Most blog posts these days exist for a reason. To convince somebody. To convince them of an argument or to buy a product. But how do you write a convincing post?
Admit it. You have a hidden agenda. Well okay, maybe not a hidden one. And maybe not all the time. But when you are writing a blog post you do have an agenda.
Most of us write blog posts to convince the reader of something. If you have a product or service you blog to convince people to buy it. If you work for somebody else you may blog to convince others that you are worth hiring. That or persuade your colleagues about best practice. Whatever the case our writing needs to be convincing.
I have been advising several of my clients about how to do exactly this. I thought I would share the advice I gave them here.
Don’t try too hard
The last thing you want your post to do is scream “hire us”. People will hate you if you beat them around the head with your agenda. They hate feeling strong armed. But most of all it just looks desperate. If you desperately try to convince, people will shy away.
Nobody wants to read a sales pitch. More importantly, nobody will share a sales pitch and we want people to share your posts.
Make it about the reader
Although you have an agenda you cannot focus on that when writing. Instead focus on the reader. What value are you giving them. The post should have actionable value they can take away. It shouldn’t just push your agenda.
Take this post for example. Notice earlier that I linked to my consultancy services. That is my agenda. But notice how even if you never clicked that link, the post still has value to you. You don’t need to hire me to take something away of value.
Don’t bury the lead
There is a phrase in journalism called ‘burying the lead’. This is where you fail to highlight the key element of a story. This can happen for two reasons.
First, you just don’t get to the point. You become so intent on crafting your message that you forget few readers will read it all. That is why it is important to lead with the main takeaway.
Second, you don’t have a clear focus. It is easy to write a post without knowing what the core message you are trying to communicate is. What exactly are you trying to say? What question are you trying to answer? Your central idea should be something you can express in a single sentence.
Some will tell you that you should keep your blog post short. This is good advice but not the whole story. In reality your post should be as long as it needs to be and no longer.
It is true that users don’t read long posts, but they will skim them. They will look at headings and dip in and out of parts of what you have written. That means that length isn’t your key concern. Being concise is.
Express an opinion
Many writers fear expressing a strong opinion. They fear criticism. But if all you do is state the obvious or accepted wisdom then you add no value to the reader. You will also not be memorable or shift the readers perspective.
But a word of caution. Expressing an opinion does not mean being controversial to grab attention. Readers see through that.
Support your view
If you are going to express an opinion make sure you back it up. Quote experts in the subject you are discussing. This adds to your own credibility, but also supports your argument.
Use statistics and research wherever possible. Many people respond well to numbers. But they are also easy to share on social media and so that helps spread your message.
Finally, tell stories. We tend to empathise with stories. But they also are a great way of demonstrating a point with a real life situation.
Give the reader an action
You want your reader going away with something they can apply in an actionable way.
I am not talking about going on to hire you or complete some other call to action. I am talking about something they can do which makes them feel empowered. Something that helps them.
That should be your ultimate goal. Give your reader something of value. If you can empower them they will be more open to whatever it is you wish to convince them about.