How to be a Better Blogger (and Avoid Writing Bad Posts)
Amidst all the noise and hype around blogging and content – which is now considered an essential element of any digital strategy plan (and all brands, increasingly, need a digital marketing plan) – one aspect that often gets glossed over is that creating and maintaining a blog isn’t easy. Sure, for some people who have a natural talent for writing, it’s not so hard to sit down and put a thousand words down each week, but for others the content creation process is not something that comes naturally.
If this sounds like you, then you’re in luck – here are some key tips to help you consistently create better content. While it can be hard to stick to a schedule, come up with great ideas and produce high quality material, there are some fundamentals that, if adhered to, can simplify the process and keep your blog moving.
The first thing you need to do is research. One of the most common mistakes brands make when starting a blog is writing content around what they want to tell their audience, instead of what their audience want to hear. The best way to maximize the reach and effectiveness of your content is to provide the material your audience is seeking from your brand. And you can only know that by listening to them.
First, if you already have a blog, have a look at what’s working. Your blog will have its own, in-built tracking data which will show you the most read posts, and that’s definitely a great place to start. A tool such as BuzzSumo can produce a listing of the most shared content from your blog, and social networks it’s been most shared on.
This shows you what’s working for your blog, and what your audience is responding to. Social shares are a great indicator of what content has resonated best, and knowing which platforms, specifically, are generating shares for your content will provide more focus on where you should be cultivating your following. If you’re generating a lot of shares on Twitter, for example, that’s where you should be listening to conversations regularly for insight into the niche, industry and brand perception.
You can also use BuzzSumo to see what’s most highly shared in your niche/industry by entering in your keyword/s. Once entered, BuzzSumo will return the most highly shared content around that topic.
This shows you what content people are reading and sharing in your niche, what they want to know about, which can help you plan your own content. BuzzSumo also lets you filter the results by content type – videos, infographics, interviews, etc. This enables you to narrow down the list and really hone in on what’s resonating best with people interested in your industry. You can even narrow it down further with the location filter, just enter in your country or city to refine your listing.
You can also enter in the website/s of your competitors to see what’s working for them and use that to your advantage.
There’s a range of research tools available online that can help you get a better sense of what’s resonating amongst your target audience, but a key element is listening yourself, paying attention to what’s being discussed and shared by your social media communities. It can take time, but listening is the key element of any successful content plan. If you’re not listening, how can you provide what people are looking for?
Every blog needs some level of content plan in place. Whether it’s just knowing that you’re going to post each Thursday at 12pm, or pinpointing exactly what you’re going to post about, and when. There needs to be some strategy behind your blog. Consistency is a key element, you really want your audience to know, and rely on your delivery of quality material. If they can plan on delivering great content every Thursday, then they can build that into their reading schedule and ensure they come back and check in every time a new post is uploaded (even if they don’t subscribe).
Planning is also important when factoring in seasonal events, both internally and externally.
In regards to internal events, you might know that a key period is coming up when people really start looking for your services – knowing exactly when people are looking for key information will help you plan to deliver at the right time. For example, by using a tool like Google Trends, which shows you how often terms are searched in Google, you can see that searches for ‘accountants’ peak in January each year in the UK.
That’s when people are most actively seeking more information about tax and accounting, and that’s when you might want to plan to put out more content, or content specifically targeting the key concerns of people seeking accounting services at that time.
With external events, a content plan will enable you to stay on top of key holidays and celebrations to ensure you’re informing your audience of the most relevant and timely information, all the time. Christmas and Easter are pretty obvious, but school holidays, long weekends, all of these types of events impact people’s attentions and could have them looking for information.
Timeliness of your messaging can have a big impact on response, it’s worth factoring this into your planning to maximise your content impact.
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So you’ve got some content ideas from your research, you have a schedule and plan in place. Now you need to create.
There are a few elements in the creation process that you need to take into account.
- First, the best way to improve your writing is to read. While time is a luxury many business owners don’t have in abundance, it’s worth taking the time to read through top industry blogs regularly to get a sense of how they communicate, and what they communicate, as this will inform your own process.
- Second, always re-read and edit your content before posting. Spelling and grammar are important, and you will ALWAYS find things you want to change on a second reading. The best way to do this is to write your content, leave it for a day to get some distance from it, then come back to it with fresh eyes. No matter how perfect it feels, you’ll always find improvements on the second reading.
- Include relevant images. But make sure you own the image or have the rights to use it, or you risk receiving a fine. Even if you use the Google search filter which shows images ‘Labelled for re-use with modification’ that’s no guarantee.
- Here’s an easy editing tip that might come in handy – read your work back and listen to how it sounds. Does it sound like something you’d say? Does it sound like something anyone would say? If the answers were ‘no’ and ‘no’, then you need to re-write and ensure what you’re saying is clear – remember, readers generally imagine an internal voice and tone as they read. If your sentences don’t sound natural, that internal voice won’t either.
- Also, cut out words that don’t add to the sentence. ‘Just’ is a big culprit for this. ‘It doesn’t add up’ sounds far more definitive and seeks more attention than ‘it just doesn’t add up’. Sometimes, additional descriptors like this can slow up your sentence flow and weaken your message.
- Don’t be afraid to be you. Anyone can read all the top posts and put together something that incorporates the key points, that type of content is readily available everywhere. But no one sees things exactly as you do, no one else can add your perspective. This is particularly relevant for brands – write content based on the experiences of your business, because that’s an angle no one else has access to. Tone of voice is also important, and you should seek to maintain a consistent style across your posts.
So there you have it, a range of tips to help you research, plan and construct your blog content to help maximize reach and performance. While there’s no definitive rule book on blogging, following these notes will get you started and start you on the right path towards creating solid and informative content. And getting started is often the biggest step – the only way to truly improve as a blogger and content creator is to just do it. Once you do, you’ll have data from your readers, you’ll gain insight into what works with your audience, what they’re interested in. And you’ll improve. It takes time and commitment, but putting words down is the first step – everything else stems from there.
Share your tip tips on how to become a better blogger.