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.

The biggest blogging lesson of all

The past 8 blogging lesson posts have been focusing on the lessons you can learn about blogging from the 7th Season of The Next Food Network Star.   In the final episode – the payoff was huge for one contestant who kept his focus and his message tightly defined and on target.


From the very first episode, Jeff Mauro stuck with a single theme for his proposed Food Network Show.  He proclaimed himself the “sandwich king” and promised to help viewers “make any meal a sandwich and make any sandwich a meal.”

Week after week – Jeff made sandwiches for various challenges.  While fellow finalists Vic vacillated between “Vic Vegas” and Mama’s Boy – Jeff kept making great sandwiches.  While Susie flipped from one theme to another throughout the contest – Jeff kept focusing on making meals out of sandwiches – and sandwiches out of meals.

Jeff’s focus and dedication to a tightly focused theme helped him to win Season 7 of the Next Food Network Star.    However, he couldn’t have kept that focus if sandwiches were not his passion.

So what can bloggers learn from Jeff’s win on this series?

  1. Find your voice – and don’t be afraid to get personal
    Jeff talks about his hometown – Chicago – and his son with whom he hopes to share a love of food and cooking with someday.  Those stories help viewers make a connection with Jeff.
  2. Presentation is everything.
    From staying religiously focused on a central theme, to making his “message” match his “look” – Jeff did a great job of creating the “total package” which is what Food Network executives were seeking.
  3. Never give up – never surrender
    While he’s the “winner” of this show – Jeff entered this competition as a “failed” comedian.  However, he took the lessons he learned performing his comedy act and applied them to his passion – making sandwiches.   Jeff’s not a professional chef – but he beat out several professional chefs to earn his own show on America’s hottest food channel.

Now – take these blogging lessons and apply them to your own blog.

Blogging Lesson: Bring the reader into your world

This blogging lesson comes courtesy of Season 7 Episode #8 of The Next Food Network Star.

Blogging Lesson: Draw the reader in

Our blogging lesson from this episode isn’t from the show itself – but rather the words of Bob Tuschman as he explains what’s necessary to be a “star”.

Food Network Stars come in many different styles.

Maybe you’re like Ina – you’re not “out there” – you’re not “in their face” – you’re not a “born performer”  but you’ve got a lot of knowledge to share. Ina’s love of food – and desire to share that love – are what gives her a unique “star” status on Food Network.

Meanwhile, Rachel Ray is bubbly, vivacious and outgoing.  She’s “out there” – she’s “in your face” – she’s a “born performer”.   Rachel brings more than enough enthusiasm to make up for any “lack” of cooking expertise she may have.

Then there’s Bobby Flay – one of the judges for the Next Food Network Star.  Bobby isn’t reticent – but he isn’t bubbly either.  What he brings to the table is expertise and his own unique point of view – which is anything but narrow.  He has a show on BBQing on Food Network – he’s known for his love of southwestern influences on his cooking – and he’s a renowned hamburger aficionado.  Three different themes which are all uniquely Bobby Flay.

What all o9f these stars share is the ability to bring the viewer into their world – something Jyll the contestant eliminated from this episode was not able to do.

Jyll was constantly being chided by the judges for being too “news anchor like”.  Jyll reported the “news” which was the food she was cooking – and delivered the news well.  However, she was missing the “spark” needed to elevate her to the level of Next Food Network Star.

In the end – Jyll was eliminated because she was – in Bob Tuschman’s words,  “a train going down five different tracks”.  Jyll wasn’t focused – she hadn’t found her voice – and in the end – that caused her to be eliminated from the competition.

If you’re not focused – if you haven’t found your voice – then you can’t be expected to draw the reader into your world.  Don’t rush the process.  It takes longer for some than for others.  Keep blogging though and you’ll find your way.

Blogging Lesson: Embrace the Journey

This blogging lesson comes courtesy of Season 7 Episode #7 of The Next Food Network Star .

Blogging Lesson #1: Embrace the Journey

It’s “midterms” for the show – and once again two contestants are eliminated in a single show.  The first challenge is for the contestants to prepare and present their “signature” dish. Chris was the first to be eliminated because – in Bob Tuschman’s words he was “a walking apology”. Chris apologized constantly because he didn’t feel his food was good enough.

Ok – I know I told you in a previous blogging lesson that you must be an expert – but even experts are still growing and learning.  This continual growth and learning makes EXCELLENT blog fodder.

Chris was a good chef – but he wasn’t confident in his expertise.  He was afraid to let his food do the talking for him – so he adopted a “party frat boy” persona to try to cover up his lack of confidence.

Blogging Lesson #2: Is also to “embrace the journey”.

Penny was the 2nd to be eliminated from this show – and the core reason for her elimination was she couldn’t “embrace the journey”.

Penny was so focused on “winning” and eliminating her competitors that she didn’t enjoy the competition – and that lead not only to many confrontations with other contestants – but her eventual elimination from the show.

Wherever your blog is today – it’s not where it will be tomorrow or the next day.  Too often – beginning bloggers look at other more established blogs and see polished perfection.  What they didn’t see were the early days – when that blogger was still trying to find an authentic voice.

I’ve had way too many clients begin blogging for their business – and then get discouraged because they didn’t see instant results.  After a few weeks of blogging, one of my clients gave up and ignored her blog for almost 18 months.  She contacted me and asked  me to cancel it just as I was performing yet another WordPress update.  I logged in to see that she had 9 comments from blog readers who had found her blog posts and wanted to know more about hiring her as their coach.

When I let this client know what was “hiding” in the unapproved blog comments on her blog – she changed her mind about canceling it and has since used that blog to fill her coaching practice.  Even though my client hadn’t been blogging for a while – her old blog posts were being displayed to people who were searching for exactly the service she was offering.

If you’re an expert – then you should be blogging.  If you’re on your WAY to being an expert – you should be blogging.   Share what you know – and acknowledge what you don’t know – as a way to build credibility and authority with your audience.

Don’t view other bloggers as “competition” – view them as fellow bloggers who are all striving for a similar goal.

When you embrace the journey – you quit trying to “compete” with everyone else in the blog0sphere – and instead focus on your voice – and sharing your expertise.  Then you’ll find your blog will begin to blossom.