We know that providing great content is important to our online marketing strategy, but writing that content can be a burden. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 76% of small businesses (under 100 employees) have one or no dedicated content marketers. And when you are a small business owner responsible for running all aspects of your business, time is a precious commodity. Setting aside time to write content for your blog is not high on your list.
Why do we create blog content in the first place?
When you write blog content, you realize major benefits that include:
- To provide information that solves a problem that attracts our ideal clients. Helping people solve their problems with no strings attached helps build trust.
- To educate our audience. When you publish content that helps solve their problem, they tend to come back for more, strengthening the online relationship that is building between you and your readers.
- To establish our expert reputation, raise our visibility and drive more traffic to our website.
Content marketing is an important part of our inbound marketing plan. We need to constantly produce quality content that attracts our ideal client. We appreciate anything that can help us improve our writing skills and shorten the time it takes to write blog content quickly and efficiently.
Get organized before you write
Some people can just dive in and write a great blog post. But that may not work for most of us. You need to be prepared and organized before you start writing.
It’s important to have a list of 50 to 100 blog post topics before you start to post. What often happens is that new bloggers get excited about blogging, write a few posts and then stop. They’ve run out of ideas.
- Maintain a topic list – it is best to never start with a blank page. Get ideas by searching the web and reading other blogs. Look at Google Search Console for keyword phrases that people use.
- Develop a content calendar and keep adding to the list. You don’t have to write them all, but having a list of ideas can spark that creativity when you are struggling to put words into a blank post.
- Research before you write – eliminate disruptions that break your concentration
- Eliminate distractions – close your email / social media sites and don’t answer the phone
- Write where you get inspired – outdoors, a coffee shop or quiet office; pick what works for you
Organize your content into topic clusters and focus on one topic at a time. Start writing the pillar page that will link to other pages covering various aspects of that topic. This pillar page should give you enough ideas that can keep you writing for a while.
Having a solid list of topics also helps you pick the one you are energized to write about. The more interesting the topic, the easier it will be to focus on researching and writing about it.
Create an outline of your post
Now pick a topic and before you start writing, research your topic using Thruuu, an analysis tool that scrapes the top-ranking pages in Google for a specific keyword. It gives you comprehensive insights about your competition content and details about the Search Engine Result Page (SERP) of Google.
Using this data, you can now create an outline. It will help you write the initial draft faster than if you write aimlessly. Your outline should include at least the:
- Introduction – The opening of your post, after the title, is the next area to draw in your reader. Use emotion, statistics, a famous quote, ask a question or tell a story.
- Supporting content – Write the rest of the post sentence by sentence, making sure there is relevance to the topic at hand. Make sure each sentence passes the “So What?” test as this will make sure each sentence adds to the value of the post and isn’t just fluff.
- Call to action – What do you want your audience to do? You can ask them to share the post on their favorite social platform, provide them something to sign up for your email list or you can direct them, using related post plugins, to other posts on your blog.
Feel free to add more areas to your outline if that helps.
Write your blog content
The most important aspect of your content is that it provides value to your audience. Writing thin, short content or long, confusing content is not going to help you. Don’t waste your time trying to implement SEO on this type of blog content. Instead, write something that is easy to consume but provides the answers to the reader’s questions.
It takes some work to write compelling blog content. Your content should grab the attention of your reader and encourage them to take action. Write content that educates your visitors and helps them better understand the solution to their problem. Content that attracts more traffic will get more visibility and therefore, will encourage more backlinks.
Create a targeted post that helps your audience find the answers they need. Write as many words as you need to completely cover the particular aspect of your topic. And then add the right media – images, video or podcast recording – to enhance the experience.
Choose the right format for your post. Is your post a how to guide, a comprehensive list, a tutorial, case study or a review? Here are some popular blog post types and formats to help you determine which one is right for your topic and audience.
Review other posts on the same topic. Make sure what you are writing is somehow different than what is already published. By different, it could be more entertaining, higher quality, more in-depth or written from a different perspective.
Write your content without thinking about editing, formatting and SEO. Worrying about making it SEO friendly while you are crafting the piece will slow you down.
Craft post titles that get attention
Once you have your content written, now create a title that makes it stand out. This is usually the hardest part of writing which is why I recommend you leave it until the end. If you start with the title, you may never get to the body of the content. Plus many times, the title changes after the content is written, organized and edited.
Your title will determine whether anyone will read the post especially if your subscribers have their RSS reader set up in list mode. Read How to Write Magnetic Headlines by Copyblogger, a compendium of 11 blog posts that provides templates and great information on the topic. If you learn how to get your reader’s attention quickly, you stand a fighting chance of keeping their attention a little bit longer. And yes, keywords do matter in your post and SEO titles.
Unfortunately, most of us spend more time on the post content and very little on the title. But the title is what will help people find your post and click through the search results to learn more. Your title should be simple, grab attention and provide some help in meeting a need. Keep the title short and to-the-point and include the keyword that you want the post to rank for.
Your title should contain your keyword phase and provide the reader information on what the value of the content will be. It should also be unique for each page or post. If you are using WordPress, your content title will naturally use the H1 heading tag.
Stay away from titles that are click-bait. Nothing is more frustrating that clicking on a title and the post doesn’t fulfill the need. Tell readers what to expect and deliver on those expectations.
Here are some tips to help you write post titles that encourage quality clicks.
Write for scanning, not reading
Focus on the readability of the content. Content structure is important both to readers and to search engines. Break your content into short sections using headlines and sub-headers. Add your keywords to your headers and sub-headers, but remember to not abuse this to game the system.
Most people now scan content looking for words and phrases that catch their attention rather than read the copy word for word. Write your blog posts using formatting techniques to make it easy to get the context without having to read every word.
- Use headlines and bullets to break up your content for easier scanning;
- Emphasize words and phrases using bold, underline, italics or color to catch the eye;
- Insert images to reinforce your message;
- Use video to take a break from text;
- Write in short paragraphs to make the content easier to digest;
Highlight important messages using shading or the blockquote feature of WordPress;
- Use expanded line-spacing and a medium to large font to help the eye consume the information quickly.
- Use a casual and friendly tone. Write as if you are talking with your audience face to face, not as if you are writing your doctoral thesis. Use simple words and phrases to get your point across. Make your topic easy to understand and your reader will appreciate the information.
Dictate your content rather than type
Most mobile devices have a speech to text feature. If you use Evernote, it also has a feature that converts speech to text. Dictate your content and Evernote will record your speech and convert it into a text note using Google’s text transcription service (which requires that you connect to the Internet). It also saves the voice recording and attaches it to your note. When you need to create that blog post, just copy and paste the text and edit where necessary. I have started using this to record my thoughts while I am away from my desk to ensure I capture content when it happens.
Create content from presentations
Do you have a folder of presentations? Many of us present regularly and have many presentations that we’ve created for different audiences. Chances are you not only created the slides for the presentation but also have notes created to help you with your flow.
Repurposing content is a useful strategy for producing more original content that will appeal to different audiences. Take a presentation and turn it into a blog post, an eBook or a video presentation that you can publish and share. Using the material from the slides, your notes for presenting, the questions asked during the presentation and the conversation that occurred during the networking time, there is plenty of content available that can be turned into a series of blog posts using different media.
One thing we all need to do better is to consciously record questions, ideas and information so that we always have topics to write about.
Schedule time to write and set a deadline
If your goal is to publish two blog posts a month, adding structure to your schedule is important. Pick a day to publish and schedule your time a couple days in advance to write the post. Without the deadline and the scheduled appointment to write, you will always have something more important to do. Time management is a critical skill that we all must learn.
When you schedule your time in your calendar, treat this appointment with yourself as you would a client meeting. You wouldn’t arrive late, cancel it at the last minute or take phone calls while meeting with a client. Respect yourself as you would your client and do the same with this time.
Writing takes discipline
Any area of your business that requires consistent and regular implementation to realize a benefit needs a disciplined approach. Schedule your time, find your ideal location to write and start keeping a list of topics that your audience would appreciate and writing content will become less painful. Content published consistently will pay you back with increased traffic, new leads and ultimately, new customers.