You probably already know you should be blogging. You’ve heard companies that blog are 13 times more likely to achieve positive ROI and that 82 percent of those that blog daily acquired a customer through the blog, right?
When it comes down to actually writing, though, it’s easy to make excuses.
We just don’t have time.
We don’t have anything new or interesting to say.
We’re professionals at what we do, not professional writers.
Wait, is anyone even reading our blog?
Those are all legitimate concerns but, at the end of the day, they’re cop-outs. Don’t have the time? Enlist the help of someone who does, whether it’s a content marketing agency, other members of your team, or a freelance writer.
Nothing interesting to say? As someone who routinely writes about manufacturing excellence, quality control, and other “made for TV” topics, I feel I’ve earned the right to call you out on this one. What’s interesting is in the eyes of your readers, and anything that helps them solve a problem or be better informed will certainly be interesting to them.
And if you’re great at what you do, people will be interested in what you have to say. Don’t worry about your writing abilities or how many people are going to read your post. If even one person reads it and thinks of your company the next time he or she has a need, it’s well worth the effort. However, if you keep postponing your posts, you’re missing valuable opportunities to connect with potential customers.
If you’re just getting started or you need some help overcoming your writer’s block, follow these 10 simple steps to writing the perfect blog post.
1. Choose A Compelling Topic
Write with your readers in mind, always considering what will be most valuable to them. If you can’t answer the question, “Why should my readers care?” then you need to keep brainstorming.
Not sure what to say? Here are some questions to help you get started:
- What have you been spending a lot of time on lately?
- What questions have your clients been asking?
- What news have you read recently that you can add a new angle to?
- What are your competitors or peers talking about that you can put your own spin on?
2. Do Your Research
One of the biggest roadblocks to blogging is assuming you have to say something that’s never been said before. That’s not necessarily true; you just have to find a way to say it better. The fact that you’re still in business should be a testament to the fact that you have something unique to offer. Is it your process? Your people? Your experience?
Think about what you want to say, and find out what’s already been said. Then consider what questions are left unanswered, or how you can bring your own insights to the topic. This is your opportunity to shine!
3. Create An Outline
Often it helps to think through the direction of your post and get a clear understanding of how it will be organized before you begin writing.
Consider your audience and what you want to offer them:
- Thought leadership?
- Insight into trends?
- A step-by-step tutorial?
Look for common themes as you research the topic can help you figure out 3-7 main points. These will be your subheads. If you can, write these first.
4. Write An Attention-Grabbing Intro
Think of a short (3-4 sentence) story, a metaphor or an interesting example that illustrates the need for what you’ll be discussing. Consider how Kuno Creative brand journalist Carrie Dagenhard starts this post on personalization:
Have you ever received a really awful gift? I mean, a gift so inconceivably terrible, so obviously not you that you had a difficult time concealing your surprised disappointment? It would be ungrateful and selfish to admit you didn’t like a gift another person went out of her way to purchase, wrap and present to you, so you graciously accept, oohing and aahing over the unwanted item.
It’s a story we can all relate to, yet it doesn’t ramble or take us off track. Instead, it draws you right into the main theme.
5. Write a Strong Nut Graph
This is the critical paragraph where you get right to the point following your intro. It sets the expectation for the reader by telling them exactly what they’re going to learn. It should also carry over the theme of your intro; in this case, gift-giving:
When you fail to use personalization, that’s precisely the sort of question echoing in the minds of your customers and prospects. But use personalization well, and your customers will light up like a child on Christmas morning — and trust your brand to deliver the software solution they can trust to meet their needs. In fact, a study released by Demand Gen Report shows personalized experiences can increase sales by as much as 20 percent.No matter how successful your company, everyone is looking for a final-quarter bump. Let’s look at a few of the ways you can use personalization to boost sales — fast.
6. Look for Linking Opportunities
As you write, look for opportunities to link to service pages, previous blogs or landing pages. Aim for at least two internal links per post. Check to make sure the phrase you use matches the url you use for the link. For example, the phrase “recruiting software” should link to a page with that same title.
7. Tie It All Together With a Strong Conclusion
You’ve come this far…don’t leave your readers hanging now! Take the time to summarize the main point of your post, circle back to the story you started and remind them of how following your advice will benefit them. For example:
Walking through these six steps to communicate your high-impact data may seem daunting, but it’s worth the effort. Making sure your targeted audiences understand the full depth of your messages will have long-term benefits. You’ll be better able to share important information, impress customers and partners, win business, and make smarter data-driven business decisions.
8. Create An Intriguing Headline
Here’s a reality check for you: 8 out of 10 readers will never read past your headline. That means it better be exceptional.
Think of the topic you’ve chosen and the keyword phrase that makes the most sense to describe it. (Ex., “manufacturing marketing strategy”)
Use the following formula as a guideline: Number + Trigger Word + Adjective + Promise
Ex., 6 Ways To Kick Your Manufacturing Marketing Strategy Into High Gear
Your headline should be no longer than 70 characters.
9. Find or Create Strong, Relevant Images
To make your blog stand out, you’ll need a strong feature image. Avoid something with words or a lot of distractions, since the title of your post will appear over this image. Here are some good sites to find free stock photo
If you use someone’s photo from another site, check to make sure it’s free and available for commercial use. Don’t forget to give credit where credit is due. Next, look for a few photos to use throughout your post.
Think screenshots, quotes (use Canva.com to dress them up with imagery) or relevant images that illustrate a process (feel free to take them yourself!) A good rule of thumb: Aim for one image for every 300 words. Make sure to save it with the main keyword phrase you use in your post, NOT a description of what the image actually is. This is known as alt text.
Good alt text example: healthcare_marketing_strategy
Bad alt text example: smiling_doctor
Finally, size it appropriately. The dimensions will depend on the formatting of your blog, but if it’s too large, it will impact the load time of your page. Ideally, your image should be 72 dpi.
10. Proof, Publish and Share!
If you’re using a good content optimization system (COS), this part should be a breeze. The HubSpot COS is particularly helpful because it tells you exactly what you need to do to optimize your post for search. But no matter what platform you’re using, pay attention to these SEO best practices as you input:
- Make sure you’ve used your main keyword phrase and any other keywords at least once throughout the body of your post and linked them to a relevant internal page
- However, don’t use the same keyword too many times; repeating the same words five or more times could make your post look spammy
- Write a meta description that’s 150 characters or less and includes the main keyword phrase. This is what your reader will see when your post appears in search results and, when written well, it helps them confirm they’ve found what they’re looking for.
One you’re confident your post is optimized for search, take the time to preview it to check for any formatting issues, like inconsistencies in the font. Then have someone proof it. Don’t skip this step! If your post is peppered with typos, you’ll lose credibility with readers.
Finally, be proud of what you post and share it with the world. Don’t just Tweet it out once and forget about it. Share it on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and any other social network you use, remembering to customize your post for each one. If you use Hootsuite or another social media management tool, you can even auto schedule your post to be distributed on Twitter several times in the week, or schedule it far in advance. Include it in the lineup of content you post from now on, rotating it in with newer pieces from time to time. Link back to it from other posts when you can. Revisit it a year from now and consider updating it with new information.
Although the time you spend writing your blog may be fleeting compared to everything else you do, the best thing about a blog is its long lifespan. The Internet never forgets, which is bad news for some but great news for you. By writing your blog, you’ve created a new indexed page for your website that will continue to drive traffic for years to come, long after you’ve moved on to a new topic.
Your blog is often your first introduction to a potential customer. Make a great first impression, and it will pay off!
For more tips on how to continue building a relationship with buyers after they’ve found you, check out our lead nurturing guide.