What Should You Write Your Blog About?
Blogging is something all businesses and entrepreneurs know they should do, but most of us struggle to start and keep up with. It's not surprising given how long it takes to write a good post (around 4-8 hours) and how long it can take to get a decent amount of traffic to your blog (months!).
But blogging is vital to bringing traffic to your website. Sharing what you know is a major opportunity to back up your brand with real evidence of your expertise. It's also a way to express the human side of your business, which is vital to marketing on the web. We buy from people, not websites after all.
Without blog (or podcast or vlog) posts to share you'll struggle to build an audience on social media.
The main obstacle getting in the way of the people I help with blogging is working out what to write. Despite what many will tell you, there's no secret formula, no perfect blog. You just need to provide interesting, useful or entertaining information — preferably all three — in a way that makes people want to hear more of what you have to say.
Here are five prompts to help you start your blogging adventure.
1. Find out what your audience wants to know
The ultimate aim of blogging is to get your business in front of people by giving them useful information. Your audience could be people who subscribe to your blog, follow you on social media or otherwise find you interesting enough to keep an eye on.
What does your target audience need to know about what you do? If that's a tough question, start by building a detailed picture of your ideal client. Now imagine what challenges could lead them to you. What do they Google along the way? Your blog should aim to snag these Google searches and answer their questions with high quality, original information and opinions. Type related words and phrases into Google and see what it suggests based on other searches.
If you're a creative, crafty business, share tips on exactly how to do what you do. If there's a lot of show and tell involved, consider whether your posts might work better as YouTube clips.
Another place to get inspiration is with your current customers. Which questions do you answer over and over again? Write down the top five and start to think about rich and informative ways to answer them, ideally with data and examples.
By the way, a blog post should never be an opportunity to talk about yourself (‘If only they knew x,y and z is they'd stop haggling/treat me with more respect/stop wasting my time/etc'). Neither is blogging a way to advertise the ultimate awesomeness of you — don't tell people you're great, just be great. Honestly, generously and knowledgeably answer your ideal clients' questions, and you're on the right track to building an audience.
2. Stick to your subject
Blogging boosts your search engine ranking because Google:
- Favours living, breathing sites that are constantly updated with new content
- Uses your website content to work out who you are, what you provide and whether you are what or who you say you are
- Takes into account your website traffic when determining your search engine position. Well-clicked links to your blog from social media can boost your SEO.
This means not only should you post new content regularly to your blog, but that content has to be super-relevant to your field. If your website content was built around a list of keywords, incorporate them into your blog posts as much as you can, especially in the first 100 words of each post.
If you're finding these keywords don't easily fit into your posts, you're probably going off topic, and potentially impacting your search engine rankings. Stick to describing you own subject to your audience.
3. Get inspiration from others — then add value
Apart from just getting on and writing, the best way to get into writing is to read, read, read.
Take in every blog you can, those from within your industry and successful blogs on other topics. Google ‘Top [your field] blogs.'
Don't fear your competitors. They are a mine of inspiration. Ask yourself:
- Which common topics do you also need to cover?
- What new perspectives can you throw on these common topics?
- What topics can you add?
- What makes a good post good? An angle? A sense of humour? Or quality, original data?
Google the topic of your post and read the posts that come up. Click any links that point back to research, or Google to find industry reports and research into the topic. What can you add to your post to make it richer, more informative and more entertaining? If you can write a better post than the rest, you've got a good chance of being found in search from that post alone.
4. Break down each topic into even more posts
Lets say you're a hairdresser and you want to write a blog post about taking care of your hair. How could you break this topic down and add value and detail for different audiences? Perhaps with articles about young, middle-aged and mature hair types, shorter and longer hair, curly and straight?
My process for breaking down topics is fairly organic. I start to write, then find I actually need to write a lot about a certain aspect of the topic. I restructure my first topic then write two or three posts instead.
5. Keep at it
The key to getting into blogging is to get into blogging. Pure and simple. As you write you'll find your articles prompt ideas and requirements for more articles. Make sure you capture those ideas in a notebook or spreadsheet — you can evaluate and evolve them later.
When I think of a new idea I open a blank Word document and write a headline, then jot down a few notes about whatever prompted me to come up with the idea. Later on I might write it up, adjust the topic, or change my mind and delete it.
The important thing is to continue to capture ideas, so you can keep up the momentum. Build them into a calendar so you know at the beginning of each week which topic you're working on.
Remember, there are no hard and fast rules to blogging, no secret key to success. Know your topic and empathise with your audience's challenges, then help them in any way you can. Be authentic, be human, and get yourself out there.