You’ve worked out how to connect your domain name to your hosting. Eventually. Finally, you have installed WordPress having watched countless videos. You have tweaked the settings on your blog a few times and changed the theme 3 times. And you’ve written a blog post. But now what?
Setting up a blog seems so difficult. But now that you have finally mastered it, you realise that you don’t really know what to do next.
You know you must write some blog posts, but what should you write about? And how do people find you? Questions, questions, questions.
Although at the time it seems that starting a blog is the difficult bit, this is not the case. Getting a blog up and running is the easy bit. Sorry! The hard bit is actually blogging! I am someone who floundered a bit too, so I have written this guide in the hope that it will help others.
These are my blogging tips for new bloggers. Feel free to share if you think it is helpful.
The first thing that you need to do is to work out who your blog posts are aimed at. Yes, I know you want everyone to read your blog posts, but it doesn’t really work like that. People will return to your blog if your content is relevant to them. If they are interested in it. The rest of the world’s population aren’t interested in you and your content, and that is fine. Don’t take it personally!
You want to connect with people with similar interests and even attributes. You need a target audience, not just an audience.
So, you need to do is a bit of research. Yes, this sounds boring. You don’t want to do research. You want to get more content on your blog. But trust me and do this step first!
The relevancy of the content is totally dependent on what your audience wants and needs. When you put your focus there, you’ll find it a lot easier to create keyword rich SEO content that gets results.
Do You Know Who Your Target Audience Is?
One of the first things you need to know about your business to create amazing, engaging, and useful content is, who exactly is your target market?
Knowing who your target market is will inform the content you develop more than anything else. It can also help you create products and services easier. To define your target audience, you need to be able to answer these questions.
Knowing your customer’s sex, how much they earn, where they live, and these types of things, is very important.
However, you may not have customers, so some audience identification starts with an educated guess.
If you aren’t sure, you can choose the audience you want to target by developing an audience persona that you believe you’d like to work with. If you have sold products or services, then look to your analytics to find out your audience demographics.
Define their likely age, gender, income level, location, and any other characteristics that make them an ideal customer. For example, do they have children, are they members of certain ethnic groups, have a specific religion, share hobbies and interests and so forth. You want a very specific picture of your ideal customer in mind so that you can start searching.
This can be harder to determine but it’s an important question because it will determine the type of people your target market wants to buy from. You don’t want to be fake, but if you want to attract a certain crowd you’ll need to ensure that you share their values and that it’s demonstrated by the content you share.
This is sort of a “where do they hang out” question. Which publications do they read? What groups do they hang out in? Who do they look up to and follow on social media? This can help you find your audience faster by going straight to where they are to distribute the content you create rather than simply waiting for them to find you.
As you conduct your research you’re going to discover that your audience hangs out in different places both online and offline. When you join them in their groups and forums you can become a fly on the wall. You can not only observe, but you can also become a participant and learn that way too.
Another way to find more people who fit your audience is to find your competition and observe them. Sign up for their email lists, buy a product from them, and join the groups they are part of so that you can see how they engage with their audience. After all, they are the same as your audience.
Does your audience like written content, video, podcasts a combo of the above? Do they love infographics or something else? You may not be sure right away. Therefore, you want to re-purpose the content you create into different formats so that you can collect stats regarding which types of content your audience likes most.
If you know their problems you’ll have an easier time creating products, content, and solutions for them. You’ll be able to get to their level and talk to them as human beings and not just a faceless person. That’s going to make content creation so much easier.
When you answer these questions, you’ll have an easier time understanding who your target market is. This is the audience you’re going to create all your content for as well as every product and ever service for. You’ll also eventually create subsets of this audience (segmenting) which will make content creation even easier.
One thing to keep in mind before you learn these tips is that you shouldn’t just do market research once. Audience demographics can stay the same for 100 years, but the audience still changes in terms of language, problems, morals, values, etc. So, keep studying.
This may seem like a strange question to ask. Isn’t your audience everywhere? Well, no they’re not. The more you can narrow down your target market the better. The reason is that when you’re creating content for your audience you want to have a specific person in mind so that you know who you’re creating it for. Once you know who they are, you really need to know where they hang out too. Knowing where they hang out will help you know where to spend your time.
There are many different social platforms that you can become involved with. However, you don’t need to be everywhere, and you shouldn’t be everywhere. You should be where your audience hangs out. Which social platforms do they use? For example, food bloggers belong on Instagram for sure as does anyone involved with the fashion industry.
Today, online is all about groups and forums, especially Facebook Groups. If you know where your audience is hanging out on Facebook, you should be there. Don’t spam groups but join groups that your target market joins and become an open resource. They will contact you.
Who do they love to listen to? Can you become a guest on that show? If you can become a guest, you’ll end up on their radar. This will work especially well if you can also offer a gift via a special landing page for that audience.
Today, you can advertise on YouTube including specific YouTube accounts. This is a great way to tap into an existing audience that is like your target market in a fast way. Make sure you have something to offer that they’ll respond to.
When you can find out who your audience respects and follows, try to find a way to get that blogger to mention you. This may influence their audience. This is another shortcut to getting in touch with your target market.
There are many offline and online events that your target market probably attends and enjoys. Find out what these events are and make sure that you go to them. If possible and practical. The biggest mistake for events is going to events that only colleagues attend. Go to events that your audience attends. Make sure you have something to offer them, so they get on your email list.
No matter where your audience hangs out, you need to find them. It might take some trial and error if you’re not a member of your own target audience. You may need to research further to find out where they hang out.
One great tool to use to find your specific keywords being mentioned is to set up a Google Alert regarding the topic. You’ll then get information sent to your inbox that can help you find ongoing discussions by your target market that you can join.
The key to using the right keywords and keyword phrases is to know what your target audience is searing for. When you know this, you can design your content around what they’re searching for and what you are promoting simultaneously.
When you find your audience note the questions they ask. The question itself is a keyword phrase or long-tail keyword that can be expanded or broken down to help you discover even more keywords and more information for your audience.
Each question can become fodder for content whether it’s a product or a blog post, plus you can use that question as the start for more keyword research.
Knowing your audience well means knowing what their problems are. When you know their problems, you can come up with a list of keywords and keyword phrases based on those problems and finding solutions to those problems.
Once you have a short list of keywords and keyword phrases you can plug them into Google Search. As you’re typing, notice the predictive text that starts appearing. Write down those phrases and keywords too and repeat the process.
As you gather more search terms, you want to perform more keyword research. Using Google AdWords Keyword Tool, you can get more information about the keywords and keyword phrases that you want to learn more about. You can find out which keywords are worth it to use to attract your audience?
Another way to find out keywords that you can use in your content and products is to join groups that your audience takes part in. When you join groups that your audience participates in, it helps you to get to know the audience better. Pay attention to the questions they ask because they are the key to finding keywords and knowing which are important to use.
Another way to find out secret information about your audience is to keep your email open for responses in much the same way you keep your blog posts open for comments. This information will be so important for you moving forward so that you know what your target market is searching for.
When you focus on what your audience is searching for and what they need you’ll automatically create content that the search engines find and send your audience to. The reason is that the search engine’s job is to send their users to relevant content.
If you want people to read your content and come back for more, you need to be known as an authority. But how do you become an authority within your niche?
Affiliate marketers are very familiar with the concept of preselling. They spend their time crafting informative and value-driven content – content that is designed to ultimately drive traffic to the websites of the products or services they represent.
The foundation of preselling is to provide value to your audience. And there are, as you probably know, many different types of value. For example, entertainment has value. If you make someone laugh, and that’s what they were looking for, then you’ve provided value.
Service providers can provide value in their content by helping their audience solve their problems. For example, a website designer might provide value by creating content that shares the elements of successful website design. They might write about plugins, design languages, colors and more.
A retailer can provide value by creating content that also solves problems. For example, a home organization store has an endless amount of valuable content if they talk about how to organize, offer tips, tactics, and suggestions.
Providing this type of value can also help build your credibility. As you create value-driven content, you’re sharing what you know, solving problems, and educating your audience. Preselling means to promote a product or services without actively selling it.
As a service provider, this means you’re promoting yourself without selling your services. Positioning yourself as a credible and knowledgeable source of information builds trust with your prospects.
And again, we buy from people we trust and consider to be experts. As a product-based business owner, you again presell your products by positioning yourself as a source of information and knowledge.
Content is the foundation of preselling yourself and building authority. Let’s take a closer look at the role of content to build your authority.
One way to both strengthen your content and further position yourself as an expert is to make sure that your content is well written. That means that it’s conversational but also informative.
Content is one of the best tools you have, to consistently and creatively build your authority. One blog post can reach thousands of people and help establish you as a credible expert in your niche. There are an abundance of opportunities to create, share, and publish authority-boosting content.
Let’s look at some of the options that are available to you.
Create a blog that regularly shares top quality content. Share what you know, answer questions, talk about industry news, and provide solutions for your audience. Blog as often as you can while controlling for quality and value.
Find reputable industry blogs to create value-driven content. Create a byline that includes a call to action and a bit about yourself, so readers will click through and visit your blog.
Make sure that the blogs you guest post on also have a reputation for quality and are authorities in their respective niche. Also make sure it’s a relevant and complementary niche. A fitness expert isn’t going to reach their audience if they’re guest posting on a software blog, for example.
Establish an email newsletter and build your list. Make sure that each issue of your newsletter, whether it’s delivered weekly, bi-weekly, or even monthly, contains authority-building content. Invite your subscribers to share the newsletter with friends and also consider allowing them to reprint the content on their own blog or website.
We’ve talked about print content but there are many other formats to consider. You might create a video channel and share weekly videos. You can podcast or create infographics. Exploring other types of content will help you establish your credibility with a larger audience.
Digital publishing has never been easier. Don’t wait any longer to take advantage of this opportunity. Start brainstorming a book and writing it. If you just don’t have time to write it, create your outline and then hire a ghostwriter to do the legwork for you.
Your comments on your blog and on other industry blogs are also an opportunity to create quality content. Make sure anything you say in a comment is something that you’d be proud to publish. Make sure it positions you as an authority and represents you in a positive way.
Social media provides an abundance of opportunity to create and share content. You can share facts and tips on Twitter and you can share brand new content on Facebook and LinkedIn.
Consider holding live events like webinars and seminars to provide information to people who are interested in learning more. These live events work much like a published book to establish you as an authority.
We naturally give authority to people who are published and to people who “teach” and speak in public. Hold an event and provide value to your listeners and you’ll take huge steps in creating your authority status.
Beyond publishing a book, you can also create home study courses. These courses can be delivered online via an autoresponder. You can also simply make them available as downloads or create a tangible product that you can ship to their home.
There are also more formal documents that you can create. These papers can be made available on your blog or website as downloads. You can also share them with your prospects as a tool to help solve their problems.
Finally, don’t overlook the opportunity to publish articles in traditional publications like magazines and newspapers. Content provides an abundance of opportunity to establish yourself as an expert. It allows you to connect with your audience solve their problems, and share your knowledge, experience and information in a valuable way.
Unfortunately, people won’t just stumble upon you. Normally. You must put yourself out there. You need to be where people are looking. Obviously, this is easier said than done, so how do you become more visible?
Let’s talk about what exactly content marketing is and why it is so crucial these days for your internet marketing success. It doesn’t matter if you have an online or offline business. People use the internet more than anything else to find information and to find you. The days of yellow page ads and flyers or ads in the local paper are gone. The best way to make sure you are easy to find is to have plenty of content out there to do the marketing and selling for you.
Online content can come in a variety of different formats. There is written content, audio and video content, and even images, infographics and the like. They are all great bits and pieces that can be used in your overall marketing strategy. To market with content, simply means that you use those informational and educational pieces of content to promote your website and what you have to offer.
The idea is that other people will find your content, read it, watch it, or listen to it, and learn from it. This helps them to get to know you and most importantly, it helps to build trust and build that relationship that gets them comfortable to do business with you.
As with any other advertising and marketing method, the idea is to get out there in front of people who are interested in what you have to offer. That means your blog or website isn’t the only place where you use content marketing. It may also include posting on Facebook, tweeting regularly, creating content on LinkedIn, or recording educational videos to share on YouTube.
It means creating keyword-based content so you can be found on Google, but also other platforms that we don’t necessarily think of as search engines like Pinterest and again YouTube which is now the number two search platform.
To create a content marketing plan you need to understand who your target audience is, the problems you solve for them, where they hang out and much more. But, once you do the things you need to do to create an amazing content marketing plan it’s going to pay off in all aspects of your business.
The importance of publishing relevant cannot be understated. That’s why Bill Gates first said that ‘Content is King’ in 1996. He went further and stated, “Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the internet, just as it was in broadcasting.”
Truer words have rarely been spoken. If you look at the history of the internet and where it’s going, it’s clear. Content is, in fact, King and will remain so. This means that you have a wonderful opportunity to do a lot with the content you publish and it all starts with your audience.
Content directed toward the issues and information that your audience cares about is a great way to educate them on a problem, issue, and solution. For example, if you have a business selling your coaching services the type of content you develop will be focused on teaching your audience about their problems and the need for coaching as a solution to their problems.
If you study your industry well enough and publish what you’ve learned, you can become known as a thought leader once you’ve published enough content. You’ll want to publish content in all different forms but it might be print, infographics, video, or audio. That will help spread your message far and wide so that your audience can find you.
When you share information with your audience from the first email, blog post, social media update or another type of interaction starts to establish and build a relationship with the people as individuals. People don’t read your content online in groups typically. You’re reaching each person one-on-one and due to that, it’s more personal to the person consuming your content. They start to feel as if they know you. Knowing you is the first step in the “know, like, trust” trinity.
When you give information to your customers about the products or that you’ve created for them even after they purchased that content will boost customer loyalty. The reason is that they will feel as if you care about them. You can check in with them to see how they like their purchase, send surveys to find out what can be improved, and even provide additional resources for them based on what they bought. You’ll become a hero to them and in return they’ll be loyal to you, recommending you to their friends and colleagues.
When you share great content with your audience it also encourages engagement. Invite them to respond to your blog post. Use a proper return email address for every email you send and invite them to respond to your email messages. Ask them to come to your forums and groups on social media.
SEO enables search engines to find your content so that they can recommend it to their customers who are searching for your content. The more you follow the guidelines put out by Google with your content the more likely they are to send your customers to consume your content.
When you use the right content, at the right time, in the right places your business will grow in all ways that matter. You’ll grow your audience, your customer base, and your revenues. The reason is that you’ll get more eyes on you due to publishing more content.
What’s more, content is a real business asset that you can continue to build on for years to come. The content you produce and publish today will continue working for you for years to come. That’s why it’s so important to have a content marketing strategy.
One of the reasons many people claim that they have trouble creating content is that they don’t understand why they’re creating it. Every piece of content you create needs a reason for being, otherwise, you’re wasting your efforts. Let’s look at some common reasons you need to create content.
To narrow down the purpose of any type of content you’re creating you want to ask yourself a few questions.
Use your audience persona, or a customer persona to help you focus yourself on the content you’re creating. The content you create for people on your list will depend on how they signed up for the list, which freebie they downloaded, which product they purchased, and what your goals are for that list segment. The content you create for the audience you have that has never purchased or converted in any way will be different.
Where you’re publishing the content makes a big difference too. If you’re publishing it on your blog it will be different than if you’re sending it via email. A blog post can be very long, while an email shouldn’t be. Also, the page it’s going on your site is important too. Is it a blog post, part of your about me page, or another page? What is the purpose of the page it’s going on or the list it’s going to?
When you sit down to create the content ask yourself this question and start brainstorming the answers. That way you can keep looking at that as you’re creating the content. Try to keep it to one topic instead of spreading it too thin. You should have one overarching message you want the viewer to take away from the content you’ve created.
Before creating any new content, you should always go through the content you already have so that you can find out what you’ve already published about that topic. You may be able to take bits and pieces of content you’ve already created to make it into something new. If it’s totally new content with a totally new angle how does it fit in with what you have and make it better?
Every bit of content you publish needs a point. Do you want to educate, inform, inspire or engage with your audience or a combination of these options? When you think about the goal of the content you will have an easier time creating it to do what you want it to do.
Finally, you want to know exactly what you want your reader to do once they’ve consumed the content. You need to remember the call to action throughout the content, especially at the end by directing them in what you want them to do by telling them what to do. Don’t hint, don’t just put a sign-up box at the end, instead tell them what you want them to do.
Once these questions are answered you’ll have a much better idea about the direction to go with every piece of content you create because it’s going to fit in with your overall big goal as well as the goal you have for the individual piece of content such as list building for example.
If you feel like you can’t keep up with content creation there is a possibility that you’re not making use of the content, you already have by repurposing it. There is no reason to do all that research, work hard on an article, and then not use it again. Likewise, there is also no reason to use PLR (private label rights) content only once too. Let’s look at some of the ways you can repurpose your content.
If you host a webinar you can get it transcribed and then the transcription can be used to create a variety of other types of content. If you can share it via audio only (meaning it doesn’t have a lot of need for visuals) you can make a podcast out of it. You can take the transcript and turn it into an eBook, blog posts, or a case study. You can even repurpose the webinar as is, by putting it on YouTube.com.
If you created a slideshow for your webinar you can upload it to sharing sites. You can also use the slides as the basis for a book, blog, or article outline. Anything you create about a topic can be used again.
Be sure to read the rules for your image purchases and downloads but most of the time you can use an image more than once. You can turn images that are inside a report into a meme with adding text overlay on it using online software like Canva.com. If you create a meme first, you can use it inside a report or a slideshow.
Once you create an infographic you have lots of data that you can use for blog post ideas. Each point on your infographic can be a separate blog post or article. Combined it can become a book. You can also use the infographic as the basis for a webinar or YouTube video.
Anytime you write an article, or buy one such as with PLR content, you have a great opportunity to recreate it differently. If you have an article with 8 points, that can become a slide show. It can also become 8 blog posts, or 8 emails, or 8 videos covering each point in more detail.
Your blog posts are all fodder for extra content if you think about it. A blog post can become an email, combine a lot of posts and they can become an eBook. Any blog post can be the basis of a YouTube video or webinar.
It might seem difficult to do anything with a podcast but you can. Have it transcribed, cleaned up and expanded and you’ll have plenty of material for many blog posts, case studies, and more.
Once you do a Facebook live you can download it, put it as is on YouTube, and you can transcribe it to get it into text format to use in different ways such as articles, blog posts, eBooks, and reports.
Anytime you have a live event if you get permission to video and record everyone there you can use that information and transform it into a new content format. You can even sell the recordings to the attendees or those who could not attend the live event.
If you give some thought to how you’ll use every piece of content that you create including how you’ll repurpose it, you’ll find that creating enough content for your audience is so much simpler than you thought. Proper reuse will go far in building trust, expanding your audience, and making more sales too.
When you create any type of content the next thing you need to do after publishing it, wherever you publish it, is to promote it. Content should be promoted just like any other product you’re proud to deliver to your audience. Thankfully today there are numerous ways to promote content online.
When you publish a snippet of your newest content on Facebook you can now boost the post to get more eyes on it. However, the best way to do it is to make it into an advertisement instead of just boosting the post.
Be sure to add all the social sharing options you can on your posts and articles. Use a plugin like Better Tweet to Click (https://wordpress.org/plugins/better-click-to-tweet/) for example which helps you create call outs for your stats that anyone visiting can tweet out. Don’t just add it to your site, go and use the share buttons yourself too.
When you share content ask your audience to also share. You can say “share this” or you can tell them why you want them to share it. You can also point out the easy ways to share the information with their audience. If you ask some people will say yes. If you never ask they may not do it.
Don’t forget when you publish new content to always create a short email to send to the appropriate segments of your email lists. You can schedule it right in or you can make it into a broadcast post depending on the evergreen quality of the content you’re sharing.
It’s amazing how good search engine optimisation can help market your content too. If you pay attention to headlines, headers, and sub-headers along with the words you use within the material that is published online it’ll make it a lot easier for search engines to find your content to share with your target audience.
A fast track way to get attention is to pay an influencer to mention and share your content with their audience. This works great if you share the same audience but aren’t competitors. When using an influencer ensure that you set up landing pages just for them and make the influencer’s job easy.
A really great way to get the word out about your content is to join others who offer complementary products and services to yours to the same or a very similar audience. You can work together sharing each other’s content using an affiliate link for example.
Every article should provide 5 to 10 snippets that you can use for other types of content to share. They can be blurbs pointing out a stat or point within the content, or they can be short videos that you create from the content too. That will get a lot of people’s attention.
Experts love being mentioned online so if you have used any in your content as sources not only should you call them out on social media tagging them (and thus getting their attention and their audience’s attention) you might want to also email them personally to let them know about the work.
Remember, every bit of content you create can be repurposed, redesigned, and updated to make it new, fresh, and different. The more you do this, while also sharing, the more who will see it.
When you create new content, look at your best performing older content. When you find something relevant, add a link to the new content under the older content so that these readers will see it.
Another great way to promote your content is to use one of the syndication companies where you can pay per click in exchange for them pushing your content out to other outlets.
Any way that you can push your content out to more people to see, like, and share it the better results you’ll get from your content. Don’t just publish it and forget it. Publish it, re-purpose it, and promote it. You can even use services and plugins to help you do some of this.
You know what they say about planning right? “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”. Well, according to Benjamin Franklin. However, this is very true when it comes to content marketing.
No one would dream of publishing a magazine or newspaper without a content marketing plan. Creating a content marketing plan requires an understanding of your goals, your products or services, and your audience.
You need a content marketing plan because you need to create cohesive content, establish your brand identity, increase productivity, improve analytics and get the most bang for your buck. Content marketing can do all of this and more if you create a content marketing plan.
When you develop a content marketing plan, you’ll work out all the content you want to create based on the products and services that you want to promote. That doesn’t mean every piece of content is going to be promotional in nature, but it does mean that all the content you create will work together, share the same voice, and talk to the same audience.
When you plan the content you’ll create and share in advance, it helps with branding because you can keep everything similar. For example, you can decide on the voice, fonts, images, colors and more ahead of time. It’s a lot easier to explain to someone you’re outsourcing to what you want when you know what you want because you’ve planned it out.
When you create a content marketing plan you’ll know what you need to do each day to reach your goals because it’s going to be in your calendar and schedule. You will know exactly what content you’re working on creating today, what is being published today, and most importantly why you’re doing it. That’s going to make it a lot simpler to create the content you need for all parts of your business.
When you know why you’re publishing a piece of content, you’ll be able to check analytics to find out if it’s working the way you thought it would. You’ll also be able to trace what’s working and what’s not working so much better than if you’re just acting off the cuff. The plan makes some assumptions and those assumptions are used as a basis for your analytics.
When you do all that you can with content marketing such as use the right keywords, find the right voice, create the content directly for your audience you’ll find out that your return on investment will be a lot higher. You’ll boost revenues as you boost brand awareness because more of the right people will know about you.
Now that you have good content, you need to write great blog posts. Let’s take a look at some of the parts that make up a good blog post.
The most important part of your blog post is your title. If you don’t grab your reader’s attention with the title and get them to actually read the post, nothing you put inside the post matters. It doesn’t matter how great and helpful your content is. It doesn’t matter what offers or affiliate links you have in your post and it doesn’t matter who sponsored you to write it. If you can’t get them to read it, the blog post doesn’t do you much good.
And when it comes to getting free search engine traffic, your title is important as well. It is the most important factor when it comes to getting your content to rank. Yes, there are plenty of other factors, but a good title with the right keywords in it will do more good than anything else you do.
How do you go about writing a good, attention grabbing blog post title then? I suggest you start with a working title for your post and craft your content. Then come back and work on the finalized headline, implementing as many of the tips below as you can.
You want to write an attention grabbing headline. With that comes the temptation to hype it up and stretch the truth just a little bit. While that may get you some extra clicks, there’s a trade-off. You’ll lose credibility if you’re exaggerating or telling little (or big) white lies. You see a lot of those headlines on social media. You click through and end up disappointed because the post doesn’t fulfill what the title promised.
Instead, make it interesting without all the hype and stick to the truth. A great way to do that is to think about what’s in it for your readers.
Shorter titles tend to do better both with click-throughs on your blog and social media. Keep it short and to the point and think about engagement straight from the title of your post. Ask your readers a question. Make a statement that makes them think. Put numbers in your titles to get them thinking about what’s in the content (i.e. My 5 Best Tips To …)
Keep an eye out for titles that catch your attention. Copy and paste them into a swipe file and see how you can tweak them for your own needs and market.
Last but not least, don’t forget to work your keywords into the title. I tend to do this last. Always write for your readers first and then work in what you need to do to make sure the search engines recognize what your content is about.
Ranking well for something your readers don’t want to read or don’t want to click on doesn’t do you much good. Focus on your audience and then optimize for search as an afterthought and you’ll do well.
Implement these tips and get a few blog posts out there. Pay attention to what’s working and what isn’t. Each market, each blog, and each readership is different. Use these tips as guidelines to help you find your own style that resonates well with your audience and gets you the results you want.
Every few months we get some new advice from a blogging guru saying that our blog posts need to be longer, or shorter, or that they should be broken up into 10 pages of bite-sized chunks… it can make you crazy. Let’s talk about this. How long should your blog posts really be?
It would be great if there was a magic number that guaranteed best results, wouldn’t it? But that’s like asking someone to tell you how long your conversations with other people should be. Sometimes it’s nothing more than a few words or sentences; sometimes you have a nice long talk. It all depends on how much you have to say to each other, doesn’t it?
The same approach works well with your blog posts. Sometimes you’re sharing just a quick tip or a recipe for example. In that case something around 200 to 300 words will do just fine. Add a pretty picture and call it good.
Other times you want to go into a little more depth. You want to cover different aspects of a topic, share some examples and give your readers as much information as you can. In those cases make it as long as you need to make it. Long posts are great. They help establish your authority and if the content is great, they are often shared on social media. Plus long posts give the search engines a lot of text to sift through and give you more chances to rank for long-tail keywords.
The best advice is to mix longer and shorter blog posts. It will make your blog seem more natural and organic. Don’t force yourself to reach a certain magic word count if you don’t have that much to say on a topic. Keep it short and to the point. Your readers will thank you.
If on the other hand you have a lot to share in a different post, go for it. Break the longer content up into small paragraphs and help your readers stay on track with subheadings and bullet points. Make it easy to scan longer posts so your readers can get an idea of what the content is about before they commit to reading it all.
And if you’re finding yourself writing a few thousand words, consider breaking it up into a series of blog posts instead. It will help both you and your readers from getting overwhelmed with one long post. Link from one part of the series to the next to make it easy for your blog readers to follow along.
Above all, enjoy the process of writing and pay attention to what your readers prefer. If your short posts tend to do better, consider keeping your posts short and to the point. If you’re getting a lot more engagement and social media shares on longer posts, combine a few of the shorter blog post ideas into a longer one. And whatever you do, don’t get hung up on a number of words.
Let me ask you something. How much content is thrown at you on any given day? It’s a lot, isn’t it? We’re bombarded by articles, social media posts, emails, podcasts, videos etc. We come across a lot more content than we could possibly consume any given day. And chances are that a lot of it is good stuff.
As a result, we’ve all gotten pretty good at scanning and then picking and choosing what we actually want to read, watch, or listen to. And that’s why it is important to break up your content and make it easy for your readers to scan through it.
If you can’t show them at a glance what the post is about, chances are pretty good that they’ll move on to something else. Here are a couple of different things you can do to break up your post and make sure it’s easy to scan.
Take a look at this post. Do you see how I’m breaking the different elements of making a post easy to scan down into subheadings? You can do the same with your blog post. Think of the outline of your post. Each point in your outline could be a subheading. Start with those and then fill in the content.
Or if you prefer, start with the content and then go back and add the sub headings. Create the content and work in the subheadings in whichever way works best for you. The only important thing is that they are in there before you hit publish.
Reading online is a lot different than reading something on paper. Books, newspapers and magazines can get away with long paragraphs. Online it’s a different story. Text is harder to read on digital devices and our attention span keeps shrinking.
One of the most effective things you can do to keep your readers reading is to keep your paragraphs and sentences short. Don’t make it much longer than three or four lines.
Next you want to go through your content and see if there’s anything you can present in the form of a list.
- Use a list instead of several related sentences.
- Use a list to share examples.
- A list is a great way to break things up and grab your reader’s attention.
- Lists can be as long or short as you need them to be.
And let’s not forget about other formatting options. Bold important key terms, italicize them, or underline them for emphasis. All of these formatting options make it much quicker and easier to scan a piece of text and figure out what it’s about without having to read every single word.
Last but not least, let’s talk about graphics. A picture is one of the best ways to convey within seconds what your blog post is about and generate interest. Just scroll through your Facebook feed and look at what’s getting your attention. Or how about browsing through Pinterest? Images hook you and grab you in. They are also a great way to break up longer sections of text. Make sure you use them to their fullest advantage.
We live in a social world where much of our news comes from sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. To grow your readership and make sure your blog posts get the attention they deserve, you need to encourage your current readers to share what you’ve written on their favorite social media sites. What those sites are will largely depend on the niche your in. Find out where your audience likes to hang out and then focus on getting them to share on those social media outlets to attract more likeminded readers.
Of course it all starts with quality content that your readers want to read and share. No one is going to spread a crappy post on social media. Start by writing the best blog posts you can and do some research into what your audience wants and needs.
In other words, serve your market well and they will in turn share what you’re writing with their friends and acquaintances.
Next it’s time to pretty up your post. Break up your content into small bite-sized chunks so it’s easy to read. Add some subheadings and formatting to make it easy to scan through the content. And don’t forget to add a pretty image that captures the essence of your post.
Step away from your desk and then come back and look at it with fresh eyes. Is the blog post visually appealing? Does it grab your attention? If not, go back to the drawing board and see what you can do to improve it.
When your goal is to get people to share your blog post on social media, you want to make it as easy as possible to share. We talked about what social media sites your audience favors earlier. Make sure you have one click buttons to share the blog post available for all those sites. If you are running your blog using WordPress you should be able to find a plugin to help you do this.
Buttons are great, but sometimes it takes a little extra push to get your readers to take action. Don’t be afraid to ask for the social media share. Close your articles and blog posts with a little sentence or two that asks them to share on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest etc. if they enjoyed the post. And don’t forget to let them know how much you appreciate it when they share the love.
Blogging can feel like a very one-sided conversation sometimes. You’re sitting there, typing away, and sharing content with your readers. But you don’t hear anything back. They read and respond with silence. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way.
Blogs were designed to facilitate engagement and communications. There’s a reason you can leave comments and all it takes is a little encouragement to get your own readers to do that on your blog. Combine that with a little social media interaction and there’s no reason you can’t turn this into a fully engaged conversation that will help you grow a loyal base of fans.
Because let’s face it, while it’s nice for our ego to get lots of comments and interactions, when you’re blogging for a living what really counts is making enough money to pay your bills at the end of the month. And for that to happen you need a loyal audience that not only knows, likes, and trusts you but is also comfortable spending money with you or your sponsors. And for that to happen you need an engaged audience.
Interaction helps too because with each email your readers send you, with each comment they post, and each social media post they write you learn a little more about your target audience and how you can best serve them. And that right there is the key to becoming a profitable blogger. Know your market, serve your market, and present them with offers to help them reach their goals or fill their need.
We know it’s important, but how do we get the ball rolling and encourage our audience, our readers to interact with us bloggers? We do it by asking them questions, by asking them for feedback and by encouraging them to share their options – right from our blog posts. Let me give you an example. Let’s say you’re writing a post about getting your baby to sleep through the night. Within the post, ask your readers how old their kids are, or what their own experiences are with their infants. Ask them to share if they are struggling with getting enough sleep right now because baby wakes them up every few hours. Encourage them to share their stories and tell them exactly where and how to do it – by leaving a comment below.
Now the next step is crucial. As soon as you see that first comment or two pop up, reply to them and keep the conversation going. This will do two things for you. Not only will you have a great conversation with the reader that commented (and a chance to form a deeper relationship), seeing you reply also shows other readers that you care and really want to hear from them. And that’s what’s going to encourage more and more of your loyal readers to comment.
The same goes for social media engagement. When you post a link to your latest blog post, ask your friends and followers to like, share, and comment. Then let them know how much you appreciate it when they do. Of course you can get the conversation going there too by asking a question related to your blog post on Facebook for example. It’s a great way to share another link to your blog post and get the conversation going at the same time.
Give these tips a try and see if you can’t get your readers to engage and interact with you. It’s well worth the effort.
Before you sit down and write the first word of your next blog post, stop and think about what you want to accomplish with your post. What’s your goal? How is this blog post going to help you accomplish something to help you move forward with your business.
Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself:
- Are you writing a post that you hope will get shared across social media and grow your reach?
- Are you writing a post that also invites readers to join your email list so you can get back in touch later?
- Are you writing a post to get the attention of a big brand you’d like to work with?
- Are you writing a blog post to start a conversation with your existing readership?
- Are you writing a blog post with the end goal of selling your readers a product?
- Are you writing a blog post to start a conversation with a fellow blogger in hopes of growing a mutually profitable relationship?
All of the above are valid goals for your blog posts and I’m sure you can add a few more to that list. The important thing is that you are aware of what you’re trying to accomplish with your post.
Then start with the end in mind. If your goal is to get the attention of a big brand you’d like to work with for example, think about a post you can write about your experience with one of their products.
If your goal is to grow your list, think of a topic that’s complimentary to your opt-in offer freebie. Write the content and then transition into an invitation to join your list and download the free report.
Do you see how much easier it is to craft goal driven blog posts when you know what your goal is before you sit down to write? You can reverse engineer the entire process and make sure everything flows well and leads your reader to whatever action you want them to take at the end.
Being able to do that is pretty powerful stuff. It allows you to craft different posts strategically. Write a post that helps you grow your reach. Then work on one that starts the conversation with our new readers. Next work on getting them on your list and finally make them an offer. Intersperse this with posts that help you get the attention of potential JV partners and Brands and you’re all set to not only grow your blog and your audience, but make money blogging as well.
Visitors are great, but readers who sign up to your list are even better. You can engage with people better if they are on your list, and you can really help them out.
If you build a strong email list you can almost give yourself a raise whenever you want one if you understand your audience fully, know their problems, and know great ways to solve them. But, you need to do it right so that only targeted list members are lucky enough to be on your list because you choose only the right products and services to market to them while also providing a lot of value outside of what you sell to them.
When you make it a priority to get your audience on your email list you can bring them back to your site again and again while you also make offers, educate them, and provide a lot of value to them without having to constantly chase customers. People who sign up for your email list, assuming they’re targeted, and your offers are consistently awesome can also help you spread the word about new offers helping you get more buzz.
The way people get on your list is to sign up for it using a sign-up form. You may have the sign-up form connected to a freebie, a landing page, or social media (or elsewhere) but this is how they get on the list.
A sign-up form is code you will get from your autoresponder service such as Aweber.com, Drip.com, or Convertkit.com (and others) that you paste into a page, or integrate with landing page software such as Leadpages.net, Converzly.com, or Instapage.com (and others) so that your audience member can subscribe to your list.
If you want to get more subscribers for your list converting a larger percentage of people you contact to subscribers then you need to provide multiple opportunities for them to sign up. Don’t just offer one way, offer multiple ways on your website, and other platforms to get your audience on your list.
This is a type of sign up form that is set to “pop up” for the viewer based on their behavior. For example, some pop ups are designed to show up within seconds of a new viewer going to the page. Others are set to only pop up when the viewer is leaving the page without taking any action. While some people complain about pop ups statistics don’t lie, and they still work for most audiences.
For each give away you should create a sales page anyway. This will enable you to promote the benefits of signing up for your email list just as you would a paid product. Your email list is just as valuable as a paid product so it should get the same treatment with a great landing page or sales page devoted to your sign-up form for your newsletter or email list.
An often-overlooked place to put a sign-up form is within the content of your website. It’s always a good idea to write a blog post about your newsletter or make a sales page about it, but this is different. This type is mentioned within the content to help people know that they can sign up to get more information or get reminded of more great content. It often shows up right below content as well.
If you have a side bar on your website, you may as well put a sign-up form there too. When a visitor is interested in more they will often look at the side bar when you have one for more places to get more content. The email list signup form being there helps grab those extra members.
Every website has a “featured” area which is “above the fold”. A sign-up form there that stays there always whether you have a giveaway right now or not is a good way to display a sign-up form. Plus, a sign-up form in the featured area will get more attention than other areas.
These types of forms can be set up to slide up on the bottom right of the page your viewer is reading. You can trigger it to slide into view based on the visitor’s behavior or after a certain amount of time. It doesn’t obscure any of the content but it shows up enough to help your audience notice the sign-up form and the benefits of signing up.
This is slightly different from a pop up in that it comes up and covers up the content on the page after a few seconds, or after an action is taken to trigger the form to appear. The form doesn’t just pop up, but the content on the website becomes obscured in some way by the overlay drawing extra attention to the sign-up form.
This is a page that viewers see before they see your actual website. You can make it a requirement for people to sign up to read the rest of the content, or you can just put the splash page portion above the “fold” which is the area people can see on a PC before they scroll down the page. This part can tell all about the benefits of subscribing and gets the viewers’ attention immediately.
However, many places you place a sign-up form, remember that each type looks different on mobile than on a PC. Plus, remember that with few exceptions most people use their mobile devices to check email. Therefore, it’s imperative that you ensure your forms look good and work for mobile as well as they do on a PC.
Content plays a role in list building in many ways because it’s content that brings people to your website, and content that they’ll download onto their computer when they get on your email list, and content that you’re going to send in email to add value to their lives and make offers that help them solve their problems.
List building is so important that you should think of it as your main goal when working on marketing, brand awareness, and adding value to your audience. While your website is the hub of operations your email list is the foundation for the longevity of your business.
Use cornerstone content to build your email list with in-content opt-in offers, also called content upgrades. Cornerstone content also has other names such as “epic content” and “pillar content”. This is to say that it’s in-depth but broad content that covers a lot of material and helps bring your audience to you, keep them on your site, and educate them about the things your audience cares about. By keeping it broad you give yourself more opportunity to include in-content offers to build your list.
List building is an important part of building a successful business today. Whether the business is online or offline, bricks and mortar or completely digital doesn’t matter. Every business needs to focus on list building to ensure they have an active and responsive audience that is building so that they can keep their business going and even somewhat predict their income as time moves forward.
Building your email list with opt-ins, freebies, or lead magnets is common terminology that you may have heard of. In-content list building is simply putting the freebies within the content of your website. They can live on your blog posts, within cornerstone content, on your about page and elsewhere.
Let’s look at a few examples:
The best way to explain how this works is to give you a few examples of in-content opt-in offers that help build your list.
Example #1: Your website is targeted toward people who are on low-carb diets. You write and publish cornerstone content about several different types of low-carb diets and the reasoning behind them. Within the content, you can link to an opt-in offer that gives even more in-depth information about the low-carb diet. For example, you could offer a “low-carb diet starter kit”. The kit could include a 7-day menu, a shopping list, and recipes along with tips to stick to the diet.
Example #2: An individual blog post that you write is about how to choose a good web host. Your opt-in offer could be an extensive comparison sheet of the various type of hosts, their pros, cons, costs, and whether they have good customer service or not.
Example #3: Your website is directed toward mothers who are homeschooling elementary age children. You write a blog post about teaching letters and numbers to your children. Your freebie linked to within the content of that blog post could be colouring sheets with letters and numbers on them that your audience can download, print, and let their children colour.
As you’ll see, it’s still a freebie, opt-in, or lead magnet, it’s just presented in a new way instead of sitewide it’s included within the content the potential customer is reading at the time. Offering additional information that adds value to what the viewer is consuming at the moment makes it more likely they’ll sign up because they want that freebie because it’s so relevant to them right at that moment.
By having several in-content opt-in options you not only give your general audience more opportunities to get onto your email list, but you give different segments of your audience an even better reason to sign up. In-content offers, due to how laser targeted they are, make these types of list members even more valuable and typically more responsive to your offers.
In-content list building is an effective way to ensure that your business keeps growing while you continue to add exceptional value using and reusing the content that you create for them. It may seem like a lot of work, but the truth is, it’s more effective than almost any other list building method and will build your list big and healthy if you keep in mind your audience as you create content and opt-ins for the content.
When you’re focused on list building it’s better to have many points of entry to your list, just like it’s best to have many points of entry to your website. You can earn more points of entry into your website via your social media activity, guest posting, and even via paid ads.
The more points of entry you have, the more traffic you’ll receive to your website, which means more of your audience will also see the in-content lead magnets that you’re offering, and the more who will sign up and end up on your email list.
Consumers are smart and can block out the information on your sidebar to read your content. The fact is, most people don’t want to be sold to. That’s why they become blind to offers. In fact, when you use the word offer they often just stop looking. But, putting your offers within the content of your blog or website will help avoid this problem.
When you put additional information especially free information within the content of your website be it on a blog post, as a content upgrade to give additional information, or under your blog posts it’ll become more apparent to your audience that this is something they should pay attention to.
Putting an opt-in within the content of your post or website also helps provide relevancy. When creating a freebie this way, you’re forced to be laser targeted so that it has something to do with what the audience member is currently looking at. That makes it more likely that they’ll download it and get on your list.
Another reason in-content lead magnets work so well is that the person reading the content that the lead magnet exists in happens to already be very interested in what they’re reading. This makes them much more likely to download the lead magnet and sign up for your email list.
This type of lead magnet is very laser targeted and designed to give a deeper understanding of your customers’ problems and pain points as well as the solutions. It also helps them understand what type of quality you provide to your audience.
When you put several in-content lead magnets on your website based on your goals and objectives it gives your audience multiple points of entry into your email list. You can service several segments of your audience due to this.
Another factor with in-content email list building is that the more opt-in offers you provide it also gives you more opportunity to show your audience your expertise level. The deeper you can go with the information the better.
List building is an art form that you may need to shake up every now and then to get your audience’s attention. If you look at the large websites such as Hubspot.com and others, you’ll see a great example of how they use in-content opt-in offers to build their email list.
Now that you know about in-content opt-in offers let’s get started quickly creating a quick one so that you can get started. There are several high converting spots to add an opt-in outside of your sidebar, slide, or pop up offers.
One way is to add an opt-in at the bottom of every blog post. The idea is that if someone reads all the way to the bottom of a blog post they are interested and will likely also be interested in an offer.
This type of offer is considered a site-wide offer even though it appears at the bottom of each post. Although you can, if desired put a different opt-in at the bottom of each post you create based on the category that you use.
To add opt-ins, you’re going to need to create a download / thank you page where you add the opt-in as well as a sign-up form. You can do this in a few ways but at the absolute minimum, you need to purchase email autoresponder software like Aweber.com, Convertkit.com, or Drip.com. This is what allows you to create the form that you use to collect an email address to add to your list.
You’ll need to create at least one landing page for the opt-in offer, the thank you / download page. You can do this easily by simply creating another page on your website that is not added to the menu and is not indexed for search. You can also accomplish it with specialized landing page software that works with the email autoresponder software such as leadpages.net, instapage.com, and ConvertKit.com has landing page ability too.
You may need a plugin that helps automate some of the processes, especially if you have numerous opt-ins created that you can add to a blog post based on the category that the blog post appears in. This can make it a lot simpler and faster, but you don’t have to have it. There are several such as Thrive Leads put out by Thrivethemes.com and Optinmonster.com.
You’ll also need to create the opt-in for downloading. The easiest is to create something in Word and then turn it into a PDF file. You can make it look really professional using the software you already own, or you can hire someone to lay it out for you using software like in-design to make it really stand out. It’s up to you how you do it but for the most part, people are used to getting PDF documents as downloads.
Before you create your opt-in analyze your blog posts to find out which blog posts already get the most views and comments. Even though this opt-in may end up being a site-wide opt-in you want to reach the most active and engaged part of your audience by creating something for the most read posts on your website.
Finally, once you’ve decided what opt-in to create, outline it, and create it. Once you have created it, use the software to get it up on your site so that it can be downloaded, and you can start building your list as soon as possible. The faster you get it up the faster you’ll start building your list.
If you’ve already started building your list but you’re not sure whether you’re building a targeted list or not, it’s okay. It’s not too late. Keep the list you have but start over with how you identify your audience, attract them to sign up for your list, and engage with them. The people who aren’t ideal will naturally drop off your list over time.
It’s been said multiple times but you must know your audience. If you’re not sure right now who your audience is it’s important to drill down and figure it out. You should be able to create an audience avatar that you can look to before creating a single product or marketing message. When you do that you’ll be more targeted in what you create and in who you attract.
When people purchase from you, get to know them more. When you really know your customer, it’ll help you better target your audience because you’re going to get a bigger picture of the type of people who need and want your products or services. Over time, as you get more customers your audience avatar should represent your ideal customer.
The way you go after your audience and ideal customer is to know them. When you know them, you’ll know where they hang out, what they do in their spare time, and even what keeps them up at night. You can use that information to craft the right messages on all platforms that your audience likes whether that is a Facebook Group, a Live Event, or something else entirely.
You can think of your email list in many ways. But, it’s one list segmented based on the preferences you set up. At the least, a list should be segmented to put customers in one segment, leads (audience) on another segment. When you develop more lead magnets, more products, and more services you’ll have more segments which can be automatically happen based on their behavior as you set it up in your autoresponder using the methods that system has such as tagging.
It’s imperative that once you get people on your list you craft messages that will keep them engaged. It starts with your welcome message and it doesn’t end. Even if they buy a product or service from you, your relationship should continue, just in a different way on a segmented and appropriate part of your list based on their behavior. You can even reactivate a list with the right message.
If you’re unsure if your list is targeted or not craft a message to them offering a freebie that you think they’d all like and market it to your list as you would elsewhere. If they click through, then you can move them to a new segment of your list as active responders who act. The people who don’t act, may not be your people. That’s okay. You can either clean them from your list or send more aggressive messages so that they either act or cleanse themselves of your list.
Chapter 6 – Next Steps
Now that you have some reminders of great things you can do with your blog, start planning your next steps.
The first thing that you MUST do is to research your target market. If you don’t know your target market, you will float around aimlessly. Produce that customer avatar that you know you should have. Find out where your audience hangs out. Go there. Study your competition too.
Once you know your target market, you know what they are interested in. More importantly, you know their problems. What keeps them up at night. Then you can start producing content to meet this need. This great content that meets an actual need will lead to you becoming an authority within your niche. Above all, provide value.
Once you have your content, you need to market it. Get it out there. Don’t wait for people to come to you. Remember the purpose of your content and what you are trying to get over to your readers. Think about ways to repurpose your existing content. And start working on your content marketing plan.
Keep producing great blog posts by ensuring that you make use of great headlines, the right amount of content, and remember to use your keywords.
It is never too early to start building a list. Start now. Make it easy for your readers to subscribe too.
If you have enjoyed this post, make sure you bookmark it as I am sure I will be adding to it! But please, share if it has been useful. Thanks! And most of all, start implementing these blogging tips for new bloggers today.