Write It Right

by Ian Doescher

 

As I sat down to write my blog article this morning, several different possible topics suggested themselves in my head:

  1. The weather in Portland (subtitle: Please Send Sunshine!)
  2. Cabin fever (strongly related to #1)
  3. Martin Luther King Jr. (it was just his day, and my family and I watched Selma together last night)
  4. The upcoming presidential inauguration
  5. My family’s current process of finding a new dog (I may still write on this at some point!)
  6. The current Facebook trend of sharing 10 albums that influenced you as a teenager

“Wow!” I thought to myself, “That’s a lot of possible topics.” And there was the answer: don’t write on a single topic, but take a step back and write about how to decide what to write about. In other words: what should you be writing your next blog article about? Whether you are faced with too many options (like I was this morning) or with no options, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  1. Is it interesting? This is the most important question. Is the topic you have in mind something your blog readers will be interested to read about? I could write extensive articles about many things that interest me—which Barry Manilow songs I think are the best, or detailing every instance of iambic pentameter in the Gettysburg Address, or offering my opinion about why I supported the 1994 Best Picture Oscar going to Forrest Gump instead of Pulp Fiction—but those topics aren’t likely to interest the readers of the Pivot blog. Remember, in almost every case you are writing blog articles for your audience, not for yourself.
  2. Is it relevant? In general, blogs should be timely. They are written at a certain time and in a certain place, and they should be relevant to that time and place. If I wrote a blog entry about why I think Taylor Swift’s song “We Are Never Getting Back Together” is so good, it might be interesting but it wouldn’t be particularly relevant. That song came out five years ago, and blogs should reflect the current time (or the very recent past).
  3. Is it appropriate? This doesn’t apply to every blog, but is your article appropriate? Is it too controversial? Are you using language that might upset your readers? Again, with some blogs being controversial or using expletives isn’t a problem—that might be what people expect and want from your blog. But, in most cases (especially for company’s blogs), you’ll need to ask yourself if what you are writing about is an appropriate representation of your company. I could have written about #4 on my list above, but just about no matter what I said it probably wouldn’t have been right for the Pivot blog.
  4. Is it related to your goals? The question of appropriateness starts getting at this final question: is the article you are writing consistent with your company’s goals? Is it consistent with your brand and where you are trying to go? If so, that’s great, but if not, it’s time to think of a different idea. Your blog shouldn’t be a free-for-all; your company and your blog should have goals that each article helps to fulfill.

Hopefully, the next time you’re thinking of an idea or trying to decide among ideas, these questions will give you some guidance. Enjoy! And if you’re looking for me, I’ll be huddled in front of my fireplace trying to keep warm from the snow and ice outside.

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