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Go Forth and Blog! But first…read this.

For inspiration, resources, and how to write a blog post, look no further! Inspiration, encouragement, and tools await you in your quest for content that engages your readers, helps them succeed, and builds your brand reputation.

MythBusting

Let’s first pop a few myths about blogging…  Blog posts, and whole blogs, can get caught up in some myths rooted in well-meaning but misguided ideas about what blogs are for. Here are the myths, and how to avoid getting trapped in them.

Myth #1 — 1 blog post a day or week

If you force yourself to put out content every day or week, no matter what, chances are, you’ll experience diminishing returns. Yes, it’s good to have a schedule and publish regularly, but don’t sacrifice quality for quantity. Regular blog posting does improve your SEO and drive people to your website, but one poorly-written or not-quite-baked post can have the opposite effect – damaging people’s trust in the value of your blog, which then transfers to your business. Find the right cadence for your business and publish regularly, but don’t sweat it if you miss a few because you can’t do it right.

Myth #2 — Blogs are an extension of your marketing team

Sure, your blog goal may be to bring in customers and get more sales: however, you don’t do that by making your blog an extension of your sales collateral. In blogs, the best approach is to give before you ask for anything. Write helpful, entertaining, and actionable content that appeals to and helps your target audience. They’ll come back for more, tell their friends, and when and if they’re looking for what you’re selling, they’ll come into your sales funnel already trusting and with good feelings about your brand.

Myth #3 — $50 for 1000 Words

This is a dangerous myth that can destroy your reputation quicker than any of the others. If you want a well-researched, unplagiarized 1000-word blog post, you’re not going to get that for $50. For that price, you’re most likely to get regurgitated, remixed, incoherent, off-brand, and/or plagiarized blog posts. Instead, write it yourself, hire or incentivize guest bloggers, or hire an experienced, qualified writer and pay them well. You’ll get more SEO, sales, and customer goodwill from one well-written blog post than from twenty $50 specials.

Capture Your Audience

Now you know what *not* to write. So, how do you go about figuring out how and what to write to capture your audience and make all this writing worth it?

Find Your North Star

The first thing to do is create, or remind yourself about, the goals for the blog you’re writing for. What is your north star? Is your blog mainly for sharing recent trends in the industry, connecting with your customers on a personal level, or helping users get started in the industry or with your product?

Write your purpose and guidelines down, and keep them where you can refer to them often to keep your blog on track and in focus. Here is the stated purpose for a retreat center blog:

Give readers a glimpse into CopperMoon and a feel for the experience they can have at the retreat center. Blog posts should be positive and upbeat, encourage engagement and participation, and not put any pressure or obligation on readers to think like we do. Invite people to explore ideas and new experiences.

Find Your (Customer’s) Passion

Seek out the passions of your target audience, and let it permeate your blog. Write about how to solve their problems, do better at their jobs, or inspire them with success stories. At REI, a local outdoor outfitter, they don’t write about down jackets. Instead, their blog is filled with stories about outdoor adventures.  At Moz, they help businesses do better inbound marketing, because better-informed and skilled inbound marketers are eventually going to need the analytics tools that Moz provides. So write about what your customers are passionate about, connect with your customers on a whole new level, and your readers will thank you by becoming customers when they’re ready.

Start Up the Idea Machine

There are many many resources out there for coming up with blog ideas. Here are just a few to inspire you:

  • Get out of the box — Think outside of the standard blog format of an article with headers and bullet points. Can you give a map of the top 10 trails for beginners?  A flowchart showing how to research a keyword? A quiz that both educates and entertains?
  • Personal Experiences — Write about challenges you’ve had that others could learn from.  If you’ve read a blog post lately that you disagree with, or think you have something to add to it, write about that. Don’t be afraid to let your personality come through in your blog.
  • Go beyond the brainstorm — Brainstorming is the standard go-to for coming up with ideas, but there’s a better way. Give your brain sun and rainbows for once! Try some of the ideas in this article from Hubspot: 10 Creative Exercises That Are Better Than Brainstorming.

Write down ideas as you and your team go through creative exercises, and keep in a central place where everyone can add to it when the inspiration strikes. Then when it’s time to write a post, you’ll have a list that you can pull from.

Add Pizzazz

Here are some things that make blog posts great:

  • Tell a story — Walk through how you solved a problem, how you discovered a helpful insight, things you struggled with and overcame.
  • Draw them in — Use headings and graphics to hook people and then pull them along. Avoid generic headings like “Summary” and “Abstract”
  • Add images or pictures — Not only is this good for SEO, but it also makes your post more enjoyable and some ideas work better visually than in writing.
  • Share your passion — Why are you excited about this?
  • Be generous — Give something the reader can use (insights, best practices, inspiration)
  • Keep it positive — Talk about disagreements and differences in a neutral, fair-handed way, and always keep your tone upbeat and encouraging.
  • Examples — Include examples to help make a concept or process more concrete.

Nail the Landing

If your blog post is successful… that is, someone reads it all the way through, you now have an engaged person brimming with new ideas and inspiration. Take them one step further — wrap up your blog post by starting a dialogue. Tie up your subject neatly, and encourage further exploration, thought, or action from your readers. Consider one of these ways to get your readers using what they’ve just learned.

  • Call to Action — A call to action is a great way to end a blog post. Invite readers to try something new, challenge their preconceptions, or try out your suggestions (and report back!)
  • Get Feedback — Ask your readers for comments. Ask what they think, if they have anything to add, or to share their successes or failures. This engagement reinforces their great experience and also can help out other blog readers.

Go forth and blog

I hope you’re now itching to find your blog’s north star and start writing inspiring blog posts that your blog followers come looking for. Don’t let me stop you. Go forth! Blog!  Connect with your customers on a personal level and help them succeed!

Oh, and send me links to your posts so I can give you a virtual high-five.

More Inspiration

For more blogging inspiration, see these links:

Want someone else to write your blog posts?  Let me know what you want you audience to get from your post, and what your business goals are, and we’ll schedule the work!   Contact me