As you begin to work on the digital footprint of your business, you’ll be told many things about what you should and shouldn’t do to ensure that your business and your website are visible online. We’ve discussed in wide variety the various tasks and initiatives that can assist your website’s ranking or help your social media initiatives, but we haven’t quite discussed the larger elephant in the room: content.
At the end of the day, simply having a website with your contact information and filling out your Google My Business listing will get your business’ information online, but it won’t help you get business. Well, it won’t help you increase business, that’s for certain. The purpose of content on your site, whether it’s through infographics, videos, service pages, or blog articles, isn’t just to fill up space.
Content writing, whether it’s to describe your services to potential customers or to create a blog, can be quite powerful for your business’ digital marketing. On one hand, writing a blog article can grant your website robust SEO. Search engine algorithms like to see websites producing fresh content on a consistent basis, but it’s unlikely that you’ll have something to update on your service pages every week or month. A blog is a great way to continuously create new content for your site.
On the other hand, when it comes to writing a blog, it’s a good way to build your reputation with your potential customers. A blog is a great place to display your knowledge and experience with your business – and to garner more business you need to give your customer base something of value, namely some of your knowledge.
The bones have been cast and the oracles have spoken: content is king. The best way to foster a good relationship with your customer base online comes through the content with which you provide them. Reliably and consistently producing blog articles on your business website of good quality and good length showcase not only knowledge and experience but expertise.
In spite of the many good reasons to regularly write a blog for your business website, many business owners don’t bother to take the time or simply don’t want to do so. Why? You might still have a sour taste in your mouth from high school or college when it comes to writing a paper – blog writing isn’t that different from writing a school paper, and they’re roughly the same length, too. Shooting for “1,000 words” is a great goal when it comes to writing your blog post, but going for 300+ is a much easier and reasonable goal.
While even the concept of writing a blog post at all might seem daunting, it’s more achievable than you might think. Once you’ve established a rhythm of consistently writing on a schedule, it becomes easier and easier as you go along to create the post each time. Additionally, if you have an established methodology and process that you use when you sit down to write a blog post, this will further help you keep to your schedule and keep that consistency.
Our post today is to help you develop your process for writing a post and there will be a second post to help you optimize the post once you’ve finished writing. While your own process might end up deviating from the one we outline here, this is a good baseline to ensure that the end product has quality.
Step 1: Pick a Topic
While this may seem like the easiest and simplest of tasks, it requires more thought than you might think at first glance. Ideally, as a business owner, there are lots of pertinent topics about your business that you can talk about (and write about) at length, but you need to remember to whom you’re talking (or for whom you’re writing).
It’s easy to write or speak on a level when you’re intimately knowledgeable about it, but how would you explain those topics to someone who barely knows anything about the business? Here at TheeDesign, it’s easy for us Digital Marketing Specialists to bandy about terms like “rich business citations” or “JSON-LD schema markup” but those aren’t terms or ideas that are necessarily known to our clients.
This is why you need to think of a topic that would be beneficial and interesting to your potential clients or customers while at the same time being something that you can write about. Do you have a question about the industry? Sometimes the best way to pick a topic is to ask a question that you don’t know the answer to, and then answer it.
If you don’t want to write too much or don’t have very much time, pick a simple topic or question to answer. This will keep your writing time short but will still allow you to get to 300 words or more for your blog. Whether you decide to pick a topic you know or you don’t know, the next step in the process is to begin your research.
Step Two: Conduct Research
You might say at this point, “But I’m the expert, why would I need to do any research on my own industry?” Your research isn’t just a way to gather information on your topic, it’s also reconnaissance on what has already been written on the topic.
If you’re asking a question you don’t know the answer to, or perhaps can only partially answer, literally Googling your topic can help you begin to answer that question. Even if you feel certain that you have the facts, it’s a good idea to Google the topic anyway: you never know when new information or facts might come out on your subject.
Additionally, this way you can find out what has already been written on your blog topic – you could be the first one to write on the subject or there might many other blogs written on the subject. This is your opportunity to make your blog unique to you and your business.
On the one hand, if no one has written on the subject at all, you have the ability to get out in front of the topic and look like the expert. If on the other hand many other blogs have been written on the topic, study them closely. Take note of what they do say and of what they don’t, which points they make and which points they leave out. Then you can fill in the information gaps with your own blog. This will make you look like that much more of an expert and can also help you get traffic and leads that you or your competitors might not have otherwise gotten.
Step Three: Make an Outline
The word “outline” sometimes brings out terrible memories from English class in high school, when your English teacher would scold you for lacking or improperly structuring outlines for your English papers. Despite this, we’re going to ask that you build up your courage and give the poor old outline a second chance.
Even when you’re very knowledgeable about a subject or topic (sometimes especially so), that doesn’t mean that your mind knows exactly how to describe or talk about it in a way that would make sense to another person. It’s a little like when you’ve been puzzling over a problem for a while, but still can’t make heads or tails of the solution: sometimes the best thing to do is distance yourself from the problem, correct? Sometimes, when we’re very knowledgeable about a topic, we jump into talking about it as though everyone listening has the same amount of knowledge and experience as we do, which can lead to confusion and miscommunication.
This is where an outline becomes crucial to the success of your blog. An outline helps you plan out the structure of what you’ll write, which means that it’s a pathway down which you’ll guide the uninitiated. Remember that you’ll be writing for people who either aren’t very knowledgeable about your topic or only have partial knowledge, so part of your job as the writer is lead them through the subject so that they’ll understand it.
The thought process of “walking someone through your topic” is what drives your outline as well. Think about your topic and how you would explain it to a friend or family member who isn’t very knowledgeable about your topic or industry at all. Where would you start? Which parts do they need to understand before they get to other parts? Is your topic about a process or methodology, so that it would be best to lead your reader through the process step by step?
As they say “first things first,” so think about these sorts of questions on how best to explain your topic and arrange your blog post outline in a way that explains the topic best. For example, when I sat down to write this blog post that you’re reading right now I began by thinking about why business owners need to be convinced that writing a blog is important, how I might convince them, and then laid out each step in the following outline to guide myself through writing this blog.
Step 4: Write
Depending on how you feel about writing, this may be the easiest step for you or perhaps the hardest. However, if you’ve followed the previous steps so far, you’ve already completed most of the hard work. Hard to believe? Think of it this way: at this point, you’ve gotten all of the thinking and planning completed, now it’s simply time to execute it.
It’s like building a house: a lot of planning needs to happen before the foundation is laid. You need an architect with blue prints, you need to schedule a contractor and plan the timing with the subcontractors, and you need to ensure all of your funding is ready to go as well. Once everything has been planned, thought out, and scheduled the building goes up relatively quickly – this is due to the thinking and planning before hand.
This is why the first three steps are so important. You’ve already thought and planned what you’re going to write about, what needs to be said, and what order you’re going to put it in. So put it down on paper already!
Many people face a certain amount of anxiety at this point, however. It can be easy to psych yourself out with worries about writing style or communicating effectively. That’s normal, even veteran writers still feel that way when they sit down to start a new project. It’s important to not let your doubt stop you at this point and to just go forward with writing – we’ll deal with clear communication, grammar, and style in the next step when we go back and edit the blog post. Just start writing and try to keep going until you’re finished. In other words, build the house and then we’ll inspect it to make sure that it’s firmly built.
If you find you’re having trouble writing about your topic enough and meeting that 300-word count limit, go back to what you’ve already written and examined it. Are you using any words that could be defined or explained a little bit more? Maybe you can state an idea or process in the form of a metaphor to further explain it. Have you perhaps explained something with too much industry knowledge or jargon? Make your explanation even more simple than you’ve made it already.
Additionally, don’t forget to add your call-to-action at the end of the blog post. This will help ensure that you meet the word count goal while also compelling a user or potential client to take further action to contact you for services. The call-to-action is literally an imperative statement: “Do this.” For example, with this blog post that you’re reading right now, I would end this post with:
“When you’re looking for expert content creation, marketing, and management for your website, look no further than TheeDesign’s experienced copywriters. We specialize in writing quality content that’s search engine friendly and brand building. Contact our expert digital specialists in Raleigh today by calling 919-341-8901 or schedule a complimentary consultation and website review.”
Always end your blog posts with a call-to-action to contact you. The purpose of your website and its content is to entice users and customers to contact you for goods or services. Having written a blog post, you’ve demonstrated that you are a benefit to the customer as a resource of knowledge and expertise. It’s good business practice to remind them of this fact as they finish reading your blog post.
Step 5: Edit What You Wrote
You’ve finished writing – great job! Now comes the time to edit your content. It’s advisable at this point to take a break from the blog post, whether it’s ten minutes or up to a day or two. This allows your brain to back away from the project and come back to what you’ve written with fresh eyes.
When you decide to sit back down to your blog post to edit it, you’ll begin by reading through the whole post, beginning to end, out loud. Yes, even if nobody is there to listen to you. The process of doing this helps in two ways. The first is that by reading it out loud, it forces your eyes to look at every word choice you’ve made, enabling you to see spelling errors and forgotten words that even grammar checkers miss. Reading aloud will let you’ll hear where the awkward phrases or strange sounding redundancies are so that you can fix them as you read it through.
The second way reading the piece out loud helps your editing process is that as you’re reading it, it allows you to experience the piece as if it were written by someone else. It gives you a bird’s eye view of the piece and helps you find holes in the overall post, such as a small but crucial step that you might not have thought of when you were planning the piece earlier.
Reading your blog post aloud and making grammatical, spelling, and style edits as you go will catch the majority of problems with your piece. Once you’ve completed your first round edit, the next step is to give it to someone else to read and edit, and if you can, actually read the piece out loud to them.
Ideally, this person will be someone who will be kind about your writing if you’re insecure about it but will also have the gumption to tell you when you’ve done something wrong or made a mistake. Reading the piece out loud to another person is helpful because it helps you spot problems you might not have otherwise noticed reading just to yourself. It makes you a little self-conscious and in turn allows your mind to look at the piece with a different perspective, highlighting what works and what doesn’t in the post.
Even if you don’t read it out loud to someone else, you must at least have someone else read it before it goes up on your site. A second person will spot small grammatical and style issues with the piece that you might not have noticed having written the post. It helps if they aren’t knowledgeable about your topic as well – this is the perfect place to test whether you’ve explained something properly to a lay person. Your “editor” can point out exactly where and what isn’t working about the piece from a completely new perspective.
Give yourself a pat on the back, you’ve finished writing your blog post! With time and effort, it will become a part of your business routine and it will be easier and easier to accomplish this task each month. Your websites SEO will be off-the-charts amazing! However, we’re not finished yet. While these steps show you how to write a quality blog post, you still need to optimize and upload it properly and know how to share it so it gets you lots of qualified traffic. Come back soon for Part 2!