Of all the activities that will make the most difference in the performance of your website, nothing tops the consistent creation of high-quality blog content.
Yet, no activity terrifies new bloggers more than publishing something one, two, three or ten times a week.
After all, famous writers throughout history have described writing in fantastically unappealing ways. The late, great sportswriter Red Smith, for instance, often described it this way: "You simply sit down at the typewriter, open your veins, and bleed."
Most of us are not Red Smith or Stephen King or – well, pick your favorite "up on a pedestal" famous writer. And yet, every solid shred of evidence tells you that for success with your website, you should be blogging, and blogging A LOT.
As a recovering writer myself, I'm here to tell you it doesn't have to be terrifying. I've spent practically my entire three-decade career writing something. The first 20 years, I was a journalist and wrote or edited about five to ten articles a day, literally thousands of pre-Internet "blogs." And even I came to this "blogging thing" with some fear in my heart. Even I had to learn that it doesn't have to be this way. In fact, let me share five powerful tips for you, the beginning blogger, to make your content creation that much easier.
1) Write What You Know!
Let's start with the obvious. If your organization or business needs a website and wants to turn it into an online engagement or sales channel that attracts visitors, generates leads, creates customers and ultimately, promoters of what you do – then you must believe you have something of value to share with the world. THAT's what you need to blog about.
Far too often, I encounter clients who measure their writing against Winston Churchill or the presidential State of the Union or some other unobtainable (and irrelevant) standard of measure. Which leads me to the next tip:
2) You're Already Doing This – You Just Don't Know It
At our firm, we work with business-to-business companies to create inbound marketing success. We help them by creating remarkable content that turns their websites into online sales channels. The companies we work with are already successfully selling "in the real world," if not online. What is it exactly that they are saying or doing that's already bringing them success? Whatever education, consulting, etc. that these companies are providing prospects before they "sell" anything should be the content they're sharing in their blogs.
Here's an example. Recently, we've been talking with a company that makes a very cool suite of "fake" radiation testing equipment. Now, if I'm going to work in nuclear medicine in a hospital or whatever, I should know how to handle radiation. How cool would it be to practice handling radiation without being exposed to it? This company has an entire sales process that educates prospects about how to be safe around radiation without being exposed to it. This should be the remarkable content the company shares on its blog. And that leads me to the next tip:
3) Have a Plan
One of the things that scare those new to blogging the most is the concept of creating lots and lots of content. As someone who spent decades in journalism, I can tell you that your favorite news outlet (online or in print) couldn't exist without something called an editorial calendar.
An editorial calendar allows journalists (and you) to plan content on a regular basis. Most popular magazines, for instance, have an annual calendar that's broken into months. From there, your own calendar could be broken into weekly content.
Many businesses are seasonal in nature. Maybe your sales cycle is driven by holidays, or changes in the weather, or big trade shows. Regardless of what they are, you will easily find recurring events that can help you plan content. When you combine this with a suite of content that's distilled from your "real world" education and sales process, you will have two extremely powerful sources of content generation.
4) Variety is the Spice of Life
The best research tells us that a 600-word blog is the "ideal" length. That's good general advice because in my work, I find that new bloggers typically fall into two categories: those who have difficulty writing even 100 words, and those that can't seem to distill their thoughts in fewer than 2,000 words. Yet this is just a guide.
Think about the blogs you've enjoyed most in your own online experience: Some were remarkably short. Some included great videos and hardly any text. Some included pithy statements that made you angry or stirred your emotions. Some were meaty reads that you returned to more than once because they offered such great advice. Your own blogs should be no different, and at the end of this blog, we've got a link to an offer that will help you with this specific challenge. And that leads me to the last tip:
5) You Don't Have to Do This Alone
Consistent creation of top-quality blog content does not have to be anything like the mythical writer's garret where you toil in seclusion. Like everything else about the online experience, the varieties of help available to a new blogger stagger the imagination. Here are just a few:
One blog, multiple bloggers. One of the finest blogs anywhere is the one run by the Mayo Clinic. At my last count, there were nearly 50 bloggers contributing to the blog based upon subject matter expertise. Even if you have five people on staff, that's four more voices you bring to your blog other than your own.
Be my guest. One of the most successful ways to generate blog content is to ask someone else to do it. Yes, really. Is there a strategic partner you trust? A professional who understands your business? A satisfied customer who can explain how you helped his or her organization? How about an industry leader you admire? Any of these you can ask to guest blog for you, benefitting not only from them sharing the writing load but also from their own social media sharing of your blog, which helps make your blog even more productive for your website.
Hire a professional. The variety of professional help available for consistent blog writing ranges from people you may know and respect in the real world to free-lancers available through sites such as Zerys to companies such as ours, which specializes in working with companies in complex B2B businesses that require an advanced writing capability. The right choice of outside help depends upon the same factors (your goals, plans, timeline and challenges) that drive the rest of your online strategy.
Like so much else about inbound marketing success, these are just a few of many tips that will help make you a more consistent and confident blogger. These are the five that even I, Mr. Experienced Writer, wish I knew when I first started blogging.
Have tips of your own? Share them in the comments.
Originally published Jan 30, 2014 10:00:00 AM, updated October 20 2016