Kathryn Vercillo on How to Write Blogs

We asked professional blogger Kathryn Vercillo for her advice on how to write blogs.

Kathryn Vercillo is a freelance writer who provides blogging services to a wide range of clients. You can reach her at kathryn.vercillo (at) gmail.com.

A Conversation with Kathryn Vercillo

Q: How did you come to start your freelance blogging business?

A: I had been a freelance writer for several years when I sort of fell into blogging. In looking for freelance jobs I saw that a lot of sites were starting to ask for blogging help. One of my clients asked if I could assist with this so I decided to learn more about it. What I learned was that I really loved doing it.

Although I still enjoy doing other writing, I especially love blog writing. I like the interactivity of it – the social sharing, commenting, etc. I also like the quick to-the-point nature of a blog post as compared to a longer research-rich article. Of course, you do need to research to make sure that a blog post is accurate but the writing style is less dense and more reader-friendly than with professional articles.

As both my passion and experience for the blog format grew I realized that this was a skill that I could offer to small businesses. Many small business owners don’t understand the purpose of a blog or how to make one work for them in a profitable way. I do understand that so it’s an area that I can help with while doing work I enjoy.

"Add value with your personal opinion and tips. The only way that your post is a real success is if you do more than re-hash a story, and the way to do that is to add your own two cents."

- Kathryn Vercillo on How to Write Blogs

Q: Could you describe some of the different types of blogs you've written for yourself and for clients?

A: I have kept a few blogs for myself over the years and then let them go as I learned about different blogging techniques and purposes. I had two different blogs on aspects of San Francisco life, or example. I have both a general blog and a blog about writing / freelancing, which I update sporadically. My favorite personal blog, however, isCrochet Concupiscence, my blog about all things crochet. There is more crochet news than you might imagine and I think niche topic blogs on things that truly interest you are the best type of blogs you can write. I devote a lot of time and energy to that one.

As for clients, my favorite thing to do is to work with small (local, when possible) businesses to develop blogs in their niche. For example I worked with a clothing company on a T-shirt blog, which was really fun. Another example is a lighting company blog where I do in-depth posts to assist people in improving their home lighting. These niche blogs allow me to help my clients while exploring topics that may be new to me. I also contribute posts to a number of different established blogs, mostly in the areas of personal finance, technology (particularly mobile phone technology) and travel.

Q: What are some keys to a successful blog post?

A: This depends on what your goal is for the post so the first thing that you should do before writing a post is to identify what the goal is. Do you want to highlight a specific product? Are you trying to gain social media attention? Do you want to generate content that is going to rank high on Google? Your aim helps to dictate what type of post you should write. For example, you might write a flashy post on a hot trending topic to get immediate social media buzz whereas you would probably write an in-depth long tail topic article if your goal were to increase Google search rankings.

That said; there are certainly some things that most successful blog posts have in common. Those things include:

  • Add value with your personal opinion and tips. Every topic has been covered on the web hundreds of times. The only way that your post is a real success is if you do more than re-hash a story and the way to do that is to add your own two cents.
  • Do your research. Support what you say with facts, statistics and quotes and properly cite the sources that you used.
  • Make a single point. Think about the five-paragraph essay when you write a blog post. What is your thesis sentence and what are your three supporting points? You won’t necessarily write in this format but outlining your post in this way helps you to stay focused. Otherwise you may just go off on tangents that won’t interest your readers.
  • A call to action. Encourage readers to respond to the post through a thoughtful question or request for response.

Take the time to identify blogs that you especially enjoy reading. Figure out why you like them. Incorporate what you learn into writing your own posts!

Q: What are some mistakes to avoid when blogging?

A: There are lots of mistakes that can be made when blogging but you’ll learn from most of them as you go. Some key tips to help, though, are:

  • Never lie or fudge the facts in your blog posts. It will always come back to haunt you.
  • Don’t rant, attack others or complain without offering solutions. People don’t want to read negativity for long!
  • Ignore negative comments or respond to them politely. Don’t get engaged in a battle with your readers.
  • Make sure that you understand and use social media and marketing techniques. A blog takes a lot of work so you don’t want to do all that work and then not have anyone reading it.
"Encourage readers to respond to the post through a thoughtful question or request for response."

- Kathryn Vercillo on How to Write Blogs

Q: Could you talk about developing a blogging "voice"?

A: In general I think that your voice will come through if you write from the heart. Write as though you are speaking to a friend. Be honest and open.

However, as a business strategy, there is value in honing your blogging voice. To do that, you should ask yourself what the aim of your blog is, what the mission statement of your business is and what your core ethical values are as a business owner. Review those things each time that you edit a blog post to make sure that each post supports all of those things. A simple example is a green business owner who has started a blog to raise awareness about their products. Every single post should be in line with green values, offer an eco-friendly tip and link to a product. The voice that emerges is a green business voice that interested customers will understand relate to.

Q: Any other advice for someone who is thinking of starting a blog?

A: It is important to realize that the majority of blogs that are started last less than three months. People often don’t realize what hard work a blog is. If you are passionate about your topic then the work will be fun but there will still be a lot of it. In addition to coming up with ideas for regular posts you will need to do the writing, learn about adding tags and categories and SEO stuff, update your widgets and themes periodically, promote the work through social media, network with other bloggers in your blog topic area, etc. If you are only starting a blog because you think that you need one for your business then it is worth it to hire someone who does that type of work because it really can be a full-time job.

"Your voice will come through if you write from the heart. "

- Kathryn Vercillo on How to Write Blogs

How to Write Blogs - Next Steps

Did you enjoy this interview on how to write blogs? You might also like our interview with blogger Cynthia Harrison about her creative writing blog, A Writer's Diary.

More on how to write a blog

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