Let’s face it. Blog writing can be a difficult, tedious process. But it doesn’t have to be this way, if you learn the tricks of the trade.
Obviously, your clients are not expecting Hemingwayesque literary writing. However, solid writing does reflect positively on your real estate business, and it keeps clients and prospects much more engaged with your brand.
We continue our 10 Simple Steps series with advice and tips for punching up your blog writing. Follow these best practices and improve your writing in a flash:
1. Write blogs as if you are writing speeches. Read every word aloud as if you are presenting your blog post to a room full of your clients and prospects. This process will help you perfect the flow, pacing, transitions, and conversational tone of your writing. If it takes more than a single breath to read a particular sentence, it’s too long and needs to be divided.
2. Let your personal experiences shine in your blog writing. Strengthen your writing—especially with how-to and thought-leadership pieces—by reinforcing statements, tips, and advice with real-world examples and anecdotes. Let’s say you’re writing about advice for staging a home for resale. Kick off the piece with an engaging success story of how home staging paid off for one of your clients. Be dramatic, and don’t be afraid to embellish a bit.
3. Remember the rule of three. Also known as the “power of three,” this writing principle has been a well-known phenomenon in storytelling for a millennium—from poetry to fairy tales to speeches. It suggests that a list of three items is more effective and satisfying than a list of any other number. Remember the rule of three when writing about trends, innovations, how-to, advice, and thought leadership. Fortify your statements and claims by offering three examples, tips, etc.
4. Revise, revise, revise—and then revise again. All good writers have a process for thoroughly reviewing and revising their work. Make time both for proofreading (punctuation checks, grammar checks, thesaurus reviews, fact checks, etc.) and revising (i.e., reviewing the writing from a fresh, critical perspective). Keep the following questions in mind when revising your writing (courtesy of the UNC-Chapel Hill Writing Center):
- Is what I wrote really worth saying?
- Does it say what I wanted to say?
- Will the reader fully understand what I’m trying to say?
Finally, let each blog post marinate for a bit, perhaps overnight, before you push the “publish” button. Chances are, you’ll think of a fresh angle, lively anecdote, better headline, or a novel way to present the blog.
5. Master the power of the question mark. Readers tend to skim blogs and articles until they have a reason to stop and ponder. Posing questions is a great mechanism for slowing down the pace and creating more engaging and conversational writing. You can convert any statement into a question. For example:
BEFORE: Kitchens and master bathrooms are much larger in new homes.
AFTER: Have you noticed that kitchens and master bathrooms are much larger in new homes?
The latter has a nicer ring to it, don’t you think?
6. Mix up the length of posts. Marketing guru and best-selling author Seth Godin, purveyor of one of the nation’s most popular business leadership blogs, is famous for his two- and three-sentence blog posts. He doesn’t write to a set word count, but rather the most efficient number of words to express his idea. If you have a single point to make or idea to share to your audience, there’s no need to ramble on for 1,000 words when 200 will do. Varying the length of your posts will help you focus on what’s most important: educating your clients and prospects.
7. Write every day. I get it. You’re busy. Blogging is not your full-time job. However, by making time (even 15 minutes during breakfast or lunch) in your daily schedule for writing, three important things will occur: 1) your blog writing skills will improve in short order, 2) you’ll greatly reduce the stress of “When am I going to find time to write my next post?” and 3) you’ll be much more attentive and engaged with your blog audience.
8. Have fun with different blog formats. Not every post has to be a long-form thought-leadership essay. Blog writers utilize a host of thematic structures to convey their ideas in new, fresh ways. There’s the listicle (you’re reading one now), step-by-step how-to (think cookbook recipes), the photo/caption post (where the visuals drive the ideas), the curated post (an agglomeration of ideas from third-party sources), and the slideshare post (where you present snippets of information in a PowerPoint-slide fashion). HubSpot has a great list of effective blog writing formats.
9. Read great writing. Find the best bloggers and writers—both in your personal life and business life—and consume their work obsessively. Observe how they tell stories, convey ideas, interact with their audience, utilize pace and flow in their writing, etc. They should be your inspiration.
Most important: Don’t make the writing process stressful. Have fun! Work on your craft. Learn from the best. And focus on incremental improvement.