Nobody ever wants to “phone it in.”
So I asked some of the brightest folks in web marketing and writing to share their creativity with us. I was specifically looking for ideas that you wouldn’t find anywhere else. (Let me know if I succeeded.)
Here are 10 creative ways to write a blog post:
Help Your Readers Help Each Other (Amanda Gagnon, Education Marketing Associate, AWeber Communications aweber.com)
With its readers, commenters and even critics, your blog is its own little community. But how often do they actually interact? You can create more of a communal feel by encouraging a spike in solidarity. Every community has those in need and those with a little extra. So match them up. Create a blog post asking your blog readers in need to share their stories. Ask those with extra resources to respond. Be careful not to make promises unless you’re prepared to fulfill them yourself – you may not get as many donors as requestors. You may get plenty, however, as The Bloggess did – she helped out the first 20 commenters in need herself, then let readers take over with their own contributions. And like her, you may be surprised by how much community your blog really has.
Let Those Around You Be Your Inspiration (Emily Belden, totalebag.com)
While it’s important to make an effort to regularly blog on a consistent basis, don’t create an entry if you are truly uninspired. My rule of thumb is that if I’m not compelled to write my post, I stand in a line at Starbucks, flip on a random TV channel, or ride the bus for a while. You’ll be surprised what you overhear and how much of it can be the foundation for a really interesting piece. Here’s an example of how I used my experience in a blog post.
Don’t Be Popular (Nick Armstrong, Creative Renegade IamNickArmstrong.com)
Find what the popular topics are and don’t write about that. Find the absurdity in the topic (it’s everywhere and abundant) and tackle it from the perspective of presenting the absurdity. For example, right now everyone’s talking about corporate jobs (and needing one). I tackled the topic in a short presentation which was video-taped; I then used that as a post on my blog. First, I looked at what everyone else was saying (we need jobs) and then did some research to find evidence for why we make that assumption. Ultimately, what I found was that we’re the culprits of our own dissatisfaction with the system. It’s like having a rampant dislike for dogs and starting up an animal shelter. My message was that we want to do meaningful work – but it’s up to us to make sure that we do the right kind of meaningful work.
Constrain Yourself (Bon Crowder of Math Is Not A Four Letter Word mathfour.com)
Put specific constraints on yourself as a writer. One way is to create content in exactly 50 words. No more and no less. I’ve started a “50 Word Friday” routine on my blog. Every Friday I write a story, dialogue or editorial in exactly 50 words. It’s a fun challenge, and readers know that on Fridays they’re going to get super concise ideas to think about for the weekend.
Change Up Your Style (Rod Salm of DeathAtYourDoor.com)
In webcomics (which are essentially illustrative blogs) a change of pace in illustrative style definitely gets your readers attention. A completely different visual style, but with the same characters for continuity, is a time honored way to delight readers. This technique should be used sparingly as doing this too often will cause confusion as to what the regular format is (and the intent isn’t to confuse your readers). Try writing in a different style than you normally would in your blog. As an example you could write the blog as if you were replying to a letter or as if you were being interviewed in a question and answer style. Breaking up the writing style brings freshness to your blog, challenges you as a writer, and changes it up for your readers.
Build Reader Loyalty With Presentations (Sharon Hurley Hall of GetPaidtoWriteOnline.com)
When I looked around for a new way to present my writing services, I didn’t know it would spark one of my site’s most unique posts. I felt that my presentation needed some pizzazz, so I created some slides and imported them into Slideshare to create the slideshow that I built my post around. I then wrote a short post, with the presentation as its centrepiece, explaining briefly how I’d come to create the presentation and asking for feedback. What I learned from the process is that slides are a great way to deliver a visual message and make a good halfway house between text and video. You can animate slides, add music and even add audio when you get more creative. And readers love it when you get creative. It keeps them coming back for more.
Imitate the Masters (Jeremy Gregg of JeremyGregg.com)
One of the best tactics that I’ve used in my writing over the years (online and offline) has been writing “imitation pieces” of famous passages that resonate with my audience. Not only do they tap into an automatic fan base, but they allow for some strong imagery and powerful metaphors that might not otherwise be possible. For example, I recently wrote a piece describing the lunacy of working in the nonprofit. While generically comparing the sector to a mental ward might have been one tactic, I found it more compelling to describe it through the words of Alice’s notorious trip to Wonderland. You could easily write similar blogs using the famous opening passages of books like A Tale of Two Cities or The Hobbit, or even write an imitation of such well-known poems as William Carlos Williams’ “This is Just to Say.”
Teach Shamelessly (Joan Jacobsen of BabyBoomerWay.com)
One of my favorite ways to keep fit is to hula-hoop. I had previously posted a hula-hoop video on my website, however it really didn’t teach or captivate the audience. So I downloaded a How to Hoop rap song from Hoop Smiles and used that as my background music while I demonstrated to my readers the correct method in which to waist hoop. I received rave reviews from my followers with this simple tutorial (I even ran the post again just the other day). I’m not sure if it’s “out of the box’, but it is pretty funny viewing a 59 year-old hooping to rap. Whatever you decide to do, do it full out and be shameless.
Chart it Out (T. Shakirah Dawud of Deliberate Ink)
When I first started blogging, I was in search of a creative way to post without any fancy design or video-production knowledge. I created a table/grid-style blog post for fun, about a humorous topic I had in mind. Since I was new to the blogosphere with only a small following at the time, I wasn’t able to get many eyes on it, but the responses I did get were delighted by its creativity. It requires a little extra brain exercise to read than the regular post, and I had fun creating it. And finally, one from me…
Make it a Game (Me)
People love games, and there’s no better way to engage your readers than by asking them to participate in one. Depending on your topic, you could make either one of these work for you:
- Create a play-by-post. This is typically done in gaming and/or fiction writing communities, but it could be adapted to the B2B world with just a little tweaking.
- Hold a virtual treasure hunt where you have people hunt for the answers on your website, or other websites.
Offer a prize for the best contribution. Great prizes make wonderful incentives and can get you more exposure via social media.
What Do You Think?
Have you seen these ideas before? Are there others that you’ve seen, or done yourself? Please, share!