5 Ways to Help Your Blog Posts Stand Apart

by JD Supra Perspectives
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[The latest in our series of inside perspectives by marketing, communications, and business development professionals doing excellent work at law firms today, with a perspective on how lawyers can shape their writing to stand out in the crowd:]

You’ve written countless blog posts, but the phone isn't exactly ringing off the hook—and there's no flood of email inquiries into your inbox, either.

What's the deal – wasn't this whole blogging thing supposed to elevate your profile in the industry? Give you a leg up on new business?

The answer: Yes, but only if you are willing to rise above all the noise and provide value.

The professional services industry has latched onto the idea of content marketing — that is, the widespread publication and distribution, across the digital landscape, of content (such as blog posts) showcasing knowledge in a particular area of expertise. While this has resulted in a tremendous wealth of information online, it's also presented an enormous problem for the intended readers: How they do they sift through all this information and uncover what's actually important to them?

Short answer: They don't.

If consumers can't quickly find the help they're looking for upon landing on your blog post – whether it's two sentences that explain how their business has to comply with a new regulation, or a list of bullet points that outlines the steps for hiring an employee – they simply move on. Close their browser or hit the back button and take their eyes elsewhere – away from your content and on to a competitor's.

If readers can't quickly find the help they're looking for upon landing on your blog post ... they simply move on.

Gone are the days where a long-form post, akin to a white paper, would do the trick to capture business – when a business owner would take the time to read through a detailed analysis of a new law, and come away wowed by the breadth and depth of the content.

There's no time for that anymore. People want answers, and they want them fast. The average worker is swamped by 121 emails a day. How can you possibly expect them to make time for your War and Peace blog post?

With this in mind, here are five key ways to make your blog posts stand apart:

1. Jettison the jargon

In blog writing, you don’t want to be seen as the know-it-all student. You're here to help your clients and potential clients, not impress a professor. Take out all the law school lingo and write in a conversational tone that your target audience will understand. Keep in mind that national publications, such as Bloomberg, Forbes and The Wall Street Journal, are now reporting on a whole host of niche industries and subjects -- meaning that you can no longer rely on the recognition of your organization's name alone to get you eyeballs. These journal publications write at an 18-year-old reading level – do the same.

2. Get to the point

Time is precious. Your blog post should not be a case summary. If you’re writing on commentary that has already heavily been reported on, use 25 percent of your article to provide background information and 75 percent to explain why and how it affects your audience.

3. Make it skimmable

While in an ideal world someone would read your blog post word-for-word, in reality the average reader will spend six seconds skimming the content to determine if the article is even worth her or his time. Make your content easy to digest by creating white space. You can do this by using bullet lists, bolding text when appropriate, shortening paragraphs, and inserting graphics.

4. Link, link, link

Whenever possible, link within the text of your post to external sources or outside content. This shows the reader that you've done your homework, so to speak – you've researched the subject matter and are demonstrating the depth of your knowledge. Linking also gives you a boost in SEO, further enhancing your credibility among viewers.

 ... a good marketer won’t change content, but rather enhance it.

5. Become friends with your marketing department

When all else fails, give your content to the marketing department to make edits. A good marketer won’t change content, but rather enhance it. They can do all the above things so that you can focus on billing and innovating. Your marketing colleagues will also be able to track the performance of the post with analytics and calculate the ROI after publication to determine what works and what doesn’t. 

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[Laurisha Cotton is an award-winning storyteller. She resides in San Francisco and currently works as Miller Law Group's Marketing Manager. Prior to Miller, she managed Davis Wright Tremaine's social media presence. Justin Shaw manages digital communications at Davis Wright Tremaine. He has nearly a decade of experience developing and overseeing marketing communications for businesses in the legal and health care industries. He is also the founder of the Seattle Weather Blog.]

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