The internet increasingly serves as a primary resource in locating services and products, from pre-natal care to funeral needs – including for aging adults and their families. In part one, we looked at how quality blogs can help differentiate a senior-focused business from the competition. We discussed how blog posts can showcase what’s special about a business and keep clients and potential clients updated. In part two, we provide 9 important blog writing tips for capturing reader interest.
The 9 essential blog writing tips
1. Decide what to write.
Pondering the topic before you sit down to put fingers to keyboard can spare you frustration and wasted time.
Ask what you want to accomplish, what you want potential clients to know about you. Brainstorm to create a laundry list of answers. This can become a springboard for future posts as well as your current project. Return to the benefits of blog posts as discussed in part one. Which benefits will you want to reap first?
You may want to:
- Showcase your business’s warmth and humanity
- Describe a recent happening at your business as a sort of show-and-tell story
- Establish credibility by providing accurate, factual information on a relevant topic
- Share updates that demonstrate that you stay abreast of industry changes
- Offer an entertaining essay that describes the business’s philosophy
For example, if you are representing an assisted living community, you can:
- Write a Valentine’s Day story about couples who met in your community.
- Showcase a staff chef who gets to know residents’ food preferences to help elevate their meals.
- Pen a post about your medical staff’s progress in dispensing Covid vaccines.
Note that it’s not necessary for a busy medical professional to write a post, even if written in first-person – transcribe a Q&A or enlist the aid of a freelance writer to interview the doc and ghost-write the piece.
In the instances above, you’re showing off the joy residents find at your community, the caring nature of the staff, and the quality of the medical staff and timeliness in providing coronavirus care.
If you are an aging-in-place specialist, you can:
- Tell client stories: what a client values about aging in place and how your business helped them achieve their goals. (Of course, get the clients’ permission or change the names.)
- Highlight your pandemic safety measures in client homes.
- Tell about how a job made you feel, seeing the joy of a couple who could stay in their home.
2. Start with an outline.
Once you know what you want to accomplish, put together a rough outline of what you want to say. Start with a working title that conveys your purpose. Follow that with a thesis statement that builds on the purpose. Then write the main points that support this. For example:
WORKING TITLE: HELPING THE TOLLIVERS AGE IN PLACE
Thesis statement: Elliott and Tonie Tolliver’s beloved home was no longer safe for them, but we enabled them to remain.
- Why the Tollivers’ home meant so much to them and why they wanted to age in place
- What was unsafe about the house
- What my business did for the clients and their house
- Why the changes are beneficial
- Elliott and Tonie’s reaction
3. Begin your first draft.
After you have the outline, you can begin. Simply put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. Don’t worry about word choice or style, just write. Once your rough draft is complete, then you can fine-tune, prune, and modify as needed.
Build on the outline. Construct an introduction around the thesis. Flesh out the ideas like you’re adding muscles to a skeleton, paint to a canvas. Again, don’t stop to deliberate over word choice or sentence structure. If you get stuck, highlight the word or section to remind you to improve it later.
4. Be clear.
Pretty words and perfectly crafted sentences achieve nothing if the reader can’t grasp what you’re trying to convey. Re-read your rough draft with a critical eye or get a fresh set of eyes.
Start with a macro view. Ask: Does the post achieve the purpose as stated in the working title and thesis? Is the message logical? Do the points build upon each other sequentially or do they need re-arranging?
Shift to a micro examination. Is each point clear? Is each sentence understandable? Consider your audience. If they don’t share your base of knowledge, do your words give them the background they need?
Be careful not to use too much industry jargon. The average consumer might not know that “ADL” means “activities of daily living” in referring to what older adults are able do. Instead, they may wonder why you’re mentioning the Anti-Defamation League!
5. Be brief and simple.
Brevity and simplicity help you achieve clarity. As William Zinsser put it in his classic how-to, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction, “The secret of good writing is to strip every sentence to its cleanest components.”
Start with the 50/10 rules:
- Don’t use 50-cent words when 10-cent words suffice.
- Don’t use 50-word sentences when 10-word sentences suffice.
In short: go for short words and sentences. Say only what you need to make your point. As you fine-tune and prune, examine every word, sentence, and idea. Ask, do I really need it? Is it essential to my message or do I just want to include it?
Look for unnecessary and redundant words. Rather than “He’s a personal friend of mine,” say, “He’s a friend.” Rather than “At this point in time,” say, “Now.”
Brevity and simplicity are especially important for blog posts. Online readers can instantly shift their attention to a new website. If they lose interest, you’ve lost them – maybe forever.
6. Avoid passive voice.
You want your writing to be engaging, and active voice sentences achieve that better than passive. In active voice, the subject does the acting. In passive voice, the subject is passive – it’s acted upon. Active is strong; passive is weak.
- Sal tossed the ball. (Way to throw that ball, Sal!)
- The ball was tossed by Sal. (Poor passive ball, getting tossed around by Sal like that!)
7. Be consistent.
Your writing should be invisible. In other words, readers should attend to the message, not the writing. As readers follow the message without getting distracted, they are more likely to grasp your point and respect your expertise.
Consistency helps maintain that attention. Think of it like driving a Lexus RC with automatic transmission versus an old Mazda Miata with manual transmission. The Lexus accelerates smoothly and quickly, while the Mazda hesitates slightly with each shift.
Two common sources of inconsistency arise in use of verb tense and person.
Avoid mixing verb tenses, such as past and present. For example, in a post on art classes at a nursing home:
- In this example, the first sentence uses past tense, but the second sentence shifts to present tense. Our activity director created unique art projects for our residents. As she guides participants, she uses their favorite memories to make each project more meaningful.
- Instead: Our activity director creates unique art projects for our residents. As she guides participants, she uses their favorite memories to make each project more meaningful.
This error appears most commonly as a shift between second person (such as “you”) and third person (such as “he,” “she,” or “they,” or a third-person noun like “a client”). Choose either second person or third person and be consistent throughout the post. For example:
- This example mixes second person and third person: Your first task is to decide what information you want to convey. To begin, the writer should simply put pen to paper without concerns about his word choices or style.
- Instead, use second person: Your first task is to decide what information you want to convey. To begin, simply put pen to paper without concerns about your word choices or style.
- Or use third person: A writer’s first task is to decide what information he wants to convey. To begin, he should simply put pen to paper without concerns about his word choices or style.
- Or, to avoid the he/she pronoun choice, use third-person plural: The first task that writers face is to decide what information to convey. To begin, they can simply put pen to paper without concerns about word choice or style.
8. Use examples.
Examples support your points while making your message more interesting.
- What steps our business takes to make a home safer depends upon the abilities of the homeowner. To safeguard a house for a resident with mobility issues, for example, we add ramps and eliminate tripping hazards such as raised thresholds and throw rugs. To tailor a home for someone who uses a wheelchair, we widen doorways and modify counter heights in the bathroom and kitchen.
9. Mind your grammar and spelling.
Most readers will judge your expertise, in part, by your grammar and spelling. Even search engines indirectly rank your blog based on such errors. Search engines may not know if you used “effect” when you should have used “affect,” but algorithms detect if users bounce quickly off your site. But you don’t have to be an English major or professional writer to avoid errors! Instead, pay attention to Microsoft Word suggestions, use an online grammar checker like Grammarly, or contact a professional copy editor.
After applying these 9 important blog writing tips, your quality posts will allow you to showcase what’s special about your business. To help ensure that people see your website and your posts, you’ll want to apply Search Engine Optimization principles, too. In part three of this series, we will offer tips for writing blog posts for effective SEO.
If you’d like to learn more about creating and marketing a website that works for your business, contact the team at Seniors Guide.