Blogging Strategies: 5 Rules for Great Content Creation

The first step in crafting a sound blogging strategy is to define your blogging goal.   Once you’ve got a goal defined for your blog, then the real work of blogging begins as you tackle the task of creating content.

This is where many blogs get off track. Without a well defined goal, it’s hard to create content for your blog.

Creating content which supports your blogging goal is no small task.  Brafton News reports that finding the time to create original content cited as major content marketing challenge.

Frequently it’s hard to find “time” for tasks we deem unimportant or difficult.  The business owner that hasn’t defined a blogging goal will find the act of blogging both difficult and unrewarding.

Content Creation Rule #1: Review your blogging goal.

Before we can tackle creating content we have to revisit that pesky “define your blogging goal” issue. What exactly do you want your business blog to do?

  • boost/reinforce your brand
  • generate sales leads
  • establish thought leadership

With the goal set before you, now is the time to begin creating content.

Content Creation Rule #2:  You must create blog posts with the visitor in mind. 

Who are the potential readers of your blog?  Why are they here at your blog and most importantly – what do you want them to DO with the information you present on your business blog?

For example, let’s say you’re a brick and mortar business owner struggling with the issue of content creation for your blog.  Every Friday in the fall, you see a regular stream of customers who are on their way to the local high school football game.   It’s that kind of “trend” which should inspire you in creating blog posts for your business blog.   The key is to tie the content in with your business blog goal.

Content Creation Rule #3:  You must create blog posts titles which win clicks.

It’s not enough to write content for your target audience, you must also title your blog posts so it earns a click from your target audience.

It’s tempting to write “teaser” headlines in an effort to create a great blog post title which wins a click from a reader – but make sure your blog post content is equally worthy of “winning” that click from a visitor.  When visitors click on a link to read a blog post – and are disappointed in what they find – they usually leave quickly – never to return.

However, when a reader is “rewarded” with content as compelling as the post title – they are likely to spend more time on your site – and read more about what your blog has to offer.

Content Creation Rule #4:  Blog posts don’t have to be long – or short.

There is no “rule” when it comes to content creation.  As a general rule, blog posts should be at least 300 words long – but that rule is “written” with the mindless robots which search the web in mind, not the reader.

Write as much as you need to write to cover the subject at hand – and don’t worry if EVERY blog post doesn’t reach the magic “300 word” goal.

Content Creation Rule #5:  Blog posts need more than images and video.

A picture may paint a thousand words – and video is a great addition to any blog – but the mindless robots which search and index the web can’t

  • “see” images
  • “hear” audio
  • “watch” video

Keep this in mind when you post this kind of content to your blog.  You may have the best video in the world – but without the proper “written content” framing that video – the search engines won’t know what to do with that post.

 

Blogging Tactics vs Blogging Strategy

It’s time to start talking about the difference between blogging tactics and blogging strategies.  Hang on – the ride gets a little bumpy as we start out.

Just as there’s a difference between a marketing tactic and a marketing strategy – there is a difference between blogging tactics and blogging strategy.  What’s marketing got to do with blogging?  Possibly everything if you’re a small business owner who has  chosen to use the marketing tactic of blogging as part of your overall marketing strategy.

First let’s cover the basics.   Blogging – in an of itself – is simply a form of COMMUNICATION!!   There is no “magic” in launching a blog – as millions of abandoned free blogs will attest.  Publishing a random stream of incoherent thoughts online via a blog is not the path to instant wealth and riches.

I do social media consulting for SMB and to be honest, I’m horrified by the number of people who contact me and wonder why their business blog isn’t “working” for their business when the only post on the blog is the introductory “Hello World” which comes with each new installation of WordPress.

In the 8 Week Power Blog Launch Program  I spend roughly the first week of the program helping readers (new bloggers) define the goal for their blog.  After all – if your goal is to sell more widgets – then you’re going to adopt a different blogging strategy than say someone who wants to become the next Perez Hilton or Matt Drudge.

Blogging goals usually fall into one of five categories:

1) I WANT MY BLOG TO BE MY BUSINESS.

Another way of stating this goal is to say, “I want  to make money directly from my blog.”

If this is your blog goal, then you’ll be making  money based upon the number of eyeballs you attract  to your blog.  You’ll be selling advertising and featuring those ads on your blog prominently.   Follow the blogging lessons from the Next Food Network Star series… because you’ll want to become the next blogging start to achieve your blog goal.

In addition to those tips, you’ll be focusing religiously upon increasing visitor traffic to your blog. You’ll
want to become well versed on Search Engine Optimization and will probably need to “tweak”  your blog installation to maximize your blog’s  search engine friendliness.  Be sure to build your blog on the search engine friendly Thesis theme to get the most “bang” out of WordPress with the search engines.

2) I WANT MY BLOG TO PROMOTE MY FREELANCING/SERVICE  BASED BUSINESS.

You’re a freelance or small business service provider and you’ve heard that a blog is a GREAT marketing tool
for promoting yourself and your services. You’ll write about topics associated with your services  in order to demonstrate your expertise and you’ll write  posts which highlight your services.

I’ve had freelancers report that they average 2 new clients a week as a result of their blog.

3) I WANT MY BLOG TO PROMOTE MY CORPORATION.

You’re part of a larger business that wants to connect  with customers and manage the company’s image and online
presence. Blogging goals for a large corporation can be varied and  therefore, the means to accomplishing these goals are  equally varied. Major corporations may blog to

  • educate  consumers on the many innovative ways to use their products
  • inform current customers about updates/upgrades/special offers
  • serve as a customer service portal
  • solicit ideas from consumers about product development and promotion.

One company encouraged employees to blog but  when visitors didn’t leave comments, the employees lost
their enthusiasm.  After log file analysis revealed that  blog readers were 6 times more likely to make a purchase
from the company’s website than visitors who didn’t visit the blog, the employees found a brand new enthusiasm for
blogging.  Their blogging efforts were increasing sales – even if customers weren’t “talking” via the comments section.

One major mistake most major corporations do in launching  a blog is to do so without an end goal in mind… so decide
in advance WHAT you want the blog to do for the corporation before you launch your company blog.

(In other words – it’s not just the little guys who launch a blog and then don’t know what to do with it.)

4) I WANT MY BLOG TO PROMOTE ME SO I ACHIEVE FAME

Whether you want to be the next Perez Hilton, or you just  want to become a superstar in your industry, a successful
blog can definitely raise your profile.  To achieve this goal, it’s essential that you tightly target your niche audience.  You’ll want to utilize various social media channels such as YouTube and Facebook to really grow your following.

5) I WANT MY BLOG TO PROMOTE ME AND ACT LIKE A VIRTUAL RESUME

A blog’s profile raising status can also act as a virtual  resume. Career consultants are strongly recommending job
seekers set themselves apart from the pack by launching  a blog to promote the blog owner’s expertise.

Think about it… if you are an employer and you have to  choose between two candidates – one has a blog with a
respectable following and the other doesn’t – which are  you going to hire?

Defining your blogging goal is the first step towards creating a blogging strategy.

Blogging Lesson: You have to be focused

This blogging lesson comes courtesy of Season 7 Episode #2 of The Next Food Network Star from the 2nd elimination

Blogging Lesson#2 : You have to be focused.

After Juba’s elimination, the next phase of the competition was to prepare a meal for a panel of Food Network stars. It’s this challenge that leads to the elimination of Katy Clark.

On the show, Katy is identified as a “fitness and lifestyle coach” – however – in her biography on the Food Network Site – it reads “This energetic mother of three runs a food and fitness company.”  Meanwhile on her website, she offers the following array of services:

  • Chef Instructor
  • Fitness Expert
  • Catering
  • Motivational Speaker

When the judges speak to her about needing to be “focused” – she responds that “she can’t be pinned in” to cooking day in and day out.

Your Blogging Lesson from the Secpmd Elimination of the 2nd Episode: You’ve got to pick and passion and stay focused.

Katy is not alone in nurturing a wide array of seemingly “unconnected” passions.  Many high achieving people have a wide array of interests.  If you’re nurturing a wide variety of passions – rest assure that this diversity will be an asset to your blog.  Your varied interests and activities will add much needed “spice” to your blog posts.  The key is to weave these passions and activities into a single cohesive thread – created with your great blog name in mind.

For example, let’s take a fictional blogger who is a master chef who also loves to snorkel in the coast waters near his home.  He’s named his blog “The Adventurous Chef”

This fictional blogger may start with a strong focus.  He creates a category called “seafood recipes” and begins creating blog posts about the amazing selection of fresh seafood available and how to properly prepare it.

After only a few blog posts – our blogger plans a trip to the Bahamas to go snorkeling.  Suddenly – he’s not writing about seafood but rather begins blogging about snorkeling.  He blogs about his desire to find the right equipment to capture his underwater adventures.  This series of posts are followed by posts chronicling his adventure.  His latest posts feature some amazing underwater camera work including a video of the chef’s close encounter with what appears to be a Great White Shark.

Unfortunately for our blogger – such a dramatic leap in subject matter will not only confuse the human readers of his blog –  it will confuse the mindless robots which index and categorize the web.

Instead of taking a dramatic leap – our chef blogger needs to either find a way to weave his adventures into his blog’s topic – or start another blog about his snorkeling adventures.

With the blog name “The Adventurous Chef” – one would assume that tales of his “adventures” should be a part of his blog posts – and they should be!  However, while the information about his latest adventure is truly worthy of sharing with his audience – he must be careful in how he shares it. Simply creating a new set of blog posts – especially in a new blog – can spell disaster for his blog’s “focus”.

Instead of creating blog posts about snorkeling equipment and the finer points of shooting underwater video – our chef needs to keep his focus on the FOOD aspect of his blog.  The amazing shark video he shot should be used to draw attention to his post on shark fin soup.   Whether he decides to share a recipe in that post – or share his alarm at the environmental price of such a dish – he would still be staying “on topic” as far as his blog is concerned.

It’s not unusual to have a wide array of interests – but it’s important to remain true to the focus of your blog – a focus you decided upon when you named your blog.

In Katy’s case – she was auditioning for the Food Network.  The Food Network’s focus is very defined – it’s focused on FOOD.  It’s in the network’s name – and it’s a recurring theme in the shows they air.  (Unllike MTV which rarely offers the “music videos” promised in it’s name.)

When it comes to cooking – there’s the “main ingredient” and then there are the “additions” like herbs and spices – not to mention preparation – which results in a palate pleasing dish.  Katy just needed to focus on her passion for FOOD and to allow the other passions in her life act as “spice” to her passion for food.

Blogging Lesson: Focus is an essential ingredient to make your blog successful.  Learn to weave your other passions and activities into your blog’s theme so it is unique but remains focused.

Blogging Lesson : You must be an expert

What you can learn about blogging by watching Season 7 Episode #1 of The Next Food Network Star :

Blogging Lesson : You must be an expert

In the first episode of The Next Food Network Star – contestants were asked to perform a 3 minute promo for the show they hoped to have on Food Network if they win.  Here’s a clip from the episode in case you missed it:

Howie entered this competition as a radio personality who decided to “pretend” he could cook.  He openly acknowledged that he wasn’t a “food guy” but he was a successful local radio personality and wanted to make the leap from radio star to Food Network Star.

Howie was the first to be eliminated – despite the fact that he was probably the most “camera ready” of the bunch.  Why?  Because without any food “expertise” – Food Network Viewers would have quickly seen through Howie’s charming facade and changed the channel.

Howie didn’t love food – Howie didn’t know food.  Howie’s only relationship with food was eating on a daily basis and that wasn’t good enough to get past the first cuts on the show.

Your Blogging Lesson From the First Episode: Blog About Something You Know

There’s something about blogging that “reveals” a lot about the person writing the blog post.  This is why it is CRITICAL for you – the blogger – to be an expert on the subject about which you’re blogging.  Don’t try to blog about a subject like food just because you want to be a blogging star.   Instead – choose a subject you know and know well.  If you don’t – your lack of expertise will become quickly become apparent to your readers.

There’s a level of “transparency” in blogging which is very similar to the “transparency” of being a Food Network Star.  A successful blogger – like a Food Network Star – must possess a certain level of expertise.  Without this expertise –   your audience just like the Food Network Audience – will quickly “see through” your mask.

Take for example the recent college graduate who decide to begin blogging about business.  There’s nothing wrong with our young blogger writing about his journey through the world of business.  However, our young blogger is in DEEP trouble if he chooses to write about “making money blogging” if in fact he’s never earned a single cent from his blog.  The internet is littered with just such bloggers – who recommend hosting services they’ve never used just to earn a commission and who spew the thoughts of others instead of their own.

There’s something about blogging which unknowingly reveals the expertise of the author.  If you want to blog about starting a business – it’s fine to write about your personal journey.  The problem arises when you try to write about issues outside of your experience.

It’s really quite simple.  If you’ve never hired an employee – don’t create a blog post about how to hire great employees.   If your business has grown to the point of hiring a new employee – then blog about that process – and let readers come along for the ride as you interview, screen and eventually make the job offer.

Your blogging lesson is blog about something you know.  If you don’t know – but are learning – that’s a fine premise for a blog –  as long as you’re open about it.

You must know more about your chosen topic than your readers do.  Howie didn’t posses a level of expertise that would surpass the average Food Network viewer so he was eliminated.

Blogging Lesson: Expertise is an essential ingredient you need to make your blog successful.

The Not-so-hidden Secret to Successful Blog Marketing

moneytree2It’s a common lament – you’ve launched a blog and have been posting FAITHFULLY to it.  Five, six maybe seven times a week you’re creating spectacular blog posts.  These are literary works of art – and NO ONE IS SEEING THEM!

You’re frustrated -you’ve spent a lot of time and energy creating these blog posts and with no blog traffic – well, you might as well have spent your time getting caught up on your favorite television shows.  However, you’re committed.  You want to make it as a blogger – so you start reading the “successful” blogs.  You know the ones – where the blog owner declares how MUCH money he or she has made blogging.  You read and you even ask questions in the comments,  hoping that maybe the succesfful blogger will share the essential information you need to make your blog a success.

I was just at one of these “succesful” blog sites – where the blogger tells you how wealthy he is because of his blog.  He entitled the blog post well, something along the lines of  “the hidden secret to blogging success”.  The comments are literally FILLED to overflowing with people BEGGING this guy for words of wisdom.

His “wisdom” is simple – a blog is just like any other “product” any “business” needs to promote.  If you’ve got a blog and you want more traffic (a.k.a. “customers”) you’re going to have to learn to market your blog.  He then gives a link to a  “blogging success” program.

Now, you may be wondering – “why doesn’t this guy just tell his readers what they need to know?”  You may be wondering, “why is he sending his readers away to learn this “secret” to blogging success.”

Here’s the scoop – even though this blogger is publishing a VERY successful blog – he really doesn’t KNOW why his blog is successful.  (In this blogger’s case – the actually tells his readers it’s because he does so much video blogging. )  Unfortunately, this is more common than you might think.  It not only happens in blogging but elsewhere in the business world as well.

I was talking on the phone today with a client of mine who is working as an outside consultant for a Fortune 1000 company.  My client has been brought in to create a customized training program for this company – much to the disgust of the current director of sales training.  It turns out that while the current director of sales training is a gifted sales person.   The company promoted him hoping he could “clone” success with the current sales staff.  Like many gifted sales people, he can’t put his finger on exactly WHAT it is that he does that makes him so successful.   Since he can’t explain exactly what it is that he does that makes him a success, my client has been hired to “document” his methodologies.

I’m grateful to this client because working with her has helped me to learn how to document exactly what steps a beginning blogger needs to take to begin marketing his or her blog.

Over the past two years, I’ve helped HUNDREDS of real people launch self hosted WordPress blogs via my business at Acumen Web Services to promote their businesses.  After about 6 months, those clients would come to me asking “now what?”

That’s why I created the 8 Week Power Blog Launch program.  The 8 Week Power Blog Launch is an 56 daily lessons to teach you everything you need to know to begin marketing your blog.  However, unlike marketing a physical product, there’s a lot of “technology” issues that you need to know in order to create a successful blog.

Learn more about the 8 Week Power Blog Launch and how it can help you learn how to market your blog successfully.