Want to start a blog? Need to start one to promote your business? More than 152 million blogs already exist. How do you make yours stand out?
You could just buy a domain, monetize it and start scribbling on the virtual screen. Maybe you’ll luck out and go viral.
No, you won’t. To be worth following, you’ve got to be worth reading.
A strong blog can add revenue as your side gig, supplement your company’s bottom line, or be an effective marketing tool to customers.
That’s why my friend, journalist and acclaimed personal finance blogger, Donna Freedman created Write A Blog People Will Read, an online course that will teach even the most uncertain would-be writer how to find a confident and unique style.
“Your blog can do more than merely entertain. It can be a translator, hand-holder and game-changer – but only if it gets read,” Freedman says.
Donna is one of the best writers and bloggers and I know hundreds of bloggers. She’s also funny and down to earth. I’ve read part of her writing course, and even I learned something new. If you need helping blogging, this is definitely worth the (relatively small) investment.
2.1 seconds to hook a reader
“One of my MSN Money editors told me that you get just 2.1 seconds to grab a reader’s attention. You can’t do that if your blog is wordy, poorly organized or just badly written.”
Write A Blog People Will Read is a 12-part program that you complete at your own pace vs. being held to an instruction schedule.
Among the essentials you’ll learn are how to…
- Make your point quickly, clearly and irresistibly
- Focus, then flow
- Find a voice without being annoying
- Speak directly to readers
- Tell people why they should care
- Never run out of ideas
- Discover ways even the busiest person can find time to write
- Avoid burnout
Freedman does a program on writing each year at the Financial Blogger Conference – and each year, people approach her with some variation of this statement:
“I want to be a better writer but I don’t know how.”
That’s why she put together this course: to show people how. People who want to make money from their writing have to spend some first, on things like a great theme, a domain and blog hosting. All are business expenses.
So is Write A Blog People Will Read. A one-time investment of $147 brings bloggers the benefit of 30 years’ worth of professional writing experience.
About course author Donna Freedman
Freedman was a newspaper journalist for 18 years before originating the “Smart Spending” and “Frugal Nation” blogs for MSN Money. She wrote blog posts and personal finance columns there for nearly seven years. During three of those years she was also a staff writer at Get Rich Slowly, one of the Internet’s most popular PF blogs.
Freedman has published writing articles in The Writer, Assignments, and Children’s Writer. Her freelance work has appeared in dozens of newspapers and magazines, from Quail Unlimited to The New York Times Review of Books, and on blogs such as Wise Bread, Insurance.com, Straight Talk (Ally Bank), Experian News, Block Talk (H&R Block), Daily Worth, Women & Co. (CitiBank), The Real Deal (Retail Me Not) and Daily Worth.
She’s won tons of awards, too
During her 30-year career she has won both regional and national awards from organizations such as Society of Professional Journalists, the Association for Women in Communications, the Society of American Travel Writers, the Women’s Sports Foundation, and the American College of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology.
Go straight to Donna’s writing course.
Q&A with the author
Q. Why a course for blog writers?
A. Plenty of info is out there about the mechanics of blogging, such as how to do a podcast or which plugins to use. But blogging isn’t just about tactics. It’s also about technique.
More than 152 million blogs exist. What makes the successful ones work? Those blogging mechanics, to be sure – but good writing is essential, too. Currently the blogosphere is top-heavy with sites that are dull, wordy, badly organized or irrelevant. Why should someone take time out of his or her busy day to read this kind of thing? To be worth following, you’ve got to be worth reading.
Q. What’s the biggest misconception about blogging?
A. That it’s easy. Like anything else worth doing, creating a good website takes work. Some people still seem to believe you can slap together a blog, monetize it, and then sit back and watch the money roll in.
Q. Does that mean blogging is too hard for most of us?
A. Not at all. If you truly want to reach people, you can learn to do it. Plenty of bloggers don’t have any formal training in writing or journalism. I don’t have any myself; in fact, I didn’t get a college degree until I was 52 years old. Although I’ve never taken a single writing course, I was an award-winning print journalist for 18 years, freelanced for magazines, and then started the Smart Spending and Frugal Nation blogs for MSN Money.
Q. What makes blog writing different than journalism?
A. My editor at MSN Money told me bloggers have just 2.1 seconds to grab a writer’s attention. Sure, you can tease them over with effective SEO or a clickbait headline. But if you want readers to stick around, you need good writing. Powerful, intriguing, entertaining, impossible-to-ignore, all-around-swell writing.
That’s not to say that newspaper and magazine readers will spend a ton of time reading an article that’s slow to get started. But they’re kind of stuck with the source, whereas with the Internet a single click instantly takes readers back to their search engine results. If you don’t grab their attention right away, they’ll go look for a site that gives them what they need from the get-go.
Another thing that makes blogging different: Unlike print journalists, we have the blessing/curse of immediacy. We get to weigh on what happens while it’s still happening, instead of waiting for the next day’s issue. But that immediacy makes for fickle readers. If they’re looking for current info and you don’t give it to them in a readable way, they’re gone – and they might never come back. The better you write, the better your site.
Q. How long will it take to get through the course?
A. That’s up to you. Write A Blog People Will Read is a 12-part course. You can move through the lessons as quickly or as slowly as you like. Personally, I’d recommend doing a quick read of each section and then going back to focus on the key points to compare what you’re learning with the way you currently write. Those who haven’t started blogging yet can use those points to create their game plans, e.g., “How I will look for topics” or “Ways I’ll make time to write even though I’m already very busy.” (People who make their entire living through blogging are still relatively rare.)
Another reason to do a quick read and then a slower focus is that it will make the course assignments easier to complete. You’re supposed to use everything you’ve learned that day – and also previous ones – to improve your writing. That’s harder to do if you’ve just galloped through the lesson.
Q. Assignments? Does this mean you have to turn in homework?
A. No! Each lesson does have an assignment, but it’s not for me – it’s for you, the writer. Many of them could become blog posts you can publish.
Q. Can this course help entrepreneurs or those who blog for their day jobs?
A. Yes. Putting up a blog about your business is a great way to explain what it is you do. Obviously it will describe the services you offer, but it can also demystify your industry. Suppose you’re a financial planner. Your blog could include articles on topics like ways to save for your child’s college education, how much insurance a family needs or a proposed change in retirement funding options. If you work for a company and your boss expects you to write for the company blog, the same 2.1 seconds apply. Create posts that read well and you will be well-read.
Q. Is it possible to get one-on-one instruction?
A. You bet. I have just added a “coaching” string to my professional fiddle. It’s not a long-term commitment, though. Rather than keep clients in the teacher-student dynamic indefinitely, I’ve got a get-in-get-out-get-on-with-it model:
- We discuss (briefly, by phone or e-mail) what you’re trying to do with your work.
- You choose three samples (published or not) that you’re not happy with and send them to me.
- I read the pieces, critique them and send them back for review.
- Finally, we have a one-hour telephone conversation about issues that popped up in the critique, and brainstorm tactics to get you past those stumbling blocks. That’s it. We’re done.
Although it is possible for coaching clients to check back in later if they like, my goal isn’t to keep people on the string indefinitely. It’s to help them figure out, as quickly as possible, what’s keeping them from doing the kind of writing they want to publish on their sites. Thirty years’ experience + a fresh set of eyes on your words = a professional GPS to get you back on the road toward a website with a confident, unique voice. Get started here.