You decided to start “blogging.” You heard from a friend that you should do it. They told you it will be good for your business. They promised that your readers (what readers) will love it. They may have even told you that it will be good for SEO.
So you sit down and begin to create a topic for your new blog post. You search online for blog topic ideas. You read a couple of blogs to get an idea of what you want to write about. You bullet point the main headers, plot out some thoughts beneath each and begin writing. Then, you look up and your whole morning is practically gone!
The funny thing is your friend is right. And the real catch is that a customer-winning blogging strategy takes time and care–something which most business owners or entrepreneurs don’t have. However, a customer-winning blogging strategy doesn’t have to waste time. That’s why today we’ll explore several ways to make starting and maintaining a blog easier.
Use A Notepad To Store Ideas
The #1 reason, I think, that people get frustrated when trying to start a blog is that they are only “bloggers” when they sit down to write. This is the wrong approach. Great blogs aren’t produced by sitting down once a week and then conjuring up a topic out of thin air.
Great blogs are produced by those who see “blogging” as a mentality. The best blogs–the ones that win new customers and really engage a following–are the ones which constantly listen to the comments of their readers and anticipate what their readers want. This requires a watchful eye and open ear. In other words, if you really want to connect with an audience, you need to be considering blog topics helpful to that audience all the time.
Here’s how you can make that happen: 1. store blog topics in a physical notepad OR 2. store blog topics in a digital notepad. Having a notepad nearby will allow you to jot down ideas any time they come to you. It will also provide with focused material to choose from the next time you sit down to write. One other major benefit to keeping these ideas stored in your notepad is that your topics will likely be ready-made for your audience.
If you want to use pen and paper–that’s great. For those more digitally oriented, here’s some useful apps to choose from:
Apps to help keep potential blog topics organized:
- Evernote – Works on almost any device | Quick and easy to use
- Google Docs – Can access your Google account anywhere | Syncs between Google apps
- Simplenote – Very similar to Evernote | Super simple
- Catch – Less simple, more options | Store voice notes, texts, pictures | Use #hashtag to organize
Plan Before You Write
This tip goes hand in hand with the previous one. In addition to creating a storehouse for your blog topic ideas, it’s also essential that you map out your blog post before you begin writing. This is basically the same advice you got in grade school English class. If you want write a clear, organized paper you need to make a roadmap.
The same applies for blogging. By mapping out your blog post in your notepad before you start writing, you will produce a post that is clearer and more helpful to your audience. (Let me also repeat those words: clear and helpful. These two words are essential pieces of every customer-winning blog.)
Write Within Your Expertise
This tip may go without saying. One problem, however, that many novice bloggers make is writing on topics that have little or nothing to do with their niche. It looks something like this: a. A home remodeler writing about the benefit of interior design OR b. a criminal defense lawyer writing on Constitutional law.
This isn’t to say that a blogger can never reach out past his niche to create entertaining content, but it does mean that a great blogger should focus on his niche. And a really great blog will speak directly to his audience within that niche.
Sticking to your niche also has several other benefits. It will help make sure that your content is relevant to your readers. Niche content also helps make sure that the people searching for answers, tutorials, and advice covered by your blog will be people more likely to buy your product or service.
Use A Blog Template
All this means is that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Another mistake common to beginning bloggers is that they aim to create everything from scratch. This approach is great when you have time to spare, but when you don’t you it’s a blog killer.
There are hundreds of tried and true blog post templates out there. Take them, use them and save time.
Time Yourself And Write!
I’m sure we’ve all experienced writer’s block at some point in our lives. And sometimes, you just can’t get around it and you need to put off your writing project until the block clears. This happens occasionally and that’s ok. It’s important, however, as a small business owner with little time to spare to develop good blogging habits so that you maximize content output/time efficiency.
One of the best ways to do this is to time yourself. When you sit down to write, get out an old-school stopwatch or use one online and start the countdown (I recommend not using a cell phone because text messages and alerts provide distraction).
Additionally, when you set the timer you must promise yourself to do one thing: write. Without the writing there is no blog. You can always revise, but without writing there is no revision.
As a final note to this point, setting the timer does not imply that you should sacrifice quality. In the blogging world, quality will always trump quantity and no substitute for it exists. Using a timer is simply meant to help keep you focused and productive.
If You Don’t Have Time, Aim For Quality
This tip means exactly what the title says. If you’re a small business owner or a solopreneur fresh to the blogging scene, you probably don’t have time to be leisurely brainstorming about blog topics or constructing a 5000 word post. That’s ok.
What’s not ok is sacrificing the quality of your blog posts because of a time crunch or because you think no one will read you if your blog post is anything shy of 5000 words.
Quality always wins and your readers will read your blog as long as your posts are helpful to them.
If you don’t have a lot of time, or if writing isn’t your strong suit, consider producing short, quality-driven blog posts centered on how-to’s, tutorials, or tips & tricks of your trade.
If what you write is useful to an audience, then your audience will continue to return to your blog.
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Jeremy is the Lead Designer & Owner of Enable. Jeremy is a small business connoisseur who helps the little guys conquer big. When he’s not designing websites or writing blogs, you’ll find him spending time with his wife and family.