So you have a blog, now what? Well, the key to a successful blog is great content. As the veterans used to say, “content is king”. But writing a blog post successfully can be a daunting task. Where do I get started? What do I write about? Why aren’t people reading my articles? This complete guide to writing a blog post will help answer these questions and provide simple, step by step instructions on how to start building an audience and getting the traffic your site deserves.
What is Great Blog Content?
Defining what is or isn’t great content for a blog is a subjective task, much like defining a “good” book or a “good” movie. What is good to some won’t be for others. However, having said that, there is a basic premise that all internet marketers agree on:
For your site to be successful, you must create content that is unique and useful.
You’ll want to constantly ask yourself, “Is my blog useful and how is it different from my competitors?”. Start by thinking about your customer. Find out what they want and then give it to them. It might be tips on keeping your pool clean in the summer (a pool cleaning service) or what the latest updates to Google means for web designers (a web design company). And for the purposes of a blog, a customer could mean many different things. A “customer” could be someone you want to become a follower of your blog, or someone whose opinion you want to change, or even someone you want to reach spiritually. Think about who you are trying to reach and why. With this in mind, you’re ready to start thinking about what content to create.
The Six Types of Useful Content
When deciding what your blog post is going to be about, you want to make sure that it falls into at least one of the six genres of useful content:
- Entertainment – More and more people nowadays visit blogs to get a laugh, read about gossip, or have a fun conversation with a like-minded person. Just think of Perez Hilton or FPS Russia, some of the most highly trafficked sites in the history of the internet.
- Community – People have an inner need to belong. Many blogs capture this desire by focusing around an energizing topic and providing the means for others to connect and share their thoughts (by commenting for instance). Think of blogs designed to promote Autism awareness, share fantasy football secrets, or talk about how to beat the next level in Halo 4.
- Information – Millions of people out there crave information. They want to be kept up to date on the latest product, issue, or topic. Think of blogs that compare the features of this year’s newest cameras or a political blog that’s been following a piece of legislation you’re advocating.
- News – Without a doubt the easiest form of content to encourage visitors is to be the first to write about something. Breaking news is always hot, no matter what the topic is. Could be the latest embarrassing photo of the mayor or what’s in the newest Apple software update.
- Debate – Lots of blog readers want to debate your viewpoint or opinion. A great opportunity to encourage commenting and returning visitors is to promote an active discussion on your blog. And don’t be afraid to stick to your viewpoint, it only helps to encourage interaction if you stick to your guns.
- Education – The tried and true useful content, if you teach someone to fish, they’ll come back to learn how to hunt sharks.
Many blogs successfully write a number of posts each with a different genre, but it’s probably a good idea to just start with one or two and see how they go first. Don’t forget to ask your readership what they would like to hear next from you or what would be useful to them. Or if you don’t have a blog yet, try surveying a few friends or browsing the most successful blogs in your industry.
Distinguish Your Content
Once you’re sure your content is useful, you want to distinguish it from the competition so that it’s also unique. A content’s uniqueness is critical to people following it. A blog is created almost every second and bloggers have the challenge of standing out from the crowd. Your content might be incredibly useful, but your potential readers are just finding it elsewhere. It’s especially hard since the already existing blogs your trying to compete with have loyal followers already! So what can you do to make your blog content unique? Here are a few tips:
- Find a Sub-niche – Want to blog about fashion? Try picking a certain brand, style, or theme to work within.
- Different Post Genre – If everyone else is writing News posts, you should write an Education one.
- Distinct Voice – Is your topic full of childish ranters? Write from a reasonable, independent perspective. Is your topic dry and boring? Try adding some passion with a controversial opinion. Industry plagued with high-speed salesmen? Be honest and approachable. Create a personality that works well in the industry and is different from your competitors.
- Combine Niches – Think of ways you can combine two unrelated topics for your blog and mash them together into a new, unique whole. For example at E3’s blog we take a birds eye view of internet marketing and cover topics like video production and SEO, which were traditionally unrelated. But now we write articles about two seemingly different topics that share a common theme.
- Distinct Presentation – Similar to having a distinct voice, coming up with a unique way to present your content is also a powerful way to differentiate your site. Is everyone else writing text articles about how to clean your garage? Try making a video series. All your competitors use videos? Try a beautiful, magazine style blog.
If you keep in mind the two cardinal rules, useful and unique, you’ll start thinking of great, viral content in no time. Use these tips and you’ll be one step closer to a successful blog. Part 2 in the series provides tips on writing for SEO including scannable content and effective post titles.