Category Archives: Blogging

Free business blog template: how to structure a blog

how to structure a blog

You’ve finally carved out a moment to sit down, tea in hand, and bang out a business blog post. But as you fire up your laptop and glimpse that blank page staring back at you, your confidence plummets and procrastination whispers: “you can’t do this! Stop pretending you’re a writer and get back to Insta for a lovely little doomscroll.”

If you know this feeling, you need a business blog template showing you EXACTLY how to structure a blog with zero margin for procrastination.

I know how busy you are, so let’s maximise the time you’ve got and crack on with the task in hand before your tea goes cold!

What is a business blog?

Before we dive straight into your free blog template, let’s backtrack slightly and recap on what a business blog is and why you should defo be writing them.

After all, a little insight into why you’re doing this and what goes into writing the perfect blog will allow you to make the most of your blog template and set you up for success.

If you’re already clued up, jump to the next header.

If you’re still unsure, check out this blog for your crash course in business blogging to bring you up to speed.

All caught up? On we go.

How to structure a business blog

Structuring a blog may feel vague and confusing right now, but you’re about to take a shortcut to business blogging success by learning a foolproof formula you can use every time.

If you’ve done a little research into what to blog about (which is well worth doing for optimal results), you’ll have an idea of what your ideal customer is trying to find out about your product or service.

Tips to write a blog introduction

Firstly, let’s kick off with your blog introduction.

Summarise your chosen topic in a couple of paragraphs, ensuring you include your keyword in the first 150 words.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term ‘keyword’, don’t panic. This is a word or term you’re hoping your blog will show up on Google for when people search it, e.g. gifts for dog owners.

Be clear about what your blog is going to explain/show/teach your reader. There are plenty of blogs out there and you only have a few seconds to draw readers in, so make sure you break the topic down so well they know it’s exactly what they’re looking for.

Remember, you can always go back and polish your intro once you’ve fleshed out the rest of your blog. So, don’t overthink it – simply write a couple of sentences here to get some words on a page.

You may be wondering about your blog headline – and I have so much to say on this I’m going to dedicate a separate blog post to it, so sit tight and keep your eyes peeled!

Use your blog headers as section titles

Next, choose three to six questions around your chosen blog topic and use these as your headers.

A well-structured blog features multiple headers, with no more than 300 words under each one.

Think of your headers as section titles and formulate them as questions you’ll answer in the body copy underneath.

For example, if you’re writing a blog about life coaching to introduce your readers to the concept, your headers may be as follows:

  • What is life coaching?
  • Who is life coaching for?
  • How can life coaching help me?
  • How much does life coaching cost?
  • Does life coaching actually work?

True story: it took me 30 seconds to find these questions on Answer The Public, which compiles real data from people browsing search engines like Google.

If you’re a life coach writing a blog on this subject, these should be simple questions you can answer neatly in under 300 words, as you would if someone approached you at a networking meeting to find out more about your job.

When I’m laying out a blog, I like to organise my headers first. Often, the literal act of typing them onto the page is my train out of the procrastination station. Words on paper are a powerful way to banish writer’s block, so getting your headers down is a smart move.

Writing your sections

Now you have some headers in place, you can begin filling in the gaps. You know your headers are questions to be answered, so let’s get answering.

Here are a few blog writing tips to make this part easier:

  • Type how you speak (within reason)
  • Use bullet points and numbered lists – great for skimmers and SEO
  • Mix short and long sentences
  • Focus on benefits, rather than features
  • Include statistics to support your points

How to conclude a blog

Every good story needs an ending, and your blog is no exception.

Your conclusion will round up the points you’ve made and summarise the main message of your blog. We know 43% of people skim read blogs (a stat I actually find surprisingly low!), so we incorporate formats like bullet points and plentiful headers to allow for hot takes.

Naturally, skimmers will skip to the end of your blog, picking out bits of interest along the way, so finishing with a bang is critical.

One simple sentence can give your reader all they need to know, and it’s a good exercise in summarising and drilling down into what’s important.

Check the final two paragraphs of this blog to see my conclusion.

Add a call to action

Your call to action is crucial. Wondering: “what is a call to action?”? Allow me to explain.

A call to action is a marketing term for an instruction we give to a reader telling them what to do next. You’ll use them at the end of every blog, and also in social captions, emails, landing pages, and more.

A call to action, also known as a CTA, doesn’t have to be salesy, so don’t panic if your blog is purely informative and you’re paranoid about launching into a sales spiel and turning readers off.

If your blog’s purpose to inform and educate your reader at an earlier stage in the buying process, use your CTA to nudge them along in their journey.

Unsalesy call to action examples include:

  • Read another blog next
  • Follow our social accounts
  • Subscribe to our newsletter
  • Download your free blog template

What’s critical to remember is this. Your reader is on your website, reading what you have to say. They’re buying into you and unless you make it clear what you want them to do next, they’re unlikely to stick around.

So, make your CTA count by keeping that connection going and giving them even more value to push them further towards that purchase.

Download your free blog template

Here comes my conclusion 😉 >>>

Now you know a well-structured blog features a short intro detailing what you’ll cover, several headers as section titles, a clear conclusion summarising your points, and a call to action telling your reader what to do next.

Use this as your blueprint for every future blog to save time and stay on track. Need a little more help? Download your free blog template to set yourself up for ultimate business blogging success.

Download your free template here.

What is purple prose (and how can you avoid it?)

Purple veg good, purple prose bad
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One thing I despise even more than a misplaced apostrophe is what’s known as purple prose. But what on earth does that mean, and how can you stop yourself from using it?

Read on and I will make like Clarissa and explain it all (and if you get that reference we can be friends too).

If you’re writing marketing content, it could be for blogs, social media, adverts, editorials, press releases, billboards or petrol pumps (and yes, I have genuinely written for all of these). 

Most of your content needs to be tailored to your chosen platform, but there is one simple thing you can do today to make it instantly better. Simply stop using purple prose!

What actually is purple prose?

Purple prose is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “writing that is too elaborate or ornate”. The emphasis here, for me, is on the word too, as purple prose can come in many forms. Yet what they all have in common is the fact they are all just so extra.

Why is it called that? 

Purple prose was named after a straight-talking Roman poet named Horace, who called out his fellow poets’ flowery language. He compared their elaborate attempts at literature to the patches of purple cloth worn by some of the most diva-like members of Roman society as a symbol of wealth.

The term “purple prose” was Horace’s sassy way of criticising writers whose language was overly pretentious.

Why is purple prose bad?

Now, any Friends fan knows Joey’s adoption letter is all the evidence we need that purple prose is not your friend. And honestly, I mean that from the bottom of my full-sized aortic pumps.

But purple prose isn’t just about using long words, as arguably there’s a place in your content for long words used in the right way. Purple prose is more about embellishing your content with anything that doesn’t really need to be there. So, think excessive adjectives, overly long sentences and words that feel out of place within the context. 

Apologies to any Twihards out there, but in researching a good example of purple prose to show you, this passage from the vampire blockbuster kept cropping up:

“His skin, white despite the faint flush from yesterday’s hunting trip, literally sparkled, like thousands of tiny diamonds were embedded in the surface. He lay perfectly still in the grass, his shirt open over his sculpted, incandescent chest, his scintillating arms bare. His glistening, pale lavender lids were shut, though of course he didn’t sleep. A perfect statue, carved in some unknown stone, smooth like marble, glittering like crystal.”

In many cases, purple perpetrators believe they will come across as more intelligent by writing in this way. The reality is that purple prose usually makes the writer seem like they’re simply trying too hard.

What are the dangers of using it?

Purple prose is more than just annoying. It can actually have a detrimental effect on your writing. Find out the dangers of using purple prose right here.

1. It’s hard to read

Multisyllabic words, meandering sentences and a torrent of adjectives can be tough to digest. Not only will your readers struggle to keep the thread, they may not even understand what you’re trying to say in the first place.

And if a reader leaves your website to google the words you’re using in your content, what are the chances of them coming back?

2. It’s attention-seeking

Purple prose draws all the attention to the words and takes all the purpose out of your meaning. After all, words are important, but it’s how they make us feel or what they prompt us to do that counts. If all your audience sees is words, it’s more than likely they will miss the point.

3. It’s unnecessary

Perhaps most importantly of all, purple prose is completely unnecessary in most instances. Why isolate your audience by sending an army of adjectives into battle, when you could valiantly win them over by writing in plain English?

How can I avoid using purple prose?

So if you’ve now identified purple prose could be clouding your writing, how can you go about dialling it down?

George Orwell’s six rules for writing have stayed with me throughout my copywriting career and they serve as excellent guidelines for purging the purple.

  1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous

The first two are my personal faves and have guided me through 15 years of writing. Whatever I’m working on, they buzz around my head reminding me to hold back from overdoing it. 

Here are a few more simple steps to keep your copy in check.

Focus on your audience

Remember who you are writing for and you shouldn’t ever stray too far from your purpose. Unless your website, brochure or social media are parodies aimed at a pretentious literary crowd, it really won’t be necessary to resort to purple prose to communicate your point. 

Empathise with your reader

Leap further into the mind of your audience and actually put yourself in their position. What will they want to hear from you? Is it a bunch of ornate adjectives? Or would they rather you got straight to the point? If you read through your writing from the perspective of an existing or potential customer and sections of it speak to you the way they should, it’s time to get editing and make things much more simple. Because if they are moved by your words, what’s the point of writing them?

Always be yourself

Ultimately, purple prose is unlikely to reflect your own true voice and style, so always try to be yourself and write in a way that sounds like you. There’s nothing wrong with developing your writing style over time, but do it in a way that feels authentic and interesting, rather than overblown and excessive. 

In short, the best way to achieve your best marketing content is by banishing the bullsh*t, staying true to yourself and your brand, and writing straight from your full-sized aortic pumps.

And if you can’t manage that yourself, I’d be more than happy to be your comrade in the war against purple prose – simply drop me a line on wordsbyali@gmail.com or call me on 07395 128493 and let’s get started.

 
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How to start a blog for your business

How to start a blog for your business
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Wondering how to start a blog for your business, where to start and what to blog about?

Well, what better way to start my own blog than telling you how to start your own blog?

OK, so this may smack of the time Phoebe from Friends taught a “massage yourself at home” class . Then promptly lost all of her massage clients (apologies to any non-Friends out there, but really?), bear with me.

Ultimately, my goal as a copywriter is to help my clients find their voice, whether that’s via my keyboard or theirs.

That’s right; in the words of Shayne Ward, that’s my goal.

I am certainly happy to be your facilitator in getting the right words onto your business’s website, into your brochure or anywhere else you’d like them to be. However, I’m also delighted to help you find a way to do it yourself if that’s what you’d prefer. 

Maybe you need a little support to get your business website up and running with a few pitch-perfect pages and a handful of banging blogs. But after that, you may feel like you can incorporate the time needed for a weekly blog into your schedule. If that’s the case, that’s great.

Or, perhaps you’ve actually overcome the dilemma of how to start your own business blog. Yet now, you don’t have the time to keep the content coming as quickly as you’d like. So, I can step in to support you and take a weight off your shoulders.

Either way, we can all agree on one thing. Starting a blog for your business is a brilliant idea.

So enough waffling from me, let’s find out exactly how you can start your own business blog. And in no time at all, you can become the content king or queen of your industry.

Can I really start a blog for my business? (Spoiler alert: yes) 

Many people fear starting their own blog as they don’t feel like a “content creator”. Well, reality check – in 2019, everyone is a content creator, so have a word with yourself and get cracking.

Nobody knows your business or industry better than you do. So the good news is, you’re already an expert voice on any subject surrounding it. And who better than an expert to blog on any given topic?

Cast your imposter syndrome aside and go all Nike on this situation. The best way to start a blog is in fact to simply just do it.

How do I set up a blog for my business?

If you already have a blog function on your website which has been lying dormant, then starting a blog for your business should be straightforward and stress-free. However, if you haven’t got a blog and you’re starting from scratch, fear not. It’s really not that complicated to set up your own blog, and here’s how.

Got a WordPress website? Then adding a blog to it is a simple option on your dashboard.

Or, if you’re not yet online, you can use WordPress to create your own blog in a few simple steps. WordPress is a great option for beginners, as it’s easy to use. It’s also free, although it will cost you a little to register your own domain if you haven’t done so yet.

One of the major plus points of using WordPress to start a blog for your business is the ease with which you can choose a theme to personalise your site. Have a play around and find the style that suits you, as well as a format that works for your business and its products or services. Just don’t forget to test how responsive your chosen theme is on mobile and tablet too, if you anticipate a lot of your traffic to come from different devices.

Planning your business blog content

Once you’ve got the confidence and the tools to start a blog for your business, it’s time to make a plan. What do you hope to achieve from your blog? Do you want to sell products? Drive traffic? Grow your database? Position yourself as an industry expert? Or improve your SEO? 

The best blogs have a clear focus, and a specific target audience in mind. This can be seriously specific, as in “a 30-40 year old female marketing director with children”. Once you can picture your audience, you can ask yourself before posting each blog: would my target customer find this interesting/informative/useful? If the answer is no, it’s probably not worth posting. After all, if they won’t share or engage with it, who will?

A crucial part of your blogging plan should also be how frequently to post. Two or three times a week is ideal, but once a week should be the minimum. It’s easy to see how small business owners struggle to maintain this kind of frequency. So, if it seems too daunting, speak to a professional copywriter about how they can support your business blogging goals.

What should I blog about? 

So now you’ve overcome the deliberation over how to start your own blog. You’ve taken the plunge and set it up. WTF are you supposed to blog about?

The easiest way to start blogging is to write a list of the questions your customers ask you, then answer them.

Don’t put any pressure on yourself to write thousands of words on each subject. Simply answer each FAQ to the best of your ability, then upload it.

Already, you should have a decent bank of content to add to regularly. And if that all becomes a bit too time-consuming, that’s where a professional copywriter can step in and keep the momentum going on your behalf.

What tone should I use for my business blog?

Every business has its own unique style and personality. That’s why business blogging is never a “one size fits all” situation. If you’re the owner of a small business, you should have a good idea on the tone you use in your marketing, and this will extend to your blog. 

When it comes to setting up a blog for a larger business you work for, it will be beneficial for you to determine the right tone of voice before launching a blog, so you can stick to the company ethos and avoid confusing customers.

You may feel like you’re the only one who can blog about your own business, but a great copywriter will be able to pick up the baton if you are struggling with the upkeep and maintain (or even evolve) the unique tone you have established for your blog.

Experienced writers are adept at switching tones easily for different purposes and audience. Therefore, as long as you get to know a little about each other and communicate what you need from a copywriting support service, your beloved blog will be in safe hands (leaving your hands free to do what you do best).

Where to turn if you need copywriting support for your business blog

Now you know a little about how to get started in setting up your business blog, I’d love to hear how you get on. Please post any questions or experiences of this in the comments.

And if you have hit the ground running with your blog but have found yourself struggling to keep the momentum, I’d be more than happy to have a chat about how I can support you in hitting those blogging targets to help you achieve your goals. Drop me a line on wordsbyali@gmail.com and let’s chat.

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Facebook

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Twitter

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Instagram

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Subscribe

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