A good blog theme is an umbrella that content ideas can flow from. If a blog theme is “Healthy Marketing Advice,” content can be about anything marketing related, as long as it has smart marketing tips. When content ideas are tough to come by, look to the theme as the North Star—a guiding light that helps shine ideas on valuable content to share with readers.
For many people inspiration strikes only when they have a specific mood: last-minute panic. Professionals need to have a plan to produce great content without inspiration. (If inspiration strikes, that’s gravy.) Here’s the plan.
What to Blog
– Write as simply as possible. Studies have shown that online content that is shared most often is readable to most elementary school kids. This is about providing instant clarity. Most readers want a blog to comb through the relevant subject matter and show them something that is worth their attention. A blog entry can be as simple as “Hey, look at this” with a little narrative as to why blog readers should look at the link, photo, or video that is being shared. If you want to write long essays on the topic, that’s great as long as your analytics numbers show that long essays are what your readers want
– Keep it short. Someone once said that blog posts should be like a miniskirt—long enough to cover the subject, but short enough to keep reader interest.
– Plan a writing schedule and keep to it. You’d be amazed at how creative you can be when filled with last-minute panic. Until you’ve got your sea legs, start with a weekly entry and then grow to three to five posts a week. Some bloggers have “Weekly Wednesday” or “Monday Motivation” or “Friday Funny” themes so they have a clear focus and day of the week to prompt writing.
– Make a list of topics to cover. If you’re stumped by what to write about, go back to the blog theme and start thinking about your target customers. Think about how the blog can best educate, enlighten, and engage them. Brand, build, and boost your business. Your expertise, ideas, perspective, tips, tricks, and stories won’t help anyone if they’re all stashed away in your brain.
– Look at the calendar. Every industry has annual, seasonal, or in some cases monthly events that are content creation–worthy. In some cases you can create a draft about a seasonal event long in advance and then plug in the latest news at the top of the posting. For example, the fashion industry has a large focus on spring and fall fashion, accountants get very busy around tax time, and professional organizers have a lot of buzz around spring cleaning.
– Create editorial departments. Look at pertinent trade magazines to discover which departments you can adapt to regular blog entries. Any time there is big media buzz around a certain topic that relates to the blog theme, put on that journalist hat to blog about related current events to maximize interest and exposure.
– Stay informed. There are a number of tools to keep you up to date on the latest industry news so that when news hits, you’ll know and can write about it: • Create Google Alerts for topic area keywords or phrases (http://www .google.com/alerts).
– Create an industry news dashboard in iGoogle and then customize the feeds. This will allow you to see all the industry news at a glance.
– Look to the key phrases for inspiration. There are key phrase clusters around every organization and industry. Use a web analytics package to look at the keywords and phrases that people are using to find your site.
– See if any of those keywords lend themselves to regular blog entries.
– Check out Google Trends for the keywords in the given topic area to see which keywords are on the rise and which are declining.
– Take advantage of inspiration. Sometimes the muse strikes. Don’t forget it. Write it down and post it. If you want to develop the topic more fully later, you can with the knowledge that you’ve created two blog postings (a short one and a long one) out of one inspiration. Plan “think pieces.” “Think pieces” can sound scary and formal, but it is simply a three-pronged way to write that includes a quick analysis, background material, and personal opinions. All you need is an opening, three points, and a closer—keep it to 400 words maximum and you’re done. Remember that, with blogging, done is better than perfect. The web is flexible; you can always go back and edit.
– Slice the onion thinly. Don’t feel you need to write everything about a topic in a single entry. You can say, “Stay tuned for Part Two,” and give readers a reason to come back (or sign up for the RSS feed) to get more of the story.
– Author how-to articles. The web is one of the main places people go to find information. How-to articles are great for customer service and to show expertise.
– Include educational articles. Web users are in need of authoritative articles about millions of topics. When readers are educated, they feel empowered. When an organization empowers people, a relationship is built that can launch business.
– Share your checklists. If you’ve got a procedure that works, share it. Lists are easy, organized, and very helpful to those web readers who scan rather than read, and they show expertise.
– Try a Top 10 list. Thanks to David Letterman, Top 10 lists have become a staple for content creators. For interesting and relevant blog posts, try a Top 10 list of things people don’t know about your topic.
– Interview people in your industry. A blog is a great excuse to network with big names. Create an interview sheet with top questions you would like answers to. Interviews can be conducted via phone or e-mail.
– Embed videos from YouTube or other sources. Video is more than just eye candy. It is one of the top content creation ways to engage readers.
– Video links are clicked on and shared more often than any other content on the web. Regularly search for videos in the topic area of your industry, and when there is something worth sharing with readers, post it.
– Link to podcasts. If your organization or someone in the industry has a relevant podcast, link to it. Add some opinion to the piece being shared on the blog.
– Outsource to experts. Get guest bloggers to write and keep content diverse. Diversifying writers helps create fresh content and can appeal
to more readers. Guest writers gain exposure and the blog owner gets content—it’s a win-win.
– Get the best blogging advice every day. Seeking help will inspire the content development process. Get blogging advice or inspiration from people who do it professionally.