Now we’re going to take this knowledge and turn it into an actionable plan, to ensure that your blogs stay aligned with your goals and to help you overcome the biggest challenge – staying consistent!
Let’s dive in.
Start with your over-arching themes
First we need to decide on your core themes, which will be determined by why you’re blogging, who you’re blogging for and what you’re going to blog about (see my last post to create your own blogging strategy)
Your blog should generally focus on a few key subjects; these might be:
- Your range of products/services
- The constituent parts of one product/service
- The different markets which overlap to form your niche
- The benefits or areas of impact that your product/service has
Try to keep your themes as few and focused as possible – this way, you will become known as an expert in these areas, attracting a core audience of people who are interested and actively engaged with your content.
Next, break each theme down into topics
Each topic should address a specific question or problem that your customer may have about your product/service. These could relate to:
- What they need to know before they purchase – e.g. where can they get it, how much does it cost, what are the alternatives?
- What the purchase experience will entail
- How to use the product/service
- How can they get the most value from the product/service
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes; what would you Google if you were thinking about buying your product/service?
Work through each of your themes methodically and try to think of every question a customer could possibly ask. If you’ve been keeping note of your customers’ FAQs during your time in business then now is the time to revisit them!
Marcus Sheridan’s ‘The Big 5’ framework is a helpful tool for this process of identifying blog post topics. The Big 5 are the five types of articles that customers search for the most, and that most businesses are afraid to address on their website.
- Cost – What is the price of your product/service? What determines the cost?
- Problems – What are the problems with your product/service? What are the trade-offs that a customer should consider? What are the solutions?
- Comparisons – What are the alternatives to your product/service? How do they compare (really)? What are the pros and cons? Be honest!
- Reviews – Give a review of your product/service (or ask an unbiased person to do it for you), review competitor companies (fairly).
- Best – Which are the best companies to source this product/service from? What’s the best version of a product on the market? What’s the best model in a product range?
Don’t be afraid the confront the tough questions head-on through your blog. This is the quickest way to build trust with prospective customers, and an excellent way to drive traffic from search engines.
Break each topic down into blog post titles
Now that you have your topics for each theme, think about the post formats available to you – lists, tutorials, case studies, news reports, review articles, success stories etc. Remember that one topic could inspire multiple blog posts in these different formats.
For instance, I could offer a list of the “best blog management tools” (which I will in a few weeks time!), followed by tutorial articles for each one, followed by a case study of how someone has used them to manage their own blog successfully.
The process for crafting an effective blog title, that appeals both to humans and search engines, is a bit of a fine art but if you keep it simple, descriptive and accurate, you can’t go too far wrong. For SEO (search engine optimisation) purposes, try to include your focus keyword phrase in the title (more on keywords later).
Once you have the basic working title in place, that reflects your chosen article format and the content you are providing, you can start playing around to make it more engaging and eye-catching, using superlatives, alliteration or evocative language. This is a great post from Hubspot which goes into more detail on crafting a catchy blog title.
Arrange your post titles into a logical order
Many business bloggers take a random, scattergun approach to the order of their blog posts; the logic being that not all readers will be interested in a particular topic, so you’ve got to have a mix to keep people interested.
But in fact, this approach could be diluting your message, authority and confusing your audience. Even if your posts are following a pattern, this may not always be obvious to your blog visitors.
This issue was highlighted to me recently when I attended The Content Marketing Academy Conference in Edinburgh. Colin Gray, The Podcast Host, gave a highly informative talk about the power of producing content in ‘seasons’ or ‘series’.
Taking the example of attending a course at university or college, he explained that people absorb information best when it is presented in a logical order. This allows you to build on your content week on week, take the audience on a journey and provide them with the tools they need to take action.
With this in mind, I would encourage you to arrange your blog titles into a logical order. This will also make it easier to write the content, as it eliminates the dreaded “blank page syndrome”, and also enables you to repurpose your season of content, into an ebook, online course or other media format, at a later date.
For more information on this concept, check out Colin’s post on season-based podcasting – the principles are the same no matter which medium you use to deliver your content.
Set your blogging schedule
Now that we have your season of blog titles planned out, it’s time to refer back to your blog strategy and slot these into your weekly schedule. For each blog, note who the author will be, when it will be drafted and when it should be published.
I would recommend building in a buffer between the creation and publishing date, to account for the re-drafting, approval and publishing process. It’s also a good idea to work at least a few weeks in advance, in order that your schedule is not thrown off by holidays, sickness or any other unforeseen circumstances. Consistency is crucial for building your audience, so make sure you’ve planned for all eventualities.
Draft a brief bullet-point outline of each post
It’s good practice to draft a short outline of each blog post at the planning stage, whilst you’re in the creative zone. Between coming up with the idea and actually sitting down to write, you may forget the points you wanted to make, which could cause you to procrastinate or avoid writing altogether. By outlining each post, you have something to refer back to – it’ll make your writing process much faster and easier.
Think about the keywords you are targeting
The last step is not crucial as a beginner blogger, but a good practice to get into – noting the focus keywords and meta-data for each post. As with the post outline, it will prove helpful when you sit down to write your post to have a reminder of the keyword phrase it should focus on.
Your focus keyword should appear in the title, first paragraph of your post and once or twice throughout the article itself (without being unnatural), so that Google recognises your article as being relevant for particular search terms.
If you will be delegating the publishing process to someone else, it will also be useful to note the tags, external links and meta description that you want to use for the post. An experienced blog publisher can take initiative and create these elements on your behalf, but if you’ll be delegating to a relative newbie then providing this information will give your blog the best chance of success.
If you’re not sure what the heck I’m on about, don’t stress! I’ll cover this topic in more detail in a few weeks, but it’s not essential to create a basic blog plan and enable you to get started.
You don’t need any fancy tools to create your blog plan – a spreadsheet will do! Want my free Google Sheets blog plan template? Sign up to my mailing list using the form below and you’ll be first to receive it when it’s ready!
Do you want more tips like this?
Simply enter your info below for weekly business tips straight to your inbox – plus you’ll get a FREE swipe-file: “10 ways you can de-clutter your business and life, right now!”