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: Keep the positive front and center

What you can learn about blogging by watching Season 7 Episode #3 of The Next Food Network Star:

Blogging Lesson: Keep the positive front and center

The challenge for this episode was to first use chocolate to create a dinner dish – and then to create a memorable dessert.

Alicia runs her own bakery – so she definitely has the expertise needed to be a Food Network Star.    Alicia also has the communication skills needed to be the Next Food Network Star.  However the pressure of the competition caused Alicia to crumble – and the reason she crumbled was she kept focusing on the negative – not the positive.

There’s something about human beings that attracts us to the negative.  However, it’s a short term attraction – and isn’t a good long term strategy to employ for your blog.

Recently – a client contacted me about her blog.  She was monitoring the traffic her blog posts were receiving and I was happy to hear that she was paying attention to which blog posts were “connecting” with her readers.

However, she was slightly concerned about one of her most popular posts – one in which she wrote a scathing report about a company she had decided not to take on as a client.  While she never named names in the blog post, blogging is very transparent and anyone in her industry knew exactly who she was writing about in her blog post. As a result – the blog post was getting a lot of attention and she wondered whether to keep the post up or not.

I shared a basic rule of blogging with her:

Negative blog posts always seem to get more “attention” than positive ones.

This blogging rule is only the key to “short term success”.  In the short run- a negative “gossipy” kind of blog post can definitely generate a lot of “buzz” – particularly when you’re a business owner blogging in an industry that hasn’t embraced “blogging” – yet. However, when it comes to creating a blog with long term “staying” power – keeping the positive front and center is the key to long term success.

In my client’s case – it boiled down to a matter of answering the question

“What is the purpose of your blog?”

In her case, her purpose was not to “out” assholes in her industry but rather she was blogging as a way to build trust with prospective clients.

It was then up to her to decide whether this scathing blog post would create trust with prospective clients.

Defining the purpose of your blog is critical to your blog’s success.  Often, keeping the positive “front  and center” is the best way to build a loyal audience.

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 have to be a skilled communicator

What you can learn about blogging by watching Season 7 Episode #2 of The Next Food Network Star

Blogging Lesson #1 : You have to be a skilled communicator

The second episode of Season 7 began with an unusual twist.  During this episode two contestants were eliminated from the challenge.  The first elimination occurred after the on air camera challenge where the contestants had to prepare a pizza which represented their unique point of view and they then had 30 seconds to present this pizza to the judges.

Juba was surprised when he was eliminated – especially when other competitors seemed to be doing “worse” than he was.  What he couldn’t see – but the judges could – was how PAINFULLY uncomfortable Juba was while on camera.

In person – Juba is a charming, good looking, highly skilled chef.  His friends and family all encouraged him to audition for the show – and his audition tape won him a spot among the original 16 competitors.  However, when the camera began rolling – Juba became a basket case.

Juba  – unlike Howie- had the expertise needed to be a Food Network Star – but he didn’t have the camera presence.

Here’s Bob Tuschman, general manager/SVP of Food Network, explaining why Juba was eliminated:

Your Blogging Lesson from the First Elimination of the 2nd Episode: It’s not enough to be an expert with passion- you have to be able to communicate your expertise well.

It’s not enough to be charming – it’s not enough to be good looking – you have to be able to effectove;u communicate your expertise if you want to become a successful blogger.

Communication is a skill – and even if you are born with a natural TALENT it still takes work to develop the skill of communicating.

In a landmark study – K Anders Ericcson is the Conradi Eminent Scholar of Psychology Professor of Psychology at Florida State University published the results of a study in the Harvard Business Review about what makes an “expert”.  The study (PDF file – opens in a new window) begins with this excerpt:

New research shows that outstanding performance is the product of years of deliberate practice and coaching, not of any innate talent or skill.

The study goes on to say:

Consistently and overwhelmingly, the evidence showed that experts are always made, not born.

Here’s the sad fact for Juba – while he possesses the expertise about food to become a Food Network Star – he had not devoted the time and energy into “practicing” being on camera.  That lack of practice lead to his early elimination.

There’s bad news and good news hidden within this blogging lesson   

The bad news contained within this blogging lesson is that no one is BORN a “blogger”  It’s almost certain that you won’t launch your blog and become an instant success.  Even if you are a gifted communicator and/or a gifted writer – the skill of blogging is one which is earned through practice.

The good news within this blogging lesson is again – that no one is BORN a blogger.  You become a blogger by blogging – and it’s only through blogging that you’ll become a better blogger.

Blogging Lesson: Expertise is not enough to become a successful blogging.  You must be able to communicate effectively.  Fortunately, this is a skill which can be developed through practice.