A lot of people see writing blog posts as a chore. They would rather work on clients’ projects than describe the intricacies of their craft. But content marketing is a great strategy for attracting new leads, and if you don’t feel so passionate about it, consider hiring someone else. All in all, content marketing is a must and you have to do it!
Now that we’ve established that content marketing is imperative to your business, how do you actually write blog posts? Regardless of whether you’re writing posts yourself or someone else does it for you, you need to provide value to your readers. In the overwhelming amount of content available these days readers have very short attention spans, so the content has to be extremely valuable, entertaining and overall awesome. We’ve compiled a step-by-step plan for you on how to achieve that awesomeness in your blog posts. So read on and follow the advice, and you’ll have new devoted blog readers in no time.
Step 1. Have a strategy in mind
When creating a blog post you should keep your marketing strategy in mind. What’s the goal you’re trying to achieve? And why do you write blog posts in the first place? Content marketing is a hot marketing strategy these days but that doesn’t mean that you can just write whatever you want. Research your clients and create customer profiles. Once you do, you’ll be able to clearly see what marketing tactics work and what ideas are better to be forgotten.
Not all content ideas are relevant. For example, think of the following scenario: you’re in the construction business and write about the science and magic of engineering. While some of your potential customers might find content on construction useful, for the most part, your content will attract construction workers or companies just like yours. This is an example that shows that some content ideas aren’t always good and you need to either revise your content strategy or even reevaluate marketing budget allocation completely.
Your blog goals don’t necessarily have to be tied to financial profits or traffic. You may want to build your image of an expert or show the search engines that you publish blog posts regularly. But no matter what your goal is it has to be defined long before the blog post is written and published.
Step 2. Choose your keywords wisely
There are two types of blog posts you can produce:
- Thought leadership articles. These are articles that produce new knowledge or are unique in their creative and entertainment value. These are usually produced when the idea hits you and no one else ever stumbled upon that idea before. You can’t produce thought leadership articles on a regular basis because innovative ideas take time to develop. You also can’t produce thought leadership articles if you are not an expert in the industry. Basically, thought leadership pieces are the results of creative thinking and deep expertise in the field.
- Keyword research-based articles. These are blog posts that answer most pressing customer questions. When customers don’t know the answer they usually go to Google for help and type in keywords and phrases related to their questions. Google then collects that information and gives it out for free to anyone who is interested. You can use that information and run an advertising campaign on Google, or use the keywords as a starting point of the article. Keywords can be found in Google Keyword Planner. When doing your research, pay close attention to long keywords that contain questions: for example, “how to create a site on WordPress” since these are not transactional keywords that customers use to buy products or services, rather they are requests for information, that work perfectly in the blog posts.
Look for keywords that have high search volume. Also, try searching for a keyword or a key phrase in Google and see how many results Google returns. Google Adwords data is mainly based on what users are searching, and the competition data in Keyword Planner is only relevant if you’re running an ad campaign. Competition shows how many advertisers are bidding on the exact same keyword. When it comes to blog posts, you need to see how many competitors wrote the blog post on the same topic and who did the best job. You can then either outperform them by creating a more informative piece on the topic or forgo the topic completely (due to too much competing content) and try a different one.
Between the two types of blog posts, thought leadership pieces and keyword research-based articles, thought-leadership articles stand out but you can never predict how many readers will find your idea interesting. Therefore, it’s best to keep a good balance between the two types of articles on your blog.
Step 3. Do your research on the topic
Once you find a keyword that has enough search volume, it’s time to do a research on the topic. Look for rare bits of information that will help you outperform competitors. Again, you can either make an article more informative or more creative by incorporating humor, visuals, infographics, and data. As content marketing isn’t a new strategy, it’s unlikely that your topic hasn’t been covered by anyone else. So you have to be better and more knowledgeable than everyone else in order to catch readers’ attention. Imagine you’re a journalist and look for a unique angle.
Step 4. Blog post title is everything
If people don’t click on your title they will never read your post. Titles play a crucial part in content marketing. Basically, if you have the same article as your competitor but a better title, the readers will choose your article over the competitor’s article. But how do you come up with a game-changing title? You put yourself in the readers’ shoes. Imagine for a moment that you’re a reader and you’re searching for information on a particular topic. What information would catch your attention? What title would you not want to miss? Empathy skills will help you come up with a title that is exciting, compelling, and stands out from the crowd.
Step 5. Make an outline
Outlines help you stick to the point. We don’t advocate outlines for every single article, but if you feel like your thoughts are all over the place then the outline will help you keep the article informative and succinct. Having an outline means that you won’t forget anything. Outlines are also useful from a reader’s standpoint as it’s easier to follow a structured article than it is to read a blog post where information is scattered sporadically all over the post. When you do the initial research you’re basically just covering the surface of the topic. When you create an outline, you can see what information is missing and then do more research, so the outline helps you go deeper into the topic.
Step 6. Fill in the gaps, edit and proofread
Writers have a process for writing. They write and then let the draft sit before they edit it. They usually require a day before they can return to the draft. Similarly, proofreading takes place a day after the editing is done. When you write, edit, and proofread different parts of your brain get activated. You simply can’t do all three and produce a great article, because your brain will get confused and the article’s quality will be sub-par.
In the proofreading process, don’t forget the images and think about the layout. You can increase the value of the article by adding eye-catching images and adding interactive elements to the layout.
Step 7. Do continuous research
A lot of people think that content marketing is about posting on a regular basis. This is true but it doesn’t give you a full picture of what content marketing is. Essentially, content marketing is about providing value to the readers for free. You write blog posts to help your readers with information, tips, and advice. That’s why keyword research is so important because keywords are what the customers are looking for – keywords indicated the need for information. But don’t disregard original content ideas either. Sometimes you need to produce pieces that no one thought about or ever searched for to establish your image of a market expert. Considering the amount of content produced these days it’s hard to come up with new content ideas. Instead of forcing yourself into writing posts, it’s good to do a continuous research without a putting too much pressure on yourself to produce ideas. Once you’ve accumulated enough knowledge on disparate topics, you’ll be able to come up with an idea that will catch the readers attention. Write it down and then confirm your assumptions with keyword research. This is a technique that allows you to be creative while also giving the readers what they want.