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!
The opinions in these blog posts are those of marketing professional and book author Darren Hignett.