A guide to getting your content out there for the time-poor business owner.
Eight seconds. That’s how long we’ve got your attention for according to Google et al, no offence but that’s slightly less than your average goldfish.
So here’s the pitch: if you want your business to be found online, to build your brand, to be seen as an expert in your field and to attract lovely ideal customers, you need to publish content.
Easy to say, really quite hard to do.
Most of us in business have a list somewhere of great blog topics, fascinating insight pieces or captivating talks that we’re going to write.
But actually getting them onto paper (or rather screen) is another matter altogether. There are client deadlines, piles of business admin, files to sort and research to do: how are you meant to fit in blogging on top?
Add to that the nagging doubt at the back of your mind: is blogging really worth it?
Why Bother Blogging?
A recent article in Forbes says, “By informing your customers about the problems your company solves and creating stories that are authentic in nature, you can provide consumers value without going over the top to sell your audience on your products and services.” (Mar 2018 ). So that sounds like a good enough reason.
Not only that, but if you don’t offer your customers and prospects interesting, useful content, you run the risk of falling behind your competitors who already are.
Research by the content marketing institute says that 91% of B2B companies they polled are using content marketing as a key part of their strategy, and of those who aren’t yet, 54% are planning to.
In addition to keeping up with your competitors, there are other benefits to publishing regular blogs or articles including:
- Positioning you as an expert which could attract interest from press and partner organisations as well as prospects.
- Providing customers and prospects with useful advice and help, meaning prospects get to know, like and trust you.
- To show search engines that your site is relevant to your topic, when your blog includes references to important search terms within that subject area, this will help you with SEO.
- Having content to share on your social media accounts, keeping them busy, helpful and engaging.
- Increasing the probability of being found as more touch points mean more opportunities for people to find out about you.
Overcoming Bloggers’ Block
Even when you make the time to create content, looking at a blank page or a little box that chirpily commands you to ‘WRITE SOMETHING!’ can make even the most slef-assured business person freeze.
If you are an analytical, numerical, left-brain type of person, writing probably doesn’t come naturally to you. You can whizz through a set of accounts like a dose of salts, but creative writing? Ulp!
It should be easier for creative, right-brain types – after all that’s what we’re built for isn’t it? Sadly, for people like us, it’s often worse! Given half a chance, you will spend hours agonizing over the syntax of every sentence, playing with clever alliteration, thinking of witty headlines, worrying about the Oxford comma (if you love grammar, you’ll know…) and polishing and polishing your prose for days on end. Then leave it in draft without actually publishing it.
So whether you’re a whizz at writing or words aren’t your thing, here are our Top Ten Tips to break your writing block:
First stage, planning.
Spend ten minutes planning your piece. Check the time – you’ve got TEN MINUTES.
1. Write down what are you writing about – the overall topic, not the headline (that comes later)
2. Who is it for? If your answer is ‘everybody’ STOP!
Getting a really clear idea of who your reader is will help your copy flow. Write as if you are talking to them personally. Think of your favourite client – or even better, a decision-maker in a company who you would really love to start working with – and write just for them. That way your copy will feel much more personal and alive.
3. What problem do you want your blog to solve for your reader – and what will happen if they don’t solve that problem? Be specific. Paint pictures. Give examples from organisations that you work with. Think back to the last thing you read that made you go ‘Ah, that was useful, I have learned something’ and aim for the same.
4. Which search terms are you targeting? Although not every piece you write should be created with SEO in mind, it helps to know the related terms your prospects and clients are using to find answers to their problems so that your site can become very targeted and relevant to those topics. Make sure you weave your search terms into your piece in a natural way.
5. What do other experts say about this issue? Reference research from trusted sources and comments from known experts to add weight to what you are saying. Make sure you link to the original source, or a reputable intermediary such as a trusted newspaper or trade association.
Remember that 89% of B2B marketers and 86% of B2C marketers use content marketing to increase leads and drive their brand forward according to Forbes (see what we did there?)
Second stage: Writing
6. With all this information to hand, now write your headline. This will probably be the longest part of the whole process, but it’s the most important part of your blog. If people are only giving you eight seconds of their attention, you need your headline to grab them immediately.
7. Now GET WRITING. With the planning you’ve done, your page isn’t blank any more, so it should be a lot less daunting. Turn off your phone, disable email alerts and minimise your browser so you’re not distracted. Set yourself 40 minutes (there’s nothing like an insanely tight deadline to keep you focused).
Ideally, write your piece in a Google doc or similar so that it’s automatically saved if – despite your best efforts – you do get interrupted and won’t be lost if your system crashes. Some people find that writing the first draft out long-hand can help get the creative juices flowing – just don’t lose the notepad you wrote it in!
Third stage: Reviewing and Publishing
8. Take a break. Do something else such as calling back that client who left a voicemail while your phone was off (Quick, it sounded urgent!)
9. Come back to your content and re-read it. Does it make sense? Can you improve the flow? Will some extra cross-heads or bullets help? Have you checked the links? Ask a trusted colleague or friend to proof it for you. Check again.
10. Now choose some images that will bring your piece to life. Make sure they’re great quality and relevant.
11. Now copy your article into a post on your website and check it in preview. Do your images look good? Do your links work? (set them to open in a new window so that readers don’t lose your site). Does the layout work? Can you spot any errors now that it’s up on your site?
12. Finally, publish it on your website! Once you’ve pressed the button, go back in and check again. It’s amazing what you spot once it’s actually live!
Now it’s time to share your post with the world.
Hopefully you already know which marketing channels work best for you, but make sure you choose where you link to your article carefully – your objective is for it to be seen by the maximum number of people (including that all-important target of one whom you wrote it for) and to help drive traffic to your website.
Whatever topic you choose for your blog, and whichever channels you share it through, just make sure it is answering a really, pressing need that your prospective customers have and that you can help them with.