Content marketing is the path to your customer’s heart and the key to growing your business. Promoting your business via content marketing requires a strategy and process to create blog posts that people actually WANT to read.
Blogging has been around since the late ’90s but many companies haven’t quite mastered it and many are still just getting started. The steps to writing great business blog posts aren’t always easy to figure out and that can make you unsure of where to start or what to say.
The benefits of business blogs are many:
- Establishes Authority: you become the “Likable Expert” to your customers and prospects
- Drives traffic to your website
- Improves social media engagement
- Converts traffic into leads and sales
Quality content is a top Google ranking factor and when you think about that, it’s crazy not to have a blog.
The content of a page is what makes it worthy of a search result position. It is what the user came to see and is thus extremely important to search engines. As such, it’s important to create good content.
So what is good content?
Good content creates an experience for website visitors that educates and inspires them to make a transformation.
Yes, you want to inform your visitors, but doing that alone is not enough. To really help them transform, you need to make their experience a meaningful one, and that means helping them to apply what they’re learning. When done correctly this builds trust, and if someone trusts you they’re more likely to do business with you when they’re ready to make a purchasing decision. This is effective content.
There are many components to a blog that make it successful and with so much content being published daily online, your content must be memorable or people simply won’t engage.
The goal is to make an impact on your community, your prospects and your customers. Today, we need to use all methods to captivate customers and your blog is the foundation from which to launch from.
10 key steps to create blog posts that people WANT to read
1. Write What You’re Thinking
One of the biggest challenges for companies is, “Who will create our content?”
There are many, many people who believe they’re “not writers.” Simply put, blogs are merely your thoughts and advice on paper (or video, images or even spoken into a microphone for the world to hear). When you put your thoughts to paper, something magical happens. Inspiration takes you to places you never thought you’d go. Start by writing what you’re thinking.
If you’ve got a team, use brainstorming sessions to capitalize on your thoughts and collaborate on ideas.
Pro Tip: Even if you decide to outsource your writing, you’re going to need to get your thoughts on paper.
2. Put Yourself in Your Reader’s Shoes
Ask yourself, “What’s the ONE thing I want the reader to take away from reading this post?” Write with one concept in mind – don’t get caught up in a bunch of different ideas. Save all those ideas for other blog posts. Stay focused on the one concept, one solution, one story that will keep them captivated.
3. A Clickable, Shareable and Compelling Headline
You only get one chance to capture your reader’s attention and that’s your headline. There are many formulas to write great headlines and studying headlines has been sort of a hobby of mine. One of the my favorite formulas is this:
Number + Adjective + Keyword + Rationale + Promise
(Example: 6 Savvy Content Ideas to Captivate Customers and Get Their Attention)
More Headline Tips:
- Numbers win readers – i.e. 1o Tips to…
- Use interesting adjectives such as killer, amazing, ultimate, powerful, exciting etc. I use this great list here–>
- Remember: Power words are emotional words packed with persuasion.
- Use rationale such as tips, tricks, reasons, principles, elements etc.
- If possible, include trigger words like ‘Why’ and ‘How’
- Make a promise, such as 10 Powerful Tips to help you…
- Make your headline shorter rather than longer to avoid Google truncating it for you (60-100 characters is ideal).
- Include keywords/key phrases in your headline to improve SEO and organic search results.
4. Tell a Story
There is simply nothing more compelling than a story. The best way to illustrate why people buy from you (what makes you different than your competitor) is to tell stories about your everyday interactions with customers.
Never waste a good customer experience story by keeping it private.
When you create blog posts, let customer and employee actions convey the trust that you’re building with your prospects. Stories paint a picture and evoke emotions, which goes a long way in cultivating trust. Blog posts are at their best with they build trust by telling great stories that draw people closer.
5. Grab Them With Your Opening Paragraph
The headline’s job is to get people to read your first paragraph. The first paragraph’s job is get them to keep reading!
Speak to your customer’s pain points.
Your successful opening paragraph has two components: Expertise and Empathy
- Expertise. Mention that people come to you with a problem or concern. Say, “Customers come to us all the time…”or “Recently, a client asked me the following question…” By doing this, you’re making it clear that you/your company are an expert in solving this problem.
- Empathy. No one wants to feel alone in their problems. Everyone wants to feel understood. Phrases like “we can relate” or “we appreciate” or “this is understandable” go a long way to help the reader perceive you as someone who’s not only trustworthy, but “gets” them—opening up the doors for a potentially great working relationship moving forward.
6. Include an Irresistible Image
Images help tell stories. Sometimes, they are the story. Include an irresistible image with your post so that people who learn visually (65% of your readers) will connect with your content.
Another important reason to include an image is so that when you publish it on social media and other platforms, the thumbnail populates, thereby optimizing your content for readers’ newsfeeds.
People consume content differently.
Many people will scan your post. Some will read 50% of it and some will read all of it. Make your post readable to each type of reader:
- Easy-to-read font
- Break up long paragraphs
- Use sub-headings
- Use bullets
- Take advantage of block quotes when possible
8. Optimize for Search
Blog posts are valuable for two main reasons:
- Humans (customers and prospects) read them during their shopping research.
- Search engines look for fresh, relevant content when ranking sites and blogs are the best at providing it.
You will need to do a bit of research for the keyword and phrases your prospects use to search for what you sell. Here are 3 tools we use:
Once you’ve decided on the keyword/phrase you want to write about, you’ll need to optimize your post for search.
You can spend time figuring out how to exactly optimize your blog posts for search OR you can use this handy plug-in I use on my WordPress site. It’s called WordPress SEO by Yoast. Install it and it will guide you through the process of optimizing your post for search engines.
A note about Outbound Links: when appropriate, link out to the sources you use for your content. It helps the reader and supports the points you’ve stated. When you link out to related domains, it not only helps the search engine understand your niche, but also helps to increase the trust and quality of your site, which plays a vital role in your blog’s SEO.
In this sharing economy, we’ve all become accustomed to getting information for free…and that’s an awesome thing. However, it’s still important to guide readers down your sales funnel when appropriate.
When you create blog posts, don’t forget to include a Call-to-Action at the end of your post. It reminds them that, if they need further assistance or deeper expertise, you’re there to help.
10. “Perfect is the Enemy of Done”
When I first started blogging ten years ago, I would fret over my post until it made me crazy. I’ve learned that blogging is a conversation you have with your readers, prospects, peers and customers. It doesn’t have to be perfect!
However, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t proofread.
My editing routine is:
- Write from the heart (“Bleed onto the page,” as Hemmingway once said)
- Edit accordingly
- Link back to sources where applicable
- Proofread twice – at different times
Now that you’ve learned my 10 key steps to create blog posts that people WANT to read, chances are you’ve been considering some topics you want to write about.
Honor that intention right now – take a moment and jot down the your ideas.
“Don’t die with your music still in you.” -Dr. Wayne Dyer
For more blogging assistance and guidance, reach out to me here. My focus is to support your content strategy to help you put your genius out into the world, gain more authority online and ultimately achieve more leads and sales.