It can be intimidating to stare at a blinking cursor trying to figure out how to start a blog post. Let’s say you made a resolution to really start blogging in 2017. Now the time has come to get going. If you are at a loss for words, or even ideas, fear not! Here are a few quick tips that will help launch you off your writer’s block.
1. Make a Vertical File – If you remember your days in the school library, you were likely introduced to an organizational item called the “vertical file.” This is generally a folder with noteworthy newspaper and magazine articles, information worth saving. As you read through news and work on client matters, consider setting up a similar system. Bookmark articles and clip them out of publications. Then, when you are searching for ideas, refer to your file. You will likely find it a great source of inspiration.
2. Talk it Out – Walk down to a colleague’s office and chat about an idea you are considering for a blog post. Explain your thought process and solicit feedback. As you converse, jot down notes. You will likely find that either your idea isn’t really workable or that there are numerous dimensions you hadn’t even considered. You may also find you are now interested in a completely different topic that popped up in the course of your dialogue.
3. Translate to English, Please – Writing is all about connecting with one’s audience. This means that industry-speak, for the lawyers reading – legalese, often is indiscernible to the lay person. If you aren’t sure if your writing is accessible to your core audience – most likely, not fellow industry members – tap a spouse of family member to review your draft. Then, ask if they understood it. If not, break down what you are saying and consider recording yourself when you do. (There is a handy recorder app built into most smartphones.) The goal is to write in a conversational tone that is easily understood and can be consumed along with one’s beverage of choice at the end of a trying day.
4. Highlight the Bottom Line – One of my favorite publications is Bloomberg Businessweek. They have several sections with quick-take articles and each ends with a one-to-two sentence summation of the preceding text. Your main point needs to be featured at the start and reinforced at the end.
5. Update – Developing stories make for great blog post fodder and ideal opportunities for follow-ups. Keep your reader engaged and informed and remember that previous posts can have key clarifications and updates added into the text. When you say, “We’ll continue to monitor this situation,” actually do so!
BONUS Keep it Short – Blog posts, like the one you are reading, are best when they are simple, straightforward and short. Use an editor or edit yourself to cut words and get straight to the essence. Just because we CAN publish limitless items online doesn’t mean we SHOULD. You want to avoid the dreaded “TLDR” designation – too long, didn’t read.
Let’s get to blogging!