“What even is a blog?”, “Why would I write a blog?”, “I wouldn’t know where to start writing a blog”, are all things I hear regularly. As a travel writer - who has written over 1,000 blogs – I understand the confusion and sometimes reluctance to buy into blogs. But a good blog is a brilliant way to tell people – all types of people, not just millennials – about an island like Arran and the brilliant experiences and businesses there.
What even is a blog?
So first things first, what actually is a blog? There is no mystery here: a blog is simply a story told online. Traditionally blogs were written by the person who owns the website, but over the years they’ve mushroomed into guest blogs too: writing for other people’s websites, like I’ve done for Visit Arran and indeed I’m doing here. Yes, there are short and long blogs; first person blogs and third person blogs. But at the heart of them all is a story and the best blog stories are told by real people with real passion for a place. Here is an example I penned for my own site on Arran - http://www.insiderscotland.com/arran-the-island-that-constantly-reinvents-itself.
Over the last couple of decades I’ve set up my own website (www.insiderscotland.com), with lots of blogs on there, and also blogged for the likes of Visit Scotland, CalMac, Wild About Argyll, Historic Scotland and the National Trust for Scotland amongst many others – click here for an example. All of those companies have warmed to the idea of blogs, as most people do when they embrace blogging.
One major type of blog that is not everyone’s cup of tea is the ‘listicle’, often refereed to as the ‘dreaded listicle’. This SEO-friendly format (don’t stress too much about SEO – Search Engine Optimisation - as a natural feel is more important) runs through a list of things, often 10, such as ’10 great places to view wildlife on Arran’. For an example on Arran see www.insiderscotland.com/8-reasons-arran-is-the-winter-island-for-you.
These listicles are either loved or loathed by readers, but they can be a handy way to grab people’s attention, with the hope they’ll dive deeper once you’ve got them hooked.
Why would I write a blog?
I meet a lot of people who say they ‘don’t have time’ to write a blog. I understand you may be massively busy, but a blog isn’t a waste of time, rather an investment of time. Your words will travel far beyond your screen, reaching audiences on the other side of the Shiskine Valley and far beyond. It’s a great feeling when you get feedback from someone, whether from Saltcoats or Seoul, who has been inspired to visit because of you. Imagine then the buzz when that someone is standing right in front of you on Arran, the person you inspired - through the picture you drew of Arran - to come.
For businesses blogs are then a huge opportunity to showcase what you do as well as the highlights of where you live. And they are easy to audit too as stats reveal who has been reading it and where they live. This can come up with some surprisingly results. Glancing at InsiderScotland this morning I saw we’d had visits from 37 countries in the last month.
On to the actual writing. This can be the one thing that really puts prospective bloggers off. But you don’t need to be Robert Burns or William Shakespeare to pen a blog. The whole point of it is you are writing something very natural and often personal, so just write and worry about editing it later. Blogs are generally written in a very relaxed style – I approach them not like I’m writing a weighty broadsheet newspaper article, more like I am just chatting to a friend.
Writing a blog
In general try to keep sentences short and simple. Language too. It often rains on Arran, even raining twice in the same sentence, but it never precipitates, nor should it. If you would never say it don’t write it in a blog. Subheads can be useful too to help guide the reader around the blog and break up a wall of text. Strong photos really help as they draw people in and aid your text by offering an actual image to go with the mental one you’ve shared.
One major factor in your writing about Arran is… Arran. I never find it hard to write about the island as there are so many layers, so tell people about them. Don’t presume they will already know about the seals en route to Corrie, or the basking sharks that sometimes grace Arran, nor art trails, great new places to eat, llamas you can go for a walk with and so on. And on and on. Arran has things to write about in spades, so go for it. Use your blog to shout about Arran to the world.
I know blogs can be a little daunting if you’re new to them and we’re all so busy, but they really do deliver results. Results that is for the whole island of Arran, but also for your corner of it and your own business too. What are you waiting for?