February 5, 2013
Maintaining a regular blog is one of the best ways to build your expert status, online community and search engine ranking. However, to maintain your blog, you must be able to generate excellent content quickly and consistently.
There is a distinct relationship between the amount and kind of content you produce and how much online attention you receive, both from the search engines and through social media.
So how can you regularly create excellent blog content on demand?
Here are five steps:
Listen to your visitors, clients or customers. One of the best ways to come up with regular blog content that is both interesting and relevant is to listen to what your visitors, clients or customers have to say. What questions are they grappling with? What solutions are they seeking? If you think back to the most recent three or four conversations you had with clients, you likely noted similar themes. If you take these themes and expand them into questions, you can easily generate good ideas. If you hear yourself offering the same type of advice over and over, this is a foundation for good ideas.
Keep a running topics list. If you are going to blog frequently, generate a list of topics on an ongoing basis. I keep a note on my Smartphone and add to it whenever an idea strikes. When I need to sit down and produce a blog post, I scroll through my list of ideas and often find at least two I can write from. This running list has saved me from a blank screen and blinking cursor on numerous occasions. I often get ideas from reading books and magazines as well. If it’s something worth putting into a good book or a good magazine, chances are my blog readers would be interested in it.
Brainstorm content for your chosen topic. Once you have decided on a topic, go ahead and quickly jot down all the ideas you can think of about that topic. I often do this in a mindmap format, which helps me note connections and relationships between ideas. To use this approach, grab a blank piece of paper. Make the center of the paper your main topic area. Then, as spokes from the main idea, list other points related to it. Take these points and think about other, smaller, points that come from those. At the end, you’ll have a deep visual outline with several levels. Usually, I am able to determine my main points as well as two or three subpoints for each main point using this method.
Gather your points and subpoints. Once you have generated your ideas and their supporting points, it’s time to gather and group them in a way that makes sense. Try to create a chronological story, or hierarchical progression — we all recognize these frameworks and that will make your writing easier for the reader to follow and understand. Try to keep the same level of detail about each point and keep your overall post balanced in word count, style, and flow.
Write quickly. There is a mistaken belief good quality content has to be slaved over and labored for. This is rarely the case, especially in first draft. In my own experience, combined with the experience of coaching hundreds of writers, writing quickly without stopping often creates a wonderful first draft. In fact, for most blog posts and articles, I give myself only 20 minutes to write them. This keeps me moving quickly and putting words on the page. After the first draft, definitely review and edit your piece before publishing. Keep in mind, though, you can build a great deal of momentum by drafting the first version as rapidly as possible.
The good news is, writing excellent content is a skill that can be learned. Like any other skill, it takes practice. Using these steps will make it easier to create blog content that gets noticed and read. And when you attract more readers and greater engagement? Who knows? That just might motivate you to keep creating excellent blog content again and again.
Rachna Jain blogs at ProfitablePopularity.com. (And she wrote this article in 15 minutes.)