You already know that blogging is a powerful tool for promoting your brand.
It’s great for bringing visitors to your website.
What’s more, all those words are superb for SEO.
However, you also know that blogging takes time.
And that’s something often in short supply. Especially when you’re running a business, working to client or agency deadlines. Those ‘ASAP’ requests usually elbow blogs down the to-do list.
Here’s the thing: Once you let your blogs slide, other things start sliding. Your website, for one thing. Straight down the search rankings. Which means your organic traffic will slide down. Resulting in reduced revenue, less engagement and slower growth.
There is another way.
Speed up your blog output.
This doesn’t mean cutting down on quality and churning out rehashed rubbish. Neither does it mean outsourcing to penny-a-word writers or artificially intelligent bots. And absolutely no caffeine-fuelled all-nighters.
All you need is below. Want to skip to a particular section? Just click the title:
For any blog, whether 100 words or 1,000 words, spend:
When starting out, it’s hard to know your current writing speed. So set aside a set amount of time, say 4 hours and follow the ratio above. Do this a couple of times and you’ll have a good idea of how much time you need for a blog.
Over time, you’ll find that you write more words during the 50% phase. That’s you building up your brain’s writing muscles. Stick to a regular routine. You’ll soon increase your endurance, stamina, and wordcounts.
Before starting a blog, it makes sense to check out the competition. And the best way to do that is with Buzzsumo. Plug in your topic, and see which articles have attracted most engagement on social media.
Have a read, and work out why it’s done so well. Is it the insight? Tone of voice? Is it interactive?
Compare the articles to your framework. Have you covered all the themes? Does your framework have something the other articles don’t? If not, think how you can improve it. Find an original angle. Build on what’s gone before. Let’s say you’re writing about artificial intelligence. Last week’s most-shared article was ‘100 ways to use artificial intelligence in banking’. Make yours ‘101 ways to use artificial intelligence in banking’.
Congratulations! You have a framework. Now it’s time to let your brain’s neurons and synapses go wild.
Nobody ever skips a blog intro and starts reading halfway down the page. That’s why, before you tap anywhere on your keyboard, decide on your intro. Not necessarily the exact words, but the angle or hook you plan to take.
Those first few words are where you have the maximum readership. After that, it’s all downhill. Readers lose interest, get distracted, or simply decide they’ve got better things to do.
The classic “5 W” approach, used by journalists and PRs, is ideal:
Go through each of the Ws. Decide which one (or more) should go into your intro. Make your decision based on what will appeal most to your readers. That’s the only way to reel them in. Show what’s in it for them.
Have you heard the joke about two people in a forest? One day they come across a tiger. They start running away, and the tiger chases them, Suddenly Person 1 stops, and pulls out a pair of running shoes. ‘What are you doing?’ says Person 1. ‘You’ll never outrun it with those’. Person 2 replies, ‘I don’t need to outrun the tiger. I just need to outrun you.’
It’s the same with blogs. You don’t have to make sure your blog is the best out of the 24 posts published in WordPress every second around the world. You just have to make sure yours is first among your competitors. Here’s how:
Address your reader personally, by sprinkling in lots of ‘you/your’ references.
It makes your blog sound more personal, eg ‘If you’ve ever tried to do a mailmerge’, ‘Here’s a little-known tip you may find useful’, ‘Get this right and you can look forward to digital marketing nirvana’.
If you’re writing your blog in first person (“I, we our”) go for a 4:1 ratio – for every 1 ‘I, we, our’, make sure you have 4 ‘you, us, your’.
Your reader is giving up part of their life to read your blog. So write as if you’re talking to a friend. That means using conversational words (‘use’ instead of ‘utilise’, ‘helped’ rather than ‘assisted’, ‘ideas’ rather than ‘blue sky thinking’).
Jargon and technical terms may have their place in your campaigns, but they rarely belong in your blog. That’s where people come to be entertained and informed, not bored out of their minds or feeling like they’re being dictated to.
Your opinion is all very well. However, if you want to persuade people of what you’re saying, you need something more. Links to independent, objective, third party research. Cite studies, research bodies, industry publications.
Here are 3 ways:
1) Go authoritative
Step 1: Tweak your search engine results to get results within a recent time period. For Google, click on Tools (highlighted)
Step 2: Plug in your search term + the name of a reputable research agency/publisher (good ones to start with include Gartner, Forrester, IDC, Accenture). Imagine you’re writing a blog on machine learning:
Step 3: Find statistics and quotes that back up your opinion. Then insert them into your blog (making sure you link back to the sources).
2) Peer research
Here’s a shortcut to getting insight about a topic. You could spend hours reading all the latest industry news. Or you could find out what people on the frontline think. Tap into their experience and insight by visiting websites like www.quora.com.
3) Google Trends
Want to show how interest in your topic has evolved over time? Plug in some relevant phrases to Google Trends. This will generate a graph showing how often people have Googled a particular word or phrase. Below shows how interest in marketing automation has grown since 2012:
This is the classic ‘top and tail’ approach. Readers like this technique because it ties up all loose ends. Example: your intro includes the line, ‘By the year 2020, there will be 163 Zettabytes of data created’. Your conclusion could make a reference to the 163 Zettabytes of data.
Want people to comment on your blog? Ask them – don’t sit back and hope. If you get a comment, always reply. Even if it’s just a thank you.
You’ve got a captive audience, so give them more of what they want. Link to a related blog, offer a free ebook, invite them to contact you to continue the conversation.
“You never truly finish a blog – you just abandon it”
Don’t hang on to your blogs. Once you’ve done your editing and are happy, let it go. Otherwise you’ll find yourself endlessly tinkering with it.
PS If you don’t think you can do the above, talk to someone who can.