4 Keys to Writing Blogs People Understand: Build authority, credibility, and communication that gets
I did an introductory consultation with a client last week when he asked about starting a blog on his website. He asked me what the purpose of a blog was and I talked about the ways that a well-written blog can contribute to SEO, reputation building, and an overall content marketing plan.
He said, “It doesn’t really matter what you write. Isn’t it just having new content on your website for Google?”
Nothing I said could make him understand the value of a well-written blog because he had already decided that it wasn’t for him. (Ultimately, I didn’t bid on his writing job because we were definitely not on the same page.)
It got me wondering how many people share his view that blogs are just so much content to be thrown up periodically on their website. Reading some blogs--full of complicated market analysis, jargon, or information so vague that it couldn’t possibly interest potential clients--I think that while some people feel they “should” blog, they don’t really have a plan for how to blog.
Blogs are all about communication that is authentic, interesting, and, most of all, understandable. If your blog is all “inside sports”--statistics, acronyms, and trivial observations--it’s not really doing anyone any good.
A well-written real estate blog can not only get people to your website through social sharing and smart keywords, but it can keep them there longer and result in shares, likes, and new friends, fans, and clients. But how do you write a blog post that people understand and want to engage with?
1. Know Your Audience
Many real estate agents and brokers are so afraid of turning off someone as a potential client that they don’t narrow their focus and speak to a specific audience. They want to be all things to all people but they end up saying nothing much to very few people.
Having a really firm grasp of your ideal potential client can help you create content for your blog that will draw the clients you actually (a) want to work with and (b) can be effective for. Do you specialize in first time buyers? Your blog should appeal to them with information they need, like definitions, information about the mortgage application process, and insights on markets that have entry-level condos, townhomes, and smaller single family homes.
If you specialize in luxury listings, your blog should include information on maintenance, homekeeping, landscaping, staging, and other topics that are of interest to those clients. Talk about the happenings in some of the more affluent areas of your market or include Q&As with local designers or architects.
The more your content speaks specifically to your audience, the more effective it will be on its own and as the basis for social media shares as well. That’s a win-win.
2. Find Your Voice
Generic content will never get you the results you want. If you are someone who reads a lot of blogs, you know how important an engaging voice is to keeping you reading all the way to the end of the post.
Your voice may depend, in part, on your audience. If you are dealing with sophisticated real estate investors, you will want to be more businesslike, more investment and finance-focused, and more targeted on the bottom line. If you are appealing to retirees moving south, your voice might be warmer and more conversational, like a chatty friend with all of the best insider knowledge on their new neighborhood.
One caveat: Your voice should still be authentic. If you are a 55 year old real estate agent, you should not try to adopt the slang and syntax of a 28 year old Millennial first time homebuyer. Voice does not mean imitation, but communication. You can adopt a more casual voice for that young buyer that is still genuine and true to who you are.
3. Watch Your Tone
Voice and tone are often confused, but to put it simply: Voice is the way you speak; tone is the effect it has. So a businesslike voice might have a reassuring and authoritative tone to an experienced seller, while it could be intimidating and overwhelming for someone who doesn’t understand the process.
Take a tip from Edgar Allen Poe, who always started writing with one emotion in mind that he wanted his reader to feel at the end of the poem or story. What word describes the emotion you want to awaken in your reader: reassurance, excitement, motivation, trust? See if you can zero in on the feeling you want and make sure the voice you use, the words you use, and the topic you choose get them to that emotional place.
4. Start Making Sense
Too many of us assume a great deal of background knowledge when we are writing a blog post. Writing about the financial aspects of homebuying won’t help a first-time homebuyer if he or she doesn’t understand basic financial terms. A homeowner who is selling the house he bought 30 years ago needs a refresher on the process just as much as a first-timer. Someone who is new to the area will need neighborhood insight that a lifelong resident might take for granted.
Take the time to communicate in a way that your reader can understand. Avoid jargon and insider terms unless you carefully explain them. If you have written a previous blog post on a topic that more fully explains it, link to it in your new blog where appropriate to allow people to find more information. Always read your blog before posting with the question in mind, “Would my ideal client understand this? What parts can I make clearer? What words can I define?” Don’t talk down to your reader, but make sure you’re not assuming too much previous knowledge.
Blogging can be the cornerstone of your content marketing plan and can help you reach new clients, build your credibility, and even make you something of a local celebrity. But talking in a way that can be understood is the first step to ensuring that you’re not just writing at your reader, you’re writing for them.