How to start a blog post – 5 examples that really work!

How to start a blog post - 5 examples

“An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.” ~Stephen King

There’s not much point having a blog if nobody reads it.

Right?

The trick is how you start a blog—it comes down to the opening.

Yes, you must have a dynamite headline that pulls readers in. And, sure, you might have 5, 7 or 51(!)  brilliant suggestions with dazzling arguments, but if nobody reads past the first sentence, well…

Before we jump into how to write the perfect opening, let’s revisit why more readers is so important.

Why you blog is so damn important

Every web site we look at has the same off-balance characteristic: people spend 5-10 times more time on your blog than on any other page on your site.

People spend 5-10 times more time on your blog than on any other page on your site. Click To Tweet

In other words, your blog is where you get people’s attention and get them interested in buying. Your blog is where the conversation starts.

It’s no different than striking up a conversation with a vendor at a farmer’s market or salesperson at a conference. The more time you spend with them the more likely you are to buy.

But, first we have to get them reading. And that’s gotten harder.

If your prospect searches for your solutions but don’t see a match right away…they’re gone. If they get your email, open the blog, but aren’t curious to read more, they’re gone.

And once people click away…they aren’t coming back.

So, we have to start our blog by snagging the reader by their synapses. And that starts with the first sentence.

Before we get to that, let’s look at what kills the start of your blog…

How to kill the start of your blog

It’s easy to kill the opening and send readers away screaming. Here’s how.

  • Run-on sentences that go nowhere: “If you want to be a great leader you need to understand the needs of your team while simultaneously keeping an eye on the future and coaching for performance”…WHAT?!?!?!
  • Starting with a negative: “Bad leaders bring their team down.”…bummer.
  • Stating the obvious: “Every team needs a leader”, or “Technology has changed how we work.”….Duh!
  • Boring your readers: “This article will help you understand excellence in customer service”…Zzzzzzzz.

A good opening sentence is sticky – like Spiderman. And a great opening sentence is both sticky and does one more thing:

It makes you want to read the second sentence.

As William Zinsser wrote in the classic, On Writing Well “The most important sentence in any article is the first one. If it doesn’t induce the reader to proceed to the second sentence, your article is dead.”

Now that you’re (hopefully) convinced your blog is essential for attracting and starting meaningful sales conversations, let’s jump into how to start a blog.

5 ways to start a blog post and hook your reader

  1. Ask a question

In his now famous blog post How to Quit Your Job, Move to Paradise and Get Paid to Change the World, uber blogger, Jon Morrow doesn’t waste any time. With a 71 character headline that he assumes you will read, he goes straight to this opening question:

“After all, that’s the dream, right?”

Mike Stelzner’s massively successful Social Media Examiner blog has adopted a two-question opener that seems to be working. Like in this post:

“Are you trying to get more local customers? Have you tried Facebook video ads targeted to your local market?”

The technique is simple: work backwards from your topic to the question your prospects would be asking and start with that.

  1. Make a bold claim

What’s the most common (and useful) advice for creating viral videos on YouTube? Make a big claim in the first 7 seconds.

One way to do that with your blog is to start with a blog claim.

I like this style for two reasons: I think it grabs the reader by their curiosity and it challenges me to write a post that has some punch!

Here are some examples from our site at BlogWorks:

  • About making money: “You want your blog to make money. Right?”
  • About adding videos to your blog: Video is a great way to attract more readers to your blog and having them stay longer. If you know how to do it.
  • About measuring the performance of your blog: Let me ask you a question: Would you drive a car without a dashboard or put your money in a bank if you couldn’t see your balance?
  1. Be a contrarian

Another way to get your readers’ attention is to start a blog with an uncommon thought. Chances are you have some beliefs and theories that would work perfectly for this style of opening.

Best-selling author, Ryan Holiday used this approach in his post: “Dear Entrepreneurs: Please Don’t Write a Book—We’re Begging You” to attack first time authors who take writing short-cuts (like hiring book-in-a-box companies).

“There has been no worse piece of advice out there recently than: If you’re an entrepreneur, write a book.”

I like the surprising opening to the post: “A Public-Private Partnership Could Be Key to Your Startup’s Survival” from Entrepreneur.com:

“Despite what many of us might think, there are a lot fewer startups than there used to be.”

  1. Use a statistic (or two)

There is something about including a statistic that adds instant credibility to your post. If fact, 98% of bloggers (ha ha) agree with me on this.

Futurist, entrepreneur and author Peter Diamandis is a big fan of this style of writing. Here’s how he opens his post about the future of cities:

“By 2050, two-thirds of the population, more than 6 billion people, are expected to live in urbanized areas. Exponential technologies will radically change the way we build and organize our cities in the future.”

Or this article about cell phones and homicide rates from the NY Times.

“The increased use of cellphones reduced US homicide rates in the 1990s, according to new research distributed by the National Bureau of Economic Research.”

  1. Create a hook

We all love a mystery. It’s like a friend leaning in and saying “You know there’s something I’ve always wanted to tell you…”—you have to know what comes next.

When you start with entrigue you open a scene, but just enough for a movie to start playing in your reader’s mind. Now they want to know what comes next.

Here’s how uber-blogger Tim Urban of the massively successful Wait but Why blog opened his post about what would otherwise be a highly technical subject called Neuralink.

“Last month, I got a phone call.

Okay maybe that’s not exactly how it happened, and maybe those weren’t his exact words. But after learning about the new company Elon Musk was starting, I’ve come to realize that that’s exactly what he’s trying to do.”

And this is how artist, blogger Henneke Duistermaat of Enchanting Marketing breaks the ice in her post about mindfulness:

“At 3 AM, I was tossing and turning.”

And from one of my favourite authors, Ann Handley:

“Here’s the best writing I read all week. It’s 170 words tucked into a belly of a 7,000-word article.

And yes… it’s about stink bugs.”

Ready to start your next blog?

At the end of the day, your blog has to deliver value if you want it to be read, shared and bring you more followers. Kicking it off with a well thought-out opening sentence is a great place to start.

 

Enjoyed this post? Still not ready to go back to work? Here’s more great stuff:

5 brilliant ways to start your blog post with a bang
9 blog post ideas your audience will love
90 seconds to becoming a better writer

5 brilliant ways to start your blog post with a bang 

start your blog post with a bang

Most blogs suck. 

You might have the most brilliant advice, but nobody reads it. 

The solution starts withthe start. 

A recent survey found that only 30% of readers make it to the end of a post. Just like a YouTube video – if you dont grab your readers attention in 3 seconds its sayonara.  

Theyre gone. 

In this post you will learn a 5 step approach to quickly retro fit old posts gathering digital dust, or tweak new posts to start working miracles.  

Lets jump in with some mind work.

1. Enter the conversation

To capture your readers’ attention you have to first enter the conversation going on in their mind (Robert Collier). In other words, grab their attention with something theyre already thinking about. 

– If youre a financial planner, tell me how to avoid costly mistakes.
– If youre a realtor, tell me how to make more money when I sell my home.
– If youre an IT consultant, tell me how to choose the best IT consultant. 

Not sure where to start? Start with a list of the most common questions your prospects ask you.

2. Get my attention

water splashing in woman's face

This is keymake me stop and want to read more. Your reader found your latest post via your email or social media. But, theyre not committed yetwith the click of their mouse theyre gone – never to return to that post. 

So, hook them with bait that makes them hungry for more. 

Start with your first sentence. Its job is to get me to read your second sentence. And so on.  

In your #blog, the job of your first sentence is to get me to read your second sentence. And so on. Click To Tweet 

Dont force me to wade through a muddy dissertation. Instead, start with a bold statement, a bit of controversy or a question. 

For example, I could have started this post with something like: 

The problem with all too many blogs is that they fail to get the attention of readers and, as a result, dont drive traffic to your products or services. 

Ugh. 

Instead, I started with: 

Most blogs suck.

3. Tell me the Problem

person holding question mark to face

Heres a blogging secret. If the reader doesnt care about your topic, they wont care to read about it 

So, make it obvious. 

In the first 2 sentences you need to TELL ME THE PROBLEM you will solve. 

Here’s a blogging secret. If the reader doesn’t care about your topic, they won’t care to read about it. Click To Tweet 

Even better: choose only one problem to solve. 

Here are 3 examples from our blog:

1. In this post we tackled time management:
Lets get one thing straight. I waste time, you waste timeeveryone wastes time.

2. This post is all about getting more traffic:
And its time to get serious about your business and your blog. You want more trafficthe right traffic.

3. This post is about restarting your blog writing:
You havent published for at least a month – not so great.

4. Make a promise

Every salesperson worth his/her salt knows this. To keep your prospects attention you need to make a promise of what you have to offer. 

It could be as simple as Let me show you how we can fix that, or I think I have the perfect solution for you. 

Its no different in your blogonce you get my attention, tell me what comes next.  

For example, this post is about blog performance:
In this post were looking at super simple tune-ups to make your blog work better and, maybe, even a bit sexier. Sound good?

5. Please get to the point!

time on site screenshow showing how to start your blog post with a bang
The average time we see on our client’s blog posts is 2-3 times more than other pages.

Finally, a great blog gets to the point. 

You got my attention, you entered the conversation going on in my mind, you even described a problem you know I have – great! Now, get to the point and deliver the goods.  

The average visitor time on our clients websites is about one minute. The average time we see on their blog posts is more like 3 to 7 minutes. Wow! 

Your blog has the ability to stop readers from clicking away. Your blog can also drive traffic to your revenue pages.  

If you do it right. 

A few small changes to the start of your post can improve time on site, list growth – even conversion to sales.  

It all starts withthe start. 

Enjoyed this post? Here are 3 more all about blog writing: 

5 easy steps to publishing your next blog post (even if you dont have time)
90 seconds to becoming a better writer
How to never run out of blog ideas ever again

9 blog post ideas your audience will love

blog post ideas

There you are…blank screen, fingers poised over the keyboard, coffee going cold. Ugh. You need to get your next blog post written. But where to start?

In this article I’ll walk you through 9 ways to slice and dice your way to a brilliant blog salad. Follow this recipe and you’ll never run out of blog post ideas again.

First, you need to think about your main theme (the big problem you solve) and sub themes (individual solutions).

Let’s imagine you’re a realtor. Your main theme is that you list and sell homes.

Sub themes could be:

  • How to sell your home
  • How to buy a home
  • Money and financing
  • How to choose a realtor

From those four sub themes you can come up with hundreds of topics, all pointing back to your main theme. The idea is that whatever article your reader discovers on, it will point them back to what you sell.

Now, this might seem pretty obvious – right? But, the reality is that far too many personal brand blogs read more like a rambling diary, instead of a helpful guide that solves their clients’ problems.

The reality is there are lots of personal brand blogs that read more like a rambling diary, instead of a helpful guide that solves their clients’ problems. Click To Tweet

This article will get you back on track and converting readers to followers and followers to customers.

Let’s get started with our list of 9 blog post ideas.

1. The Opinion Post

blog post ideas to get more business from your blog
The opinion post lets readers know what you stand for, and how you solve problems

The Opinion post might be the most popular blog theme for personal brand blogs (like authors, consultants, coaches, public speakers). You take a stand.

The opinion post lets readers know what you stand for, how you solve problems—it separates you from the competition. At BlogWorks our goal is to get our clients more business (like this article “51 ways to get more business from your blog”) A pretty blog is nice for compliments, but a blog that attracts more business is even better. So our blog posts have centered around the opinion that if your blog isn’t bringing you business, it’s broken. Of course, there are hobby bloggers who could care less about traffic and results, but that’s not our market.

A pretty blog is nice for compliments, but a blog that attracts more business is even better. Click To Tweet

2. The Mistakes to Avoid Post

This is an easy one—build a blog post around a common mistake your clients make. This is also a powerful way to get attention, because your prospects will recognize you as a problem solver. Our post about procrastination was designed to help our readers and clients overcome their own challenges with getting stuff done.

3. The Facts and Statistics Post

Your blog can set you apart as an authority. One way to do that is by bringing important facts or statistics to your audience. It could be trends in your market, statistics that support a solution you offer (like % of employees that leave a company because of their boss).

9 blog topic ideas your audience will love

 

4. The Research Based Post

how to fix broken windows in your life
Including research into your post makes you stand out as an authority

If you work in the areas of human development, personal success, fitness or mental health there are tons of articles documenting research that you can build a blog post around. You can also be a bit creative with the application of that research. For example, I once used the broken window phenomenon as a base for an article about productivity.

5. The Resources Post

What are tools, books, templates or software you rely on in your work or life that your readers would benefit from knowing about? As an authority, part of your brand could be as a problem solver and resource for clever solutions. At BlogWorks we like to share tips that are easy to implement and operate, like installing a Click to Tweet or Editorial Calendar plugin (watch the video).

6. The Question Post

blog post ideas if you're thinking of quitting blogging
We are suckers for questions

Want to grab your readers’ attention? Ask a question (oh! I just did).

We are suckers for questions—we want to answer them and immediately engage in that topic. Start your blog with a question (even put the question in the headline) and you can stop readers long enough to get them reading (like in this example).

7. The Contrarian Post

This is a fun one for blog post ideas! Think of a problem you know your ideal client has and recommend the opposite. Of course, this has to make sense, but if you can get your reader’s attention (like this post about killing your To-Do list) you can present the solution you know they really need.

8. The Controversial Post

Take a stand and be noticed! In a world of vanilla blog posts you can be the maraschino caramel that stands out when you take a stand and be a little controversial. Think about a bold statement that got your audience’s attention in a recent sales presentation or the middle of a speech – that could be the start of a great blog post.

In a world of vanilla blogs you can be the maraschino caramel by being a little controversial Click To Tweet

9. The Warning Post

blog post ideas to improve a boring blog
The goal is the get your readers to stop skimming and grab their attention

And finally, there is the warning post. Like the mistakes to avoid (#2) post, the warning post helps your prospects avoid a common problem, but with a little punch. The goal is the get your readers to stop skimming and grab their attention. We did that with our “Excuse me, but your blog is boring!” post.

There you have it – 9 ways to repackage your main product and service topic to keep your readers coming back. And if your readers are coming back, they’re becoming followers – and followers build business.

Time to start writing!

Enjoyed this article about blog post ideas? Here’s 3 more all about writing and getting more readers.

7 words that make your readers stop and take action
6 ways to get more blog traffic this year
10 surprisingly simple tune-ups to make your blog sexy (and get better results)

A proven 3 step method to finally overcome procrastination and get it all done.

procrastination

You had the best of intentions.

Heck, you even coloured it with a highlighter, put a star beside it and blocked time on your calendar.

Then you procrastinated.

Or, at least you thought you did…

The reality is you didn’t procrastinate and – better still – with a 2 minute secret action you can overcome pretty well any resistance you have to any action.

Let me show you how.

You are NOT a Procrastinator

“Everybody procrastinates, but not everyone is a procrastinator” – Joseph Ferrari, Ph.D

This might surprise you, but you are not a procrastinator. Nobody is (even though 20% of people think they are.)

Let me explain.

You respond differently to different situations. You don’t procrastinate about buying groceries or thanking a friend for listening to you or flossing your teeth (more on flossing below.) You’ve got those actions nailed.

If you were a “procrastinator” you would be completely unreliable – that’s not you.

You are a responsible person…you just put somethings off until later.

Get it?

This is an important point. If you think you are a procrastinator then please stop reading right now, because I can’t help you (of course I can help you, it just will take longer 🙂

STEP 1: Before you move to the reason behind your resistance, catch yourself thinking you’re a procrastinator and to stop and to remind yourself you are NOT a procrastinator – you are simply resisting this action.

Now, let’s look at what’s really happening.

Why you DON’T take Action

It’s all about value.

You do something because the value of that action is better than the alternative. You thank your friend for listening because you know that 5 minutes from now you’ll regret it if you didn’t.

You floss you teeth because the alternative is an expensive trip the dentist.

And everything you procrastinate about happens because, in the moment, it gives you more value than the alternative. This applies to refilling the chip bowl instead of stopping at one serving, allowing Netflix to load the next episode of Game of Thrones, instead of turning the TV off or checking email instead of calling the client you’ve been avoiding.

So, it comes down to what you value. Yes, you can build habits, but habits are built on values, so you have to start there.

STEP 2: Stop and think about the value you attach to the alternatives. That sounds more complicated than it is.

In other words, before you take action decide what will give you the biggest reward, long-term.

>> I know that if I go for my 15 minute morning walk I have more energy later in the morning (the walk gives me more reward than not walking.)

>> I know that if I work in blocks of no email, no social media I can plough through my work uninterrupted (focussed work gives me more reward than distractions.)

>> I know that if I take a few minutes before I finish my work day and plan my next day I am far more focussed and productive in the morning (making a list gives me more reward than just ending my work day with no list.)

Now, that you understand what action will give you the biggest long-term reward, let’s take action.

The 2 minute rule will help.

The 2 Minute RULE and how it Works

“Once we start a task, it is rarely as bad as we think. Our research shows us that getting started changes our perception of a task. It can also change our perception of ourselves in important ways.” – Timothy Pychyl, Ph.D

One of the simplest ways to overcome procrastination is also one of the fastest. It’s the 2 minute rule (Stanford Professor B.J. Fogg popularized this idea by demonstrating how to start the habit of daily flossing by starting with just one tooth.)

One of the simplest remedies to procrastination is also one of the fastest. It’s the 2 minute rule. @bjfogg Click To Tweet

Here’s how it works.

When you realize you are about to put something off, take a 2 minute action.

For example, you are trying to get traction on a big project, like redesigning you web site, or cold calling prospects, or doing your taxes.

Start with just 2 minutes of action.

But, that’s not all…

Yes, you will start up the mountain with 2 minutes of walking, but you must also finish by planning your next step – what will you do and when will you do it.

It works like this.

Let’s say you want to redesign your web site (we can show you how to save thousands$’s from bad advice) – that’s a humungous job! Of course, you’re going to put it off—you have all sorts of other priorities that can be finished faster.

But, it has to get done. You know this is overdue and, if you get it done, it will help your business long-term (more value than putting it off.)

Step 3: Enter the 2 minute rule: what can you get done in just 2 minutes that will be a step in the right direction up the mountain?

>> You could bookmark competitor’s web sites in your browser for future reference.

>> You could make a list of changes you want to make to the existing site.

>> You could email 3 designers you know and ask about their availability (no point getting quotes if they can’t start for 2 months).

You get the idea.

You can make progress, break the ice and get a tiny dopamine reward by working uninterrupted for just 2 minutes. And then plan your next step.

We can all make progress, break the ice and get a tiny dopamine reward by working uninterrupted for just 2 minutes. Click To Tweet

Block time in your calendar for the next step (read this article about blocking time), to list what you like about your competitor’s sites, or prioritize the changes you want to make, or reply to the designers and ask to see their latest work.

Time investment: 2 minutes.

Reward to you: feeling great about making progress!

What You Must DO the Next Time

“So let’s get started. I’m ready to be heard. Before the dear departed. Can have the final word.” Get Started, Paul McCartney

It’s normal to put things off until later. We all do it. We’ll always do it.

Sometimes it’s a smart strategic move, like waiting until the morning to make a tough phone call, or ignoring your email in order to finish a proposal uninterrupted.

And then there are the non-strategic, wimpy moments when you caved. We all do that as well.

Here’s the thing. Those moments of uncertainty or hesitation don’t define you—those were just human moments.

Let it go and go back to your 3 steps:

Step 1. Don’t define yourself as a procrastinator. You aren’t.

Step 2. Consider the long-term rewards: what is most important for you right now?

Step 3. Take 2 minutes, take some forward action and then plan your next step.

It may not look heroic working on a project for only 2 minutes. But, it could be the most heroic thing you did all day. And you might just impress yourself with the ice-breaking momentum you just started.

Enjoyed this article? Here are 3 more all about procrastination and getting more of what you want:

A simple lesson in Time Management (that will make you money)
How to Blog More Consistently (And Stop Missing Deadlines)
9 expert bloggers reveal their best strategies

90 seconds to becoming a better writer

writing a blog

“Finding success is all about taking action. You can read all you want, but nothing will happen until you execute.” – Pat Flynn

Your blog is a reflection of you.

Sloppy writing that might have got a passing grade in high school won’t help.

Fear not loyal reader!

In just 90 seconds you can transform your writing from a C- to an A+.

Better yet, your readers will stay on your site longer and that means more business. Lucky you.

Here goes: 7 ways to sharpen your writing and cut to the point in 90 seconds (or less):

1. Make me want to read this

“A blog is only as interesting as the interest shown in others.” – Lee Odden

Compelling writing starts with targeting your avatar, or ideal customer. If you can help them reach their goals faster, cheap or better they will become loyal readers.

Rambling thoughts about unrelated topics that caught your fancy is great if you flew in space, wrote a best-seller or your last name is Branson. If not, stick to solving problems for your target market.

This article walks you through the 5 step process – including how to pick killer topics – we use for every blog post. Start with that.

Compelling writing is first about targeting your avatar, or ideal customer. If you can help them reach their goals faster, cheap or better they will become loyal readers. Period. Click To Tweet

2. Start with a template

“The first thing you need to decide when you build your blog is what you want to accomplish with it, and what it can do if successful.” – Ron Dawson

I’ve written about using a writing template before, like this article and this article. A writing template is not cheating! You will save time and your writing will improve.

I start with a rough outline of what I want to write about and then move content to slot into my template. It might sound rote or mechanical, but my writing always improves this way. The template hauls me back from side trips and reminds me to include important parts like a summary and call-to-action.


3. Put your reader in the story

“The key is, no matter what story you tell, make your buyer the hero.” – Chris Brogan

Great salespeople use ‘you’ more than ‘I’. So should you.

This is a quick edit. Simply scan you post before publishing and look for all the “I”, “my”, “our”, “me” and starts swapping them for “you”, “your”, “your’s” and “you’re.”

When you put your read in the message they begin to envision how they could be applying your solutions.

Before: “When I block time I make an appointment with myself.”

After: “When you block time you make an appointment with yourself.”

4. Clean up sloppy writing

“Not only are bloggers suckers for the remarkable, so are the people who read blogs.” – Seth Godin

More words do not make your blog better. Instead you force your reader to slow down and stumble through run-on sentences, bloated paragraphs and awkward grammar.

Not good.

More words do not make your blog better. Click To Tweet

The simple test is if you remove the word and the sentence still works, leave it out.

Before: “If you have staff members who are well-organized, their productivity levels can go through the roof with remote working.”

After: “Staff who are well-organized can benefit from remote working.”

5. Remove dead words

“Qualifying words, such as very, little, and rather, add nothing to your meaning and suck the life out of your sentences.” – Copyblogger

Improving your writing can start with removing unnecessary words and helping your reader get to the bottom of your post. Readers that finish reading a post are more likely to share your article and more likely to spend time on your site looking at your products and services.

Get ready to start deleting!

That

In many cases, removing that improves the sentence: “This is the most amazing blog post that I’ve ever read.”

Book marketing expert and author Diana Urban suggests, “If a sentence still makes sense after removing ‘that’, delete it.”

Then

For example: “I stepped on stage and then the audience went quiet.” can be “I stepped on stage and the audience was quiet.”

All, every, totally, always, completely, absolutely, literally

For example: “If your employee doesn’t respond to your feedback you can always try coaching.

Better: “If your employee doesn’t respond to your feedback, try coaching.

6. Use words correctly

99.9% of great bloggers are not awesome on day 1. Their awesomeness is the accumulation of the value they create over time.” – Darren Rowse

Bad grammar is a bad reflection on you. Here’s a quick check list of what to avoid:

  • Everyday means common or normal. Every day means today, tomorrow, the next day and so on.
  • If you adapt something you change it. To adopt is to take it as your own.
  • Already is talking about the past; all ready is about the future.
  • Regardless is a word, irregardless is not.
  • Especially means particularly, whereas specially usually means “in a special or careful manner” or “specifically.”
  • Then is about time. Use than to compare something.
  • You write on stationery that is (hopefully) stationary. Get it?

7. Break up looooong paragraphs

“The shorter your paragraphs are, the less dense and threatening the post looks.” – Jon Morrow

Your blog is not a technical thesis written for tenured professors paid to read your writing. Your goal is to keep readers on your site.

A simple fix for most blogs is to break up paragraphs and add what I call ‘cliff hangers’ (just like I’ve been doing in this post.)

Cliff hangers are like teasers that compels the reader to keep scrolling. For example: (that’s one)

But, before I get to that solution, let me ask you a question…

Here are three quick ways to start a conversation.

Has that happened to you?

Ready to turn your blog magnet on?

The theme of this post is less is usually not only best, but stronger—stronger results for your traffic and your business.

Invest 90 seconds to chop, cut, cull and shape your blog and you will keep readers on your site longer. More time on site means more readers into prospects and more prospects into business.

Nice.

Ready to write your killer post? Here are 3 more articles to get you started:

Excuse me, but your blog is BORING!
Write killer blog posts with this template
How to Build a Better Blog: 5 Industry Experts Share Their Top Tips

How to never run out of blog ideas ever again

Never run out of blog ideas ever again

This post was originally published in July, 2016 and has been updated and re-loved for you. Enjoy.

The biggest mistake bloggers make is, well, they don’t blog.

Those gaping holes between posts make everything on your site look a little suspect – like going into a grocery store and seeing food past its due date. How long before you question everything in the store?

The bottom line is you can’t attract new prospects and build loyalty if you don’t consistently work to attract them. That’s why content marketing (sharing valuable, problem-solving resources) is still the best way to grow your business. And this is true whether you’re a food blogger or a baker, a keynote speaker or you teach online – it’s all about sharing your best content AND proving you are the best choice.

To avoid running out of ideas for your blog you have to have lots of ideas for your blog.

In this post, I’ll walk you through 5 ways to keep great blog ideas rolling in. Let’s jump in with reading…

1. Read blogs

Nothing beats reading other people’s blogs to stimulate ideas for your own future posts. I use feedly to pull my favourite blogs into one location where I can read them while I’m eating lunch. I also make it a habit to write comments on blogs I’ve read (hint, hint) to show my appreciation.

But, reading blogs is only the start—you need to think about your market. What problems need solving? What questions are they asking you? What has worked in the past?

Feedly is a super easy tool to quickly organize all your favourite blogs into one place.

For example, I got the idea to write posts about Google Analytics because I was searching for answers for my clients. I found a lot of articles answering my questions, but they were either too long or too technical. So I wrote this one and this one.

Now that you’re reading great content, you need to organize the best blog ideas…

2. Build an Inventory

In the old days (like 10 years ago) you might have saved magazines or used sticky notes to mark ideas in a book you’re reading. Those systems can’t keep up with our online world where a great idea might be in a blog post you read, an online magazine, a Tweet – even an Instagram post.

You need one place to collect, organize and retrieve your best blog ideas.

Evernote is a brilliant (free) online tool that allows you to easily grab articles off the web, store images, record audio or even accept pictures of hand-scribbled notes from your phone. It syncs in seconds on all your devices and, with the paid account, you can even search off-line as you head to the grocery store to collect ingredients for your favourite Thai salad with peanut sauce recipe.

To fully unleash the power of Evernote, install the Webclipper (I remember it as the Elephant head) extension on your favourite browser. That will allow you to quickly grab the article you found, strip it of advertising, tag it and store it for future reference.

find blog ideas

And here’s my favourite trick with Evernote (h/t to Michael Hyatt):

Instead of creating lots of Notebooks in Evernote, which can get messy and confusing, I have all my notes in one Notebook and use tags to search for what I want. And I tag all future blog ideas (including articles I saved using the Evernote extension) with the tag “unused blog post”. The tag allows me to easily pull up all my unused ideas and choose the one I want to work on. As soon as I use that note I delete it.

evernote
I use the tag “unused blog topics” to easily organize all my future blog ideas into one search.

Okay, you’ve collected lots of blog ideas, now it’s time to organize them on a calendar…

3. Build your Editorial Calendar

A simple way to organized future blog ideas is using a spreadsheet, like Excel or Google Sheets. Or you could use planning tools like Asana or Trello. That’s great, but I’m a visual person and prefer seeing future projects in a calendar format.

If you have a WordPress site, you can organize all your blog ideas with a clever (and free) plugin called Editorial Calendar (watch our quick video to learn how this works).

Editorial calendar
The Editorial calendar plugin makes it easy to schedule posts and to see your draft posts in one place.

When you start putting dates to topics, think about seasons and buyer behaviour. What seasons do your customers respond to (like winter, summer, Christmas, etc.)? When are your customers more likely to buy? When does your customer have certain problems (like Spring cleaning, budgeting, staff hiring, etc.)?

Your Editorial Calendar doesn’t have to be perfect. The idea is to promote the writing and publishing by planning ahead and avoiding writer’s block.

Now you have lots of blog ideas collected in Evernote and you’ve started to plan future posts in your Editorial Calendar. Great! This next strategy is a way to boost traffic without writing a new post…

4. Repurpose old content

This strategy will save you time and could get you a big traffic boost. Here’s how it works…

Start by making a list of posts that are pulling in strong traffic but are over a year old. These are gems that could be working harder if they were “re-loved” and republished.

To get to your analytics, first, log in, then navigate to Behaviour > Overview.

best blog ideas
To get to your analytics, first, log in, then navigate to Behaviour > Overview

This part is a little technical, but hang in there – you only need to do this research a few times a year to get the full benefit.

There are at least 3 metrics you can use to choose the blog article to republish:

  1. old posts – if your post is older than one year there’s a good chance you need to update the images, and facts in the article and maybe add more detail to the content.
  2. low Bounce rate – “Bounce rate” is the per cent of people who left your site after one page (they didn’t explore the rest of your site). A lower bounce rate (like 60-70%) can be a good sign. Think of it this way: out of all your published blog posts, there are some that keep readers on your site longer. Those posts could be worth updating and republishing.
  3. high time on page – “Time on site” is the minutes a reader spent on that page. The higher the time, the more likely the reader is to share the article and spend more time on your site.

You can combine the metrics. In other words, look for blog posts older than a year, with low bounce rate and high time on site. Find 3-5 of those posts and start with them.

Here’s another example:

We republished our post “Facebook Page vs Profile: Everything You Need To Know” and within 10 days our traffic increased by 229%!

blog ideas
In just 10 days traffic to this post increased by over 200%!

The blog post you’re reading is another good example. It was originally published in July 2016 and I added more content and images and republished it in February 2019. It only took about an hour’s worth of chopping, adding, and changes to turn it into the post you’re reading – much easier than starting from scratch!

Whew! You’ve collected amazing ideas into Evernote, organized them with Editorial Calendar, planned a post you will refresh and republish. Now it’s time for a bit of psychology…

5. Give ‘em more of what they love

It might be tempting to pour a cup of coffee and just start writing your next blog post. But what about what your market wants?

Every day your readers are leaving bread crumbs – clues – about what they want. It could be a comment on a post, social shares or an email that asks a question about a recent post. You need to watch for these clues.

A simple first step is to check what posts are most popular (see #4 above). You can also think about the psychology of your reader. What keeps a person on your blog for more than a quick glance?

It’s about solving a problem.

Readers, don’t announce this – but they are looking for a solution to something. It could be a great travel destination or how to save for their retirement.

If you provide that solution that gets them from where they are now to where they want to be, faster or cheaper, they will come back for more. But, there’s more…

If you provide that solution that gets them from where they are now to where they want to be, faster or cheaper, they will come back for more. Click To Tweet

The trick is to always give’em more of what they love. Blogs that wander off down rabbit holes about unrelated topics might work if you are already a celebrity off-line, but don’t work if you are trying to build a business online.

Stick to what your readers want and you will build valuable traffic that will come back for more.

 

Why you should be republishing your old blog posts

Maybe you work too hard?

It’s the end of the day, you’re exhausted – all you want to do is veg out and watch Marie Kondo spark joy in someone else’s cluttered bedroom.

Instead, you’re writing a new blog.

You know your blog is important, but maybe there’s an easier way? A way that could even get you better results.

We call republishing old blog posts “re-loving”.

Before I get to that, I want to explain a very powerful discovery we’ve made at BlogWorks.

Every week we’re working with business owners who have blogs. They have come to us either because they want us to promote their blog or help write their blog, or both.

But what we discovered is that the good old Pareto 80/20 principle is hard at work. And about 20% of their posts (these are the “hot” topics) attract about 80% of the traffic.

Most blog owners need to look at the 80/20 rule. About 20% of your posts attract about 80% of the traffic. Click To Tweet

Your blog and the 80/20 principle

Pareto 80/20 rule
Data tells us that the good old Pareto 80/20 principle is hard at work

Think about it: if you knew that 20% of the products in your store or services were hot sellers, you’d promote them more, right? Of course you would.

But, of course, nobody bothers to check the data (not you, of course) because the data is hidden in the techie world of Google Analytics.

So, there you are: sweating over another blog post and not knowing what topics are hot topics.

Let’s fix that…

How to re-love your old posts

The strategy with republishing old blog posts is to give each article a quick make-over to update the content, refresh the look and then to republish with a new date. And the goal is more traffic and you get a blog posted without a lot of effort.

Before, I get into the steps that we use, I want to emphasize “without a lot of effort” – this can either be a four hour project or a 30 minute one. Your goal is the latter. That means one cup of tea, coffee or glass of wine, but not longer than 30 minutes.

Boundaries created, let’s dive in.

Instead of always writing new posts, why not republish old ones? Click To Tweet

Step 1: Make a list of old blog posts to re-love

Remember the principle here is to find blog posts that are performing well, but need an upgrade. Start with your Google Analytics list of top 50 blog posts. Open up Analytics, change the date range to the last 6 months. Next, go to Behaviour > Overview. Once you see the chart (bottom right-hand corner), click “see full report” to get the expanded version and click the drop-down “show rows” to “50.”

Google Analytics list

Now you have the top 50 pages, by traffic, on your site. This is chart if full of bread crumbs: you are looking at how your readers have voted on your blog—essentially they are telling you what they want more of.

A good place to start your republishing old blog posts exercise is with the most popular blog posts that are more than one year old. To get that list, print the chart and write the published date beside the top 20 blog posts.

The oldest posts in the top 20 are the ones you’ll be re-loving.

top blogs and dates

Step 2: Create a publishing schedule

If you find yourself trying to remember what blog topics you’ve already published and keeping track of future topics, you are going to love this solution:

A great (free) plug-in we’ve started using is called Editorial Calendar. Once installed, Editorial Calendar will self-populate with all your published blog posts. Cool right?

editorial calendar

A neat trick is to click “Show unscheduled drafts” to see a list of all your draft posts and then click and drag them to the date you want. You can “hold” a publishing date by starting a draft blog post with the date you want (watch this video to learn how).

A simple plan is to mix one new post with one re-loved post per month. Or double it up if you publish weekly.

Step 3: Give the post a quick make-over

Now for the fun part!

The goal here is to update facts, clean up your writing, maybe refresh images and then be DONE. Google is looking for a “substantial update” for it to do the magical reindexing we want to move up to first page. But you don’t need to make this another writing project!

Here’s a quick shopping list of what to look for:

  • Break up those looooong paragraphs and keep your readers moving down the page.
  • Insert “cliffhangers”, like: “But, before I get to that…”, “And there’s one more thing…”, or “Has this ever happened to you…?”
  • Include keywords into your post. Don’t overdo it, but if your post is about “change management” make sure it’s in some of your subheading (h1, h2 tags.)
  • Insert a Click To Tweet to make it easy for readers to share.
  • Update your Featured Image.
  • Insert links to “anchor posts” – these are posts on your site you want readers to go to, or to your products and services pages. While you’re at it, remove unnecessary links that take readers off your site.
  • Update your CTA (Call To Action) – do you want social shares, the reader to take action, or just comments? Make it clear what action you want them to take. As a friend once said, “If you don’t A-S-K you won’t G-E-T.”

Your final touch before changing to the new publish date and hitting publish is to add a short announcement at the top of the post to let readers know this is information is current, like:

“This post was originally published in August 2017 and has been completely updated.”

or: “This post was originally published in 2017 and was completely updated Jan. 2019 for accuracy and your reading pleasure.”

Step 4: Make some noise

Once you’ve launched your newly republished post it’s time to make some noise. Send some posts to your social channels (of course if you are using BlogWorks, we’re all over that), fire off an email, maybe shoot a quick video.

Remember, you’re newly republished post is going to be new to your audience. So, don’t be shy about announcing it’s arrival.

Note: if your permalink setting includes the date your blog was published (like: www.myblog.com/blog/2012/12/leadership) republishing old blog posts will change the date in the URL and you will lose any existing SEO links. This article explains how to avoid that.

Well done! You’ve been strategic and re-loved your hard work from the past. You’ve also saved time AND published exactly what your readers told you they want more of.

Plus, now you have more time to watch Marie Kondo spark joy.

51 ways to get more business from your blog in the New Year

get more business from your blog

It’s a New Year. The holidays are over, your relatives have returned home.

And it’s time to get serious about your business and your blog.

You want more traffic—the right traffic.

And you probably want to spend less time doing it. Oh, and one more thing…

You also probably want to be more consistent publishing your blog.

Right?

Well, we are here to help.

First, if you are struggling to get your blog published, let us know. We are more than a social media company and can also help get your blog published.

Next, we got all of our elves to compile this ultimate list for you:

Here you’ll find everything you need to spark new ideas, improve your results, save time and, YES, also get more business.

Okay, let’s dig in with: 51 ways to get more business from your blog in the New Year.

Planning 

  1. Plan your next 3 months of topics with a Content Calendar.
  2. Block writing time on your calendar.
  3. Visit 10 blogs in your niche and get ideas for future topics.
  4. Create an avatar for your ideal audience(s) – all of your writing should attract your avatars.
  5. Research your competitors: what hot topics are they writing about? 
  6. Mix up your Content Calendar with video, infographic, illustrations, lists, book reviews, or interviews.
  7. Plan for seasonal campaigns, like New Year, summer, spring cleaning, Black Friday, etc.
  8. Install the free plugin Editorial Calendar to organize your future blog posts in a single dashboard.
  9. Plan for at least one extra-long (1,500-2,000 words), epic post that readers will love to share.

Writing

  1. Once a week read blogs about your topic using Feedly.
  2. Read Stephen King’s “On Writing: a memoir of the craft
  3. Experiment with short posts (see Seth Godin and Derek Sivers).
  4. Include “cliffhangers” (like: “Before I get to those solutions, let me ask you a question:”) to tease readers to continue reading your post.
  5. Choose one time of day to do your writing and build a habit around it.
  6. Use a writing template to get your posts started faster and end better.
  7. Use Evernote to collect articles and ideas for future blog posts.
  8. Let people in: share a personal experience and lessons learned.
  9. Answer common questions. One or two great solutions to one problem are better than 10 so-so solutions.
  10. Start every post with a personal story, questions, interesting fact or bold claim—get your readers’ attention!
  11. Spell check every post(!)
  12. Position yourself as an expert in your industry by sharing your original ideas, models, and solutions. 
  13. Make readers feel smart by sharing clever, unique solutions to important questions (and they’ll be more likely to share your posts!).
  14. Take a speed typing course and have a goal to complete each post faster.

Publishing

  1. Create an SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) of all the steps to publishing your blog.
  2. Revise old posts with updated information, new images and better CTA’s and republish.
  3. Save time by writing all of the social media updates for your blog at one time.
  4. Save time with every new blog post by outsourcing some or all of your publishing SOP.
  5. Post date your new blog post to come out on the same day of the week and at the same time.

Getting results

  1. Use your top 3 blog posts to find clues for what readers are attracted to.
  2. Make it a goal to grow your email list this year and review all the CTA’s that point to your email opt-in.
  3. Declutter your website sidebar and make it easier for readers to make one choice.
  4. Link your posts to “anchor” posts – these are posts you most want visitors to read.
  5. Include a CTA (Call To Action) in every blog post (ask for comments, ask for shares, link to survey, etc).
  6. Install the plugin Insert Post Ads to quickly insert banner ads in your blog posts.
  7. Keep readers on your site longer: end every blog post by recommending 3 related blog posts.
  8. When you email your list, only include the first 200-300 words of your new blog post with a link to “read more…” 
  9. Limit the links leaving your site and link to more related articles on your site.
  10. Ask for action: comment, share, read a related post or get a free opt-in offer.

Better numbers

  1. Benchmark your main traffic numbers (users, bounce rate, time on site) in Google Analytics.
  2. Create a goal for traffic and list size for this year.
  3. Update the Lead Magnet gift that goes with your email opt-in.
  4. Find all broken links on your website with tools like Broken link checker, or Dead link check.
  5. After publishing on your site, publish your blog post as an article on LinkedIn.
  6. A site that loads fast loses fewer readers. Test the loading speed of your site.
  7. Optimize every post with keywords, especially in your headline and first paragraph.

Attracting more readers

  1. Subscribe to BlogWorks(!) and let us promote you every day on social media.
  2. Write every post for your ideal client. Speak to them and answer the questions they ask you.
  3. Install the plug-in Better Click to Tweet (it’s free) and include at least 1 tweet in every post.
  4. Install the sumo or social warfare floating social share bars to encourage more readers to share your articles.
  5. Share your best stuff. You readers will be attracted (and will share) your best ideas, solutions, strategies, and resources.
  6. Finally, keep the faith—all successful bloggers started small and slow, persistence and consistency are more important than perfection. Keep writing, publishing and promoting!

Whoa! I know this was a long list.

And so we have two more thoughts for you…

First, you don’t need to do all of this. In fact, you don’t need to do half of it! 
Instead, choose one change you will make this month. Believe it or not, in our research we have found the most blogs never change! Year after year there is virtually zero attention given to plug ins, format, easy ways to share the post…nothing.
So, go easy on yourself and choose one thing for this month (my favourite would be to add the cool, free Editorial Calendar).

Lastly, you might have noticed that there are only 51 tips in our list, and not 52. That’s because you deserve a break! For at least one week, slack off. A great way to do that is to schedule your posts in advance (see #14 and #15 to save time.)

There you have it – great tips you can use one at a time. Have fun with it—your blog is a license to be creative and experiment. Do that and your readers will reward you with more readers. 

Looking for more articles on related topics?

Thinking of quitting blogging? Read this first …
Expert Tips: How to build a better blog
How to get 142% more blog traffic this year

5 steps to writing an awesome blog post in less than 60 minutes.

It’s no secret that publishing blog posts on your blog consistently is important.

Whether it’s twice a month, once a week, or even more frequently, the more consistent you are with your blog posts the more your readers will return and bring their business with them.

But it’s hard to find the time to research, edit, publish and promote. Right?

At the same time there’s nothing worse than visiting a blog and seeing the last blog post is from a year ago. Your prospect might be thinking “If the blog is out of date, I wonder if the rest of the site is out of date?”

This post will help.

With a few shortcuts, a few tricks and a bit of focus you can write an awesome blog post in less than 60 minutes.

Let me show you:

  1. Really Quick Research
  2. Get your Shitty first Draft
  3. Super Fast Editing
  4. A Publishing Routine
  5. Follow a Promotion Plan

1. Really Quick Research

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” Stephen King

When you read “research” do you want to run away screaming?

For most people, researching blog topics is about as much fun as doing your taxes. The good news is there are quick and dirty shortcuts that work.

When it comes to blogging and getting more traffic: if it’s working, keep doing it. In other words, if one of your blog posts went viral, use that topic again. If a Tweet got 130 impressions, retweet it.

When it comes to blogging and getting more traffic: if it’s working, keep doing it. Click To Tweet

Here’s how you do that with your blog post topics.

1) Start with your Google Analytics. Scroll down on the left menu to “Behaviour”, click“Overview” and look at your top three blog posts. For whatever reason, these got the lion’s share of traffic.

Choose one of those topics and write your next blog post on a related topic. For example: if one of your top posts is “The hidden cost of workplace conflict”, your next one could be “3 super easy ways to reduce workplace conflict.”

2) Next, go to BuzzSumo and type in that topic (“workplace conflict”). Find blog posts that have been shared the most and take inspiration from their headlines.

3) Finally, type your blog topic into your search bar. As you type, Google will suggest endings to your typing. These are based on query volume and can give you a clue for your next topic.

For example, you start typing “workplace conflict” and Google suggests “workplace conflict examples” Ah! You could start a blog post with a scenario of workplace conflict from your consulting work.

When you scroll to the bottom of the search results page in Google you’ll get more suggestions:

2. Get your Shitty first Drafthow to write a blog post

Now comes the fun part – you get to write your draft and not care how good it is! Let me explain…

There are two things that stall out most bloggers and authors: 1) thinking their work has to be perfect and 2) trying to edit before finishing the first draft.

There are two things that stall out most bloggers and authors: 1) thinking their work has to be perfect and 2) trying to edit before finishing the first draft. Click To Tweet

Instead, use a simple writing template to get the words flowing and keep your thoughts in order, AND avoid editing or looking up references until the draft is done. Before you know it you’ll have what author Anne Lamott famously calls your “shitty first draft.”

You can download the writing template here.

ultimate blog post writing template
Use a simple blog post writing template to get the words flowing and keep your thoughts in order

3. Super Fast Editing

“Don’t focus on having a great blog. Focus on producing a blog that’s great for your readers.” Brian Clark, Copybloggers

Editing can be fun. The hard work of writing your post is behind you and the trick now is edit quickly and be done. Set yourself a time limit for editing. It’s amazing how much you can improve your post in 5 minutes or less. Sure, you could spend an hour thinking of clever analogies or searching for the perfect images – but that’s not as important as getting it done.

Fussing over some sentence or punctuation will just slow down the process and make it less likely that your blog comes out on a regular basis. You can always spend more time editing your next book.

Here’s how to do super fast editing:

1) Remove redundancies, most uses of “that” and chop long sentences into smaller ones.
2) Keep the reader moving by breaking big paragraphs into smaller ones.

3) Build in short teasers that keep the reader moving like:
Let me explain what I mean…
But, before I get to that…
There’s only 3 things you need to get started:

3) Grab a catchy, license-free image at pixabay, unslpash, or pixels.

4) Include a call-to-action: invite comments, link to your products, invite to share on social, etc.

4. A Publishing Routine

“Don’t try to plan everything out to the very last detail. I’m a big believer in just getting it out there: create a minimal viable product or website, launch it, and get feedback.” Neil Patel

Publishing is simply a mechanical exercise. Don’t waste time on this. If you’re using WordPress (over 30% of all websites do), log in, open a new post, copy/paste your text, add the main image, add tags, check your Yoast plug-in, set the date to publish on and hit “Publish.”

This is not the time to explore some cool widget or learn the HTML code for borders around your image. Stick to your routine and move onto promotion.

5. Follow a Promotion Plan

“What you do after you create your content is what truly counts.” Gary Vaynerchuk

You can waste a lot of time here or we can do it all for you. Find out how to get the social media monkey off your back for half the price of a Virtual Assistant.

If you are going to do this yourself, create a routine. We call these Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). Not only will you not waste time dreaming up some newfangled way to get more retweets, you’ll have a routine you can hand off to a freelancer or staff when you’re ready.

There you go: how to write a blog post in less than 60 minutes. And, guess what? That’s how long this one took to post!

Now here’s how you can help me! Click on the social share button (on the left) and help your friends learn how to publish a blog post in 60 minutes or less.

Want more info on How to Get The Social Media Monkey Off Your Back?

How To get the Social Media Monkey off your Back E-book

 

 

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The ultimate list: 7 reasons why you (yes, you) need a blog today

Do you need a blog? 7 reasons the answser is yes

Does your business need a blog?

Sometimes we do things just because everyone else does. Like wearing socks to work or washing our car on Saturdays. Sometimes we need to rethink those decisions. Especially when it comes to marketing.

In this post I will explore the question … does your business need a blog?

A bit ironic to write about this in a blog, but here goes…

Blogging has been around for over 20 years and is no longer the domain of only political pundits and geeks. According to some estimates, there are 300 million active blogs(!) and approximately 40% of businesses use a blog to connect with their customers and attract new ones.

And there’s loads of glowing statistics promoting the benefits of blogs:

Bu,t the question remains: do YOU need a blog for your business? After all, maintaining an active blog takes time, effort and attention – three things usually in short supply.

Maintaining an active blog takes time, effort and attention- three things usually in short supply. Click To Tweet

First, you have to research, write, edit and publish the blog with images and keywords. Then you have to promote the blog and worry about generating traffic and converting that traffic to sales. It’s a lot of work – especially if you don’t have a team helping you.

That’s why in this post we are looking at the WHY of blogging. You’ll want to also explore our other articles about how to write a blog, find a ghost writer, get more traffic, measure success and even overcome procrastination.

Here are the top 7 reasons that experts believe you DO need a blog.

Top 7 reasons you need a blog

1. Build loyalty

In the crazy-busy world of marketing, blogs are unique. Instead of pushing your products and services on consumers, with your blog you attract them with valuable information they want to consume. Just like a magazine or TV show; we are attracted to the content—selling is secondary.

Instead of pushing your products and services on consumers, you are attracting them to you with valuable information they want to consume. Click To Tweet

Blogs also build loyalty. Small at first, your blog will find loyal readers who value your advice, want your recipes or enjoy your unique insights on life. Those loyal readers can then join your list, attend your webinar, visit your restaurant or buy your online course.

A great example of building loyalty with the blog is Angela Liddon of the Oh She Glows recipe books. Since 2008, Liddon has built up a fan club of over 1 million readers and written New York Times best-selling cookbooks (we have 2 of them). The heart of her success started with posting to her blog 3 times a day!

Blogs can build loyalty - Oh She Glows
The care and attention to every blog post took Angela Liddon from baking and selling snack bars from her home to a New York Times best-selling author.

2. Build your platform

Of all the reasons you need a blog, the most powerful could be to build an online platform.

In the old days of marketing, we would define a market position with the 5 P’s (promotion, product, price, place, people). Now we use “platform” to refer to all the pieces you have on the Internet related to your business that create an image in the consumer’s mind and a competitive advantage in your market.

As author Michael Hyatt would say, your platform is about leading a tribe of engaged followers”.

Now we use “platform” to refer to all the pieces you have on the Internet related to your business that creates an image in the consumer’s mind and a competitive advantage in your market. Click To Tweet

Uber entrepreneur Neil Patel used his blog to build a platform as a consultant and speaker and for his associated companies, Neil Patel Digital, Crazy Egg, SproutSocial and Hello Bar.

Build your blog with a platform
When Neil Patel started to build his online empire, it all started with a blog.

3. Attract new followers

Here’s something you probably don’t know about your blog. Most visitors are new to your site. A sampling of 20 BlogWorks clients found that over 85% of visitors were new to the site. First time. Brand spanking new to your world—that’s a huge opportunity, and another reason you need a blog.

It’s like renting a hotel room and 85% of the people who walk into your evening seminar are meeting you for the first time.

What an opportunity!

Those first-time readers can join your list, request more information, watch a demonstration video, buy product or bookmark your site for future reading.

But, arriving at a blog for the first time can be confusing. As author, podcaster and blogger, Pat Flynn writes, “it’s like trying to read a book that was written on loose-leaf paper, un-numbered and thrown into the air and having the pages randomly land on the ground.”

The trick is to guide those new visitors to where you want them to go. Start with an index of the blog posts you most want new visitors to read. From each blog post direct your readers to read related blog posts or to your contact page or product page.

Attract new followers with your blog
A simple way to welcome new readers to your blog is to hand-pick the list of blogs you want them to read first.

4. Convert to sales

Of course, converting readers to sales is the most popular blogging objective. You want readers to buy your recipe book, order that exercise bike or contact you about executive coaching. That would be great.

While some readers will go straight to your sales page or fill in your contact form, it’s less likely on the first visit. What’s more likely is a reader will commit to a small first step – like joining your list.

Following that, your job is to move them to a sale.

Design Pickle founder Russ Perry does a great job of getting new visitors to watch a video before making a buying decision. After all, not everyone is going to sign up for a monthly fee over $300 on their first visit. But they will be closer to making that decision after committing to a 3-minute video (we use the same strategy).

Convert blog readers to sales
You might not be ready to commit to a $300+ monthly fee, but how about a 3-minute video?

5. Build your list

The long game with blogging is to build a valuable list of followers who eventually need what you sell. Getting to your prospect’s inbox will always generate better results compared to social media or advertising.

The good news is that list building from your blog with tools like Mail Chimp, Zoho and Constant Contact is easier than ever.

Start with a simple offer of delivering your latest post directly to your follower’s inbox, then go the next step with an “ethical bribe” for signing up, like a free ebook, or 30 minutes of coaching. Next, build a simple email sequence that starts to be delivered once a new prospect joins your list.

Referral expert, Steve Gordon makes his blog promise on the home page of his site The Unstoppable CEO “We help service businesses get great clients.” From there it’s an easy one click to schedule a call to learn more or to download his ebook “The Exponential Network Strategy” and 8-video training series.

Build your list with your blog
A clear promise with an easy call-to-action is the best formula for a high performing site.

6. Nurture your followers

Let’s imagine someone interested in your consulting company or gluten-free recipe for chocolate torte finds your blog. Great – that’s the first step. But if they aren’t ready to buy or even join your list, what will you do to stay top of mind? That’s another reason you need a blog.

As a professional speaker, I need my clients, event planners, HR managers and speaker bureaus to remember I’m still active and looking for speaking opportunities. Rather than calling them every two weeks, I send them my latest blog post by email.

Sure, I might only have an email open rate of 25-30%, but that’s still thousands of people who are being reminded of the work I do.

Nuture your followers with your blog
Instead of calling my clients every two weeks, I send them my latest blog post by email

7. Pure fun and sharing

There is nothing wrong with having fun with your blog. Blogger Tim Urban makes it clear from his homepage at Wait But Why you should expect the unexpected, starting with his promise of “We publish every sometime.”

Urban’s blog posts range from simple cartoons to tackling complicated global social issues with 20,000+ word treatise that dive deep into topics like the birth of the electric car.

These are big, hairy topics and Urban is fearless. He also has some fun with his readers, like this recent post about table-hogging at a coffee shop.

Pure fun and sharing
Sometimes the best approach to a touchy topic is with humor

 

Here’s the bottom line (funny, I’m at the bottom of the blog) – get clear about the purpose(s) of your blog and then put it to work. Nothing beats a loyal customer and your blog is one of the best ways to get more of them.

Still considering whether you need a blog and want to read more?

You’ll want to also explore our other articles about how to write a blog, find a ghostwriter, get more traffic, measure success and even overcome procrastination.

 

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