Tips on writing a blog post faster and better

Write blog posts faster and better

It can be a grind to write a blog.

You have to come up with clever ideas.

Find the time…write a draft…edit…add images…

Here’s what helps (and helps with any business):

You need a system.

When I started blogging I assumed ideas would pour from the heavens and my fingers would fly effortlessly across the keyboard pouring out publish-ready prose flocks of salivating followers would fall on.

Nah, didn’t happen.

As the reality of researching, writing, editing, image selection and publishing became clear my motivation started to slide.

…and slide…

…and slide…

Pretty soon, I was missing publishing deadlines.

Then there weren’t any deadline.

Then my blog routine became a random game of chance.

Enter the system

It took some time to realize that without a system blog writing was going to be painful. Later I learned the value of a system for that day when you want to outsource parts of the publishing process.

It took some time to realize that without a system, blog writing was going to be painful. Click To Tweet

The system I’m going to share is simple – it has to be – it’s designed to be repeated for every blog.

And it starts with finding the ideas. With a steady supply of fresh ideas you are halfway there.

1. Finding the ideas

In my post “How to never run out of ideas ever again” I shared sources for blog ideas. I also explained our process for republishing older blog posts (like this one). This is a strategy we’re now using with most of our clients and having crazy-good results. Read that post here.)

I’ll add you should be looking for micro ideas – not big, scary, all encompassing ones.

For example, this post is just about a writing system.

I could have also talked about researching, choosing the perfect topic, or how to use the WordPress editor. But, that’s too much width for a quick-to-read blog post.

When you tackle a micro topic it’s easier to complete the post and, I think, easier for the reader to quickly get value they can turn into action (without getting overwhelmed with advice).

Now that you have the ideas, it’s time to…find time.

2. Finding the time

The best way to find time for writing a blog is to not have to “find it” in the first place.

I recommend having one block of time for writing. For me, it’s the first thing I do every morning. For you, it might be 8:30-10:00, 3 days a week – whatever it is, make it a routine.

The best way to find time for writing is to not have to “find it” in the first place. Click To Tweet

At first, you might want to post this time for a month on your calendar to help develop the routine. You might also need a reward for your efforts, like crossing the task off a list, or marking your calendar with minutes spent writing every day.

The less you have to work at finding the time, the more likely the work will get done.

Now that you’ve found the time, you need to get started.

3. Sitting down and writing a blog

writing a blog post without distractions

I need to have a clear desk, a full cup of tea and a quiet room to write. I can edit on a moving train full of goats (still haven’t tried that), but writing requires complete concentration and no distractions (or goats).

Commit to a block of time. If you are writing at 8:30 in the morning, you might want to work for 90 minutes with quick breaks every 30 minutes – but commit to the time. That means Facebook and email are closed, papers are cleared away and your phone is put away or on airplane mode.

Whatever works best for you, create that situation every time.

Next, you need a template

4. Use a template

I can hear it now “But, I’m an artist and artists never use paint-by-number formulas.”

Bullhooky. Even artists use a template of sorts to organize their thoughts – certainly authors do.

Every blog posts (with exceptions to recipe blogs or vacation journal blogs) needs to take the reader on a journey. Usually that journey is from problem to solution.

My template for writing a blog (hundreds of public speakers use this template) is very simple. I follow it for every post (like this one) and the reader never complains.

Here it is:

  • The Problem – what problem does your reader have?
  • Personal – what is your experience with this problem?
  • The Promise – what are you giving the reader?
  • The Solutions – your solutions to the problem
  • A Call to Action – what do they need to do first?
  • Final thoughts – motivation

Like most books that follow a template for every chapter, we’re too busy enjoying the content to care much about the structure.

Template ready? Time to get the first draft done.

5. First draft

Your first draft will not be great – expect it. Anne Lamott famously calls it your “Shitty first draft” and for good reason.

When I’m writing an 800-1,000 word blog post, I like to crank out a first draft in about one hour. After that I let it simmer while I go for a run, do some other work, or read – but I don’t think about it.

When I sit down to finish the post, it’s amazing how obvious all the problems are. The run on sentence or weak arguments jump off the page and are much easier to fix.

Plan on two sittings and it takes the pressure off and allows you to write more freely for that essential first draft.

6. Ship it

At some point you need to admit this is only a blog – not a novel – or, as Seth Godin says, ship it.

“Shipping is fraught with risk and danger. Every time you raise your hand, send an email, launch a product or make a suggestion, you’re exposing yourself to criticism. Not just criticism, but the negative consequences that come with wasting money, annoying someone in power or making a fool of yourself. It’s no wonder we’re afraid to ship.”

More time fussing over semi-colons won’t get you more readers or more social shares, it just burns up more time.

Your goals should be to help the reader reach their goal faster and better than they could on their own.

Once you’ve done that, your job is done.

Now, get writing.

This post was originally published in 2016 and has been updated for your entertainment, education and just because.

Liked this post? Got another 5 minutes? Here are 3 more of our most popular posts all about writing blogs:

How to start a blog post – 5 examples that really work!
5 brilliant ways to start your blog post with a bang
9 blog topic ideas your audience will love

 

21 incorrectly used words that can make you look dumb

A typewriter with a page that reads "Words Have Power";

Many of the words you use in your blog could be, well…

wrong.

Should you use advice or advise?

How about affect or effect?

Then there’s everyday and every day.

Aaaaaagh!?!?

Dear reader, instead of running off to Google every time you’re unsure we have scoured the lexicon library to help clarify, demystify, enlighten and sort through 21 words that often get misused and abused.

Here we go with our list of incorrectly used words…

1. Advise and advice

First, advise is a verb – the act of giving, while advice is a noun – what you give. A quickest test is to say your sentence out loud, like: “I went to the coach to get advise.”

2. Affect and effect

Not only do these two sound similar they are very often confused (fortunately most people don’t know the difference.) A simple distinction is to use effect if you are making the change happen and affect if you are helping make the change happen. For example: “The CEO’s decision effected a major change in direction.” And “What she said affected my decision to go ahead.”

3. Everyday and every day

This is an easy one to mix up. Doing something every day means you do it every single day, like drinking coffee in the morning.

Meanwhile, everyday means commonplace or normal, like hearing sirens is an everyday event.

4. Along and long

This is an easy one to clarify. Along means moving in a constant direction, like “I was moving along the highway.” While long means a great distance or duration, like “The highway was long and boring.”

5. A while and awhile

This is a tricky one. First, the difference between while and awhile is easy to spot. While refers to a period of time “We talked for a while.”

The word awhile means for a period of time “He waited awhile for his appointment.” Whereas a while can only be used to replace while – a longer period of time.

6. Any way and anyway

Anyway means “nonetheless” or “regardless” as in: “I knew I had to get work done, but checked Facebook anyway.” You can also use anyway to connect a story that’s continuing: “Anyway, I was describing how to write a better blog post…”

Any way means a variety of ways of doing something, or in any manner. “I had so much to get done I tackled my list any way possible.”  

Anyway, let’s get onto #7.

7. Fewer and less

Here’s a trick for this one: use fewer when referring to items you can count, like “fewer homes” or “fewer car sales.”

Use less when referring to items you can’t count, like “time”, or “income.” There are some conventions with fewer and less: we tend to use less with time, money and weight.

8. Insure and ensure

This is an easy one to remember: insure refers only to insurance. Ensure means to make sure. So you might want to ensure you are insured.

9. Irregardless and regardless

This is an easy fix: don’t use irregardless. You might find irregardless in text (and certainly hear some well-meaning folks use the word), but it’s not commonly accepted and just sounds wrong.

10. Principle and principal

My trick to remembering the difference between these is that my Principal at school should be my “pal” or friend, as in principal. Whereas principle is a guideline or rule: “…basic scientific principles.”

Principal can also refer to the amount borrowed on a load, the most important item in a particular set “The principal account makes up 65 percent of our revenues.”

11. Stationary and stationery

This is an easy one: you write on stationery. When something doesn’t move it is stationary.

12. It’s and its

It’s is a contraction of it is or it has. Use it’s to move a sentence along and to give a more casual feeling to your writing.

Its is about possession “The store increased its prices.” An easy test is to try removing the apostrophe and see how it sounds: “It’s raining” becomes “It is raining.” (which sounds better).

By the way, there is no use for its’.

13. They’re and their

This is similar to #12 and many other incorrectly used words, they’re is a contraction of they are, whereas their is all about ownership.

14. Who’s and whose

Who’s is a contraction that means either who is or who has. “Do you know someone who’s living in California?” 

Whose is possessive. “You and whose army?”

15. You’re and your

Here’s another contraction and one you probably get right: you’re and your.

You’re means you are and your is about ownership “Your car.” “Your home.” So, “If you’re going to your home to get your car you’re doing the right thing!”

16. Accept and except

Here’s an easy one…

These two words sound the same but are quite different: accept is to receive, except signifies and exclusion. So “I accept the offer, except I won’t want it for another month.”

17. In regard to

The only distinction to note here is that the expression In regard to is singular. To write “In regards to” is incorrect.

18. Ironic vs. Coincidental

Here’s an interesting distinction: if something happens at the same time “I was about to go see her when she showed up at my house.” that’s a coincidence. But, when there’s a reversal involved, like “When we returned from our trip to Mexico we learned the weather was actually better at home.” That’s ironic.

Comedian Ed Byrne writing about Alanis Morisette’s song, Ironic: “The only ironic thing about that song is it’s called ‘Ironic’ and it’s written by a woman who doesn’t know what irony is. That’s quite ironic.”

19. Imply vs. Infer

“The implier is the pitcher; the inferrer is the catcher.” Theodore Bernstein, The Careful Writer

To imply is to say something indirectly, like: “The host implied it was time to leave by saying she was tired.” To infer is to gather, deduce, or figure out. “We inferred it was time to leave by the host’s actions.”

The way to remember this one is: a speaker/writer implies, while the listener/reader infers.

20. Adverse and Averse

To be adverse is rarely used to describe people, but more commonly to describe events, effects, trends in the economy, changes in weather, etc: “The new medication has no adverse impacts on health.”

Averse describes people and means to feel opposed or disinclined. “We are not averse to holding another meeting.”

21. Irrespective and respective

Irrespective is not just the opposite of respective. Their meanings are completely different.

Irrespective of means regardless of as in “he continued to blog irrespective of how many readers he had.”

Whereas, respective means relating to two more more things individually”, as in “We all met for lunch and then returned to our respective offices.”

Enjoyed this article about incorrectly used words? Here’s three more of our most popular posts:

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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:

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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. 

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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

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.

Marketing: Make This The Year Of The Blog

Marketing make this the year of the blog

“Learning to choose is hard. Learning to choose well is harder. And learning to choose well in a world of unlimited possibilities is harder still, perhaps too hard.” Barry Schwartz

It was morning at the local grocery store in Southern California. Just like every other Saturday morning.

With one exception.

Before the store opened, researchers had set up a table with an attractive display of local jams for sale. On this Saturday, 24 jams were on display. Consumers would stop, taste one more more of the local products and then either pick up a jar to take to the check out counter or continue on their way.

Then, on following Saturday the same table was prepared, but this time with only 6 varieties of jam. Same store, just fewer options.

Guess which display table led to more sales?

You guessed it – when there are more options, people tend to get overwhelmed and do nothing.

Fewer options is better.

This is also true in business: for example, when faced with too many marketing options you might, in fact, do nothing. Psychologist Barry Schwartz called this the ‘paradox of choice’. And that brings me to marketing. Just like jars of jam, when faced with too many marketing options most people either dabble in a few ideas or do nothing at all.

And it’s getting worse. For the last decade we’ve been inundated with a truck-load of online marketing choices.

Should you build your Facebook followers, post videos on YouTube, learn all about Instagram or plan an affiliate launch?

For the last decade we’ve been inundated with a truck-load of online marketing choices Click To Tweet

Or, maybe you should simply reduce your choices and focus on what works?

Blogging works

We love blogging because, unlike most other online marketing strategies, it keeps on working for us. And, despite all the hype of “latest, greatest” social marketing, every year more companies are investing in their blogs.

Companies with active blogs enjoy 55% more inbound traffic and receive 67% more leads than those that do not.

Your blog will attract new followers, keep you in touch with clients and help convert followers to buyers. Even your old posts keep attracting readers.

And, as much as we like promoting on our social channels, good luck getting people to read an old tweet or watch a two-year old video on YouTube.

So, why not make this your year of the blog?

How to make this the Year of the Blog

Alrighty, you’ve committed to blogging. But you’re feeling a little unsure how to get started. The last time you published a blog post was 5 months ago and that one took you two days to write. Ouch!

At BlogWorks we speak with bloggers every week who have this challenge—they know their blog should be central to their marketing, but they struggle to publish. Just like the Jackson’s 1970’s hit song, “A-B-C it’s as easy as 1-2-3,” blogging can be as easy as following 3 steps.

By the way, “A-B-C” stands for Always Blog Consistently (I’m kind of proud of that one).
1. Set your goals
2. Block the time
3. Follow an SOP

Let’s dig into the details:

1. Set your goals

“A goal properly set is halfway reached.” Zig Ziglar

Creating a few meaningful goals for your blog doesn’t have to be complicated or scary.

Start with a few metrics which are important for you, like: site traffic, list size, publishing frequency and
then create the goal based on last year.

For example, if your site traffic last year averaged 1,000 users (unique visitors) to your site your new goal could be to increase site traffic to 1,500/month.

Similarly, if your list size is 800, make a goal to double it this year.

And if you published 10 times last year, commit to 2 posts per month, or 24 posts in the year.

But, don’t stop there. Goals only work if you check on them. At least once a month, fill in a simple spreadsheet with your progress.

goals
Pro tip: At least once a month update your blog goal sheet.

2. Block the time

“You should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than with your current results.”
James Clear, Atomic Habits

I have written about time management and productivity for over 10 years. And I’ll let you in on a little secret…

When I’m coaching chronic procrastinators or clients who are tackling huge projects I always recommend one strategy. Are you ready?

Block your time.

Admit it, if you had a 2:00 appointment with your dentist, you’d prepare, leave home and be there on time. Right?

When you block time it becomes an appointment you can’t break.

It’s no different with a scheduled conference call, webinar, sales meeting, or meeting a friend to show them this blog (hint, hint). When we block time for a meeting, we treat that time differently. You can always move that time block, but your writing time should be protected.

Most authors, bloggers, speech writers and other creative people do their best work in the morning, shortly after waking up. That could be a good place to start blocking your blog writing time.

3. Follow your SOP

“The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine.” Mike Murdock

Creating your first Blog SOP can be as simple as recording all the steps in a Google Doc.

One of the best changes I made to my blogging was to create a Standard Operating Procedure.

Huh?

That’s right, one of the changes that accelerated the growth of this blog and my blog was to document all the steps it took to get my rough draft published and promoted.

Two things happened: 1) I wasted less time trying to muddle my way through all the minutia of WordPress tags, categories, headers, etc. 2) I was closer to outsourcing the $12/hour jobs.

Once I’d written up all the steps (and there were over 30 steps!), it was obvious that a disproportionate amount of time was spent doing non-creative, routine tasks. In fact, I created BlogWorks because of that exercise!

To get started, use Google Docs (it’s easy to share when you are ready to outsource this) and simply list all the steps your blogging process needs. Next, identify repetitive tasks you can outsource. For example, you might want to outsource creating the Featured Image for each post.

Contact us to learn how we can transform your rough draft into a published and promoted post.

Liked this post? Here are more posts about getting that blog published!
A Simple Lesson in Time Management (That Will Make You Money)
How To Blog More Consistently (And Stop Missing Deadlines)
How To Write Blog Posts Faster And Better

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

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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