I’m in a hurry to get things done…
– by Alabama Song lyrics from I’m in a Hurry (And Don’t Know Why)
Do you struggle to consistently produce timely, compelling content without guidance from a content strategy?
Is producing content a nightmare that drags you down everyday?
Are you whipping up boring blog posts just to satisfy a needy blog and cross blogging off your to-do list?
Writing unfocused blog posts is kind of like shooting a shotgun from the hip. Fun, dangerous and not terribly targeted. If you’re like most business people, you’re short on time. Producing content in quantity and of a high quality is one of 2014’s major marketing pains.
Nurture Your Blog: Write a Content Strategy
Stop flushing your resources, time and life blood away. Instead of writing up the next blog post, take 30 minutes and craft a blog content strategy. You’ll see more results, generate more leads and be able to delegate that blog out to an intern, outsourced writer or your team, while you go golfing.
Do you really have to have a business blog?
No. You don’t.
However, consider that when blogs are done well, they generate more leads for less money than anything else.
A recent Hubspot study of more than 7,000 businesses found that blogs:
- drive traffic: posting 15+ blog posts/month, or 4 posts/week, generates 5 times the traffic as companies that do not have a blog
- are rewarded for quantity: companies that post a significant number of articles (21 to 50) with 45% more traffic than those with 11-20 posts
- benefit small businesses with 1-10 employees: when companies of this size post more frequently, they enjoy the greatest traffic increases
The more pages there are in your blog, the more traffic you receive. Hooray! Hit the keyboard, right? But there’s that blank screen and what to write about? How to format it? What’s the title?
You have blogger burn out and you’ve barely even begun. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Write an 8 Step Content Strategy for Your Blog
Blogs are “free”, or at least, as free as a free puppy. Both need regular care, enthusiasm and input. And, like most business tools, it’s best to start with a simple plan.
Step 1: State your Business Goals
Effective marketing tools, and that’s what your business blog is, should all tie into your most important business goals. So what are they?
Some examples are:
- Attract more customers
- Sell more services to current customers
- Increase revenue
What are your top 3 business goals? Write them down now.
Step 2: Define Your Purpose
What purpose do you have for your blog, or why are you blogging? Because your best friend told that you should? Because your competitor is doing it? Because you’re a frustrated novelist? Blogs take up a lot of time and energy. Focus on driving business results.
Great business reasons for starting a blog include:
- Building credibility as an expert who solves problems and knows what they’re talking about
- Educating customers on how your products and services fill their needs
- Gaining insight into what customers need and want from your products and services through comments, questions and interaction
List three purposes you have for your blog now.
Step 3: Write to a Member of Your Target Market (Personas in Content Marketing Speak)
Who do you see reading your blog? Who are your customers? Moms with children between the ages of 10 and 12? Professional men with overflowing toilets? University students who come from small towns? Other businesses or consumers?
Consider the demographics of your ideal customers such as:
- Income level
Write down the most important details about your three main customer groups now.
Step 4: Write Posts on Solutions Customers Need NOW
Step into an online discussion or think about real problems that your real customers have.
Are they time-starved?
Do they need materials, training or products?
What problems do your customers have and how does your business solve them?
Effective blog articles help customers. Popular post styled include:
- How to articles – instructions on how to do something, like unclog a drain if you are a plumber
- Industry News – share the latest industry news, add your opinion and tell customers how this topic affects them. For example, if you are a dentist and a new pain control technique emerges, explain the benefits and advantages and describe the technique itself to your customers.
- Case studies/customer stories: Interview a customer on their life or business based around what you do for them. People love to read success stories.
Picture your ideal customers and brainstorm 3 blog ideas that they would be interested in now.
Step 5: Create an Editorial Calendar
If you think that brainstorming topics is hard, try sitting in front of your computer and a blank screen three times a week.
Generate ideas ahead of time and make an editorial calendar. List the topics you’ll write about on the calendar and post it somewhere prominent. If you’re stuck, take 20 minutes and look up blogs from your industry, note some interesting topics and put your own spin on them.
- Include holidays and seasonal information such as Christmas, New Year trends, summer vacation and spring break
- Post a variety of styles of post and rotate them, first a how-to article this week, then a customer interview (like this small business profile), followed by industry news
- Identify any theme days that you can write articles about such as Earth Day (here’s an article I wrote about recycling that ran on Earth Day on My Kids’ Adventures)
Get a calendar and write down the topics for your first 5 blogs now.
Step 6: Create Your Content
Don’t just push paper around.
Set the timer on your smartphone and draft an outline.
Then get writing. Blog articles should be at least 500 words long, though now best practices include detailed, long-format posts that are more like 1,500 words. (Google made a Hummingbird update. Read about it here in SearchEngineLand.com.) changechanges in 2012 known as Penguin and Panda that favor Web pages with at least 300 words on them). This helps your post rank higher in Google so that when people search for things, your post has a better chance of getting found.
Should you go short or long? That debate rages. It depends on your industry, how much you have to say and how well you say it. There is a general idea as well that the more you post, the shorter your posts should be. Less frequent posts can be longer.
The most important thing is to write a post that your ideal customers will read. General rules of thumb include:
- Posting between 750 to 2,0000 words
- Formatting for Web reading – people skim, so use bullet points, numbers and headings
- Posting on a regular schedule and sticking to it, whether it’s once a week or daily
Once you’ve been writing your blog for a while, you’ll get into a routine and the writing, ideas and posting get easier. I like reading more in-depth how to articles and I like writing them. Look up three blog posts that you like and note the word count now.
Step 7: Promote Your Blog
You’re writing a blog, now tell people about it. Make it prominent on your website. Refer your customers to your blog or articles that you think might be helpful. To promote your blog:
- Tweet about blog posts
- Add posts to Facebook accounts
- Share a link through LinkedIn
You can also follow other blogs and encourage people to follow yours. You can also read up on help or articles. For example, WordPress offers suggestions on Getting More Views and Traffic. ProBlogger offers help for promoting your blog on YouTube. List three ways you’ll promote your posts now.
Step 8: Keep on Blogging, Do Not Stop
Writing a single blog post is not going to generate the traffic that you need. Getting results may take up to a year and most people will quit or fizzle out long before that takes place. Believe in your blog, and rework and refine it over time.
Stay consistent and over time you’ll find:
- Your own tone and style
- Followers that appreciate your content
- New business
Also make sure to check on your blog regularly and respond to any comments. Engage followers and follow blogs that you admire.
Are you a new or seasoned business blogger? Tell me how often you update your blog.