Like many of you, I do a lot of web surfing during my free time. I have a list of blogs and websites that I frequent and enjoy finding new ones as well.
As a marketer, I can’t help but dissect every site that I stumble upon. I swear, It’s a curse that I have. I look at everything from the placement of ads to the type of font that they use. Lately though, I’ve been noticing a disturbing trend while perusing through the online world.
There are a TON of websites out there that make a TON of blogging mistakes. I’m not talking about grammar or spacing issues (which are quite annoying). I’m talking about the most basic principles that make blogging actually work.
Obviously, this got the wheels in my head turning so I’ve decided to write a post outlining the basic principles of blogging, in which I have aptly entitled “The 10 Commandments”.
Commandment #1 – Know Thy Purpose
Once upon a time, in a land far far away, there was a group of online entrepreneurs. They were tired of having their profits reduced every time Google rolled out a new update for their search algorithm.
So, they decided to ditch many of the old, outdated marketing practices and focus on creating content that their audience would enjoy, share, and pay to learn more; thus spawning the birth of content marketing.
As word spread, more and more people began utilizing this approach. Many more succeeded. Unfortunately, many heard about this new approach and jumped in heedlessly without actually understanding what they were doing, causing them to fail miserably, essentially wasting countless hours of their precious time.
Just kidding, there’s more. The reason so many people end up wasting their time cranking out content with little to no visible results is because they don’t have a clearly defined purpose when they started.
Yes, I know when I use the word “purpose” it sounds vague, so let me clear that up for you. Your purpose should be able to answer these very specific questions:
- How will your blog post your business?
- How will your post fit into your overall marketing plan?
- What business objectives will this solve?
- How will your post increase revenue?
If you can’t answer these 4 questions, then you may end up simply spinning your wheels. Suddenly, your blog post becomes yet another time consuming endeavor that doesn’t yield any real results.
Commandment #2 – Know Thy Audience
Who is your content for? What are their interests? What problems do they have that you can help solve?
The entire purpose of creating a blog post is to continue building your audience and engage your current followers. However, if you don’t have a clear understanding of who they are, then how can you ever expect to create the content that they want and need? (Pro Tip: You Can’t)
If you don’t have a distinct audience yet, then you should take a few minutes and hash out the EXACT person that your brand should target.
The best way to do this Is to take a piece of paper, a writing utensil, and draw a picture of your target consumer. This is someone that perfectly fits your brand, your message, and will gain the most benefit from reading your content.
Go into distinct detail with the picture and on the side, write down their characteristics.
How old are they? What is their gender? What are their likes and dislikes? What is their level of income? What problems are they facing? Why do they have this problem? How come they haven’t found a solution yet? How do they feel about the problem that they have? So on and so forth…
Now you can write your blog posts with this person in mind, so much so that when one of your target audience members reads your content, they will feel as if you are talking directly to them.
Commandment #3 – Know Thy Message
In the past I’ve asked clients what their website is about and received the following answers;
“It’s an internet marketing site.”
“It’s a health and fitness site.”
“It’s a dating site.”
Yes, but what are you trying to convey to your audience? What is it about?
Often times marketers rush to create so much content that it seems almost random. If someone were to ask you what your website is about, would you be able to go into detail or would your description be vague? Every blog post that you create should project this description.
Here’s an easy way to fix this issue. Take your mission statement (if you don’t have one, create one immediately). Does your blog post fully embody your mission statement? If not, then perhaps it’s in need of some tweaking.
Commandment #4 – Post Consistently
It’s incredible how many people agree that creating consistent content is a necessity for a successful content marketing campaign, but have absolutely no plan of how they’re going to actually do it.
Simply creating content on a whim is not a recipe for long lasting results, neither is posting only when you get the urge to do so.
Create an editorial calendar where you decide when / what to post for the next month or two. This will allow you to visibly see what you need to do and when it needs to be done. Then all you need to do is stick to your schedule.
Obviously, there will be times when life gets in the way and you simply don’t have the time to create the content that is scheduled. Guess what? You don’t need to write the content yourself. Instead, outsource the work to a professional. Here are a few places that I’ve found the most value.
Commandment #5 – Build Thy Links Internally
Internal linking is about SEO. Google assigns every individual page on your site a rank. Some pages will rank higher than others. By linking the higher ranked pages to the lower ranked pages, you can essentially help boost those lower ranked pages. Additionally, it helps the search engines to better crawl and index the various pages in your site.
Internal linking isn’t that complex. For every blog post, simply link to one or two other posts that will compliment your topic.
If you want to learn another popular method for using internal links to boost your rankings, check out my post on the Silo Structure (see how I slipped that internal link in there?).
Commandment #6 – Present Images
An image is worth a thousand words. Besides, a wall of text by itself is flat out boring.
A post published by Unbounce presented numerous studies that show how images can increase conversion rates.
There are countless places to find highly engaging stock photos online. For this site, I use depositphotos. I’ve found their selection to be high quality and their rates to be reasonable.
If you require free stock photos, then try Flickr, Wiki Commons, or EveryStockPhoto.
Commandment #7 – Use Keywords Effectively
We’ve all know that keywords are important to the success of a blog post. However, there is a lot of misinformation out there pertaining to the use of keywords. This often causes people to run into problems, and leads to sub-par on site SEO.
A few of the most common problems that marketers see when working with keywords are;
Keyword stuffing – Marketers will try and cram their keywords into a piece of content over and over again in an attempt to trick the search engines into providing them with a higher ranking. Though this may have worked 10 years ago, the search engines have since caught on, making this strategy useless. Haphazardly stuffing keywords into a blog post only accomplishes the goal of decreasing the value and readability of your content for your audience.
Using broad keywords – No matter how much you try, it’s unlikely that you will ever rank on the first page for generic terms like “weight loss” or “Ipad”. Why when there are so many high traffic keywords that can not only be easily ranked for, but are also laser targeted.
Using no keywords – Some people believe that if they write enough content, then they will magically rank for high value keywords. It doesn’t work like that. Obviously, you should write for your audience first, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t insert a few chosen keywords here and there.
Commandment #8 – Actively Promote Thy Content
When you hit the publish button, it is only the beginning of the work that needs to be done. I firmly believe in the 20:80 rule; 20% of your time should be spent on creating content, while the other 80% should be focused on promoting that content.
With the widespread use of social media, promotion has become easier than ever before. It allows you to present your content to your followers and have them share it with their followers. How awesome is that?
Another approach is to seek out other site owners and allow them to promote your content to their audience. Regardless of what route you choose, constant promotion is a necessity and requires additional effort on your part.
Commandment #9 – Diversify Thy Content
Variety is the spice of life. Blog posts don’t need to solely consist of written words. This kind of thinking only limits your possibilities.
Videos, infographics, interviews / audio are all incredibly useful methods for enhancing the value of your blog. People LOVE variety and it’s your job to give it to them.
Plus, adding variety allows you to split test in order to find what kind of content your audience prefers. For all you know, you’re spending hours writing lengthy blog posts, when a 5 min video will convert twice as well.
Commandment #10 – Monetize Thy Content
The obvious end goal of creating a blog is to generate some sort of revenue from it. If your content isn’t driving sales, then it serves no purpose. Sure, it may bring in traffic, but what’s the point of having traffic if it doesn’t convert to sales?
If you disagree with this, then your blog is likely a hobby and not an actual business. I created this website because I genuinely care about helping people improve their marketing campaigns, but I also need to put food on the table, so revenue is fairly important.
If your blog posts do fail to bring in the money, then there are a solution you can try;
Add a call to action. Don’t be afraid to ask your reader to do “something”, whether it’s to subscribe to your list, purchase your product, or click on a link.
A call to action doesn’t have to draw attention away from your content or detract value from your posts. A good call to action will compliment your content.
For instance, you could add this at the end of your blog posts;
“If you enjoyed this post about widgets, click on the link below to gain access to my free ebook that goes into even MORE detail about widgets.” It’s seriously that easy.
If you’re blogging simply for fun, then ignore this post entirely, but if you’re interested in using your blog posts to improve your business and enhance your earnings, then you need to look over this list of commandments.
What tips or suggestions would you add to this list? Feel free to leave any feedback in the comment section below.