If you are someone who has been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug but has no clue what to do next, pay attention. In my last post How to start a business blog in 2015, I tell you why you need to start a blog before you spend big bucks on a website. I teach you how to start a blog in the right manner and also tell you how to set goals for the first six months without going mad in the process. If you haven’t checked it out, I highly recommend you do so.
In today’s post, I am going to tackle the issue of content creation.
Many new bloggers get very excited when they start a blog. They write a few posts but then they get stumped. There are a few reasons for that.
- They started the blog without any content strategy in mind. They don’t understand what type of content they should be creating in the first place.
- Because they don’t have a plan and they don’t know what they are shooting for, they start running out of ideas.
- They turn to others for inspiration. They see that everything they want to write about has already been written and comparisionitis sets in. They get discouraged before they even begin. They begin questioning their decision and wonder if the world truly needs another blog.
If you recently started a blog or want to start one, your biggest worry is what you need to write about that will get people’s attention. And if you have no idea what you want to sell, or you don’t have any offers currently in mind then it seems even more difficult to create a content plan.
Don’t worry – I am here to help.
Types of Content Your Business Blog Needs
First, before you ever sit down and brainstorm a list of blog post ideas, understand the psychology and the science behind why you need certain pieces of content.
#1 Content that showcases your expertise.
The aim of this type of content is to let people know that you know what you are talking about. Let’s say you are a book keeper but you have always been passionate about raw food and juicing. You have cooked for yourself and for your friends for as far as you remember. Your home is filled with books on this topic which you have read from cover to cover. Your friends come to you for advice when they want to change their diet. In short, you know this stuff.
You want to create content where you teach people how to do all of this. You educate them. You take the role of a teacher or trainer and aim to transfer your knowledge in a practical manner that helps your audience. By doing this, you establish yourself as an expert.
#2 Content that creates a connection.
The aim of publishing all of this content is to create K-L-T (Know, Like and Trust). People don’t buy from people they don’t like. They don’t do business with you if they can’t stand to be around you. Your job is to attract like-minded audiences and connect with them on a deeper level.
Tell your story and refer to it often. Talk about those aspects of your personal life you are comfortable talking about and are okay sharing. Share your weaknesses and all the hardships you’ve had to face to overcome problems in your life. Be human and your audience will relate to you.
#3 Content that establishes your credibility.
This takes care of the trust part of the K-L-T equation. Just by doing the first two, you will automatically start to build credibility in the eyes of your readers but there is more you can do. Think about the leading blogs in your industry and make it a goal to get published on them. Then display these ‘as seen on’ logos with pride.
Do free mini-coaching calls or Google hangouts where you help people and seek out some feedback. As you come up with offerings, start finding clients and customers and gather testimonials. All of these things will go a long way in making you trust worthy.
Even if you don’t have formal qualifications or certifications in this particular area, just by creating the right type of content you will position yourself as a credible expert.
Come Up With More Ideas You Can Handle
Now that you know why you need to be creating all this content and more specifically, what type of content you want to publish on your blog, coming up with ideas doesn’t seem so hard anymore.
Start an idea file. Even when you feel like you will never run out of ideas, you will. Some ideas will go out of style, some will bore you, and some will seem totally ridiculous. You will scratch your head and wonder what on earth were you thinking about?
The answer to this predicament is to start an idea file. I love Evernote for this purpose. I assume you are already subscribed to the leading blogs in your industry (if you are not, go ahead and do that first). Now every time they publish something you love reading about, or feel like you can do a better job, just save that blog post to your Evernote. Create topic categories and save accordingly as pretty soon, you will have hundreds (I have thousands) of links and want to make sense of anything.
This exercise is also great for learning to write great headlines, improving your writing skill in general (I will talk more about this in the next section) and creating effective calls to action.
Capture thoughts for cookie content. Start a file and start making a note of all the one-liners that inspire you or make you think. All the a-ha moments. They can come from different sources like blog posts, social media updates, print magazines, news, television and even people around you like family, kids and friends. Use these nuggets to create short pieces of content that is easy to digest, also known as cookie content.
When pressed for time, publish them as blog content or use them as your social media updates. Join Facebook groups. I cannot recommend this highly enough. Search for groups where your ideal audience hangs out and join them (do a Google search on how to find groups). Pay attention to what people are talking about. Interact with them. Ask questions and look at closely what they are asking for help on. Then use these cries of help as inspiration to create blog posts.
By the same token, spend some time in the comment section of the popular bloggers in your niche. You are bound to find lots of unhappy people, not unhappy with the blogger but with their lives and the problems they face. You will find insights into their lives that you can use for inspiration. This is a goldmine, use it wisely.
Lurk in the popular posts of others. Lastly, check out the popular posts section of the influential bloggers. These are usually listed on the sidebar. Look at what is getting popular and what topics readers can’t get enough of. Then do your own take on them.
You can also use these posts to choose topics to ensure your own posts do well. Which is what we will talk about next.
Learn to Write Like a Pro
Before you can hope for a piece of content going viral or getting the attention of a big shot, you must be confident in your ability to create top notch content.
Many new bloggers don’t find it an easy task. Writing is something they have done only for school or college, or dabbled in as a hobby. And they’re certainly not used to writing for the web. So how do you know for sure that your content really deserves the attention?
Open with a bang. Learn to write compelling introductions that will hook the readers. Start with a story or make a bold claim. State a startling statistic or statement. If your opening cannot capture the attention of the readers, they will surely move on.
Write like you talk, only better. The best thing about blogging? You get to write like you talk. Seriously. See, I am doing it right now. You don’t have to sound corporate, dull, or business-like. You don’t have to write like you are writing a high school essay. Make your posts conversational and then edit for clarity.
Make your posts screen friendly. Make your sentences and paragraphs shorter. Incorporate lots of white space and break big chunks of text into manageable ones. Use sub-headings to guide your readers and take care of the scanners. Use bullets, numbered lists, and italics. Make it easy to consume.
Brevity is your best friend. Be concise in your writing. It doesn’t mean that you can’t write longer pieces, it just means you need to get to the point quickly. Some people ramble on and on, and take forever to get to the good stuff. Their writing is full of fluff. Don’t be that person. Link. Link to the authority sites and influencers. Link to your older content that you want people to discover.
Create content that encourages people to leave a comment. Share a personal story and ask your readers if it resonates. Leave some things out and give them a chance to complete your post. Ask open ended questions and simply ask. When you have call to action, people often do as you ask.
Creating Content That Goes Viral
Now, not every piece of content will go viral and neither should you make it your sole reason to create something. But you need to publish something that is truly share-worthy What makes a piece of content share-worthy? Here are some things you should keep in mind before hitting publish.
Create a compelling headline. This is especially important if you want your blog post to get any traction on social media. Be it Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Google+, what is the first thing you notice about a piece of content? It’s the headline (in the absence of an image). So, you wanna make sure you make it hard to ignore. Spell a big benefit or arouse people’s curiosity. Either way you want people to sit up and take notice.
Going by the same principle, when you are emailing your blog posts to your own list, normally you would just use the blog post headline as the subject line of the email itself. Imagine your reader receiving hundreds of emails on a weekly basis. They pay attention to work related emails or open those from people they know personally. It’s safe to assume they are subscribed to a number of newsletters. Of all the blog posts competing for attention, guess which one they open? The one with the most intriguing headline.
Choose a new angle. You might have heard or noticed that everything has been done. So how do you create something new? Something original? The truth is you can’t. Whatever novel ideal you come up with is probably has been written about. But not in the way you thought of it.
Your perspective, your point of view and unique experiences are important. The way you choose to tackle a subject will be different to hundreds to similar pieces so really dig in. Find a fresh angle. Include your personal experience. Tell a story.
Go deep. If you want your content to stand out, go deeper than your usual ‘7 tips …’ or ‘9 ways …’ type articles. There is nothing wrong with creating a list post but got big. Can you 50 ways to do something? Or even 100?
Create long form content, generally ranging from 2000 – 3000 words. Most people write 500-600 words per post so your post will stand out just on the virtue of being more comprehensive.
Do a round up post or interview a number of high profile bloggers, industry and thought leaders if you can. Compile it into a post and publish. Pay attention to visuals. The way you format and actually write the post plays a hand in the popularity of your post. Imagine someone clicking on the headline and opening the post. Does it look professionally formatted? Do you have compelling images in the post? Is it easy to read with lots of white space, small paragraphs and flow so people actually read it?
Has it been proofread and checked for typos and grammatical mistakes? You want to make your best the best it can be. Don’t compromise on the quality. This will pay a role when the reader thinks about whether to share it.
Remember, it takes a while before you start seeing any return on investment on all your blogging efforts. And you have to do it consistently.
With your content, your primary goal is to build your email list so while it is nice to see your posts get popular and attract likes, shares and comments, the more important metric is the number of email signups.
In the final part of this series, we are going to bring everything together and uncover the final piece of the puzzle. You started the blog and set it up right, you have a content plan so now how to do make sure you are capturing email addresses and building this email list.
And why do you need an email list in the first place? Stay tuned for the last part! In the meantime, share with us in the comments below how you manage your blog content!