Let me guess, you are the proud owner of a small business, and your number one priority is to grow your business, make money and make a difference. Right? I mean you want to help other people and improve their lives but you are also a business and your goal is to make money.
You are working really hard. There are so many things that go into growing a business. You need to maintain a professional looking website. You are collecting leads (capturing email addresses) at all times, you are creating new products or services. If you are a service based owner, you are working with clients and also looking for new ones to fill your schedule.
And people are telling you to blog? What nerve! Don’t they know how busy you are as a small business owner? You hardly have time to keep with the other million things that needs to be taken care in your business and on top of it, people expect you to blog?
Or, perhaps this scenario suits you better – you are a very busy small business owner, and you have a blog but it looks a bit like a ghost town. It certainly feels like one. There is hardly anybody to be seen and you are thinking what you are doing wrong. You wonder why you bother at all.
In this blog post, I am going to giving you very practical tips so you can create blog content that attracts the right person (the potential customer) and also is begging to be shared.
Part A: Setting up your blog for success
Would you rather have one or two posts go viral, or publish content that does well on a regular basis? I am guessing you want to learn to create content that ticks all the boxes pretty much all the time. And you can’t do this unless you are 100% clear of why you are doing this in the first place. Let’s take a look.
You don’t need to become popular
First things first, I want you to get your perspective right. You are blogging because your blog is a marketing tool to collect leads. While it’s nice to get credit for all the awesome work you are doing, realize that your goal is not to become an Internet celebrity with a million Twitter followers and hundreds and thousands of Facebook fans. Once you take the pressure of yourself, you relax and all of a sudden this becomes an achievable goal.
Set some blogging goals
Now that you know you are not blogging to become popular, you need to set some goals for your blog content. Why? Because if you don’t, people won’t get a sense of what you are about and if it is worth subscribing to your blog, it shows and people don’t take you seriously. For instance, you might be a life coach and your goal is to get your first 1000 subscribers. Great. Now keep this in the mind when you are creating content so you stay on task and can actually track your progress.
Get super clear on your target audience
The number one reason why most blogs don’t get any traction is because the reader doesn’t feel like you are talking specifically to them. They don’t get this feeling that you know what it’s like to be them and don’t understand their worries, problems, frustrations, and hopes. The reason why you can’t connect with your audience is because you don’t know who you are targeting, this means your content doesn’t resonate. This also affects your bottom line too (how much money you make) so it is worth spending time on your target.
Create an ideal reader avatar or persona for your blog, go into enough detail so that you can picture this person in your head. Base all your content decisions keeping this person front and centre and you can’t go wrong.
Establish a publishing frequency
How many times could you commit to publishing a blog post? You want people to get used to hearing from you. You want them to get in the habit of opening your emails, reading your blog posts and sharing them. Consistency is crucial.
If you thought you had to blog every single day then you are dead wrong (and aren’t you glad to hear it?). It’s entirely up to you. Remember, you are not aiming for popularity, blogging is a means to an end. If you just create content for its own sake, not only will it not resonate with your audience, it will not get any traction. So, think about how many times you want to write and stick to it. I recommend once a week but every fortnight (once every two weeks) is the minimum you should aim for. Going for less than that is not going to be enough to bring back regular readers or new audiences.
Create an editorial calendar
Many people complain that they don’t know what to write about. They fear that they might have writer’s block and can’t come up with any ideas. The way you solve this problem is by making a list of all the content you are going to create.
Set aside some time, preferably 2 hours in your calendar for this task. Now sit down and brainstorm some topic categories. These can be fairly broad so don’t worry about nailing an idea now. Once you have a list of about 6-7 categories, start brainstorming ideas for each category. Think about your ideal reader and what would appeal to this person. If you are stuck, open a browser window and start looking at the leading blogs in your industry – the blogs you subscribe to. This will help with creative juices and ideas arrive thick and fast. Now just put them into slots in your calendar. (Remember, these are only ideas, you can swap them around, modify them or even kill them. You are not writing headlines at this stage.)
Part B: Crafting a share-worthy blog post
Once you have gone through the initial steps, all that is left is to draft the post right. Here’s how you do this:
Sum up your post in one single compelling sentence
Unless you are doing a list post, of course. The problem with most blog posts are that they cover too many things and ultimately miss the mark on the very thing they promise. There is an easy solution to fix this. Write the gist of your blog post in a single sentence. Go on try it.
Think about the purpose of writing this post. What big benefit are you promising? What will your reader learn after reading it? Write it in one single sentence and no longer. The beauty of this process is that it gives you a working headline, and secondly it keeps you on track, so you don’t go off on a tangent. It keeps you on topic and your post is tight and easy to digest. It will ensure that there is coherence in your writing and your message flows.
Open with a bang
Most people focus on writing a compelling, attention grabbing headline which is the right thing to do, but they forget another important aspect of their blog post: The opening. A well written headline will get you the click but will it mean that the reader actually consumes your content?
You want the person to read the post and share it, headlines can do only so much. But worry not, writing a compelling intro is not a hard job – especially when you compare it to writing the headline. People will make a decision to read your post on the basis of your opening paragraph, how interesting, thought provoking, and generally engaging it is. So make it exactly that.
- Ask a question
- Make a shocking claim
- State a startling fact or statistic
- Start with a story
Make it as interesting as you can and set the standard for the post to come.
Make it conversational
Tell me, what sounds more interesting – a corporate manual or a best-selling novel? A technical guide to operating some machinery or a magazine article. For the vast majority of people, it’s the latter in both cases. Why? Because there is no mumbo-jumbo, gobbledygook or industry jargon that a layman can’t understand. Because they are written in a manner that is easy for the reader to understand.
In blog posts the way to stay interesting and engaging is to write in a conversational tone of voice. Write like you talk – only better. Meaning, write like you talk but edit it for clarity and conciseness so your message flows.
Address the reader. Use you and your instead of I, me and our. Use exclamatory expressions and contractions (isn’t instead of is not, I’ll instead of I will). Use a bit of slang and write at an eighth grade reading level. Use short words and short sentences and avoid being stuffy, boring and formal. Show off your personality and write in a consistent tone of voice.
Make it screen friendly
A lot of newbie bloggers make this mistake. They make it really hard to read on a screen and you know that people are not going to print off your blog post, they are reading it on their laptop, tablet or a mobile device. Make it really easy for them to consume it. People don’t share what they don’t appreciate.
Use sub-headings. Used bullets, numbered lists, italics and bold to highlight important information. Break up your paragraphs as it is hard to read large blocks of text on a screen. Include lots of white space and images to break up the text.
Don’t forget to edit
After you finish your post, leave it alone for at least 24 hours. Give it a look through the next day and you will see it with fresh eyes and more likely to catch all the mistakes and typos.
Look at the headline. Do you think it is a good one or can you do a better job? Read through your post – is it clear and explains everything well? Is there ambiguity anywhere? If so, fix it. Is your writing concise and to the point or do you ramble a lot. Is it useful? Did you give at least one practical tip for them to take action on? Read your post aloud for inconsistencies and poor phrasing. If your tongue stumbles over something, re-think it.
Lastly, link to older content so that new peeps can discover your ever green content. Keep a record of all your blog posts categorized by topic so that it is easy for you to link without having to click through older posts.
Follow the next steps
Is your work over when you publish your content? Not quite. There are still things to be done especially since you spent so much effort creating this content, you would want to make sure you get the best possible ROI.
- After you publish, email it to your list. Don’t assume that your readers will know you have updated your blog. Most people don’t visit your blog every day. Email them and let them know either by giving them a snippet and a link or the full post. Again, remind them to take action. Ask them to leave a comment, share it on social media or share it with a friend.
- Share it on various social media platforms and share it multiple times. People don’t get to see your updates before they are either not online when you are share, or they have too many updates so they miss yours. Share again.
- Participate in your own community. If you want people to leave a comment, be present, respond to them and thank them for doing so.
- Reach out to an influencer in your industry and ask them to share your post within their networks. Only do this when you truly feel your post is a masterpiece and a great fit for this person’s audience, and don’t make a habit of it.
Yes it is super important that your content gets read and shared. But what is even more important is to understand the logic behind it. Create content that is valuable to both you and your readers. For you, it helps meet business goals, for them, it helps solve a problem, or take them closer to fulfilling a desire.
And content that is truly helpful and is written in a way that connects deeply with your audience always works like magic.
Try it for yourself and share with us in the comments your thoughts!