sure they are understood. Stephen King writes at a sixth-grade level, ditto for J.R.R. Tolkien, and trained copywriters. Why? More people will read it.
Even if your content is written to inform, you need to help your reader understand the next step and take it. Every little assistance moves them along their buying journey.
Stage one of buying is information gathering. Help them find more articles, links, and answers to common questions.
As they move from information gathering, they want to compare. Help them. Give them options to compare how your brand stands up to the competition. Having the comparison on your website keeps them with you and makes you the hero.
Once they have compared, they may be ready to buy. Ask them the question… “Ready to order? Click here.”
And after they buy, they need support to successfully use what they bought. The success step can be brought into play as early as the information step and used to build trust that you will take care of them after the sale.
When I work with clients, we take a good look at their target audience and determine what “flavor” of information they need. Blogs, articles, or both. Just like that wedding cake, we tuck the right content in the right places to get the best results. Need help? Message me.www.jcpwellnesscopy.com.
Telling emotional stories can enhance your blog. You might find Emotional Stories Engage, helpful.
Want more clarity on the differences between blogs and articles, read Blogs vs Articles.