When you’re busy running a business, it can be hard to find time to blog, despite your best intentions. Even though we’re repeatedly told that content is king, and fresh content is the most majestic of kings, I bet there are a thousand and one other things that can zap your time every day and push writing powerful blog articles to the bottom of your ‘to-do’ list.
Perhaps you started blogging with the best of intentions but these days it only happens sporadically or has fallen by the wayside altogether. What if I told you that by spending just ten minutes a day, you could create a powerful blog article that your customers will love every single week?
Don’t believe me? Follow these simple tips below and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Day 1: Brainstorm your blog article ideas
There’s nothing worse than it being the night before your next blog post is due to go live and not knowing what to write. This is why it’s worth spending some time when you’re not under pressure, brainstorming ideas for future blog articles.
Have you read something that’s sparked your interest recently? Is there a question that your customers keep asking or a topic that crops up regularly on your Facebook page? Whatever comes to mind – no matter how unformed or tenuous the idea seems at first – make a note of it.
I use Microsoft OneNote (Evernote is just as good) when I’m in front of the computer. I’m also a big fan of scribbling ideas in my notebook and forming impromptu mind maps.
Once you’ve landed on a workable topic, you need to decide what angle you want to approach it from:
- What will grab attention?
- What will resonate with your customers?
- What’s your opinion?
- Is there something that no-one else is saying about this subject?
Day 2: Spend time crafting compelling headings and subheadings
Having given your ideas 24 hours to simmer and percolate, are you still happy with this week’s blog content? If so, it’s time to start pulling it together.
As I’ve mentioned before, your headline is the most powerful part of your blog. Get that right and people will stop and read what you have to say.
So, on day two, I want you to spend some time crafting your headline for this week.
- What will the article be about?
- How can you capture the reader’s interest?
- Can your heading promise something that the article will fulfill?
- What problem will the article solve?
My biggest piece of advice is to write with the end in mind. Why are you writing the article? What do you want to say? Are you aiming to educate or persuade your readers?
Your subheadings are powerful too. As I mentioned last week, only 16% of people read online content word for word, so your blog post has to be skimmable. Subheadings help you signpost the content of your article at a glance, so make them informative but leave a little mystery to entice people to read more.
Writing your subheadings also does the job of creating a loose structure for your article, which is important for day three’s task of filling in the details.
Day 3: Fill in the details
Eek. You can do it!
Before you make a start, re-read your headings and subheadings from yesterday. Could they pack a bigger punch? Are you still happy with them?
You could start by writing some bullet points about what you want to say within each sub-section of your post. I find this tactic really helpful because it keeps me focused and on topic.
Next, let your fingers fly across your keyboard. At this stage, I don’t want you to think too much about what you’re writing. There’s a quote from the film Finding Forrester that sums this up: “You must write your first draft with your heart. You rewrite with your head. The first key to writing is… to write, not to think!”
Whatever comes into your mind, get it down, save the article and close it, then walk away.
Day 4: Edit with fresh eyes
It’s strange but something happens to copy overnight that I can’t quite explain. What sounded great at the time of writing inexplicably makes you go, “What was I thinking?” in the cold light of the next day.
Still, this is a good thing.
My advice is to read your blog article out loud.
- Does it make sense?
- Is there repetition you need to change?
- Does every sentence drive the post forward?
- Are you using ten words where you could be using two?
- Do the salient points need to be swapped around?
- Do your headings and subheadings grab attention?
- In fact, do the subheadings tell the story of the article at a glance?
- Have you ended the article with a thought-provoking question or conclusion?
- Have you added that all-important call to action?
Once you’ve edited your post with fresh eyes, you’re done for the day.
Day 5: Find an image
Having an image in your blog post is important for several reasons.
Images are a quick and simple way of telling a story, so can you find an image that illustrates the main point or argument of your blog?
Images also add a splash of colour to the page, immediately drawing the eye. An appealing or distinctive image will help you make a great first impression.
One of the main reasons for writing a blog is to create valuable content that your readers will want to share and comment on. Social media platforms are visual. Every time someone shares your post on Facebook, Pinterest or Google+, for example, it’s much more likely to stand out on people’s newsfeeds if it is accompanied by an image.
There are some great resources for finding free images that you can use on your blog. Personally, I love compfight.com, photopin.com, www.sxc.hu and even Microsoft Clipart has some hidden gems. Just check the licenses for images you use first – they must be suitable for commercial use and often require you to credit the photographer in your post.
Day 6: Publish and promote
The big day has arrived. Today, you’re going to publish your article on your blog.
It’s essential that you promote your article too. It isn’t enough to simply write it and follow the ‘If you build it, he will come’ Field of Dreams philosophy. You have to let people know your article is live.
Publish the link to your blog on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Digg, Reddit and StumbleUpon; use it in your e-newsletter or even email other blog owners you know and tell them about it.
And you’re done! Simply rinse and repeat next week. (Don’t forget to keep an eye on your blog’s performance – respond to comments, see which social media platforms are reacting, check out where your traffic is coming from. All this data can help you refine and perfect your blogging over time).
Quality trumps quantity
I always tell my clients that quality trumps quantity every time when it comes to blogging.
I know you’re busy and have a lot of demands on your time, so when creating a blogging schedule, you need to be realistic about what will work for you. If you can only commit to once a fortnight or once a month, then that’s fine, just be consistent.
Blog when you say you’re going to blog, post fresh content on a specific day so that your customers know to look out for what you have to say. Before long it will become second nature.
Do you have a blogging schedule that you follow? How do you come up with new ideas? Do you write your blog in one go or spread it out during the week?
I can help with your blog if you’re still stuck for time or ideas. Drop me an email to find out more and I’ll be happy to come up with a solution that works for your business.