Image credit: Unsplash
- Figure out who you’re writing for (and why)
Blogging isn’t just useful for attracting new clients. It’s also a great way to establish relationships with people in the same industry as you.
The first thing to remember is that you’re always writing for the reader, not yourself. But think carefully about who the reader is for each blog post. And always keep in mind why you do what you do.
If you’re writing for new clients, accept that they’re unlikely to buy your product or service the first time they read your blog.
Selling isn’t your main goal here. Writing your blog is more about building trust and demonstrating your ability to do what you do.
At this stage the reader may not be ready, or have the funds, to buy from you. So your blog posts will need to be valuable or entertaining enough for them to come back and visit again.
And it does work. I have a long wish list of products and services I want for my business. I know exactly who I want to buy them from too. And it’s all down to content I’ve consumed online (blogs, social media posts, podcasts) over a longish period of time.
As well as writing for clients, consider writing for other professionals in your industry. Yes, that does mean writing for your competitors! But try not to think of it that way.
Think colleagues, future collaborators, new best friends and the prospect of writing for them will become much more appealing!
These are the people who are likely to share your content on social media, help you out in return and tip you off about new opportunities and referrals.
2. Work out what you’re going to write about and when
Image credit: Unsplash
Blogging is part of a bigger picture – your content strategy. Whoah! Buzzword alert! Content strategy sounds scary, right?
But let’s break it down and really you’re just talking about what you’re going to write, how you’re going to share it (social media, email, community groups etc) and when.
Get a plan in place and you can tie your blog posts in with campaigns and offers, seasonal highlights of the year, key dates across the year (for example, if you’re a dentist you could plan a blog post for National Smile Week or if you’re a vet, National Smooch Your Pooch day. You get the gist.)
And finally, you can use your plan to hold yourself accountable.
Finding the time to write blog posts is hard, especially when you have hundreds of other jobs to do that seem more relevant to your day to day business. But a plan can help keep you on track. That’s the idea anyway. I’m working on it too. Ahem.
3. Write *helpful* headlines
I’m not a huge fan of clickbait headlines that don’t deliver on their promise or deliberately stir the pot.
My take on it is this: Do you want customers or trolls? Collaborators or attention? If it’s trolls and attention, or you just want to go viral, I’m not the right person to advise you! Life’s too short for drama.
If you want to attract positive connections and paying clients, then being helpful is the way to go. Write headlines that are valuable, inspiring and entertaining (and deliver what you promise in the blog post, even if there’s a twist).
There’s nothing wrong with being funny. As long as you actually are. Which is tricky, as humour doesn’t always translate. So again, it’s all about knowing your audience really well.
And don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have to write ultra clever, witty/sarky headlines.
Sometimes it’s better to write a headline that, as Ronseal famously put it, “does exactly what it says on the tin”. You’re not trying to win a creative writing award. You just want to attract good, solid, contacts and customers.
The secret is in the value of the post. If you’ve helped, inspired or entertained the reader in some way, they’re more likely to remember you and come back to read more.
3. Include eye-catching images
Image credit: Unsplash
As a copywriter, I guess I should tell you it’s all about the words and only the words. But I’m a sucker for a great picture. (As an ‘autism parent’ I also know the value and power of visual communication.)
So I think it’s fair to say that words and images go hand-in-hand.
Nobody likes to read long, uninterrupted blocks of text. Alongside short paragraphs and eye-pleasing white space, images help to break up text and can be used to showcase products and illustrate points.
If you have a creative business with beautiful products or designs, then it makes sense to use your own photography as it provides an extra opportunity to show off your work.
Whether you take the pictures yourself or use a professional photographer will depend on your budget and skills.
If your budget dictates DIY photography, you can get pretty good effects with iphone cameras. And bloggers cameras (such as the Olympus Pen) can capture stunning results without breaking the bank.
If you’re a service based business, you might want to consider using stock images. You can pay for these from sites such as Fotolia and Shutterstock or sites such as Pixabay and Unsplash offer them for free.
Word of caution – always check the accreditation/licensing rules for pictures. Never steal someone else’s photography and don’t just nab an image you like from Google.
Oh and one final word on stock images. Please, I beg you, don’t use the ‘random businessman in suit, phone in hand, gazing through conference room blinds’ image. So impersonal. If you’re going to publish people pictures use people in the business, not some random (sorry conference room guy).
Image credit: Pixabay
4. Write SEO friendly copy but don’t forget it’s for humans
SEO. Heard of it? It stands for Search Engine Optimisation. And it can mess with your head if you let it.
If you haven’t heard of SEO, you’ve almost certainly wondered how you can get your site on the first page of Google.
There’s no easy answer to this. There really isn’t. I’m constantly learning about SEO (I’ve taken advantage of free training with Hubspot and Yoast – check them out) but I’m the first to admit I’m not an expert. Is anyone?
But I can tell you that adding a blog to your website will help. Especially if you add content on a regular basis and share it across social media.
Think about what people are likely to search for on Google (for example, clients that contact me via my website tell me they searched for Freelance Copywriter Milton Keynes).
If you write your blog posts around your key service or product offerings, you can include keywords (and similar words) in the title, headings, subheadings and main body of your blog content.
Try to do this naturally though. Don’t add keywords in the for the sake of it as it will interrupt the flow of the text, irritate the reader and won’t do you any favours with Google.
There are tools that you can use for writing SEO-friendly copy. For example, I have the Yoast SEO plugin for my WordPress site (I’ve also completed their free training SEO for Beginners).
Such tools are useful, but I always keep your eye on the flow of the writing. I think we can get so hung up on writing for search engines that we can ruin the quality of writing if not careful. It’s a fine balance between the two. SEO is important but always keep the reader top of mind.
5. Add credibility by using quotes and stats
55% of marketers say blog content creation is their top inbound marketing priority. (HubSpot, 2018) (Source: https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics)
Use quotes and stats from experts and industry leaders. It shows that you do your research and you’re engaged with what’s going on in your field.
Don’t try to pass off quotes and stats as your own. Make sure it’s really clear that it’s a quote or a stat or you’ll make yourself look silly.
Use speech marks, a different font and name the source to make the quote stand out as I have with the Hubspot stat above.
6. Remember to include a clear call to action
So you’ve spent all that time writing and perfecting your blog post and now you’re ready to share it across social media.
But wait. Where’s your call to action?
Writing blog posts isn’t easy – you’ve probably put your heart and soul into writing your blog post. So don’t miss the opportunity to forge a longer lasting connection with the reader by providing a clear call to action.
This could be a number of things:
- A contact form to subscribe to your email list (if you have one)
- A discount code for an event or promotion
- Contact details to make an appointment for a free consultation with you
- A link to another blog post or page on your website (which is also good for SEO)
- Or even just a simple statement with a contact number or email address for further questions/enquiries (as I’ve done below)
Just make sure it’s crystal clear what you want them to do and how to do it.
So there’s six tips to get you started. What’s stopping you?!
Until next time.
Alison R Bowyer
I hope you’ve found this blog useful. I’m always happy to hear constructive feedback so do get in touch. Emai: firstname.lastname@example.org