Over the years, I’ve heard many people raise two issues when it comes to writing blog posts. Firstly, they don’t have the time and secondly, they don’t know what to write about. Although in reality writing a blog post every month should only take a couple of hours every month, I’m not going to address the first issue in this article.
Coming up with relevant and useful content can actually be easier than you think and once you get into your creative flow you’ll discover it’s actually a lot easier than you initially thought.
The initial resistance
The first reaction by the human mind to the idea of writing a blog is ‘I can’t do that. I have no idea what to write about and where would I start?’ - but it’s important to make a start and that should be with writing down or brainstorming a list of ideas and topics.
A few years ago, I did a training session for a marketing design company. They knew how to create amazing artwork and graphics for their customers but their team wanted to expand their knowledge on topics such as social media and how to create content on various social media and blogging platforms. After suggesting how often they should be posting content, the initial response from the team leader was ‘no, we won’t be posting that often. We don’t have the time to come up with ideas on a regular basis’ but half an hour later, they had a spreadsheet with a list of over twenty different topics they could use.
How had this happened?
After the initial ‘we can’t do that’ response, I suggested we spend 30 minutes discussing how to come up with ideas. we explored what sort of content could be covered and the conversation went something like this…
Me: When you talk to your clients over the phone or face to face, what sort of advice do you give them? Give me a quick example.
Team member one: Well, we might suggest that all artwork has their logo on to raise brand awareness and that the colours they use on their website, social media and other marketing materials are consistent and in line with their brand.
Team member two: And that the logo should be crisp and easy to identify. We get customers from time to time who have used a blurred logo or their logo is so small you can’t read anything on it.
Me: Great, you’ve just given me three or four top tips that you can use to create three or four separate social media posts and possibly a blog post with tips for creating professional branding.
At this point, we listed a few more tips before I asked why someone should use them rather than do it themselves or outsource to a generic digital marketing agency. The arguments in favour included their expertise and knowledge of what designs and type of designs work best in marketing. This then became the basis for another blog post on how to choose the right company to help you with your branding.
By now you get the idea. If you are a florist, what helpful tips do you give your customers that you can put into a blog post? Maybe this includes frequently asked questions such as ‘which flowers are best for this time of the year’ as well as tips such as how stems should be cut at an angle (I learned this from a customer who is a florist!) or what plant food to use.
If you are a bookkeeper, what deadlines should your customers be aware of that you could turn into a blog post? What tips for managing expenses and receipts would you give? Should they use Excel or an online accounting package to track invoices and expenses?
If you are a personal fitness trainer or health coach, what eating, sleeping and exercise tips could you give? Could you write about the importance of getting into a regular routine and creating healthy habits? And what are the benefits of using a personal trainer compared to trying to get fit on their own without personal guidance?
I’m not a personal fitness trainer, florist or bookkeeper but there are plenty of ideas in this blog post to get you started - and once you get into the flow, you will find that more ideas come up more easily.
By the end of my training session, the design agency had agreed to create a shared spreadsheet and team members could freely add suggested topics, tips and upcoming events that would be worth considering. The team leader would then review the spreadsheet and decide what content would be used and how it would be used. This would also include seasonal events throughout the year that were relevant.
You might not have a team of marketers to share your thoughts and to give you ideas but you can always use colleagues and even friends and family for ideas. Sometimes having a different perspective can inspire you with new and better ideas for blog posts!
I don’t want to give away too much information
I’ve heard the argument, especially with business offering services, that they don’t want to give away too much advice that they would otherwise provide as part of their service and make money from. I understand this but think of the approach differently. You should provide enough information that demonstrates that you know what you are talking about, that adds value to your potential customer and that leaves them saying ‘These are great tips and you clearly know what you are doing. I can’t do this myself so I need your help’.
A business coach, for example, can offer great tips but always highlight how business owners that have a coach achieve greater results because they are more accountable or have someone to ‘bounce ideas off’ (or whatever benefits you as a coach see customers get from using your services rather than doing it themselves).
This approach also applies to other types of businesses such as home DIY, gardening or even food manufacturing. You might provide some tips for baking their own cakes or painting their bedroom but many people still want you to do it for them - whether that’s to save them time or make sure the task or product is perfect!
Other content ideas
So far, we have mostly talked about tips and blog posts around why customers can benefit from your services, but there are other topics to talk about.
You could also post about what's going on in your company. This helps to give a personal element to your business that people can associate with - but I don't recommend doing this too often. Whilst it adds a touch of personality and familiarity with the company, it tends to be of less value to a wider audience, especially if almost every post is ‘look at what we are doing’ rather than ‘here’s a post to help YOU!’
Here's a list of possible things that you can write a blog post about:
Let’s give some examples of what blog titles might look like based on the above list:
You might not agree initially, but whatever your business, there are plenty of things to write about. If you're really struggling to come up with ideas then take a look at your competitor's blog posts to see if you can write about similar topics. It’s important to avoid plagiarism but I’m fairly sure that whatever you write about, some elements of it will have been covered somewhere in the world. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t cover that topic. People want to hear from you, whether that’s your thoughts or what you are doing locally or with your customers, specific to the topic you are writing about.
A great source for posts such as top tips can come from questions that you get asked frequently. This helps with creating ideas and also shows that you understand the concerns - and thoughts - of your customers.
Admittedly, it’s not always easy to come up with content but it’s easier than you might initially think. You are sure to come up with some great ideas to write about!
If you would like to find out more about writing blog posts for your business, grab a copy of my book Blogging for business, or get in touch. We would be happy to write some great blog posts for you!
When creating videos for marketing, there are various types of videos you can use. The type of video you use will depend on your objectives and other factors such as who your target audience is.
Here are some of the most popular and most effective type of videos you can use:
(Note: You may come across different names for some of these videos. We mention some of the alternative names where possible).
Also known as dynamic illustrations or explainer videos. Animated videos can contain cartoon-style drawings and animation such as a hand, writing the words across the screen. Animated videos are normally very short (up to 2-3 minutes) and have a very high tempo.
Animated videos are great for explaining how a product or process works which is why they are referred to as explainer videos.
Here’s an example of an animated video we did explaining how Google Search works.
Animated videos are great for keeping the attention of your target audience but on the downside, they don’t have real people in the videos and possibly lack the personality of some of the videos mentioned below. A video featuring you, people in your business or your customers talking about your service allows potential customers to become more familiar with your brand and to build a stronger bond.
Corporate videos are a great way to show how professional and established a business is. These videos tend to be longer than animated videos and for best results, they are typically up to 10 minutes long. The video might include shots of the offices, the manufacturing or design areas, staff and possibly customers. A mixture of music and spoken audio (whether that’s someone in front of the camera or a voice-over) brings the video to life.
Corporate videos promote the brand and the company as a whole. They are useful for presentations and for showing to potential clients when bidding for business as they give valuable insights into how the business can help.
These types of videos, however, aren’t usually the most exciting videos, and they only connect with customers on a higher, possibly more superficial, level.
Is your product or service any good? How can anyone trust that you deliver a good service or that you will deliver on your promises?
The ultimate way to do this pre-sale is to be referred to and recommended by another customer who thinks what you have done for them is amazing. Of course, this isn’t always possible and many potential customers will find you through various marketing campaigns and channels. Having testimonial videos on your website and that you showcase on social media is a great way to convince people to buy from you.
A testimonial video involves having one or more customers on camera explaining what you did for them, the benefits and how it made them feel. Videos can be as short as 20 seconds with one customer or as long as 1-2 minutes with several customers giving very brief feedback.
The main challenge with testimonial videos is having customers who are willing to go on camera and finding the time and resources to record and edit the video. Having written testimonials is much easier and still powerful, but nothing is better than seeing a customer saying how delighted they are!
Live (and recorded) social videos
These types of videos can vary in style and length. They can be the ‘on-the-fly’ style videos - you’ve probably seen the guy walking down a busy street using the camera on his phone, telling you what he is up to and sharing his top tip or thought of the day. They can also be a carefully planned out Facebook Live video recorded from your office that lasts anything up to an hour! (personally, I think that anything over 20 minutes is too long but there are circumstances where longer videos are needed).
Live videos are great for engaging your audience on social media and allow your fans to build familiarity with you and your brand on a personal level. Done properly, they can even be recorded and used in an Ads campaign to promote a service or special offer.
One speaker personal videos
This type of video is very similar to Live social videos. The only difference is that they aren’t live. These videos typically involve one person, talking on camera about a topic that interests your audience. This might be a special promotion you are running or it could be providing some great advice. A business coach, for example, might do a quick video to discuss the importance of delegating or how to motivate and lead a team for effective results.
Presentation style pictures and sound
There are a number of apps available that allow you to upload images and select a background soundtrack. The app then creates a video which involves playing the images in a sequence with the background soundtrack. You can also add overlay wording and special effects such as having an image fade out or zoom in. Using these apps are generally low cost and relatively easy to make compared to hiring a professional. They are also very effective but lack the personal touch that live social or testimonial videos provide.
Presentation style videos are great for presenting products such as tasty food dishes for a restaurant. They are also great for providing a summary of a blog post that you have written.
At Think Twice Marketing, we convert many of our blog posts into a video you can watch. See the video at the bottom of this blog post! We also offer this as a service to customers. Get in touch to find out more.
Desktop/Webinar style videos
Webinars involve sharing your screen, PowerPoint slides and possibly your face on the screen. They are a great way to interact and explain how something works and are often used with an educational focus. These videos can be used as part of the sales process by capturing leads (the people who attend your webinar, for example). Webinars can be delivered live or pre-recorded and hosted online, for example on your website.
GIF images are very short videos with no sound. You can source ready-made GIFs from websites such as Giphy and you can also make your own GIF image by using a third-party app to combine images together. GIFs are great for social media and email marketing as they are quick and easy to source and can grab the readers attention. You might point out that they aren’t really a video as there is no sound, they just bring images to life and they are very short but we have included them as they can provide a sequence of images like a video and they provide animation.
Above are the main types of videos you can use in your marketing. It’s important to use the right type of video for your objectives and to plan in advance what the video will include. You don’t, for example, want to start a live video and then realise that you aren’t sure what you want to cover in it!
If you would like help understanding how to use videos in your marketing, get in touch. We are happy to help.
How much time do you spend on the wording for your title? Whether it's email marketing, blog writing or any other form of marketing where a title or heading is required many marketers and business owners underestimate the importance of the title. Consider this...
At some point in the past you may have written a blog post or an email to send out to your distribution list and very quickly added the title. If you have then you aren't alone but it's one of the worst things you can do. If the title doesn't capture the attention of the reader then they aren't going to read the rest of the content.
In today's world, we are busy people; constantly bombarded with information such as emails, notifications and bits of information we see around us such as ads on the TV or people talking. When it comes to grabbing the readers attention, your campaign is just one of many activities trying to grab and maintain their attention. If you haven't succeeded then those previous minutes or hours you have spent writing the body of the content is wasted. The content won't get read.
The purpose of a title?
The purpose of the title is to tell the reader what the main content is about, right? Actually this is only part of the answer. More importantly, the purpose is to grab the readers attention and make them want to read more. If you fail in the last part then the marketing campaign will be less effective.
In email marketing, typically less than 30% of subscribers will open an email, fewer will read more than the first couple of lines and even fewer will read the whole email. The subject heading should entice the reader to open the email. The email title should entice the reader to want to read the main content and the first few lines of content should entice the reader to want to read the rest. The same principle applies for blog posts.
An accountant, for example, might write a newsletter which includes 3 great tips for reducing the tax a business has to pay. When the email arrives in your inbox and you see the title, which one of these are you, as a business owner likely to open?
Summer Newsletter 2019 or 3 Proven Ways To Pay Less Tax In Your Business
The sight of the word 'newsletter' makes me want to immediately delete the email or at best, leave it in my inbox to read later (which in reality I will never come back to).
Time well spent
I've seen an argument for spending more time on the title of a blog post or email campaign than on the rest of the content. I'm not convinced by this as some campaigns can take hours to write and spending several hours deciding on a title doesn't make sense. Without doubt, an effective, well written title is crucial - and arguably more important than the main body of content but with experience it shouldn't take that long to come up with a powerful headline. Just spending 10-15 minutes playing around with different wording may be enough time to find the perfect headline.
Here are some headlines types to consider:
- Ask a question that will get the reader thinking and prompt them to read further such as 'Are you struggling to find time to get fit' (if you are a personal fitness instructor reaching out to your audience).
- Start with 'How to' or 'Discover why' so the reader is clear that the content will explain the answer.
- Make a single bold statement that the reader wants to find out more about. This style is more inline with newspapers who often do headlines such as 'Boy saves lives' or 'Millions suffering'... you get the idea.
The use of power words are also important and this is discussed in my book 'How to create a successful email marketing campaign'.
One element we haven't discussed in this blog is the importance of effective headings in blog posts from an SEO perspective. Titles should include keywords that are used as part of an SEO campaign to get to the top of Google. You can find out more about this in my blog post How to SEO Your Blog Posts.
If you would like more help writing your marketing campaigns including writing effective titles then contact Think Twice Marketing.
Optimising your blog posts for SEO is a great way to attract more visitors to your site and generate more business.
If you aren't familiar with the term SEO or 'Search Engine Optimisation' it involves setting up your website or specific pages on your site so that they appear as high as possible in searches when using search engines such as Google or Microsoft Bing.
Because Google is so dominant in worldwide search, this blog post is focused on Google Search rather than other search engines although the way they all work is very similar. In this post, we are also focusing on using SEO for blog posts and not a website in general.
3 main ingredients of SEO
It's important for Google to return valuable content in its search results and, while nobody knows for sure how Google Algorithms work, it's widely accepted that it decides what content is high value based on the following:
- Pages with the same or similar wording
- How many people visit the page
- How long they stay on the page
Let's take an example and imagine for a minute that you are Google. Which one of the two pages would you show in your results for people searching for 'ways to save money on cleaning':
Blog 1: 'Cutting costs when tidying your home'
100 visits a month
Average time on page: 15 seconds
Blog 2: 'How to save money on cleaning your home'
3,000 visits a month
Average time on page: 2 minutes
It might seem obvious but Blog 2 has more visitors who stay and read the content for longer. It also has keywords such as 'save money' and 'cleaning' which are not in the title of Blog 1.
In reality, the way Google works is much more complex than this and there are other factors such as how you use the keywords in the content of the blog post (not just the title) and if your site is secure but if you follow the above principles you are heading in the right direction!
Here are some quick tips on how to SEO your blog posts:
There are various apps or websites you can use to test what the right keywords should be. A free and quick solution is also just to type into Google what you think the title or the keywords should be. As you type, Google will try to complete your sentence for you, showing what it thinks are good phrases or words that you could use.
You should also use this opportunity to see what it returns as the results. It might be that there is a lot of tough competition to beat and alternative phrases that are not so widely used might return better results.
Use video and images to keep readers on your page for longer
Using video is a great way to keep readers on your blog page. You might include videos as part of your content or have a video that provides a summary of some or all of your post. Images also help to keep the readers' attention including the use of a slideshow that makes the reader swipe left and right to find out information.
Use an app or plug-in to help you
Similar to when doing research, there are various solutions you can use to help make sure your blog post is written optimally for SEO. A popular one we recommend for WordPress users is Yoast. This plug-in has a free version that advises on how to improve your content, title and other elements.
Fill in your search title and description
Depending on what platform you use for your website or blog posts, how you do this will vary but it's important to fill in the search title and search description so that Google knows more about what your
blog post is about. These don't appear on your blog post but they do appear in Google search results.
Promote it on all your channels
Blog posts should ALWAYS be promoted online using social media, email marketing and other channels so that you can attract business. This also helps to get the number of people visiting your pages up so that Google sees how important your pages are. If you are serious about SEO then we highly recommend running a short Facebook Ads campaign promoting your blog post to get the number of visitors up even higher and in a shorter period of time.
We hope this has given you valuable information on how to SEO your blog posts. If you need help writing blog posts, why not get in touch?
I hate to sound like a politician but, it depends.
At this point, don't worry, I'm not going to start talking politics although if there was any relation to politics then by any measurement, a blog post should be shorter than the current Brexit process!
The length of a blog post depends on your line of business, what the topic is and what your objectives are. My strong preference is always to have posts that are between 300-600 words in length. Anything short of 300 words makes it very difficult to get the key message of a blog post over to your audience while longer posts start to lose readers who, like all of us in today's busy world, have short attention spans.
Still there? What if I can keep the readers attention?
You can keep people's attention for longer with images and titles (like the one above) but longer blog posts tend to be too wordy or lack focus. A good blog post should have a call to action at the end and the more reading and scrolling on a mobile device to read the full article risks the reader losing interest and not getting to the call to action at the end.
But I need more words to describe my concept or issue!
If you are a rocket scientist (or in the area of anything to do with science!) you may need longer blog posts to explain something. Blog posts can often be used to provide educational or informative insights and longer blog posts may be necessary but this should be for occasional blog posts, not for every post.
My SEO guy says they should be 3,000 words long
If you are familiar with Search Engine Optimisation (getting to the top of Google or SEO for short) then you will most likely have been told to pack your posts with the right keywords and that the more visitors and the longer they stay on your page then the higher Google will rank your page in search. To this end, you may have been told to write blog posts that are well over 1,000 words.
These are valid points but consider these points...
You may want to contrast long blog posts with marketing blog posts from Seth Godin - a well-known marketing guru who frequently writes short posts, sometimes that are less than 200 words. There aren't many marketing experts better than Seth so he must be doing something right.
There is no definite rule to how long a blog post should be, but they should be easy to read, informative and add value. They should include headings, images and if possible, video.
If you can get the message across in less than 300 words then perfect. If you need over 600 words to do it from time to time then that's fine but as a general rule, 3-600 words offers a great balance in meeting your objectives.
Is it possible to get the message across in less than 600 words? Well, I believe it is. Thanks for reading my 584-word blog post!
Need help writing blog posts? Contact us
There are various reasons why your website should have blog posts. Here are the main ones:
To drive people to your site
If you write valuable content that's relevant to what you offer then you can use blog posts to drive visitors to your site where they can then find out more about your products or services.
To get found on Google
If blog posts are written properly then it's possible to be found in Google search. Let's say you sell skincare products for acne and you write an article 'does toothpaste work on acne'. If the blog post is written with the right keywords and URL and holds the readers attention then your post is more likely to appear in search engines when someone types 'does toothpaste work on acne'.
To provide proof of your credibility
Imagine you are looking for an accountant or a bookkeeper and you come across a website offering these services. Up to date blog posts with top tips for managing your finance or how to be more efficient with your bookkeeping would help convince you that they know what they are talking about.
Adding a personal style also helps the reader to feel more familiar and comfortable with you as well. Something that's easier to do with a blog post than in general on a website.
Your own personal development
This might not be considered as important compared to the previous points but writing blogs is a great way to re-enforce what you know or are an expert in. You will most likely learn more and develop your thoughts. Quite often when writing blog posts or preparing for training I find myself double checking the facts and researching to see what else I might not be aware of.
Whether you use blogging for all of the reasons above or not, there are clear benefits to blogging for your business. Think Twice Marketing offers blog post writing to help you grow your business. Get in touch for a free marketing review or to find out more about our blogging services.
As a recap, why not watch this short video 'Why write blog posts?'.
If you would like tips on how to make content visual then check out this guide to using visual images for your business.
The opinions in these blog posts are those of marketing professional and book author Darren Hignett.