Tunnah’s musings: Top tips for budding bloggers

Writing blogs is something that anyone can do, but making your pieces stand out in the mass of other content out there can be challenging, muses Paul Tunnah as he outlines his top tips for budding bloggers.

I’ve always enjoyed writing and I guess it’s one of the reasons why I ended up working in the media industry. The power of words can be nothing short of miraculous in challenging our perceptions, triggering emotions and inciting questions. This is the reason why I try to keep this blog going, no matter how busy everything else gets.

It’s a way of sharing my developing thoughts on key issues around how all the stakeholders in healthcare can communicate and collaborate better, especially those in the pharmaceutical industry. So it’s nice when (increasingly) people in the industry ask for my thoughts on how to get started with blogging.

This month, I’m going to keep this piece succinct and offer some simple advice for good blogging.

1. Be passionate about your subject

It sounds obvious, but the most important thing is to make sure that you are writing on a subject you really care about. Don’t just blog for the sake of it as a hollow vehicle for trying to raise your profile – pick an issue that you think needs more attention and that matters to you. It doesn’t need to be something that is mainstream news – if it’s important enough to you then it will probably be important to other folks too, even if it’s not being written about at the moment.

There are all kinds of reasons for blogging, especially in the context of content marketing, but, at the end of the day, you can’t fake interest in a subject.

2. Don’t sell

Repeat after me – I shall not sell in my blog, I shall not sell in my blog, I shall not sell in my blog. Yes, I understand that for many people in business blogging, a major reason for doing it is to try and sell whatever it is that they make or do, but people don’t want to be sold to when they’re reading a blog. Surrounding a sales pitch with a few paragraphs of good content doesn’t make up for it either – we’ve all encountered that sinking feeling when you get a few lines in to what could be a good piece and it suddenly flicks into ‘hey, let me tell you about me and my company’ mode. Advertorials turn people off. Full stop.

If you are writing interesting and engaging stuff, then that is the best sales pitch there is and people will want to know more about you. Keep advertising and blogging separate.

3. Have an opinion/something new

There is a whole sea of bland content out there offering nothing new in the way of opinions or data. Why would anyone notice your blog if it doesn’t stand out from the crowd? Don’t be afraid to voice an opinion, even a potentially controversial one, if it’s one you believe in. I’m not saying you want to deliberately court controversy (Donald Trump-style statements are probably not a good model to follow, for example!), but make sure people know your view on something – they will either agree or disagree, but it will get a reaction.

Also, try to add in some new information where you can. It doesn’t have to be a comprehensive new market research study, but could just be some commentary or simple statistics no-one has seen before. Try to be the blog that other people are quoting, not vice versa.

4. Don’t obsess about SEO

There is still a whole swathe of people for whom the term ‘content marketing’ means churning out lots and lots of blogs stuffed with high-value keywords related to a topic that someone wants to build traffic around. While this might work in terms of fooling Google and getting you higher up the search rankings, obsessing about SEO is not a recipe for interesting content. If you’re thinking about every other word being a keyword, then it’s virtually impossible to be passionate and interesting.

Visibility and traffic is important, but level of engagement with a piece and what it leads to afterwards is equally important. Purely keyword-driven content is, typically, very dull.

5. Don’t forget about SEO

Conversely, being savvy about SEO in the context of being passionate and interesting is also important. In other words, find a balance. My best advice for blending the two – and the way that I approach it usually – is to write something without thinking about SEO, but then go back through the piece and check you have some of the right terms in there to help with relevant Google searches. And focus on getting the title right, in terms of both impact as a statement and keywords. The flow of the piece is most important, but you still want people to read it, right?

6. Use social media to promote it

Content and social media go hand in hand. If you want people to read things you cannot rely solely on existing subscribers/readers and Google; social media is a very powerful tool for flagging your writing to people (and, of course, social signals are increasingly important for Google too). This is one of the reasons why I started using Twitter so avidly when I set up pharmaphorum, as it’s a great medium for ‘hooking’ people in to your blogging.

How to do this? I find that sharing the title (which should be stimulating and grab you anyway), key quotes/facts from the piece or questions that it raises are all good ways of drawing people in.

So there you go – short and simple this month, but the above covers 90% of what I normally say when people ask me for advice. Blogging is not rocket science – in fact, good blogging is more of an art than a science, but building your own little rulebook, and frequently challenging it, is important in keeping your writing fresh.

Until next month, keep blogging and stay well.

About the author:

Paul Tunnah is CEO & Founder of pharmaphorum media, which drives better communication, connection and collaboration between the pharmaceutical industry and other healthcare stakeholders. Its suite of services, from publishing (www.pharmaphorum.com) to content-driven engagement consulting (www.pharmaphorumconnect.com) are underpinned by the common strengths of extensive global networks, a firm finger on the pulse of changing market dynamics and deep expertise in creating engaging, relevant media.

For queries he can be reached through the site contact form or on Twitter @pharmaphorum.

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