If you want to attract bigger audiences, create blog content. Every month, more than 409 million people view 20 billion blog pages, and many of those readers go on to become brand followers and customers.
When Orbit Media surveyed over 1,000 bloggers in 2021, 77% of respondents said their blogs delivered "some" or "strong" marketing value. To make it into the "strong" category — 22% of respondents — you need content that speaks to audiences and keeps them coming back for more.
Here's how to create blog content that does just that.
Read Competing Blogs
Before you start planning individual posts, decide what you want to blog about. If your goal is to promote your business, find out what topics interest your customers.
The quickest way to get some insight is to study your competition. Visit competitors' blogs and find out what they're writing about.
Look at whether they focus on one overall subject area or break up their blog into topic groups. Take notes on what topics they cover. Highlight topics that might interest your audiences.
On each blog site, click on a few of the competitor's most recent posts. Read through them, paying attention to when you're most engaged.
Which posts make you want to learn more about the company? Ask yourself what grabbed your attention. Maybe it's a particular topic or content format. Take notes on that, focusing on what you want to add to your blog.
If they have a comments section, find out which posts get the most responses. This tells you a lot about what your readers want to see. Write down any questions readers ask. Those might be good topics for you to explore.
Whatever you do, though, don't copy anyone else's content. Rewriting an old article to "make it yours" is called black hat search engine optimization (SEO) — unethical techniques that hurt your ranking and can even get your blog banned.
Choose a Focus
Like any marketing venture, building a successful blog is all about supply and demand. As you read through competitors' posts, look for what you can add to the conversation.
Don't go too specific yet. You'll need a lot of topic ideas, so you want a subject area with plenty of potential.
Think about your industry and business focus. Your industry is probably a bit too broad — there are thousands of blogs about personal finance, for example.
What expertise can you share? If you're in the advisory business, you might focus on investing for beginners. Just make sure you can come up with a few months' worth of content before branching out.
Create a Blog Content Plan
Content planning is essential to keep your blog moving forward. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 80% of the most successful content programs have a documented calendar, compared to 50% of the least successful.
Content calendars keep you on track by specifying what, where, and when you'll post. They're an important way to stay organized, especially as you grow your blog and post multiple times per week. Without one, you can easily miss a deadline or forget to commission an important piece.
You can create a simple content calendar just for your blog, or use it to integrate other channels like social media or email.
What Content Is Best for Blogs?
First-time bloggers are often surprised at how many different types of posts there are. From "complete guides" to short-form listicles, the possibilities are nearly endless.
These days, how-to articles are the most popular form of blog content. Among Orbit Media's survey respondents, 76% said they were publishing how-to articles on their blogs.
Trailing behind how-to articles are:
- Lists and listicles (54%)
- Long-form guides (45%)
- News and trends (41%)
- Opinion pieces (41%)
And that's just print-focused content. Videos and infographics add variety to your blog and help to engage more readers.
Explainer videos make great blog content. According to a Wyzowl report, 84% of consumers have bought a product or service after watching an explainer video. Plus, 86% of consumers want to see more videos from brands.
Infographics also drive engagement. One study showed that they get more attention than original research on social media. They also get more backlinks and are highly shareable. Create varied blog content to engage your audience.
Find Post Topics
The right topic is even more important than content types. To build readership and rank on search engines, you need to generate a steady stream of posts.
HubSpot recommends smaller blogs post three to four times a week to maximize organic traffic. That's at least 12 ideas a month.
Don't worry — it's not as intimidating as it sounds, and you don't have to generate every idea from scratch. These strategies will help you generate fresh blog ideas reliably, successfully, and with less stress.
Identify Topic Categories
Organizing your posts into categories can make it easier to generate ideas. For example, a real estate blog might have categories for buyers, sellers, investors, and homeowners.
Your topic categories should:
- Reflect your audience's key interests
- Have long-term content potential
- Be broad enough for multiple posts and sub-topics
Plus, once you create blog content for each category, you can organize your posts into sub-pages.
For example, the Compose.ly blog features category pages like content strategy and web writing advice. Each attracts a different type of readers — marketers and business owners in the first case, and aspiring and current writers in the second.
These categories reflect two major reasons why people visit Compose.ly's site — to buy content or become writers. Think about your blog. What core audiences do you serve and what are their primary interests? The answer will be your jumping-off point.
Once you have a broad idea of what to write about, you're ready to think about individual posts. To get started, find out what topics your audiences search for.
Keyword research tools are your best resources. They tell you how popular a keyword is and how difficult it is to rank for that keyword. They also give you valuable suggestions for other search terms that drive traffic.
You have your choice of paid or free tools. Paid tools like SEMRush tend to be more feature-rich and offer more information, including search frequency and the difficulty of ranking for each keyword.
If paid tools are outside your budget, there are excellent free tools available, too. One of the most useful is Ubersuggest, created and offered by digital marketing guru Neil Patel. Ubersuggest gives you a user-friendly view of a keyword's popularity and competitiveness.
Another useful tool is Answer the Public, which generated 383 ideas for the keyword "budgeting." The site organizes its suggestions into categories like "questions" and "comparisons," making it easy to find an idea that speaks to you.
Review Competitor Blogs
Remember those notes you made on competitor blog posts? Look at those again. Read the posts that you flagged as getting plenty of comments, and pick out the ones that best match with your focus.
Then, think about what you can add to the conversation. Where can you go deeper or explore a different angle? Maybe there's a topic others aren't covering.
Finally, do some digging and find competing blog posts you haven't seen yet. Google some of the keywords you found in your research and read through top-ranking posts. Again, ask yourself where you can fill a gap in the knowledge available.
Browse Online Forums
Another way to find out what your audience cares about is to look at what they discuss online. Facebook and LinkedIn groups from your industry are great places to start. So is Reddit, a social media site with special-interest user communities called "subreddits." Search for subreddits related to your topic or industry and find out what everyone's discussing.
You can also check out industry forums and message boards, especially if your field is particularly specialized. These sources will clue you into the needs of your reader base.
Pinpoint Industry Trends
Make sure you create some blog content that's evergreen — valuable for a reader whether they see it tomorrow or three years from now. Other posts should be timely and on-trend.
There are two types of trending topics:
- Industry buzz
- Current events and general trends
Professional publications will point you toward industry buzz and even help you get ahead of the curve. Popular trends are easier to find but may seem less relevant at first. Don't give up too easily. There are ways to align news stories with your blog's focus. Here's just one example — Compose.ly's article about content marketing in a crisis, published in 2020.
When you spin general interest trends so they're relevant to your audience, they make great attention-grabbing posts.
Develop a Blog Writing Format
When you have a few weeks of ideas, you can start thinking about the details of each post. (But don't stop brainstorming yet — it's an ongoing process and your blog can always use more topics.)
Start by creating a format for your written posts. Formatting makes it easier to structure each post and keeps you from needing to reinvent the wheel every time.
Most importantly, your post format should be easy to scan. Research shows people are much more likely to scan an online article than read it word for word. If people can glance through your post and get an idea of your main points, you have a better chance of capturing their attention.
A scannable post format has:
- A brief introduction with the target keyword at least once
- Headings and subheadings to break up sections
- Shorter paragraphs (no more than two to three sentences)
Formatting your articles this way also helps with SEO. Search engines want to give readers what they like, so they avoid articles with overly long paragraphs and sentences.
Outline and Research Your Post
Search engines and readers have another thing in common — they prefer blog posts that provide valuable information. To deliver, you need to research every post thoroughly.
Starting with your format, create a basic outline for your post. Decide what points you want to make and what aspects of the topic you want to cover. Turn those into subsections. For example, if you're posting about shopping for a house, you might decide to cover subjects like evaluating a neighborhood and making lists of desired features.
Once your outline is complete, decide what information you need for each section. Look for opportunities to back up your point of view with facts and statistics.
Google can give you all the background information you need, but be careful about the sources you choose. Pull from the most authoritative websites in your field. Aim for .edu, .gov, and .org websites when possible. Online magazines and newspapers are also helpful. Try to avoid linking to sites that sell something.
When you cite a statistic, look for the original study or survey whenever you can. If it's more than two or three years old and not from an academic journal, look for something newer. The more readers trust your sources, the more they'll trust you.
Linking to authoritative sites also earns Google's trust and helps you rank higher.
Ready, Set, Write... Or Not
WhentIt's finally time to start writing your blog posts. Remember, you're writing for the web and not print, so keep your sentences short and avoid "fluff." And don't promote your services too hard. Blogs are about educating and inspiring readers. There's plenty of time to encourage purchases after you've built the relationship.
Budget about four hours for each post. That's the average time bloggers spend, according to Orbit Media. But Orbit also found that those who spend more than six hours get better results, so don't be afraid to invest extra time. Just make sure to start today. Your audiences are waiting to hear from you.
Should you outsource content production?
If you lack the time and/or expertise required to produce quality content for your blog, consider outsourcing your content creation.
Outsourcing your blog and website production will save you the time and the money it would take to hire a full-time, in-house writer. You'll be able to establish a content schedule and have access to writers who are experts in your industry.
<div class="tip">Want to find quality freelance writers without the hassle of sifting through dozens of resumes? Compose.ly’s content writing services might just be what you’re looking for.</div>