Creating content for blog posts, or really anything, is hard. At least when you first get started. Let's just admit that up front.
And a lot of times it just does not seem to be as important as the other projects your working on. There's not always that instant gratification of increased website traffic, and the piece doesn't go viral overnight.
But content creation is important. And your blog is an awesome tool that if used right can indeed increase your website traffic and bring you new customers. The catch is you actually have to post to your blog, and this means creating a consistent schedule and sticking to it. Now, this schedule is entirely up to you and the manpower you have helping you. One post a week from each contributor is definitely doable. And if its just you, don't worry, one post a week is a good start.
But how do you get into the nitty-gritty of actually creating quality blog posts people want to read? Especially within the limited time you have? Here's a basic outline of how I write my blog posts, quickly and efficiently:
1. Brainstorm Ahead of Time
This takes so much pressure off when it comes to choosing topics. Instead of waiting from week to week to think of a new topic, sit down either alone or with your other content creators and brainstorm ideas for topics that relate to your audience.
Use Analytics to see what posts are gaining the most organic traffic, and use those topics to inspire you with new angles on popular posts that can be interlinked with that post.
Look at your current blog, if you have one, and ask yourself "what are we missing"? What areas of your business are under represented, or not represented at all on your blog?
I usually jot down all of these ideas in a spreadsheet. Then I will list the dates we need posts for (in our case we do three posts a week: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. This ends up being one from each of our contributors.) We then decide who will write which pieces and end up with an outline that looks something like this:
For us, we typically brainstorm a month at a time. This means about halfway into November we brainstormed for December. This gives us plenty of time to write posts in our spare time, or make changes to our calendar as needed.
Now, don't rule out the extra posts that your going to come up with based on current events and news. Those will definitely happen. But if you have a plan for what sort of content you want created during the month, than the hardest part is over: creating topics! And those event blogs can end up being extra posts, especially if you already have created a back log of content on timeless topics.
2. Create an Outline
When it comes to actually writing your post, you want to have a structured, easy to digest post. The first key to creating such a post is to create an outline. If it is a step-by-step process, like this post, you want to start with your steps and number them. If, instead, you are telling more of a story, outline what each paragraph is going to be about, and see if there is a way to can divide sections with headings for easier readibility based on the topic of each section.
Once you have a working understanding of what type of content you will cover in the post, you can create the frame.
3. Form an Introduction and Conclusion
Your frame is your introduction and conclusion. These are the most important parts of your blog post, specifically as the introduction is what hooks a reader, and the conclusion lets the reader know what the takeaways are.
Write a strong introduction that introduces a problem that the intended audience will most likely have. For this post, obviously, it is the problem of actually sitting down and creating content with very limited time. If you don't have a problem you are solving for a potential reader, your post is going to be weak. There is no purpose you are working towards.
Once you have a strong introduction, you should craft a conclusion that recaps how you solved the problem in your post. Since you haven't written the actual post yet, you should have no problem creating a unique conclusion that doesn't sound repetitive based on the content of the post. Instead, it should be unique, and tie all the points you made up together in a bow. Now, your obviously going to edit this, but you want to have somewhere your headed, otherwise your post is going to take a lot longer to write.
4. Fill in the Outline
Now go back and fill in your outline with interesting details and information. This is where you let your personality and writing shine through, and you get to the meat of the post.
5. Write a Catchy Title
As you saw in our spreadsheet, we typically have a working title based on the blog topics. But those titles are subject to change at any moment. Your title is one of the most important parts of your entire post. It is what captures the interest and teases whats inside. So creating blog headlines that work is key.
6. Optimize For SEO
Now, your post is probably fairly rough at this point as you just sat down and wrote it all out. Depending on what tools you use for your blog posts, you often have an option to choose at least one keyword, or variations of keywords you want to rank for with your post. Tools like Yoast or HubSpot are great to use for this. Fill in your keyword(s) and let it grade your blog post for SEO optimization.
If you don't have such a tool, or even if you do, here is the Blog Post Optimization checklist we use for each and every post to ensure the blog post is fully optimized for the best performance:
- Page Title
- Meta description
- Image alt tags
- Use Header font at least once
- Use at least 1 outbound link
- Interlink with at least 2 relevant blog posts on the website.
I typically prefer to sleep on my blog posts and then reread them the next day and edit away. But if that's not an option, at least have another set of eyes check for errors and readability. Smooth out unclear or rough patches, and make sure you cut out unnecessary words or phrases that don't add value to the post itself. Length does not equal quality, so make sure your language is clear, to the point, and easy to read.
By having a process for your blog posting process, you will see a decrease in the amount of time it takes you to create content for your website. By sticking with a schedule the process becomes a habit, and one that will ultimately pay off by generating more traffic to your website who are interested in the topics you are blogging about. By generating useful, thoughtful posts, that establish you as an expert and offers transparent information about your industry, that traffic will convert into your next customer.
So start blogging, and don't stop. Because it does get easier.