You’ve read I’m on LinkedIn. Now What? You’ve got your fifty LinkedIn Groups sorted out, and you have more than 500 contacts. You are officially operating in social media Ninja territory. But now you need Shipment. If you want to make an impact, you require high-quality Shipment.
Shipment, unsurprisingly, is the stuff you ship; it’s what you write, it’s what you actually produce. If you don’t produce much, you won’t achieve a lot. A highly effective way to create great Shipment is to write a blog.
Perhaps writing has never been your thing, and fine words don’t come easy. That doesn’t matter. For many people, driving wasn’t their thing; they still learned to drive. Playing piano wasn’t their natural gift, they still learned to play.
It’s the same with blogging; you just need to learn to blog. With conviction and passion.
I’m no blogmeister, but I do it fairly often, so here are my suggested steps for writing your blog posts.
But first, the terminology of the blogosphere. Each time you write a piece (say, 300 words) it’s a “post”. The complete collection of posts is your blog.
How do you get started? How do you decide what to write about?!
Let’s start with a question:
Everything extraordinary starts with “What if?”
“What if we could put all the songs you could ever listen to onto a phone and build in an amazing high definition camera?”
“What if we limited every message to 140 characters?”
“What if I run for President?
“What if (aged 19) I could write music so sublime it moves the listener to tears?”
“What if I had the courage to quit my job and pursue my vision – the one I’ve had for the last two years?”
Ask yourself: “What if I wrote a post about [ ]?” Fill in the space with whatever, right now, at this very moment, gets you passionate and inspired. It doesn’t matter whether you think you can write a great post, just write in the space:
“What if I wrote a great post about the urgent need for financial education in schools?”
“What if I wrote a post about what makes for incredible, powerful leadership?”
“What if I could write a post explaining why everyone should try fly fishing?”
Whatever you wrote in the “What if?” gap, that’s the topic for your post. If it inspires and challenges you, it has a good chance of inspiring and challenging your readers. Otherwise, it doesn’t.
You have your topic. Now you’re going to work out what to say. In the art and science of rhetoric, this is called “invention”. It’s collecting all the ideas you have in your head that you want to articulate in your post.
Write down SEVEN key concepts or points you absolutely need to get across. Read them through several times. Then cross out the TWO weakest points; the ones that least inspire. They have to go.
The five remaining points are your post.
But you’re not done yet.
In order to create your story board, you have to arrange your points.
Choose which of the five killer points should come first. It’s the one that sets the scene.
Let’s say you decide to open with this introductory point:
Lack of financial education in early life, means likely poverty in old age.
Use a series of short, dramatic or provocative statements. This opening is your “exordium“. It’s where you reach out and grab the reader’s attention. And you have just a few words in which to do it:
Ella is five years old. She will live to be one hundred. The last ten years of her life will be spent in total poverty without family or friends. And, although she will suffer and be afraid, she will remember none of it.
Then develop and explain this first point in a couple of further paragraphs.
Order your remaining four points to take your readers on a journey, ending with the climactic finale of triumph or disaster, in which they finally grasp your imperative: the importance of financial education from a young age:
It is the year 2108. Ella is one hundred years old. Though she is frail, she is happy. Though the weather is bitter and cold, she is warm. And though others go hungry, she does not.
You need to do it your way. You need your own style.
Whatever style you choose, your passion has to show up or your blog will rapidly join the ranks of largely ignored mediocrity served up daily on the web. No one reads it, no one cares, no one is moved by it and no one changes because of it.
So don’t be shy about using powerfully evocative language that inspires and enlarges and enriches. Avoid cliches like the plague.
Read your post out aloud to yourself, and listen to what you say, because that is what your readers will hear. Are there too many words? Cut them down. In your heart, you know that sentence is clumsily clunky. Write it again. Do your words inspire? They should.
Ask someone else to read your post- listen to their comments. If you don’t like what they say, ask someone different. If they tell you the same thing, there’s something you need to fix. So fix it. Your post will be better. Find a friend who is a good writer and ask them to read your stuff. Write down what they tell you and reflect on what they say. Feedback is the food of champions.
You don’t need to be Shakespeare or Sebastian Faulkes. But your writing does need to be compelling and clear, insightful and passionate. Beauty and elegance are helpful, but optional. Insight and passion are not.
Even in the shortest post, you are creating a work of art and, like all art, your work needs careful revision and subtle shading before it truly conveys your message. At the very least, that means no spelling mitsakes and no misplaced apostrophe’s.
None. Really; I mean none.
When you read your post out aloud, and you finally feel the passion rise and the wind filling your sails, that’s when you know your Shipment is ready to ship.
exordium: The introduction of a speech, where one announces the subject and purpose of the discourse, and where one usually employs the persuasive appeal of ethos in order to establish credibility with the audience.