How Do You Create Great Content for Your Blog?
Now that you know why your business needs a blog and learnt how to start a blog, it’s time for the most important part: filling it with content. Most bloggers will agree that a crucial part of any blog is quality content. First, you need to choose the topic you are going to write about from a list of topics you’ve created (as advised in our previous post). Next, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. In short, here are 14 steps to creating great content for your blog:
1. Write a great headline
Each blog post you write should have a headline. The headline is really important because it needs to entice people to read your content. You know the feeling of skimming through endless content—in newspapers or magazines, in blogs or on social media. Only a small percentage of articles online actually get read, you read the headlines and most of the time you don’t continue to the actual text. The headline is there to make readers want to continue.
So, how do you write a compelling headline? Make it intriguing and promise readers something they want.
Your headline should clearly promise answers and solutions to problems and pain points you know your audience has. Or, it should promise useful and simple tips to achieve something you know they would like to achieve. When crafting your headline you need to think of your audience and what they want and need. Of course, this shouldn’t be an empty promise. The post itself needs to deliver on this promise. The headline needs to tell people exactly what problem you’re going to solve for them. The headline should clearly communicate that the blog post will be useful to the reader and that the content of the post is in some way unique. If your headline does this, people are going to continue reading.
For example, if you’re a plumber, this could be a great headline for a blog article:
How to Fix a Toilet That Won’t Flush
Or, if you own an interior design business, this would be a good and enticing headline for your blog:
10 Easy Tips to Unclutter and Organise Your Desk
Two more ways to create a great headline are using a question in your headline (“Ever wondered how to…?”, “Ever wondered why you are not…?”) and using a list (“5 easy ways to…”. “10 great tips for…”, “8 best fixes for…”). These kinds of headlines are always attention grabbing and create curiosity.
2. Follow the headline with a great introduction paragraph
Essentially, you want people to read your entire post. That’s not an easy feat because usually they don’t. According to research, most of users’ viewing time is spent above the fold (that’s the content that is visible above the border when a web page loads). This means that you need to work hard to get them to scroll down.
How do you do that? Well, your intro paragraph needs to dive right into the promise made in your headline and provide a hook for your audience to continue reading. Don’t start your post with boring statistics—get right to the point of what you’re here to discuss. Show your readers that the headline didn’t make an empty promise, that you are going to deliver the solution or the useful information you told them you would.
3. Keep your audience in mind
When writing for your audience it really helps to envision a specific person you’re writing to. For that you can envision one of your customers whom you know well — think what will interest them, what pain points they have that your post could solve. Your posts should address your audience’s particular needs. For instance, if you own a cleaning business and you work predominantly with people who live in small apartments, give tips that are relevant to small apartments. Your posts cannot be interesting and relevant to everyone, so don’t even try. Figure out who your specific audience is and speak directly to them.
4. Consider your tone of voice
Knowing your audience is also an important part of determining your tone of voice. How should your blog be written: in a formal way? In a funny way? In a casual and friendly way? In a personal way? Once you know who you’re writing to, the answer to this question should be relatively clear. Your tone of voice should be tailored to your audience and your brand. In other words, the kind of image your business is trying to portray. If you’re a serious and high-brow business or a young and fun business, this should be reflected in your blog.
Remember: don’t oversimplify or overcomplicate just for the sake of doing so—use the tone of voice that your audience understands and relates to.
5. What about length?
A major question bloggers ask themselves is how long should a blog post be. Our answer: make it as short or as long as it needs to be. On one hand, according to research, 75% of people prefer reading articles under 1,000 words. On the other hand longer articles do better in search engine rankings. Therefore we believe there are no rules when it comes to post length. Make sure your post is comprehensive enough and gives all the information the reader needs. Don’t be afraid of writing long posts, as long as their content is valuable and interesting and not repetitive or full of fluff. And if you’re discussing a topic that doesn’t require more than, let’s say, 500 words—no problem, go for it. Remember, quality content is key and that’s also the case when it comes to the length of your posts.
6. Keep it clear and accessible
Your posts need to be easy to understand for your readers. Avoid using technical terms or industry jargon—whatever industry you're in. Don’t use professional terms just because you’re used to using them with your peers or in an attempt to impress. Remember who your readers are and write to them in a way that they will understand.
If you do use a professional term here and there, you should explain what it means so that your readers will feel closer to your business. You can even dedicate an entire post to explaining professional terms that will be helpful to your readers. For instance, if you own a hair salon, you could write a post explaining different types of hair straightening methods and the pros and cons of each.
7. Go for narrow topics
Each blog post you create should be focused on a narrow and specific topic. For example, if you own a hair salon, don’t write a post about “How to have great hair”—this topic is far too broad and the post will seem unfocused and all over the place. Write a post about “How to maintain great hair in the summer” or “How to have great hair when you have unruly curls”. That makes all the difference.
8. Go for short paragraphs
Make sure each of your paragraphs are no more than 3-6 sentences long (and make sure your sentences aren’t run-on sentences). This doesn’t mean your article as a whole needs to be short — just break it up into shorter paragraphs. This way it will be more pleasing to the eye and easier to read on a screen.
9. Tell a story
Not everybody has a knack for storytelling, that’s true. But give it a go. People connect emotionally with stories and that connection is great for your blog and your business. So try writing content in the form of a story; with a character, a conflict and a resolution.
For instance, if you own a plumbing business and you want to discuss the importance of winter maintenance, you can write a story about Bob who didn’t protect his outdoor pipes from freezing in time for winter. You can write a whole dramatic story around this.
In whatever line of business you are, you undoubtedly have accumulated endless true stories that relate to your business. Stories that happened to your clients. Use those in your blog. Obviously, don’t use the real names of people you are writing about — the real details don’t matter and you can’t publish them without consent. What matters is the emotional connection a true story (or any story) creates.
10. Do your research
This might take a little extra work but when writing a post don’t just write what comes to mind, do your research and fact-check everything you’re saying. In our post about why your business needs a blog, one of the reasons was to establish trust and authority. Well, nothing does that better than a well-researched blog article with all the facts checked.
11. Don’t be salesy
Remember that your blog post can and should do a lot of things: it can educate, teach, engage, entertain. The one thing it’s not supposed to do is sell. Selling your products and services is just a by-product of blogging, and shouldn’t be part of the content itself.
12. Include visuals
Content is not just words, it's also visual imagery. Your blog needs great images to break up the text and to help people relate to the content. According to research, blog articles with images get 94% more views as opposed to those with no visuals.
Make sure your images are top quality and not blurry or dark. Make sure your images aren’t boring stock-photos. And also, be sure to use only images you have legal rights to. If you are using the 12handz system, we have a bank of free images for you to use or you can use image banks (some of them cost some money, others like Unsplash are free).
You can also create your own images. This is especially relevant if your business is of a visual nature; if you are a landscaper or gardener, a hairstylist, a beautician or an interior designer. If you have something to photograph — that’s best. You don’t need to use a professional photographer you can just use your phone or a handheld. Just make sure your frames look good and you have enough light. Photographing people is always good, since people relate to faces, but if you do take pictures of your staff or your customers, just make sure to always get their consent before publishing their photos.
13. And also include video content
Another great kind of content you could add to your blog is video content. Not only do people love videos, this is also great for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and getting your blog discovered. To learn more about ￼creating great video content for your business, read this article.
14. Go over your post before publishing
This is very important. Always go over your post before you hit publish. Reread it, edit it, proofread it. Make sure everything is well written and makes sense. Check that there are no unnecessary repetitions, typos or grammar mistakes. You can use an online editor or grammar checker which are always useful, or you could get someone else (a team member, friend or family member) that is good with words to go over it. Having someone else read your posts before publication is always useful as they can test the readability of the text and tell you if everything is clear and reads well. Sometimes things that seem very clear in your mind don't sound that way to someone else who is reading your text. However you do it, just make sure your post is ready for publishing before you do.
Bonus pro tip:
When you’re out of inspiration
In our previous post explaining how to start your blog, we recommended making a list of blog post ideas and creating a schedule for the near future. Obviously that list is something you need to periodically compile and that isn’t always easy. Let’s face it, even the most experienced and prolific writers sometimes run out of ideas of what to write about. Luckily, when you’re running out of inspiration, there are a few useful things you can do:
- Brainstorm with co-workers, with peers, with your staff members or even with family and friends who know your business.
- Look at other blogs similar to yours and see what they’re writing about.
- Look at social media pages in your particular industry and get ideas from there.
- Interview someone. A great person to interview would be an expert in your field who has very specific expertise, or even one of your employees. Let's say you own an accounting business and one of your staff specialises in a certain area of accounting, you can interview them about it to give your readers useful tips and information.
- Write a review. Pick a product or a service which is related to your field and review it. Your review could be written or you could do a video-review.
- Create a how-to post. Tutorials that teach your followers something practical are always welcome. Again, this could be written or in video form.
- Curate content. By this we mean you can do a round-up of other blogs or websites you recommend or link to specific posts you like and think are relevant for your audience. Get creative with it — the point being that you can use content other people created and just curate it, link to it, and add a few words of your own to tie it all together.
- Ask your readers. A great way to get more ideas for your blog is to ask your readers what they would like to read about. You can ask them in person at the end of a job, in the blog itself, on social media or by email. This will not only ensure that you will write about topics that really interest your audience but it is also great for strengthening the relationship with your customers.