The most powerful and influential people in any industry have always been the content creators – the thought leaders.
Whether a beginner or experienced writer, coming up with a great content can help you achieve your goal in the process of delivering effective message through your blog posts.
How do you create the perfect blog posts? Start with the basic ideas and master the more complex details later on.
Start with Story Ideation
In general, it’s pretty hard to just force an idea out of your head. The things that spur and jibe at our imagination tend to be loose, transient wisps that aren’t easily commandeered, no matter when the deadline happens to be.
Force yourself too hard, and you inevitably feel mentally overexerted and stuck in a fit of writer’s block.
Usually we don’t take much stock in the ideas that randomly float into our head, but it can be incredibly useful to keep a running log of all these ideas. No matter how stupid they might be, keeping a running tally of ideas for every content channel you have is a great way of building up an idea bank.
Everything that happens to you can be fuel for content. Experiences you have, conversations you overhear, other people’s blogs you read – all can be tied back to your niche and be fuel for content.
Search the news for your industry and see who has done or written something interesting recently. If you find something appealing, write your own piece as a comment or critique on it, adding your own spin and analysis.
Another ingenious way of taking advantage of Google News is seeing what topics are hot at the moment and piggy backing off of them. Craft your idea around the hot topic, or make your piece an analogy to it with a clear indication in your headline.
Learn the Art of Making Exceptional Headlines
As a culture, we are addicted to headlines. Our entire reaction to a piece can be based entirely on how good we think the headline is.
When writing your content, start with the headline first. Make it as sticky as possible. Think Potentially Raunchy Ways Elmer Never Wanted You To Use His Glue and then some.
Copyblogger has an amazing series on how to make headlines that rock (Google “Magnetic Headlines” and you’ll find it.). You’ll Be Sorry That You Never Read This Post To Learn How To Write THE BEST HEADLINES EVER!
There are six characteristics of exceptional blog titles or headlines: actionable, keyword-conscious, brief, clear, definitive, intriguing.
A great blog title is actionable, not passive. Most likely, your readers want to learn something from reading your post. Use your blog title to demonstrate that your article will give them action-oriented takeaways by incorporating verbs and other action words from the get-go. An actionable title will also give readers the impression that your blog article is a must read.
Example: “How to Create a Google+ Business Page in 5 Simple Steps”.
With many blogging platforms, your blog article’s title also doubles as the page title for that web page. And anyone with a basic understanding of search engine optimization understands the importance of the page title. Incorporating appropriate keywords your business is targeting in your blog title is a great way to get more SEO bang for your buck. HubSpot, for example, recently ran a campaign about marketing automation, and the following blog article appropriately targeted that specific keyword.
Example: “10 Things We Hate About Marketing Automation”.
Be concise and to the point in your blog title. Punchy blog titles are much more sharable and effective than long, drawn-out titles, which can sound complicated and lose a potential readerís interest quickly. A good rule of thumb is to keep your title around eight words or fewer, as demonstrated by the following example.
Example: “101 Signs You’re an Inbound Marketer”
One of the goals you should have when creating your blog title is to clearly communicate what the article is about. Avoid language that is vague. Ask yourself, “If I read this title, would I have a clear indication of what the content I’m about to read will tell me?” If you can’t easily answer that question, you probably need to rework your title. In the below example, the title makes it obvious that the reader is going to learn various ways to make his/her content more visual – 6, to be exact.
Example: “6 Creative Ways to Make Content More Visual”
Show potential readers you are an authority on the topic you’re writing about. Use words that are strong and definitive. Leave wishy-washy language out, and avoid questions. Be confident in your writing. After all, if you’re not confident that what you write is awesome, why should others be? The following title, for example, couldn’t be any more confident.
Example: “The 15 Best Facebook Pages You’ve Ever Seen”
Potential readers should take one look at your title and think to themselves, “Ooo… that sounds interesting.” A lot of times, this will depend on the blog’s topic itself. Are you writing about something that would actually be interesting to your target audience? If so, it shouldn’t be difficult to come up with an intriguing title. If not, you might want to reconsider your blog topic in general.
Consider adding a little mystery into your title. While you might think this advice is a bit counter-intuitive to our point about being clear, there’s a right way to do this. They key is to indicate what the reader will learn from reading the blog post without actually telling them exactly what it is.
Example: “Confessions of a Content Marketer”
Experiment Writing Formulas
Everyone remembers their 5th grade teacher who pounded it into their brains that an “essay” meant exactly five paragraphs – intro, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion – and nothing else.
Experiment with different posts. Do your short, 500 word posts work best? What about longer, 1,000 words posts? Slideshows versus link roundups? Are you going to have a rigid content formula or let it all just hang loose?
Check the metrics behind each kind of post as you experiment, taking note of which kind of content formula is actually getting you the most visitors, the most shares, and the most comments. Then max out on what works.
Set Yourself Apart
Let’s talk again about angle and your voice. These are two of the most important aspects of turning your content into a brand because they make you stand apart. Very few companies actually do a good job of making their content look and sound unique enough to turn it into a memorable brand, making this step all the more important.
One good example is Mint.com, the personal finance management software. Mint’s blog became what felt like an instant hit in social media, setting itself apart through clever, magazine-style writing and cool infographics.
Mint quickly became “that blog” that made “all those cool graphs.” In other words, they became the trend setter for catchy financial content, which then began to be imitated on other financial and business blogs.
Another example is Cracked.com, which makes the most ridiculous, hilarious headlines that it almost pains you not to click on them. They’re not exactly crass, but they’re definitely not normal. Combined with an all around air of a pretty good investigative shenanigans, Cracked gets millions of page views.
How you’re going to execute content every day is up to you as you work setting yourself apart from others.
Choose Valuable Type of Content to Publish
Change the way you think about content for your blog. Instead of creating product-focused content that is unlikely to get shared, consider spending more time on educational, data-driven, or especially thought-provoking content relative to your industry. This type of content has a much better chance of attracting readers – and spreading.
By creating these types of content, you’ll start establishing your blog as a valuable resource for your industry. Because people are more likely to share content that is educational in nature, your content will have the capacity to reach a larger audience of potential customers.
As a result, people will start to associate your business with industry expertise, translating to more credibility and trust in the products/services you have to offer.
Offer Content Variety
While people crave consistency in focus on blogs, you also need to keep them interested through the range of information you present. The most engaging blogs offer content to their readers in many ways. People like to consume information differently, and by not offering variety, you’re limiting the reach of your content only to people who like consuming information in one specific way. Plus, a one track blog can get really boring
Source Your Content
Contrary to popular belief, your blog doesn’t always have to consist of completely original content, nor does it have to come from just one contributor. Consider content source suggestions like welcoming guest bloggers, curating content, and encouraging employee contributions to keep your blog frequently flowing with great content.