Blog Like a Pro: 3 Secrets to Blogging Consistently
By Sandra Manzanares
About Inbound Marketing
The word is out: Active blogging draws more visitors to your website and leads to your business. Businesses that blog regularly generate 67 percent more leads than those who don’t. But many content creators struggle with how to blog consistently. Even trickier is getting real results amidst the Internet’s content overload if you’re only posting every so often. So let’s talk about how to blog consistently, and dispel any anxieties you have about trying to be a perfect blogger who creates loads of long-form content that has never been written about before, and on a daily basis. (Hint: Even some of the most successful bloggers don’t always meet that description; rather, they’ve cracked the tricks of the trade.)
Here, we offer 3 secrets to blogging consistently like the pros:
1. Pencil in content creation sessions.
Take time to strategize.
If you really want to employ blogging or content marketing for the sake of generating leads, your aim should be to publish a post at least one to three times per week (more or less depending upon your goals). The more active you are on your blog, the more benefits you will reap:
- the more you are actively offering your customers resources without a hard sell
- the more leads and industry agents will regard you as an expert in your field
- the higher potential that your content will be shared and generate referral traffic to your site
- the better traffic your site will experience overall
Make brainstorming (regularly) important.
Set aside time frequently for brainstorming sessions to get your ideas out on the table. For some, this is early in the morning and for others it is late in the day. It’s important to do this in an area with no distractions. It’s also beneficial to set up rules and respect guidelines if brainstorming with a team. Have a central place where you keep all brainstorm ideas so you don’t lose track of great inspiration. (See #2 below for how to generate ideas while brainstorming!)
Schedule a date with your writing.
While scheduling writing time means that you will have to adjust your daily calendar to accommodate your new posting schedule, setting aside time is the only way that you will make blogging a priority. This may seem like a huge inconvenience at first or like a mundane task that distracts you from other business items, but know that active blogging does have a role in enhancing your lead generation and sales — and even if not immediately quantifiable, this aspect of your business can round out your sales goals.
Write on a timer.
Writing quickly is easier said than done, but it is a worthwhile skill to hone. When considering how to do this, start by defining what you hope to achieve with your post and create clear outlines. Give yourself a research deadline (this shouldn’t be longer than a couple of hours), and then stop. Then, time yourself as you write (again, hard to judge how long this will take, but it should only be as long as it takes for you to give your readers the information they need). It’s often best to go through your first draft of text by freewriting. Then, go back and edit, add in links and other research on your second draft. You may have multiple drafts and then a proofing stage. Get rid of unnecessary distractions and give yourself rewards for each stage of the writing process you complete. (Cookies, anyone?)
We’ve all been there: You work on a post for about, say, forever… and it still doesn’t feel right. Be willing to stop where you are, analyze the content as is, and alter the post’s focus and title based on how it has materialized. If the “perfect” post still seems far off, it’s because you’re overthinking it. Release the pressure by making your piece solid as it stands and move on. Or, if the post has become overwhelmingly long-winded, this is a great place to shift focus and split content into two or three posts.
Tip: Schedule concrete times into your calendar that are only designated for content creation and stick to those deadlines.
“To improve is to change, so to be perfect is to have changed often.”
— Winston Churchill
2. Keep your content diverse.
Create content that is worth reading.
You certainly don’t want to post bad content three times a week (this will only keep visitors away from your site). Useful and entertaining posts, however, will keep readers coming back for more. Generating new ideas on a constant basis is a bit overwhelming. Use your brainstorming sessions wisely by considering the following questions:
Who is your audience and what problems do they face?
Developing customer personas will let you know who exactly you’re speaking to and if your content matches in voice and subject matter. Create content for a range of your customers. Identifying what your audience needs and will actually find useful will quickly generate (or eliminate) some topics. For example, say you have a reader who is new to home-buying and a reader who is on their third property. Their interests are different and you need content that both readers would be interested in absorbing. Consider that as you create topics. Offer your expertise, insight and best practices that show you’ve anticipated the reader’s questions and that you have the answers.
What do you know a lot about?
You may not even realize the wealth of knowledge you’ve attained about your profession. All of the large and small things you’ve learned are extremely helpful to those who are buying, selling, or entering the industry as professionals. You have valuable knowledge and experience, so drop some valuable content that showcases that.
How can you excite?
This is a much harder thing to pinpoint, but you know your audience best. You also have taste and sense of what’s eye-catching and alluring. In between all of the facts and tips, give your reader something that they can sit and enjoy (and something they’ll consider sharing).
What inspires you?
Our team is always inspired by content we find on the web. We come across wonderful posts and visuals that push us to create something better or to explore a topic that we didn’t consider may be relevant to our audience. Odds are, so do you. Explore the channels you already enjoy and follow new ones. Find a few ways you can tweak this inspiration for your readers.
What kinds of content do you already have that can be reworked?
Find fresh perspective on content that you’ve already created. This is one of the easiest ways to create content regularly. Pull essential details from old posts, but add new statistics, language and media, or flip the delivery (e.g., an article to an infographic).
Have you checked your Analytics?
You may not be able to fully understand everything your readers are thinking, but Google Analytics will give you many hints of what already gets them clicking. This data informs you of what’s most important to your readers. Use this as a guide, but don’t feel held in by it. Brainstorm content that can help support these needs. Just remember to find new and innovative ways to tell that story again.
Tip: Keep your audience top-of-mind for every piece of content. Think of how your content successfully helps your readers meet their goals, then excite them.
“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”
— Alan Kay
3. Use tools to streamline the process.
Stay organized with an editorial calendar.
An editorial calendar (also often called a content calendar) is key to organizing your work and keeping you proactive about your blogging or content strategy. How else can you strategically distribute all those wonderful ideas you have stored in your brain? One of the most confusing parts of managing your editorial output is knowing what to put where. You may have tons of ideas, or even completed articles, and it’s important to gauge where your priorities lie.
Use a system that works for you, whether that’s an organization tool or a spreadsheet. Our editorial calendar template gives a glimpse of how you might organize and prioritize during the week.
Tailor your calendar so that it’s useful for your needs and easy to maintain.
We’ve found the best way to organize content in Trello is by creating lists for brainstorms, approved ideas, weekly releases, and projects in production. We then create cards for each idea or post that we assign to a member of our team. On one card, you can track the progress of a blog entry from idea to publication and set appropriate deadlines and notifications. We often include links, checklists and have conversations right within the card with other team members. My favorite feature is color coding based on status. This lets us know a project’s status at-a-glance and the next steps (say, if it requires edits or images, or if it’s ready for publication). The calendar feature let us see if we’ve distributed a variety of topics over a decent span of time. Having a valuable system like this will allow you to easily see your workload and also how far behind you may be on your publishing schedule.
Strike a balance.
Organizing content with varying lengths will keep readers guessing. Also, chances are that if you’re always posting huge articles that require lots of research and editing, something is suffering on the business end. The power of variety will set you free. Make sure that each week offers both long and short pieces that meet the varying attention spans of your audience. In that same regard, offer a mix of topics within each week. Your audience probably doesn’t want to read a regurgitation of the same article a few days in a row. Mondays may be for more fact-based text articles, where Fridays may be for more light-hearted fun industry news. Your choice. Readers want new takes on topics and a plethora of them.
Now it’s time to think about timing the release of your blogs. This will depend heavily on your audience and when they are most active on the Internet. Some of this evidence you can find within your own Google Analytics and some will come from social media responses. Blogs, on average, get the most views on Mondays and studies show that almost 80 percent of blog reading happens in the morning, peaking at 11AM. Even if this time is rather competitive because many people are posting, it’s also when most people are logged on and searching for content. As you see your engagement rise and fall, you’ll be better equipped to distribute your blogs at the most optimal days and times for you.
Taking evidence back to your editorial calendar.
Once you know which pieces of content were big hits, it’s time to make notes of it. Directly in your editorial calendar, make a list of the content types that were the most successful. Doing this provides visual markers for your next brainstorming session so you can be easily inspired by what works.
Tip: Organize your editorial calendar precisely so you can make informed decisions about what and when to post, manage commitments and keep you on track to get the most out of your blogging.
What helps you stay active on your blog? Let us know in the comments below!
Published on April 25, 2014
Written by Sandra Manzanares
Writer, editor, and marketing manager with a passion for helping brands enhance their content marketing strategy. I'm a firm believer that creative storytelling is an essential part of the way we communicate. Constantly striving to fill my head with as much creative and analytical information as possible.