When it comes to writing blog posts, I’ve found people tend to fall into one of four categories:
- Successful and talented bloggers, who blog frequently and have a good following.
- Those who blog, but don’t seem to be getting anywhere with it, or find the process pretty tedious.
- The ‘I know I SHOULD be blogging but I have no idea where to start’ peeps.
- And finally the blank stare of the ‘What IS blogging and why should I care?!’ camp.
Those in the first group, I doff my cap at you, I can teach you nothing. But for the other three categories, maybe I can help a little. Well possibly not 4 if you REALLY don’t care.
I am in both category 2 and 3, I actually love writing and I know that I should be blogging more regularly for my business, but it always seems to be one of those jobs on my To-Do List that keeps getting bumped because I think I don’t have enough time to think of ideas and then write them.
But now I’ve been on a course, and I feel empowered to take action! So being the sharing, caring kinda girl I am, I wanted to pass some wisdom nuggets on to hopefully help you on your blogging journey too.
Who are you writing for?
Firstly and most importantly, you need to work out who your audience is. Or who you want your audience to be. If you are blogging, or intend to blog for your business, this will be your customers. If it is a personal blog, then it will most likely be people in the same situation, or with the same interests as you – parenting or fashion blogs for example.
Once you have worked out who your audience is, work out what matters to them… and these are the things you should base your blog posts on. You want your blog to be crammed full of information that is relevant, interesting and valuable to your audience. If you are sharing your posts on social media, you want the content to be shareable, and hopefully ‘evergreen’ – content that remains relevant and doesn’t age. Obviously writing blog posts based on current affairs and events is also worthwhile, but only if this matters to your audience! It is pointless crafting a beautifully written blog post about Brexit if your audience couldn’t give a fig about it.
What do you want your blog to do?
This is another important thing to think about before you dive in. If it is a personal blog, then you may just want to use it to vent, share experiences or connect with like-minded people. You may not even care about growing an audience, or people sharing or subscribing to what you write.
However, if you are writing for your business, these are the very things you should care about. Whatever your industry, the aim of blogging should be to raise awareness and trust in your brand, whether you are a one-man (or woman) band or a huge multi-national. Many businesses think that blogging isn’t right for them, but the truth is that every business can benefit from it. At the very least it acts as an informal platform with which to connect to customers, but a regular blog on your website can really help your Google ranking as each new blog counts as fresh content, and Google loves fresh content. Your blog shouldn’t be about selling your products or services however, that is what your website is for. Think of it as your website is the shop, and your blog as the break room, though perhaps without any bitching about nightmare customers. The tone should be more informal, but how much so will depend on your industry. Your blog is ultimately about building on that customer relationship, so when the reader needs what you sell, they immediately think of you as a trustworthy and reliable company or person to buy from.
But what do I write about?
Now by this stage you might be saying “Come on, I know all this, but the chuff am I supposed to WRITE ABOUT???” I understand the frustration because I was at that stage too, so hopefully the guide below will help you as it has helped me. I now have a list of blog topics, and some written posts, to give me a weekly blog for my website until the end of the year.
Popular blogs tend to follow similar formats, and posts are either:
- Top Ten Favourite Holiday Destinations, Best Restaurants in…, Seven Ways To…
- Posts that curate information from other people’s blogs or websites, including relevant links.
- Answering questions that are relevant in that industry
- These could be lifted from the FAQ section on your website.
- Topical subjects such as trends or changes in your industry.
- Expert interviews
- It is a win win situation – the expert gets a wider audience, and you create valuable, shareable content!
- All you need is a few questions that can be emailed or asked over the phone.
- Product or service reviews or comparisons
- Follow a format – give pros and cons and most importantly YOUR HONEST OPINION.
- Don’t expect to get what you are reviewing for free!
- How To / Step by Step guides
- You may not want to share all your secrets, but sharing a little knowledge is a great way to get noticed, and add value to your brand.
- Include lots of photos.
Work through each of these formats and jot down as many ideas as you can for each, then you at least have the topics to write about, and for me at least that was half the battle!
A good post needs a good headline to draw people in to read it. Think catchy, but not click bait… so ‘5 Tips for taking better photos with your phone’ and not ‘5 things you MUST know about taking photos with your phone’.
Always include the topic in the headline so it can be found easily, so think about what people might type into a search engine if they are looking for what you are writing about.
Some useful ideas are:
- Top 10…
- Why I’m…
- 7 reasons why…
- How to…
- 5 steps to…
- Why your…
Platforms & SEO
I am going to sidestep this one a little as it is not really my area of expertise, but safe to say there are a LOT of different options when it comes to different types of platforms and hosting for your blog. Do your research to find the best fit for you. I use WordPress and my blog is integrated into my website as that is what works for me and my business. To help me write effective SEO content on my website and blog, I use a plug-in called Yoast, which guides you through each page using a traffic light system.
Yoast help guide you create effective SEO content.
Digg provides ‘the most interesting and talked about stories on the internet right now’.
Buzzfeed is similar to Digg and can give you some amusing and informal template ideas for posts.
Answer The Public is a free tool that shows you hundreds of potential questions on the topic you enter.
Google Trends is the most up to date way of finding out what people are searching for, so if you can write fast this is an amazing resource!
If you are using photos that aren’t your own, make sure they are royalty free. Pexels is a great resource.
Quicksprout is a great tool to analyse your website traffic.
Paul Ince is the guy who ran our course, and he is amazing. He did not pay me to say that. He really didn’t.
The course I went on was FREE and provided by http://www.ebusinessclub.biz/. If you are not in this area then check if your local Chamber of Commerce runs something similar – it is free to register and they have a huge programme of free courses.