Good writing is good writing, right? Yes and no.
Readers’ expectations for a blog are far different than for a trade journal or newspaper. Blogging started as a form of an online journal so the style has always been more personal and casual. Readers expect that through a blog, they will get to know you. the writer. They also expect the content to be easily digestible and fun to read.
That’s a lot of expectation so I’ve put together some quick steps to help you get it right, inspired by some of the top bloggers on the LexBlog Network.
Step 1: Adopt a conversational tone.
Sometimes business people can be afraid to write with a casual tone because it seems less professional. But a casual tone is what helps readers get to know you and your personality. Plus, the more you reduce the business-speak in your posts, the more your audience will be able to connect with your content. Lawyer, Dan Schwartz (@DanielSchwartz) says he writes all his posts with his next door neighbor in mind. This keeps the legalese to a minimum and ensures the language is easy to read and comprehend. And it’s working, his blog, Connecticut Employment Law Blog is one of the most popular legal blogs in the country.
A great example of writing in a conversational and engaging tone is a post from Robin Shea (@RobinEShea), former journalist, now a labor lawyer with Constangy. This post contains a funny letter to the EEOC chair.
Step 2: Have an opinion. Taking a stance can be scary. Won’t you alienate those with a differing opinion? Not necessarily. Two things happen when you write with strong opinions.
One, your posts get better. The passion you display for your subject shines through. This makes your post more interesting to read and more fun for you to write.
Two, choosing a side can bring you business. When you’re demonstrating your expertise on one side of an issue, those who agree will flock to you. And when your future clients are looking for expertise on the subject, you’ll be top of mind in a way that neutrality on the subject won’t offer.
Steptoe & Johnson’s Stewart Baker and Gray Reed’s Charles Sartain stand out as a couple of top law blog examples. Stewart served as the first Assistant Secretary for Policy at the Department of Homeland Security where he set cybersecurity policy, including inward investment reviews focused on network security. His posts are highly opinionated on the topic of cybersecurity and are written in an accessible way for the general public to enjoy. Likewise, Charles Sartain writes on the hot topic of fracking and energy law with a conservative bent that keeps his audience coming back.
Step 3: Format for the web and mobile. It couldn’t be more important to format your posts for easy readability online. Ensuring your post looks attractive to your reader, no matter what device they’re using when they come across your post, is key for keeping them coming back.
First, remember that your title may appear by itself on Facebook, LinkedIn and even on Twitter. So your title needs to draws readers’ attention and makes a statement right off the bat. It also should make sense outside the context of the blog. It’s important to avoid acronyms few people know, and to keep it under 70 characters so that the whole title is visible in Google and other social sites.
Second, use photos in every post. This makes your post more attractive to read but beyond that, remember the images chosen will show up when you (or anyone) shares your content on Facebook or LinkedIn.
Third, make your post easily scannable. There is a reason why list posts or “listicles” are so popular. They are easy to scan over and get the main points without exerting a lot of energy. Your posts don’t all have to be lists, but if you format them in a similar way with sub-headings, short paragraphs or bullets, you’ll make your post much more easily digestible. This is more important now than ever with the widespread adoption of mobile technology.
For example, re-size the window of this blog—or if you’re reading it on your mobile device right now, you’ll notice it automatically re-sized for your window. This is called responsive design—a key feature you’ll want your blog to have for optimal reading ease.
Photo credit: josef.stuefer