Style Guide

Stylesheet for creating blogs for Buzzvalve.

Style and Structure

Structure of blogs
1. The headline

Keep the headlines short and crisp. Include the main keyword in the title.

2. The Trigger/The hook 

Always start with one or two of the following:

  • An anecdote/ a real-life example 
  • A current popular subject in the industry/social media/B2B marketing
  • A personal experience with the team/discussions/lessons 
  • A strong opinion/perspective on a research/stats 

Check out how Animalz got the hook right in this blog

NOTE: Avoid quoting the obvious or predictable beginnings. For instance, if the subject is: How to form good business relations, don’t start with what business relations is. Instead start with an example of an actual business interaction you had with someone in a conference and what that entailed. 

3. The main message summary 

After the hook, come to the point quickly. Tell the WHY here. Why are you dwelling on this specific topic? What’s the need? There can be exceptions to this but come to the main message summary quickly. This is the point where your readers will decide whether they want to read the whole thing or not. So make it count. 

INSPIRATION: Start with Why by Simon Sinek

4. The Body

Divide the whole blog into points and sub-points. A few things to include:

  • As far as possible, SHOW your readers, DON'T just TELL. 
  • Show them through screenshots, quote examples of B2B companies who have tried/done it. 
  • Give information in easily digestible chunks, use text boxes with quotes, sub-headings, tables, graphs.  
5. The Final Thought 

Always give a parting thought to your readers. Again, don't quote the obvious. Try to do one or two of the following:

  • Give them action points. 
  • Seek feedback or opinion. 
  • Include caveats if they are applicable in the given topic. 
  • Give them Buzzvalve’s way of doing things. 

Research & authority

Formatting for typographic elements inside the Rich Text Element.
1. Quote stats and surveys organically as part of the narrative

Example 1 - In one European survey, about 70 percent of executives from Austria, Germany, and Switzerland said …...

Example 2 - Consider how Asian banks have swiftly migrated physical channels online. How healthcare providers have moved rapidly into telehealth, insurers into self-service claims assessment, and retailers into contactless shopping and delivery.

  • Use authentic research and stats sources 
  • Hyperlink them properly, cross-check all the links before submitting the blog 
  • DO NOT quote stats for the heck of it. 
  • Readers are interested in a perspective/your take about those stats than the stats themselves. 
2. Quote the application/take-away/deduction out of research

When you quote a research - ask this - how does this help the reader in his/her business? How is this stats adding to my blog/perspective?

3. Avoid too many definitions

The topic of content/digital marketing is familiar and many terms are in common use now. In a longer blog/pillar post or even a shorter blog, instead of defining what ‘content strategy’ is, just list the things it involves. For instance, instead of saying ‘Content Strategy is the process of”….., say “Content Strategy involves businesses pouring in their resources…..”. Even if it is a definition, it shouldn’t sound like one. 

Tonality & communique

Some pointers
1. Find the sweet spot

Make sure you use short sentences.  Do not circumvent. Learn to sound not too casual but not too complicated. Long complicated sentences frustrate readers. Most people don’t read, they skim and just want information. 

2. Use analogies wherever appropriate

Example 1 - The idea farm: How to sow, grow, and harvest great blog post ideas 

Example 2 - Why can readers smell fakes a mile away?

3. Talk about your own team

How does your team/company work? Any rules that you follow that may be relevant/applicable in the blog? What are the peculiarities? That will feel like you are selling yourself organically in the blog. How did we do it? Share team anecdotes, examples. 

4. Use ‘absolutes’ to the minimum

Instead of saying things like “The ultimate, the most important aspect”, write things like - “this may seem, an important aspect, a vital point”. This builds credibility. Less number of superlatives will make your blog a smoother read. Few superlatives = More credibility. 

5. Make it personal

Once in a while, talk about personal experiences in the blog, including personal memoirs, anecdotes, even if those are written in third person. 

6. Language
  • Use readable language, shorter sentences as far as possible. 
  • If you are not sure of a sentence, an idea or concept - DO NOT write it. When you are 100% convinced about something, the authority shows naturally in the writing. 
  • DO NOT use casual/spoken phrases such as ‘stuff’, ‘guys’, ‘these people, those people’ etc. 

SEO

Some pointers
1. Title

The focus keyword in the headline

2. Metadata

Focus Keyword + Call to action + Brand Name

3. Words

100- 125 words

4. Keywords

One focus keyword and 3 secondary keywords.

5. Keyword Implementation

In the first and last paragraph mandatorily. In H2.

6. External Linking

Relevant internal links at least one for each sub paragraph.

7. External Linking

At least 1 for each subtopic.

8. SEO Keywords

Ones with high CTR but lower PPC. Also including long tail keywords.

9. Other

Anchored texts and links in the images.

Imagery & graphics

Some pointers
1. Use screenshots

show them how someone else has done it. Like this -

2. Use tables

for exhaustive stats or information. Like this -

3. Use infographics

either as the summary of the blog (so it can be repurposed later in newsletters or social media) or when you need to list down too many things in the blog.

4. Use text boxes
If you are quoting say Harvard Business Review’s summary or a psychology/anthropology professor or expert, put that quote inside a box. Like this.

Formatting guidelines

Some pointers
1. Blog Title

Maximum 60 characters (to keep the title length within two lines for correct alignment on main blog page)

2. Header image

HD image preferably from Unsplash

3. Body Image

1600x1200px to align with the blog design with the BUZZVALVE templates. Center alignment.

4. Paragraph Space

Single space between each new paragraph

5. Paragraph Heading

H3

6. Paragraph Sub-Heading

H4

7. Paragraph Sub-Heading

H5

8. Categories

Maximum 3 categories (for correct alignment on main blog page)

Grammar, punctuation, & capitalisation

Some pointers
1. British English

So colour, not color, organisation not organization etc

2. Capitalisation rules

The usual rules of capitalising apply but a few other pointers:

  • DO NOT capitalise a term in the middle of a sentence. Such as Content Writing, Capital Market. 
  • Headlines: Only the first letter and proper nouns should be capitalised. Everything else is small. 
  • Do not capitalise after a colon 
  • Capitalise the first letter of the first word inside a quote. 
  • Capitalise days, months NOT seasons 
  • Capitalise first letters of all words in titles of books, movies, research paper names but only the first letter in the title of an article. 
  • A term or terminology does not need capitalization in most cases. There can be exceptions. 
  • Do not capitalise all the first letters of words in sub-heads or sub-titles. Just capitalise the first letter of the FIRST WORD.
3. Word list

Use vocabulary that DOES NOT need the readers to Google the meaning.

Surprise the readers

Suggestions
1. Once a month

An actual case study  how Buzzvalve and its partnership with a client nailed thought leadership. 

2. Team collab story

A personalised first-person account from one team member explaining about a certain type/strategy of content that became phenomenal.

3. What we are reading

Once a month, just share excerpts of some phenomenal content practises that inspired Team Buzzvalve.

How to make our content sound more sophisticated?

Suggestions
1. Replace ``Don'ts”

The level of our readers is such, we cannot afford to sound ‘instructive’. We must sound ‘suggestive’ instead. One of the biggest things to do is replace ‘don'ts' from the blog with alternative, more respectful ways of saying it.

Examples -

Don’t
Alternatives

Don’t create content without making a proper content calendar.

It is advisable to not waste any energy in creating content without having a proper content calendar. 
Or
Creating content without making a proper calendar rarely yields the expected results. 
Or
Creating content without a proper content calendar must be off-limits. 

2. Replace spoken English with written

Unlike the usual language of most famous blogs around the world, we need to sound formal and written. Let's not write how we speak, let's write how it should be written. Old school ways. This is why we are following British English. But it’s silly to write all the British spellings but still sound very much like an American. It’s okay when this entails we use passive voice on occasions. 

Examples - 

Spoken
Alternatives

If you have a business that can drive an audience through educational content on your blog, you have got it right.

Businesses that can drive a readership through educational content may benefit from blogging in some form or another.

Keep sentences as short as possible.

It is best to keep sentences as short as possible.

3. Try not to stuff in too many ideas in one sentence

Take one or two ideas/suggestions and dwell on them in a smoothly flowing sentence. It is not about shorter sentences here, it is about sentences that read well and help the reader to remember the one or two ideas that you have discussed. 

4. Strictly follow the rules of parallelism

This link has excellent examples. 

5. Replace ‘cans’ with ‘may’

Our readers may know the potential of some tips already, so they know what those things ‘can do’. We may sound condescending when we write - “A great blog can drive traffic, build sales funnel….”. Instead, we must say - “A great blog may drive traffic, build sales…” or “A great blog has the potential to drive traffic, build sales….” This is balanced, mature and written English. 

6. Our tips must not sound like guns

making so much noise and little difference. Our tips must sound like a .22- Calibre rifle that can kill the target without much noise or pain. We need to go deeper into our readers’ minds. 

7. Try not to use ‘you’ and ‘yours’

while referring to the business, as it sounds instructional. Instead use ‘we’ or ‘the company’ to sound more suggestive. For instance - “Your businesses will do well if you focus on achieving one aspect at a time for best results.“ This sounds too instructive and forced. “Businesses will do well if they focus on achieving one aspect at a time for best results.” This sounds more suggestive and sophisticated. 

8. Try to use his or her

instead of them/their when referring to freelancers or employees in the singular cases. Example: It is reasonable to assume that a fulfilled freelancer performing his or her choice of work will be more productive than an exhausted in-house employee. Instead of- It is reasonable to assume that a fulfilled freelancer performing their choice of work will be more productive than an exhausted in-house employee. 


9. Using numerical value v/s Alphabetical value

When used independently without an additional numerical value, numbers between 1-10 must be written in alphabetical form. Example - Two companies; five directors, three days, four points etc. But when these values (1-10) are followed by additional integers/values such as hundred, million etc, then use numerical values. Example: The number of freelancers have increased by 4 million since 2014. Instead of- The number of freelancers have increased by four million since 2014.

Rules of Pronouns

Some pointers
1. Second person pronouns

You v/s We: Pronoun “You” to be avoided completely, including headlines. ‘We’ can be used whenever necessary, however. The alternative being the pronoun “One”. 

2. Use of pronouns with ‘Everyone’ and ‘Everybody'

Everyone and everybody are singular pronouns and hence will take their respective possessive cases: his or her and NOT their. Also the format to say his/her would be his or her. Same is the case with their verb forms: singular verbs with these two. 

Reference: Cambridge dictionary 

3. Use of ‘One’

When using ‘one’(as in someone) in subjective or objective cases, use singular verb forms and use its respective possessive pronoun ie. one’s NOT their. 

4. Use of singular subjects such as freelancer, employee

These are singular subjects, hence verb forms and pronouns will be singular i.e - 
 A freelancer uses his or her knowledge of resources…….[See Point 7 above]. 

5. Use of singular subjects such as business and company

Most grammar books including Wren and Martin say business or company is both singular as well as plural. As a result, both singular and plural verbs are correct and both singular and plural pronouns (its/their) are correct. But as for BUZZVALVE, let us keep the rule of ‘their’ and plural verbs with business or company. 

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