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How can I improve my blogs and make them more engaging?

You know what it’s like when you really connect with a piece of content. You’re engaged with a blog, you’re hanging on every word of a podcast, you’re frantically retweeting a relatable tweet.

You’ve found the answer to your question and it just clicks. A shared knowledge bomb, idea or opinion unlocks your struggle in some way. It makes you say YESSS!

You want your clients to read your blogs and have the same unlocking feeling. Imagine a prospect getting in touch for the first time because of something helpful you shared. Or a client telling you they read your blogs religiously because of the value they know they’re going to get.

You’re already doing the work and writing blogs consistently, but you want them to be great blogs that make your readers feel understood and say YES and share them with like minded friends.

First, look at the data to see whether your blogs are actually being read

During a monthly strategy meeting with an accountant, one of our client marketing managers noticed a trend in the data on the firm’s blogs. Though they were publishing content consistently, readers seemed to be dropping off blogs very quickly, and engagement was low.

As a result of this finding, we talked with the client and helped them improve their writing skill in order to connect better with their audience.

If you’re unsure how readers are consuming your content (or if they’re consuming it at all) I recommend looking at your analytics.

Here’s an article we wrote on the basics of google analytics to help you get set up (if you’re not already) and navigate to the right area to see how your blogs are performing.

Looking at your analytics provides a double win for you. You can see where you’re not getting the engagement you’d hoped for, and make improvements to your writing going forward. You can also see which blogs are the most popular, and analyse why.

You’ll know from working with your own clients how important it is to look at all the numbers holistically to be able to understand business success. Your marketing is the same.

One blog can take off for a number of reasons:

  • You followed the TAYA principle and your answer to a question impacted your audience
  • You shared something on social and it really enticed your reader to find out more
  • The title ranked high on the search engines because of a keyphrase you used (and you didn’t even know it was key!)
  • Your URL was included in an webinar and your audience took note

A blog might convert fast because it’s simply the right reader at the right time – your prospect was ready to buy and your blog was the final nudge in the right direction.

Or you could have a prospect follow you for 6 years, anonymously consuming every piece of content you put out, and then suddenly surprising you by referring to your blogs as the reason they decided to “suddenly” sign up.

We’ve found both of these types of behaviour to happen consistently, and we’ve published at least one blog every week for years.

It’s impossible to look at one blog alone without looking at the bigger picture of all the effort you’re putting into marketing and communication.

Otherwise you’re looking at the last fallen domino, without taking into account the effect of the cascading trail before it.

You might want to get some help with the analysis by getting some monthly strategy in place. Here are all the details about our monthly data tracking and strategy and how this can better inform your marketing decisions.

Use these 5 tips to improve your writing and improve engagement

 

1. Write to one reader

When you want to be everything to everyone, you fall into the trap of starting every blog with “Whether you’re X or Y”.

Ex. “Whether you’re self-employed or a limited company business owner…”

As a reader, this causes me to burn brain calories. In the first line of your blog, I’m already having to do the work of deciding which parts of this blog are going to be for me. At best, it’ll cause me to scroll more than I might usually and miss important points. At worst, it’ll feel too vague and nonspecific to me, and I’ll exit.

You don’t want to be everything to everyone. You want this to resonate with your very ideal clients, or a portion of your very ideal clients this topic is most relevant to.

Instead of me questioning ‘is this for me?’ you want me to say “THIS IS FOR ME”.

Be thinking of a person when you approach your blog topic. If it’s a direct question you were asked by Sarah who runs the bakery, picture yourself writing this to Sarah who runs the bakery. If there was no one person specifically, make some notes about who you’d like this to impact and what they’re really struggling with.

Ex. Okay, this blog about filing your self assessment tax return is for the newly self-employed creative. This world is completely new ground for them. They feel like this is something they should know and they’re feeling quite embarrassed to ask for help. But they’re so confused they might make a mistake if they try it themselves. They’re a bit of a creative-minded dreamer, which means they’ll most likely respond well to lots of images or be likely to watch video links….

Describe your character. Always be asking: who is this really for? Use our free blog brief to map this out before you get started.

2. Tell stories

One way to make a point click with your reader is to tell a relatable story or share a helpful analogy. Humans by nature are storytelling, meaning-making creatures. It’s why stories last generations. Why fables help us inform us how to live our lives and co-exist with one another. Lesson learning relies on storytelling.

You might share:

  • A story of an experience you had with a similar client to help them relate to someone in the same shoes
  • A story of your own to help them relate on a human level
  • An analogy to a help your reader learn something by their own understanding

If you’re walking a prospect through something completely new to them, what story might you tell them about a new experience you had? How did it make you feel?

How might you include an analogy to explain something complex in THEIR terms? What building analogy could you use to explain profit and loss to a construction client?

3. Invite the reader to think about themselves

Telling stories invites your reader to see themselves in someone else’s story.

We want to see ourselves. We’re all quite selfish when it comes to reading content, and rightly so. We’re reading for ourselves. Similarly, your readers are wrapped up in their own situations and circumstances, problems, hopes and dreams. They want to feel seen and understood.

And you want your reader to be thinking about their own situation – because you want them to see the transformation they will experience when they action whatever you’re inviting them to do in your blog.

Draw your facts and stories back to the reader and their own experience. Use a few of these writing techniques to encourage them to think about their own situation:

  • Imagine you are…” – directing the reader to imagine something has exactly the desired effect! They will create a picture in their mind of the thing you’re suggesting. If you say “imagine it’s a hot summer’s day and you’re getting ready to compete in the parent’s race at your children’s sports day instead of cooped up in a 30 degree office agonising over bookkeeping again” it will cause your reader to picture the scenario in their mind and will evoke certain feelings and emotions.
  • “You know what it’s like when…” – A quick way to show your reader you understand them, and to get them to relate to a shared experience. You may notice I used this technique in the very first line of this blog. Did you relate to the shared experience of enjoying content?
  • “Remember when…” – Similar to a shared experience, you can encourage your reader to conjure up in their mind a previous experience of their own. This can be helpful for getting your reader to visualise a transformation.

Paired with tip 1 (write to one reader) these techniques bring the reader into the blog, making them feel it was written exclusively for them.

4. Pull out your strongest point and promote it to the first line

When reviewing blogs for clients, I’ll often find the strongest point at the end of the blog.

It makes sense the big BANG POW moment often comes at the end, because in the nature of writing a first draft, we’re still processing our thoughts.

But the really strong learning, benefit, nugget of wisdom is almost always better off at the start of the blog, because it stokes desire in the reader to read on. If they’re not hooked into the real benefit of reading the blog in the first few sentences, they may never make it to your big moment at the end.

It’s okay to write the blog this way and fix it later. When you come to editing your first draft, find your strongest point or biggest learning – the thing the whole blog hinges on – and promote it to first line status. Stoke desire. And then use the rest of the body of the blog to help your reader understand how to action it.

5. Teach your reader something and then tell them what to do with the learning

Sometimes you’ll have a blog topic in mind and the main purpose is to help the reader understand why they ought to do something:

I.e Why outsourcing your bookkeeping is better than having your receptionist do it

Sometimes you’ll have a blog topic in mind and the main purpose is to help the reader understand how to do something:

I.e How to reconcile the bank in Xero

Actually both examples above need to combine the why + the how of the topic.

In almost every type of blog I can think of there’s going to be learning. Even if you’re sharing a blog on your own company culture, it’s a learning experience for your reader. You’re helping them understand the culture in your firm so they learn more about you, and it might enable them to learn how to think more deeply about their own company culture.

Before you jump full swing into showing a client how to reconcile the bank, do they understand why it’ll benefit them in the first place? If not, they may not bother taking the steps.

What do you want the reader to do once they’ve understood the learning? Now your reader knows why outsourcing their bookkeeping is better than having their receptionist do it, what can they do to put this knowledge into practice in their own life?

Share your wisdom, and then tell them what to do with it.

Good writing is a skill you can practice. Your voice is your unique superpower.

I’ve heard lots of great accountants say they’re not great writers. You may have said it yourself.

It’s not your area, you weren’t trained in it, you don’t have practice, and you may not even know where to start. Even if you enjoy writing, it might not come easily.

And after years of being good at accounting, it’s hard to face something you don’t feel confident in. It threatens your sense of expertise and value. And this is the very thing you’re trying to show in your blog!

So it feels like a vicious cycle: and it could result in your turning away from writing altogether (rather than leaning into it).

We want you to lean into it. This is a skill anyone can practice. It doesn’t mean your writing will sound or look like someone else’s: the goal is for it to be your writing, but the very best of you. And that’s possible.

Content writing can be measured in its effectiveness, and therefore improved. Even when you write the content yourself, you can get help with the draft. You can enlist a second pair of eyes to help you with grammar. You can use this editing checklist to practice structuring your blog in a more readable format. The PF team can help you draw out your knowledge and stories and share them in the best way.

But ultimately, your voice is your own. Your writing is yours and no one else’s. You will have a unique writing voice and style no matter how ‘good’ you are at the formatting and the storytelling. A good writing style and voice is subjective, like all art.

If I asked every accountant we work with which blogs they read in their own time, I’d get all kinds of different answers. If I asked which books they read, YouTube videos they watch, social media platforms they follow, movies they like, art they deem as ‘art’… we’d see a wide range of opinions on what’s good and what’s not.

It’s not actually about whether the writing is ‘good’ or not…it’s whether it resonates. With the audience you want to connect to.

You like what you like because it’s emotionally connects with you.

A ‘good writer’ is someone who can connect with their reader.

Put these tips into action to build a greater connection with yours.