Tag Archive: blog tips

  1. Bright Idea: How to Brainstorm for Your Blog

    how to brainstorm

    If you’re anything like me, when you set out to write a new blog post, the creativity flows from your fingertips like a geyser/power washer/waterfall combo. Coming from the ether, your ideas are precious jewels of which the world is lucky to bear witness.

    …wait. Is that…just me? Oh. Well, this is awkward.

    Of course, as a blogger and copywriter, I know full well that the above is complete fantasy. Putting aside the rare occasion in which you’re hit with a lightning bolt of inspiration, the early steps of crafting a blog post worth reading often involves a whole lot of brain-wracking thought and research. Many blogs can be front-loaded time investments that can leave you wondering if they’re worth the effort.

    The good news? If done correctly, blogs are an effective form of creative content your brand needs to position itself as a trusted thought leader and share its insights with the world. But again, that first step (coming up with a killer idea) is a doozy.

    As the author of hundreds (gasp) of blog posts, learning how to brainstorm for blogs in a more effective fashion has been crucial for not only my efficiency but also the quality of my writing–and it could be for you, too.

    Top Tips on How to Brainstorm for Better Blogs

    Brainstorming is more than just sitting in silence and waiting for the good ideas to come. Brains often don’t work that way. Though everyone has different needs–some prefer silence while others prefer the clamor of a coffee shop, for example–I have some tips that may help jumpstart your brainstorming session and yield new blog post ideas that pop.

    • Google Alerts: As much as you have your finger on the pulse of your industry, you can’t expect to know everything at all times. Luckily, Google Alerts is here to help. This tool allows you to track any subject under the sun by simply choosing keywords you’d like to keep an eye on. For instance, if I want to be kept up to date on kittens, I can easily input “kittens” into Google Alerts and then tweak the alert to my liking by selecting the “Show options” drop-down. This allows you to choose the sources you’d like Google to pull from (news articles, blog posts, videos, etc.), what region of the country or world you’d like these stories to be pulled from and how often you’d like to be alerted about such stories.
    • Know Your Audience and Listen to Them: Before putting pen to pad or finger to keyboard, it’s vital to know your audience. Identifying exactly who your intended reader is will inform everything from tone to the actual content of your post. If I’m writing a blog on kittens, it will read dramatically different depending on if my audience is made up of lifelong cat owners versus people sans-cat.

      Once you have an audience in mind, open your ears to them and take a moment to do a bit of mental roleplay. Using my example, what would a longtime cat owner find interesting, engaging or helpful? Are any of my clients longtime cat owners? What have I heard them ask about in the past? What are their pressure points and worries? Many of the most helpful blog posts were spawned by addressing frequently asked questions from our clients, colleagues and community.
    • Talk it Out: We get by with a little help from our friends. If you’re feeling an idea drought coming on, I’d highly recommend getting into a room with two or three creative thinkers who may have some insight on the subject you’re trying to tackle. I can’t tell you how many great ideas were developed just by collecting coworkers in a small office with a big whiteboard.
    • Come Back Fresh: Take a break. Yes, it may feel like I’m giving you permission to procrastinate but that’s not what this is. Frustration and fatigue go hand in hand, and if you’ve been hitting your head against the brick wall of writer’s block trying to come up with your next big blog idea, you’re going to need a break. According to research cited in an article from Inc., “…the brain gradually stops registering a sight, sound or feeling if that stimulus remains constant over time.” As it turns out, variety is also the spice of creativity. So, take five minutes, grab a cup of coffee, have a snack, go on a walk or just daydream for a bit. If you can, move on to another task and come back to your blog brainstorm fresh. Though stubbornly trying to fight through the frustration of writer’s block can seem like the “right” thing to do, you may do more harm than good, taking more time and yielding weaker ideas.
    • Get Out of Your Cave: Though your desk, cubicle or office may be your comfort zone in the office, sometimes it can lead to a bit of stagnated thinking. Go to a coffee shop, sit on a park bench or even simply relocate to another space in your office that is out of your norm. It may sound a little silly, but your environment can play a big part in inspiring new, fresh ideas.

    Asking how to brainstorm for blogs is a little like asking how to make the perfect pizza: there are plenty of methods that people swear by, but a lot of it comes down to personal preference. Also like pizza, in the end, as long as it yields something people want to consume, you’re probably doing it right. So, don’t be afraid if the muses aren’t pulling their weight as soon as you sit down to take on your next big blog post. Prime your creativity pump with Google Alerts, think about your audience, make it a group effort, take a break and get out of your comfort zone. Your blogs will be the better for it.

  2. How to Write an Effective Blog Post in 5 Easy Steps

    So you’ve heard that content is king and you should be blogging? You’ve got an idea of what you should blog about, but you’re not quite sure how to go about it. When content is being created, you want to make sure that you are getting the most out of it, just like anything you invest your time and money in. Below are 5 easy steps to follow when creating content for your blog.

    Step 1: Cut a Hole in the Box.

    Just kidding! First things first, write your post with a keyword (1-2) in mind. The primary keyword is what you are optimizing your content for and the secondary keyword is important, but note that it is not generating as much traffic as the primary one.

    Your keyword also doesn’t necessarily need to be confined to a one-word keyword. You can use long-tailed keywords that typically come in question form. Users search for not just one or two keywords, but will often type in whole questions.

    Once you’ve found what keywords you want to work with, do a little research with Google AdWords, Google Webmaster Tools, or even Raven Tools to see if the keywords you have in mind are being searched for and to see what kind of traffic they are generating. The more traffic, the better!

    Lastly, include your keyword in everything from your title, to the body content, the URL and the meta description. Just. Don’t. Keyword. Stuff. You want your keyword presence to be at least 1.5% and no more than 3%. See the optimization formula below for help.

    Keyword Optimization Formula

    Step 2: Write!

    Okay, you’ve got your keywords. Now you’re ready to let the writing juices flow into the content river of fun. Just make sure that the total word count is at least 500. If the word count is a little less, that’s fine, but generally you don’t want the content to be less than that.

    For extra SEO fun, you can also add in anchor text (a word or phrase that a hyperlink is applied to) to your content. Google considers anchor text to carry more weight to it then just plain text. Be mindful of where you’re linking to though, and how often you’re directing the audience away from your website/blog post. You want a solid mix of inter-linking and linking out. For example, not all links should be directing users away from your website/blog. A good rule of thumb is 4 links for 500 words, with two of those links inter-linking within your site.

    Also, make sure to include alt text and an original meta description. Alt text is the word you can apply to a hyperlinked keyword. As for the meta description, don’t leave it blank and definitely don’t copy and paste content from your post. The meta description is prime retail spot and you can use that area to answer long-tailed keywords/questions, as well as give a teaser on what the post is about.

    Step 3: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will only hurt you if there are no images.

    What do you find more appealing? An image of a gooey chocolate cake or me just writing about a gooey chocolate cake? Ding! Ding! Ding! The image of the chocolate cake will surely wet your whistle more so than me telling you about it. Be sure to include images in your post to appeal to the masses.

    Chocolate Cake

    By FotoosVanRobin from Netherlands – Chocolate FondantUploaded by Ekabhishek, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10772719

    You also want to make sure that the image(s) you select are under creative commons or purchased via a stock photography site. You’ll also want to name the images before you upload them to your post and give those images alt text as doing so counts towards your SEO!

    Step 4: Tag! You’re It!

    After you’ve created your content with your nifty keywords and your awesome images, make sure to associate your post with categories and tags accordingly. No more than three categories should be applied to each post.

    Categories are more general to the subject material so general topics can be applied. Tags are more specific, and you can add a variety of tags about some of the more specific subject matter.

    Step 5: Cross the Finish Line!

    Just do one final review with the handy checklist below and you’re good to publish that post to the masses!

    Blogging Checklist