Don't have the time for writing blog articles? You can, if you use this strategy, relying on small chunks of clearly defined time. Turning one giant writing task into a series of small ones is a great approach for busy people.
This process works for me, and you can try it as is, and then modify it as needed. It's built on the idea that big tasks can be achieved if they are "chunked down" enough. And you can use free, readily available technology to help.
Is adding content to your website worth the work? It's one of the most important things to do to stay relevant in the search engines, translating into more leads and sales.
Boston marketing firm HubSpot took a close look at statistics and concluded "Blog early, blog often."
(For a quick review of some of the basics of writing, see 7 Helpful Ideas for Website Writing.)
A system for writing blog articles
You want a process for blog writing that will work for you, not one that sounds like a good idea but isn't realistic. For most of us in small business, "I'll write an article a week" isn't realistic, if you're doing all the work yourself.
The key "success factors" for consistent writing are 1. a simple system taking just 15 minutes a day, and 2. sticking to it. Like walking up a mountain, taking one small step after another will get you there.
So, read more to get an idea of a writing system you can use, or modify, to write regularly.
TIP: What should you write about?
While this article doesn't cover how to chose topics, a good place to start is to think about (and write down) the most common questions you get from customers or potential customers. You see this on websites all the time, the "FAQ" or Frequently Asked Questions.
Why this? First, you'll know this information immediately, right off the top of your head. Second, the questions you get asked are the same questions people put into a search engine like Google. Answering common questions is certainly an excellent way to contribute your SEO ranking.
TIP: Use your phone to do your writing
Write your article by speaking into your cell phone! Voice recognition technology is really pretty competent, allowing you to capture ideas for articles and any kind of content you want to include.
Plus, don't we all have frustrating times feeling like we're not productive because we're waiting for something or someone? Pick up your phone and record some content!
It's not hard to get it going, with an app from Google. Have a look at this article, where Andy Wolber shows how to enable speech-to-text features with Google Docs on Chrome OS, Android, and iOS devices.
The 15 minutes a day approach to blog writing
This is my system. Spend 15 minutes on each step, no more! Maybe your mind isn't like mine, but in my head I think,"Oh no, I still have to write that article." On the other hand, "Sure, I can do 15 minutes a day" is a realistic goal!
You actually promise yourself two things: one, that you'll give writing 15 minutes a day, and two, that you'll honor the limit so you don't miss other important work. That's your commitment and sticking to it is important to build a usable habit.
6 steps you can use to write your articles
Writing blog articles CAN get done, even if you can't devote large blocks of time to it because with this system you're only allowed 15 minutes a day. If you don't complete an item, finish it the next day.
#1 Make a bullet list, a list of points that answer one of the FAQs mentioned earlier.
Let's say you're a mechanic, and the question is "how to change a flat tire?" You'll be writing a blog article about that, and your bullet list might include:
- Be sure you're in a safe place
- If you're on the highway, move passengers to a safe spot
- Get out the jack and other tools
- If you don't know what you're doing, read the manual
You get the idea.
#2 Expand on each bullet by writing two or at most three sentences for each. Using the flat tire example, explain what a "safe place" is, and why it's important.
#3 Research articles online. Maybe AAA has some quotable statistics. Maybe Consumer Reports has an article covering something that's new in tire-changing (by the way, did you know that not all new cars come with a spare?). Capture those interesting links, maybe to use one as supporting information, or for the quote.
#4 Take a look at what your competition has done. Did Joe's Garage write about this? Don't copy what they wrote, but maybe you can glean an idea or two. Or, maybe they left out some important aspect that you can cover.
#5 Craft a good title. Why now? Because by now you have a pretty good idea of what the content will be. What keyword did you want to cover? Is it still a good one for this content? If not, refine it. Now think about a title to include that keyword. Our fictional article might be "6 Steps for Changing a Tire Safely."
Titles can make or break the success of your writing. Boring titles don't attract readers! SEO expert Yoast has great tips in an excellent article, Crafting good titles for SEO.
"Writing good page titles is an essential skill for anyone doing SEO. The title tag is the first thing a user sees in the search results. It’s also one of the most important factors for Google to decide what the topic of a page is. The combination of these two factors makes it so essential."
#6 Find a good, related image to include. You want at least one high quality, relevant image for visual interest. An instructional piece, like our example on changing tires, would benefit from several.
There are many sources of excellent, FREE images, and they're easy to use. There are more sources than you need, in this article from Snappa, an online graphics service, "21 Amazing Sites With Breathtaking Free Stock Photos."
They say they are free to use, but check the copyrights anyway. Snappa warns:
Many of these photographs are free from copyright restrictions or licensed under creative commons public domain dedication. This means you can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.
However, some photos may require attribution.
TIP: Hire a writer
The system outlined above will work for writing one high quality blog article a month, or maybe every three weeks. In a non-competitive market niche, regular content additions like that will go a long ways toward helping your ranking.
But what if you need more than one article a month? Or what if, even with simple steps, this method doesn't work?
You can hire a third party to write your articles.
It's not as easy as it sounds: you have to do prep work (basically steps 1 and 2, above), and then you have to do the homework to find a good match.
Here are three online "markets" for writers:
Some prices are going to look very attractive, but you get what you pay for!
If you need help figuring out a good fit with a writer, we can help.
Thought for the day
"Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things." Robert Brault