Warning: You’re losing customers and fans right now because your blog content isn’t converting as well as it should.
Here’s a comprehensive step-by-step guide on how to make, publish and market blog content that will convert more visitors into buyers and brand promoters.
Why is the Blog Content Creation Process So Important?
Great blog content – the words, pictures, sounds and videos that you present to your blog visitors – makes your business or organization more successful in at least the following ways:
- It impels your target audience to buy from you and to recommend your business to others.
- It provides search engines with a fresh batch of original stuff for their spiders to feed on, which means that more people will find your blog in search results.
- It establishes your brand more strongly.
- It helps you develop relationships of trust with people. After all, you do business with people, not businesses.
- It leverages the emerging social Web. Because it’s on a blog and not in a white paper or press release, it invites immediate personal feedback and shows people you’re approachable and willing to listen.
In short, successful blog content rewards you and your business forever.
So you’ve got to know how to create it the right way.
How to Make Sure Your Content Creation Efforts Are Not a Waste of Time
Truly successful blog content is worth the effort.
So worth the effort.
Example: The Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox baseball team failed to win a World Series between 1918 and 2004. Between those two championship seasons, 85 long summers came and went, the world’s population more than tripled, and generations of Red Sox fans lived and died in the fruitless pursuit of glory.
When the Sox finally triumphed in 2004, heart-sickening failure gave way to immensely satisfying success. Their astonishing run through the playoffs, which included a heart-stopping comeback against their hated rivals, the New York Yankees, and a merciless sweep of the mighty St. Louis Cardinals, will reward them and their fans forever.
Who can deny that that seemingly endless effort wasn’t worth it?
Yes, But …
You don’t have 86 years to try and fail, try and fail, try and fail before succeeding.
You want your business to succeed, and you want your blog to grow fast now.
So without forgetting the elation, the celebration and the downright sweetness of pure victory, let’s talk about some ways to accelerate your path to blogging success (and, therefore, professional success).
Step 1: Steel Yourself Against Your Fears
Before you dive right into making fabulous content that knocks people’s sox – er, socks off and propels your business forward indefinitely, stop.
Stop and stare at your fears.
Because if you don’t steel yourself against them right now, this journey might just take you 86 years and then some.
- What makes me feel fear? When am I most afraid?
- How do my fears cause me to feel? What do they make me do or avoid doing?
- How does my blog and/or my business suffer because of my inability to face my fears?
- What would I like most to change about those situations which bring my fears to the forefront?
- What would I like most to change about my response to my fears?
As you answer each question, think about the types of fear you may be experiencing. The four fear types generally run in descending order of urgency – while all are important to address, you should probably prioritize your attention as follows:
- Fear of physical pain that you may suffer due to lack of shelter, food, protection, clothing or money.
- Fear of mental or emotional distress that you may feel.
- Fear of physical pain that others may suffer.
- Fear of mental or emotional distress that others may feel.
Studying your fear is like shining a bright light in a dark room. Everything becomes clearer, and things that once seemed menacing often turn out to nothing but shadows. And even the really scary stuff becomes easier to face, because you can discern its shape, its color, its direction. You can finally look fear in the eye and prepare to fight it.
Step 2: Choose a Purpose for Your Blog Content that Aligns Well With Your Professional Goals
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” – Alice
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.” – Cheshire Cat
“I don’t much care where …” – Alice
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.” – Cheshire Cat
Most businesses or organizations are trying to do one of two things, or both:
- Make money.
- Make a difference in the world.
So what’s your blog going to be for?
You have to know that now. You have to decide why you’re doing it in the first place. You have to know why you’re going with a blog instead of some other format for presentation and delivery of your content. And you have to know what you hope to accomplish in the end.
What’s the Point?
Do you always ask that question about every aspect of your Web marketing?
In other words, “Why am I doing this instead of not doing it? Why this and not something else? What is it about this activity that is meant to lead my business to success as quickly and efficiently as possible?”
If you can’t honestly think of a point to each marketing effort that clearly addresses your long-term success, should you really keep doing that thing?
What’s the point of what you just spent the last minute/hour/day/week/month/year doing on the Web to promote your business/product/service/event/cause?
If you don’t really know, then there’s not much point, is there?
Always Know Why You’re Doing a Blog in The First Place
With a strong purpose in place as your foundation, you are prepared to build the framework of your blog’s content on top of it.
For example, let’s say you’re the new media director for a global non-profit organization. You want your organization to have a powerful blog that motivates visitors to donate to your cause and spread awareness of the issues you’re passionate about.
Or let’s say you’re an independent business owner who wants to make a living by selling real estate. Perhaps the purpose of your blog could be to provide a way for people in your local area to discover you, come to trust you and eventually do business with you.
Whatever purpose you choose for your blog, make sure it passes this simple test:
If you remove it, your business or organization will have a significantly harder time achieving maximum success.
If you can’t honestly say that about your blog, scrap it. Unless:
- You haven’t started the blog yet, or you have just started it (say, less than 90 days ago).
- You can afford to waste time and money. (If so, I’d love to know what you’re doing all day!)
Step 3: Identify a Target Audience for Your Blog Content by Considering Your Blog’s Purpose and Goals
With a purpose and topic in mind for your blog, you should be able to decide who your blog is for.
Try to imagine the perfect visitor to your blog. What is she like? What does she want that your blog can give her? What problems does she have that you can solve through your blog?
For example, if your blog’s purpose is to help you sell ear plugs and your topic is going to be how awesome your custom made ear plugs are, then perhaps your ideal audience is a person who works at a busy airport or in a loud machine shop or at a shooting range. Maybe that person suffers from hearing loss or headaches because of their loud environment and they want to know where they can find good ear plugs that fit their ears just right and keep all the noise out.
Who’s the Target Visitor?
Who your blog matters more than what your blog. It’s bigger than when or where or how, too.
Knowing why you’re blogging and who you’re blogging for is more fundamental than deciding anything else about your blog, including what to blog about.
When you’re birthing a blog, the why and who are the head and shoulders. After those emerge, the what and how come out quickly. (Unless it’s breech …)
A Bunch of Ways to Figure Out Who On Earth Your Blog Should Be For
- Observe carefully. Pay close attention to details. Pay extra close attention to the blogs and people whose examples you want to follow. Hang onto their every pixel and word.
- Experiment. The only way to know if a seed will grow into a tree is to plant it. If it grows, it’s a good seed. If not, either it’s a bad seed or its growing conditions are too poor. Similarly, you should have the courage to try things out on your blog and in your blogging routine. If they work, keep doing them. If they don’t, stop and consider changing your approach or replacing your idea.
- Imagine the future. Think of the possibilities and probabilities involved. Should your blog become a company? Depends in part on how many gray hairs or wrinkles you think that would give you.
- Remember the past. What to write about? Well, what worked before? That’s one good approach.
- Think about needs. For instance, what does your blog’s target audience need?
- Gather things together. It’s much easier to compare, say, possible blog niches if you’ve assembled a list of them in one spot.
- Narrow your field. Of vision, that is. Limit the options to make the right choice easier to discern. For example, instead of wondering which of a billion post ideas is best right now, you could force yourself to choose from among just three.
- Ask for help. Maybe someone in your blog audience, in your email contact list or in your apartment building has a better sense of discernment on a particular matter than you do. Maybe they’ve got access to a light source that you don’t. Or maybe they’re just positioned at a better angle.
- Write everything down. Well, not everything. But if you’re stuck in the discernment process, having a written collection of thoughts can help you begin to get clarity.
- Refresh your focus. Sometimes you lack discernment because you’re distracted.
Got all that?
Now you know your purpose and your audience.
All that’s left is for you to satisfy your audience over and over.
Step 4: Decide on a Theme for Your Blog Content that Fulfills Your Blogging and Organizational Purpose by Attracting and Satisfying Your Target Audience
What? It’s a broken tulip in soda.
Anyway, once you have decided on a purpose and an audience for your blog, it’s time to choose a theme that will help you fulfill that purpose.
- If your blog’s purpose is to help your company make money, pick a main topic that people think about often when looking online for information that can help them make a purchasing decision that is related to what you’re selling.
- If your blog’s purpose is to help your organization enlist supporters, pick a main topic that people who fit the description of your ideal supporter would respond favorably to – something they would say “Amen” to and want to join your cause because of having read, seen or listened to via your blog.
What about multiple themes?
In general, it is best for your blog to have one central theme or topic. You should have a single, specific audience in mind. But of course there may be valuable and important sub-topics to cover that can help you achieve your blogging and business goals.
Step 5: Make Content, Make Content, Make Content, Make Content, Make Content, Make Content … and Oh Yes Make More Content
run, rabbit, run
dig that hole, forget the sun
- Pink Floyd
Well, now comes the easy part.
Hard, hard, hard work.
But seriously – if you already know why you’re blogging and for whom, and what you’re supposed to blog about, and you’ve faced your blogging fears … what else is there to wonder about? Just start creating.
Okay, so this really is the toughest part of all.
To help you with that, here are 17 tips on how to get creative with your blog content:
- Approve. It’s okay. Go ahead. Give yourself permission. Nobody’s watching. Don’t worry about embarrassing yourself.
- Exercise. Take a few minutes each day or each week to do nothing but imagine stuff. No imaginary pain, no imaginary gain.
- Write it down. Take notes as you daydream or imagine things. Wait until your imagination time ends if you’re concerned about breaking its flow. But once you’re done, write down what you’ve learned or experienced or thought.
- Start with anything. Picture your blog if you like. Or picture a blue barracuda named Bob. It matters less where you begin than where you go.
- Change something. So there’s Bob the barracuda in your brain. Now change something about him. Poof! His name’s Shirley. Poof! Give him legs. Poof! Red legs.
- “What if …?” Ask yourself how the outcome may change if you change the input. Be merciless with the input, sensible with the output. “What if I posted once every 10 minutes to my blog for an entire week? My brain might turn to alfalfa, but I sure would get attention from the other bloggers in my niche. Maybe there’s a viral idea in there … how can I prevent the alfalfa and still get the attention? Aha! What if I just did this for one day? And all around a central theme? And invited others to do it too?”
- Be silly. You’d be surprised at how many serious, useful ideas are born of ridiculous, useless parents. I say useless because so-called “crazy ideas” may not serve any real purpose by themselves – but they may become powerful means to coming up with totally sane concepts. So maybe Bob the barracuda’s image flashes in your mind, and you give him a bowtie and have him speak Hungarian backwards … and then you realize that the pattern on the bowtie would make a perfect logo for your blog, and that a single backwards word would make a brilliant catchphrase to go in your next post headline.
- Go sideways. You think and act in well-worn paths all the time. When you practice honing your imagination, make sure to spend some time not forsaking those paths altogether, but rather following them for a while and then taking a brief detour. So if your habit is to answer every thoughtful comment left at your blog with a heartfelt expression of thanks, perhaps you might tweak (but not completely redo) your approach so that you always try to end with a follow-up question inviting further discussion.
- Consider opposites. Let’s say your blog’s color scheme is dark on light. Without stopping to question your logic, just imagine the absolute photo negative opposite – a light on dark scheme. Allow both extremes to stand before you. Ponder their differences. What do you observe that can be applied whether or not you make a complete shift from the light scheme to its polar opposite?
- Tell a story. Make it up as you go. It can be set in the past, present or future. “It’s tomorrow morning. I’m reading a bunch of new blog posts on how to increase my RSS subscriber numbers when there’s a knock at the door. It’s my favorite blogger! We’ve never met before, and it’s great to say hi in person. We sit down together and form a plan to play a practical joke on 100 other bloggers – the most audacious such plan ever concoted.” Etc. The point of this exercise is to evoke feelings or thoughts in passing that you can then latch on to and do something about.
- Drink from imaginative fountains. Go to a creative blogger and ask them for inspiration. Talk to just about any eight-year-old. Watch a movie with lots of surprises in it. Just chug lots of IJ (imagination juice) and see what color your pee turns. In other words, you are what you drink. So partake of as much creative content and conversation as possible.
- Mix things together. Bob the barracuda and your first blog post. The aftertaste of strawberries and the smell of whipped cream. Put any two or more things together and see what happens.
- Consider iterations. Ask yourself what the next logical step in a progression should be. Fetus, baby, child, adolescent, adult, worm food. So after you put out that huge resource list post to charm the legions of social media fans, then what? Then you’ll probably get a lot of first-time visitors to your blog. So how can you prepare for that influx? What needs to change about your design, your content and your community? After the social media traffic spikes come and go, then what? Etc.
- Apply everything. Try to always glean a meaningful lesson from your escapades to the land of enchantment and imagination (or whatever you wish to call it). And apply each lesson or insight like mad to your blog and to your blogging activities.
- Share with someone. There are so many more ways to improve your imagination. Let someone else hear some of your mental rumblings. Imagination, when shared, becomes almost frighteningly powerful.
- Caveat: Imagination isn’t everything. It’s wonderful, but it’s still all in your head. You have to do real work to make the internal become external. But hard work can make imagination pay off like – well, I guess you can imagine.
- Caveat: Imagination can be scary. Especially when you let it run wild. Don’t let fear of the unknown paralyze you. You can control it. You can be its master. Remember what Mark Twain said: “Some of the worst things in my life never happened.” Remember what we said about fears at the start of this guide.
How Do You Delight Your Blog Audience?
The way to really please your blog’s audience is to create content that does at least one of the following:
- Answers their questions.
- Solves their problems.
- Scratches their itches.
- Soothes their fears.
Think about what combinations of text, images, sounds and/or videos would most successfully quench the different desires that your intended audience may have.
For example, if your blog topic is the latest news about U.S. President Barack Obama’s dog, you could:
- Share a video of the dog playing fetch.
- Show some photos of the dog and President Obama.
- Share an audio recording of the dog attempting to bite Rush Limbaugh.
- Write some tips on how to care for a dog of the same breed.
The blog post ideas above could:
- Answer the question of what on earth is going on with that dog anyhow.
- Solve the problem of not knowing much about the president’s dog.
- Scratch the itch of wanting to feel in touch with politics or animal kingdom news (or both).
- Soothe the fear that perhaps the President isn’t having fun with his dog or that the dog is sick, etc.
As long as you keep giving your audience members what they want, they will do two wonderful things:
- They will keep coming back, forever and ever.
- They will keep inviting others to come to you, forever and ever.
See how great blog content rewards your business forever (and ever)?
Step 6: Improve Your Blog Content Endlessly
After you’ve boldly set forth to delight a specific audience with blog content that fulfills a specific purpose for your business, the final step in this creation process is to continually strive to create better and better stuff.
To help you do just that, I recommend the following action steps:
- Listen. Stop talking. Be still. Observe. Pay attention. Seek awareness before anything else. Listening enables deep conversation – the kind that builds relationships of trust. And trust is the single most valuable thing you can cultivate through your professional blog. A blog works best when it listens more than it talks.
- Learn. Never stop learning. Learn what your blog visitors want. Learn what tools work best. Learn what content strikes the most pleasant chords. Learn what else you can do to improve your blog. Learn from every interation, every conversation, every meditation, every setback.
- Lose. Stop trying so hard to win. Lose your pride. Lose your fear. Lose your doubt. Lose yourself in the service of your blog readers. You will win more customers and fans this way than by any other approach.
Not specific enough for you? Here are 23 specific aspects of your blog content that you can, and should, strive to constantly improve:
- Number of published articles (posts + pages)
- Posts published per month
- Words per article
- Images/audio/videos per article
- Internal links per article
- External links per article
- Compelling headlines
- Descriptive headlines
- Concise headlines
- Appropriate writing style
- Useful content
- Remarkable content
- Targeted content
- Accurate content
- Unique content
- Viral content
- Effective use of multiple media formats
- Appropriate anchor text in hyperlinks
- Appropriate number of hyperlinks
- Relevant hyperlinks
- Descriptive use of categories/tags
- Concise use of categories/tags
- Relevant use of categories/tags
Your Homework, Should You Choose To Accept It
Is to get out a piece of paper and write the following on it, in as much gory detail as possible:
- Why you started your blog, what you ultimate hope to achieve with it and how it relates to your overall business goals.
- Who your blog is for.
- What your blog will be about.
- What you plan to create over the next 30 days for publication at your blog.
- How you plan to improve your new and existing blog content over the next 30 days.
Feel free to share your ideas and plans with me. I’d love to help you out.
Review: What We’ve Covered in This Guide to Blog Content Creation
We just spent close to 4,000 words going through the following points:
- You must strive to create blog content that will reap dividends for your business/organization continually, specially in terms of revenue, marketing and branding.
- You must steel yourself against your blogging (and business) fears in order to be prepared to create that content.
- You must establish a clear purpose for your blog that makes sense, given your business goals.
- You must establish clearly who your blog’s target audience is, given its purpose.
- You must establish a clear theme for your blog that will enable you to produce lots of successful content, given your blog’s purpose and audience.
- You must continually churn out blog content that matches your chosen purpose, audience and theme.
- You must constantly strive to improve whatever blog content is published, given all of the above variables.
As you work to accomplish these things in your blog content creation efforts, I promise you a greater degree of professional success.
Images: Boston.com, Wikipedia.org, notacrime, Sebastian Bergmann
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Thank you and stay tuned for my next article, which will explain how to promote all the fantastic blog content you’re creating.
What’s the biggest challenge you’re facing right now in this whole blog content creation process?