I get asked a lot about content marketing because an overwhelming amount of startup/local/small businesses do not allocate a marketing and/or advertising budget. Most of my friends want to start a part time business or have new career ambitions outside of their current full time job. I always tell them to start a blog for a few reasons:
- A consistent blog can show future decision makers (investors, executives, agents, etc.) that you have a passion for (blank) and have collateral to show.
- A non-subscription based blog also works while you sleep.
- Writing is cathartic - you will likely drum up new ideas, articulate a thought or springboard your interest on the topic even further.
- The "Content Is King" platitude is more prevalent than ever. There is a lot of Clickbait garbage out there. Thoughtful posts usually produce something positive back.
Here are the basic elements to writing a blog post.
Make it interesting. Always think, "what title would pull me in if I saw this story on my feed?" My go-to reference for value added headlines or blog post titles is Vice.com, their sub-sites (like Motherboard), and their YouTube docs.
I don't have statistics to back this up, but I feel half the people that see an arousing headline will only read that headline and not the article.
Unfortunately, the image for your blog post is more important than the actual content. I know this pisses writers off. I get it. We also do not have to go the way of Mike Judge's Idiocracy either.
The image (and content marketing strategy) will depend on the reader target audience. If you're a blogger writing about food or puppies, use an image of food or puppies because almost everyone loves those two things. If you're a lawyer attempting to educate potential clients, a more conservative, but still intriguing image would be best for your post about Roe v. Wade.
IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT IMAGES: The days of using Google Images and plucking photos for your blog are numbered, especially if you're an entity that is making a profit from your content. It seems like Getty Images and BIG PHOTO are cracking down on non-licensed photography, images and vectors. DollarPhotoClub.com was my #1 bookmarked stock photography website. They were swallowed up by Adobe Stock this month pushing the typical price of $1 to $3 on average.
- Take the photo yourself. Oh yeah, most smartphones have a good camera.
Tease why this story is interesting. Double check to see that the subtitle/preview meta-data populates when you link out. Below was a Tampa Bay Times blog post about the illusion of the farm-to-table movement. The story is titled Farm To Fable and the subtitle/previews are "At Tampa Bay farm-to-table restaurants, you're bring fed fiction" and "If you eat food, you are being lied to every day."
Obviously, it depends on the subject matter. If you're the food or puppy blogger, Buzzfeed style "Listicles" with tons of images and gifs are key. If you're a lawyer educating potential leads or impressing referring lawyers, accuracy is most important. Have a product that you need to show people how it works? Short videos embedded in your posts are great.
Personally, I love infographics and well designed statistical analysis. FiveThirtyEight.com and DataUsa.io are my favorites. If the subject matter is to educate in a slightly entertaining way, you can do better than this blog post.
You wrote your blog post for a reason. Most people feel like a gross salesman when they tack on a call-to-action at the end of a blog post. I think it's gross if you don't - because you are wasting an opportunity to continually engage and learn from your audience.
Here are sample call-to-actions using my collateral