Rule number one that we all learned back in grade school writing class still holds true today: know your audience. If you take away anything from this article, know this...small business owners barely have time to read the things that they are supposed to read for their JOB! So if your plan is to write a blog article that will appeal to small business owners (like me for instance), I would recommend a few dos and don'ts before you let us know what's on your mind:
DO: Write 1600 words or less.
I would say this is a general rule but I have to be honest....I am going to stick this in the absolutely imperative category. I cannot remember the last time I sat down and seriously read any blog that was more than 1300 - 1600 words. When I am saddled with having to read entire manuals to learn the next new thing in the next few days, I am not interested in reading a blog that is the same length as the O'Reilly book sitting in front of me.
Get the point, quickly. 1200 words is fine, anything more than 1600 words doesn't buy you much and is really too long. Or as one of my former commanding officers once said "when you are giving a presentation, 'Be Brief, Be Brilliant, Be GONE!'" Do the same thing when writing for a small business owner.
DON'T: Give Us (Just) Your Opinion or Share an Observation
Chances are pretty good that we don't care what you think. The moment I see an article that is nothing more than some "expert" giving us his or her opinion on "the industry", I find something better to do. Small business owners are smart, we know how to research facts and make up our own mind. We don't need you making it up for us.
And don't try to "share an observation" in the industry either. This is just your opinion masquerading as wisdom or knowledge. I see this all to often, especially when sales and marketing people are trying to push a product or service in their article. We know what you are trying to do. If you want to sell us something, then tell us about what problem you solve, why it is a problem and why you solve this problem better than anyone else. If you can do this, it would be useful and helpful. This leads me to the next tip...
DO: Offer Help
You want to know the quickest way to a small business owners heart? Find a problem they normally encounter and give them a clear, concise guide on how to fix it. You will have a friend for life if you can do that. Step by step solution guides are terrific, but it doesn't have to be just this. See the "don't" up above?
Well, you can actually give more than just an opinion that will really help. A helpful opinion would be one that helps guide us to solving a problem. Here is an example "When should you use JPG vs. PNG on a website." This ultimately gives an opinion, but it is one that people can use for more than just buying whatever you are trying to sell.
DON'T: Go too heavy on links in your blog article
This goes back to time constraints. If every other sentence you write forces me to open up another tab in the browser to read another 1200 word article just so I can understand what you are talking about, I am going to lose interest and patience. Remember....small business owners don't have time. A few links are OK and even necessary. And I get that you need to back up the claims you are making and the sites you are linking to may be thankful for the link. But please do not use the precious time of small business owners to further your backlink strategy ('hey, I just mentioned you in my article, can you link back to me???') If you have to include more than 3 links, you would be better off splitting your article up into several articles or just curating the content you are referring to in the links.
DO: Narrow Your Focus
If your small business owner only has time for 1200 words or less, how much territory do you think you can cover? Tackling a subject like 'Why a CRM is good for small business' is better as an EBook, not a blog article. A better topic for 1200 words would be 'How to integrate your web contact form into HubSpot in
under 3 minutes'. The other reason you need to keep focus: your expertise shines brighter on a smaller stage. Writers that try to tackle wide topics in 1200 words never get beneath the depth of a dilettante, even if they are an expert. Show how well you know something that's small and important.
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