How To Blog Like The Pros

On September 19, 2011, in Content Development, by Lola B

 

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Content is King’ is the largely accepted maxim of today’s internet marketers, and for good reason. Search engines love fresh, relevant content and will reward you for this. Content is what your visitors are looking for when they come to your site. Your competitors will want to link to you if you have excellent content on your blog.

 

Below are some strategies to help you improve the content on your blog

 

1. Write content that is relevant, engaging and add value

One easy mistake to make wihen writing web copy is to write for yourself rather thanyou’re your target audience. You want your readers to buy your product. So write for them.  Know your audience!

If your blog is a technology related one, readers of it will be more interested in posts that keep them informed of the latest developments and issues that impact them. And so on. The important thing is to make sure that your readers will get something in return for the attention they will lend to you.

When visitors to your site read your copy and evaluate your offer, the question they will be asking themselves is ‘What’s in it for me?’ Whilst a website is designed to be visited by as many people as possible, for each visitor the experience must necessarily be a personal one. This is akin to a book, the conversation is one-to-one; you are interacting directly to the reader. Content should be relevant.

Writing added value posts to accompany an e-commerce site

Once you have learned a little more about your target audience you can then write your copy so that this audience can clearly see the benefits in your products compared to those of your competitors.

 Products need to be presented in terms of benefits as opposed to the features and advantages they possess.

A useful way to present your product information is to apply the Feature-Advantage Benefit process, eg

 “Has (the feature) which (the advantage). So (the benefit)”. The ‘so’ is very important as it will help you to make sure that you explain what the benefit actually means, instead of making the often costly mistake that your customers can work it out for themselves. For example: 

The site has a section on writing headlines which explains the key principles behind good headlines so you can avoid common mistakes that will put your visitors off.

 

Writing blogs that add value

Professional bloggers write with one aim in mind: to add value to content. You probably have a wealth of content that has not been put ‘out there’. For example research that you may have conducted either on your site or within your company, product information highlighting the best use of a product, demographics studies, white papers that can be repurposed into new content, common questions that have been answered can be again repurposed into posts or articles – in fact question and answer sites such as Yahoo! Answers or LinkedIn are a great source of content ideas.

One way of adding value to content is to ensure the content is as ‘unique’ as possible in order to attract visitors to your blog. Do not re-write an article that has appeared in The Telegraph, for example. Most of us prefer to visit the original source.

Have a look at either of these business blogs and see how they have been written affects how you perceive them and their company:

www.perymarshall.com

www.smashingmagazine.com

 

2. Vary the types of content you write

There are two categories of blog content worth noting:

In depth articles

I call these ‘in depth articles’, but they are also referred to as ‘killer articles’. These posts are usually longer and more structured than standard posts. The idea behind them is that you can more easily demonstrate your expertise and know-how in a particular subject. You are looking for visitors to take action after reading your in depth article, whether that is bookmarking it, or tweeting it etc. In depth articles are generally the cornerstone of your content development strategy. This is because they will generate traffic for you blog, attract valuable backlinks and as already mentioned, establish your authority within your niche.

 

  • In-depth analysis eg The anatomy of online influence
  • How-to posts , eg How to manually submit your site to the search engines
  • Interviews
  • Breaking news eg, ihubbusiness buys Amazon ( ho, ho)
  • Rankings eg  The top 50 Facebook pages
  •  Lists, eg  The 15 best WordPress plugins for every small business
  •  Resources : 20 free copywriting resources

Expect to put a great deal of time into researching, writing and formatting your in depth articles.

Standard posts

Standard posts are those that will build a community around your blog, because they allow you to talk directly with the readers and to engage them.

Here are some examples you could use on your blog

  • Quick tips : How to best leverage Google Alerts
  • Polls eg: We are running one on our home page (www.ihubbusiness.co.uk  please take it!) How do you use Social Media in your business?
  • Quick links Eg  7 great business blogs

 

3. Help your posts get read

Start with the headline of your articles. On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest. This is why your headline so greatly determines the effectiveness of your entire post.

There are two key aspects to a headline.  The first is that the wording is aligned with the mindset of target visitors. This is key as it will communicate to web users that your content is relevant to their searches.

A good way to find out how your target visitors word their searches is to use the Google AdWords Keyword Tool.

The second factor that makes a good headline is an emotional hook. 

Examples include:

  • How secure is your WordPress blog from hackers?
  • Do you make these 5 common copywriting mistakes too?

The introduction is perhaps the second most important element after the headline. The often quoted master copywriter Eugene Schartwz often spent days crafting the first 50 words of the sales copy presumably because he felt it was so critical to get this part write.

 

Here are some ideas:

 

1. Start with a quote that is relevant to the article. Go through websites such as BrianyQuote (http://www.brainyquote.com) or QuoteDB (http://www.quotedb.com)

 

2. Pose a question- challenging your reader to think is a good way of gaining quick engagement as it appeals to their natural curiosity

 

3. Use a startling statistic: you can use advances search queries very easily for this; for example; “small business failures” statistics

 

4. A startling situation: Google News is a good way to locate news on specific topics. Upon reading old news you can often find startling stories that can be re-told in your articles.

 

5. Dialogue. Going through a conversation can give readers an intimate look at a situation you are going to discuss in your post. However, I would caution against getting too involved in the dialogue. You simply want to offer a snapshot into the immediate fee

 

6. Use Analogy or Metaphor

A businessman without a vision is like a ship without a captain

 

7. Describe a scene

Scenes can help take readers back to an identifiable situation, or help them to quickly understand what is going to happen. Become a storyteller!

 

Other tips

  • Include subtitles
  • Use images. With so many free images on the web for example those under Creative Commons licenses, it makes sense to use them!
  • Consider adding a video- particularly if it will help to explain a concept that is more difficult conveyed with text.
  • Link out. Links encourage the reader to read more of your valuable blog content. You can install the YARPP (Yet another related popular post) plugin to automatically list related posts at the end of your article. It is a good idea to set up any links so they open up into a new browser window so your visitors can carry on reading the original article once they have read the content you have linked out to.
  • Bullets. We live in the age of scanning and skimming so make it easier for visitors to quickly find what is relevant to them. Bullets are a good way to achieve this, or a short numbered list.

 

Crafting your conclusion

 

The key thing to remember when closing is to tie the whole thing back to the beginning. Here are some ideas:

 

1. Tell the reader what they should do next however phrase this as a question. For example, what have they learnt from the post that they can put into action today?

 

2. If you started your article with a story, use the conclusion to describe what happened at the end of the story.

3. If you are writing a conclusion to an experiment, write the important lessons you learned as a result of the experiment.

4. Close the deal. Emphasize one last major point that will encourage your reader to take the action you want.

5. Your opinion on the future. For example, what do you think the future holds for your topic? How about for those involved? Where do you think the industry is heading?

 

4. Content Ideas

If you are suffering from content block, here are some things you can do

Go to Google AdWords Keyword Tool.  Enter in some keywords that are related to your niche. If you have a golf blog, for instance, run the tool for keywords like “golf equipment’.  You can then have a look at the long tail of results to identify topics that you could write about.

Another tip is to use Social Bookmarking sites to find out what is trending around the web and get ideas for new posts. Here are the main ones:

Ø       Digg.com

Ø       StumbleUpon.com

Ø       Reddit.com

 

5 Post frequently

Quality is more important than quantity here. Only post if you have something of value to offer your readers. One bad post might be forgiven, but sacrificing quality for quantity will inevitably have an adverse impact on your blog and you will invariably lose the readers you need to keep.

However, it is nonetheless a good idea to post frequently. Most professional bloggers are like content machines and publish up to three times a day! Once a day is ideal, or if you are unable to commit to this, then fix a schedule that you can stick to. I do not post every day for instance, however I will post at least 3 times a week and show up regularly on Twitter, for example. (follow @ihubbusiness- we look forward to your tweets too!). 

What have you learned from this post that they can put into action today?

 

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ABOUT

Ihubbusiness is an information hub for small businesses who wish to learn about internet marketing. The site was founded by Lola Bailey in 2010. Lola is a member of the Institute of Digital Marketing and has over 20 years sales and marketing experience. She is also a full-time copywriter at www.write-upcommunications.co.uk, a copywriter consultancy which she founded. Email: editor@ihubbusiness.co.uk

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