Beginning your blog can feel daunting. (Who knew that beginning a blog for your business means you're going to have to dust off your writing skills?) Creating valuable content on your blog can expand your reach, attract your ideal clients and customers, get you the recognition you crave and increase your bottom line. So why wouldn’t you do it?
Because you don’t know where to start.
Let's fix that!
Where to begin?
Your job is to create content that will be helpful to your ideal clients when they search for information you can provide. This is what will attract them to you. But the biggest challenge that keeps most people from starting (and sometimes continuing) to blog is the need to consistently come up with compelling topics to write about.
It really is a drag to sit down to write a blog with no clear idea of a topic. I call that Blank Screen Syndrome and I used to have it a lot. That’s when distraction can rear its ugly head all those cute animal videos suddenly become so compelling.
But I have figured out how to consistently generate compelling blog topics, making the task much easier and way more effective. Here are the "tools" I recommend for you beginners out there that will help get your blog out of your head and onto the screen. And this is the best news of all — you already have most of these tools at your fingertips!
1. Your Brain
You didn’t read it wrong: your brain. If you have a business, you already know what you should be writing about because your clients and customers are telling you through the questions they ask! The questions that your current clients (and often your potential clients) ask are what people who don’t know you yet are struggling with and need to know more about.
Nearly every blog topic I write for my website is the result of a question that I’ve heard over and over again from clients. I figure if my best clients are asking this question, there must be many other people out there who also need the same information. And, there’s a good chance that those people fit the profile of my best clients! Here are a few my blog titles that are direct results of questions from my clients:
- 4 Reasons Your Blog Must Be Part of Your Website
- The Difference Between Articles and Blogs
- The Ideal Length For A Blog Post
2. Google Search
When you come up with a topic that you like, put it in question form and check out what comes up on Google. But, before you do, get into "incognito" mode. Sign out of any Google products that you are using (i.e. Gmail, for example) and go into your settings to remove personalized search. This will give you what I call a "pure" search: results that are not affected by your personal search history.
Now plug your "question" into Google and see what comes up. Is your topic idea over-represented? If so, can you think of a different spin? Conversely, you can also get some ideas from what’s there. The best scenario is when you see few or no results at all.
3. Google Suggest
You’ve seen it, you’ve used it, but you’ve probably never thought about it. Google Suggest is the function that works when you begin to enter a search into Google’s search field. A bunch of suggestions for you are automatically generated. This is Google helping you get results faster. But it’s also an indication of what people are searching for. The most frequent searches are displayed in the list, so here’s a great way to get more ideas for your blogs.
Here are a couple of examples:
4. Google Keyword Tool
You don’t need to invest money in Google ads to take advantage of the same tool that advertisers use to identify good choices for keywords. Simply go to http://www.google.com/adwords/ and set up an account. Under "Tools" you’ll see "Keyword Planner." Here you can plug in any search term or phrase and not only will you see data on how often that term or phrase is searched for in Google, but you’ll also find other phrases you can use as ideas for other blogs.
Here’s an example:
5. Content Marketing Calendar
Some people know what they are going to write about for their blog months in advance. That’s because they have a working content marketing calendar. If you run a small business this doesn’t have to be a complicated document; just use a simple Excel spreadsheet (or Google Doc) and whenever you get a "hit" on a good idea for a blog, add it. This keeps you on track and also gives you a repository for your ideas. If one idea looks better than one you have scheduled, simply switch them up. It’s your calendar.
Your editorial calendar also keeps you on top of the categories you are writing about so you don’t neglect topics that you want to include. Mine also includes a space to make sure that I remember to post my blogs on social media sites and be certain that I’ve emailed them to my list.
You’re not writing the Great American Novel, so make it easy on yourself and choose two-to-three templates to work with and simply fill in the blanks.
You may have noticed a proliferation of "list-based" blogs out there. People don’t read on the web these days; instead, they scan. Lists are easy to scan and are very sharable. Make sure your title tells the reader that your blog is a list. Here’s a great place to get some free templates: http://go.uberflip.com/free-blog-templates
7. Social Media Profiles
Set up and use your social media profiles as tools to disseminate your content and attract your ideal clients to your website. I recommend that even if you don’t actively engage on every site, you should post a link to your blog every time you publish. Here’s some info for you to help you decide where to spend your time: "How To Choose A Social Media Site."
When you get really prolific at blogging and are ready to go deeper into marketing on the web, SEMrush can be an important tool in your arsenal. You can find keyword and keyphrase search volume trends and get reports on related keywords and keyphrases that you may not have even considered using.
Now that you have seven essential tools that will help you get started on your business blog, it’s time to get going. There’s more to learn, such as optimizing your posts, using images, tagging and more.
But creating great topics to write about comes first. Get good at that and you’ll be on your way to turning your website into a client and customer magnet!