By Amie Marse, Content Equals Money
If there's one thing your customers want to see in your blog, I can almost guarantee you it's this: valuable information. We're not talking about Wikipedia-style information. We're talking exclusive, you won't find this in Google's 1.2 million search results kind of information.
I've been writing for the Web since 2005, and over the last 8 years I've learned a few things about creating content that matters. If you want to give your blog an edge over your competition, grab these five strategies by the horns, and put them to work for you.
Showcase Your Personal Knowledge
Here's the thing about valuable content: In order to have something valuable to say, you don't have to be the very best at what you do. You don't have to have the most experience, the biggest clientele or the most expensive website design. Simply by being a part of your industry, you have a unique perspective that outsiders don't have. Share your unique perspective, your personal experiences and your hard-earned knowledge on your company's blog.
One of my favorite blogging tips of all time comes from The Sales Lion, Marcus Sheridan who recommends that bloggers, who are at a complete loss with what to write about next, should take out a sheet of paper and write down every question they've ever been asked about their business. Then, take those questions, and turn them into blog posts.
You might think you have nothing new to share, but I guarantee you that when you sit down to write out these questions, you'll find that you have several topics that nobody could cover but you.
Stop Regurgitating Content
When you showcase your personal knowledge, you shouldn't have this problem (the regurgitation issue). Unfortunately, most blogs read like old TV re-runs, sharing the same old things we've all seen before. On the surface, this is a creativity issue, but at base, I believe it really has to do with laziness and organization.
If you set aside time at the beginning of each month to create an editorial calendar, I can almost guarantee you that you'll largely sidestep the regurgitation issue. Most bloggers slip into the trap of regurgitation when they feel pressured to throw a post up on their site. If you know in advance when you're posting and what you're posting about, you can take the time to create a post that uniquely showcases your personal knowledge.
For help with developing your own editorial calendar, I highly recommend this post from Copyblogger.
Use a Bounty of Resources & Links
As smart as you are, it's still important to incorporate a variety of resources into your blog posts. On the one hand, resources give your readers easy access to extra information. On the other hand, they make you look more credible. Resources are a way of demonstrating that you do, in fact, keep up on your industry and market trends.
Types of resources you should include? That's a long list, but a few of my favorites include peer bloggers, news articles pertaining to your industry, other writers' how-to guides, and your earlier blog posts and resource pages. Find out why Ellie Mirman of HubSpot believes you should link to your competitors (a smart strategy for building thought leadership).
Create a Mission Statement (For Yourself)
The point of this post is to make your blog an information powerhouse. However, that doesn't mean that all information - even good information - should appear on your blog. You might know a lot about SEO and a lot about banana plantations, but you wouldn't make a blog that highlights both subjects. Your readers like to know what they can expect from your blog.
In order to avoid topical derailing, create a mission statement for your blog. This doesn't have to be on the header of every page; just write it down for yourself. Keep it simple. For example, "The purpose of my blog is to help small businesses with no SEO knowledge or skills rank their websites on the first page of Google." If a blog post doesn't line up with that mission statement, toss it! (If you use an editorial calendar and a mission statement, you won't even have to write a misfit blog post in the first place.)
Segmented Leads & Clear CTAs
While your blog needs an overarching mission statement, each post should have its own "mini-mission statement." Of course, I'm talking about your call-to-action. Your reader should never get to the end of a blog post, and ask, What now? Each one of your posts should have a clear CTA that directs the reader to do something specific. Not only is this reassuring to the reader, but it also builds your blog's reputation as a source of valuable information.
Think about all of your different leads (and what stage of your sales cycle they're in), and create blog posts with CTAs that target each one. It could take a week or a month of blogging to create posts that target each lead, but when you use an editorial calendar, the process becomes much less intimidating!
So, remember...showcase your knowledge (without regurgitating) and use an editorial calendar and plenty of resources. Write according to a mission statement, and create content for all of your different leads with clear CTAs. Easy? Hardly. Doable? Absolutely! My challenge to you is to dedicate yourself to this style of blogging for one month, and then note the differences in traffic and engagement. I'd love to hear how it works out for you!
About the Author
Amie Marse, is the founder and managing partner of Content Equals Money, a content writing service for agencies and Web-based clients.