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There are a few blogs on the Internet. A few of them have instructions on how to do content marketing and blogging the right way.
And by a few, I mean millions.
As a content marketer, you’re overloaded with information. Even if it’s helpful information, you can’t process all of it. Research has shown that when you’re faced with an information overload, the viewer tends to glaze over and not see the actual information. You instead look for patterns. This is why zebras value their stripes and paint horses value their splotches—it’s hard for the predator to discern the individual animal behind the pattern of the vast herd.
That’s fine for herbivores who want to live to see another day, but what about for us bloggers? What if you picked out the pattern that all “blog headers should be blue” because you noticed a plethora of blue header graphics and can’t really remember anything else?
Sometimes you need a distillery. (No, I do not mean you need to go get a drink).
In this post, we will boil down to the very basics of blogging. We’ll enforce three core blogging concepts and will show you how to run a successful blog. Let’s forget hedging our bets so you can get a clear picture instead of a blurry pattern.
Fact: You have to write blog posts if you’re going to blog.
Real-world Realization: Writing is hard work. It’s not shovel-ready work, it’s not elbow grease, but it’s work that strains your brain.
Writing successful blog posts means you’re facing several decisions about what and how you will create the copy. While there’s truly no wrong approach to how you’ll resolve these decisions when you are sincerely trying to do your best, this post is all about distillation. Let’s reduce all of those legitimate options and cut down to the bare bones of blogging.
Your post should be about one specific thing, and then three things related to that one thing.
In other words, it’s about the idea of core content and peripheral content. If you blog about baking, that is your core. You’ll spend most of the time writing about the recipes and things you bake. Three related topics to that core content might be talking about handy kitchen tools, ingredient reviews, and new cookbooks.
Your post should be about something you love and believe in. If either of those are lacking, writing will not be enjoyable work; it will be dreaded drudgery.
Your blog post should be specifically focused, not generally. You are not writing about every kitchen mixer, but a specific kitchen mixer. You are not writing about everything you can do with email marketing, but about a specific email marketing technique.
You might have lost specific focus if:
Everyone has their own opinion, and there are many different right answers to the question of blog post length. But let me give you one to start from: 1,000 words (give or take a hundred).
In those 1,000 words, your blog post should contain:
Your blog post should have:
Here is an example:
Give your reader lots of white space by keeping your paragraphs to no more than three sentences each.
Having headings, lists, and white space is all about people being able to scan your blog.
You must have at least one image.
That image should:
Dig Deeper: If you want to set yourself up with a mini course in foundational blog writing techniques, here are my favorite posts on the matter and methods I use myself:
Stupid question: If a tree falls in a forest, and no one is around to hear, does it make a noise?
More useful question: If a tree falls in a forest, and no one is around to hear, does anyone care?
Coming up with a content marketing promotion strategy is easily forgotten about for anyone who is more focused on creating blog content, abhorrent of self-promotion, or simply too distracted with the joys of writing to bother letting anyone know that there’s also publishing going on.
You tell people you know are interested and any you think might be interested.
The people you know are interested are those who:
The people who might be interested are those who:
You already know this.
It’s easy to forget there are five obvious audiences (and one possible audience) who want to hear from you. Sometimes it’s easy to spend too much time building a promotion plan that is email or social media heavy.
For every blog post you publish, alert each of these known/potential audiences.
Telling people you created new blog content is a lot less awful if you’re not a jerk about it.
When you consider people to be part of a relationship between you/your content instead of merely receiving a subscription or notice of publication, you won’t slip into bad and spammy behavior.
To honor the relationship nature of people instead of the recipient nature:
I bet you thought the third step was going to be something like “engage.”
Engagement is sort of in promotion, anyway, in that relationship part.
The focus here is on blogging. Not social media. Not marketing. And beyond talking to people who comment on your blog post, I’m not going to pursue engagement of your audience in this post.
When it comes to blogging, the two most basic things you can do are create the content, and then let people know you did. And then, by making those two things a habit, you up your chances of having a successful blog.
In the great tradition of sharing thought-provoking quotes from successful people, quotes which necessarily contradict each other because no one works in the same way, I wrote a post about some of the habits of successful writers.
The best habit isn’t what Ernest Hemingway did. It’s what you do to get things done.
How do you get things done? To help understand yourself a bit better, ask:
I can tell you how I do things and how people say things ought to be done, but what really matters is how you get things done. The best habits are the ones that produce results for you. Figure out how you get results. Build those habits, even if the productivity world is telling you that you’re wrong.
Behance has some good ideas on how to make a habit out of the behavior you want to solidify.
It takes at least 21 days to form a habit, or so the habit mythology goes. Let’s raise the bar and say that you need to do something for a month before moving onto acquiring a new habit.
So let’s review it all, and tell you what you already knew (a hundred times over) but felt overwhelmed by:
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