One of the simplest ways of coming up with ideas for blogposts is asking questions. We aim to write blogposts that help people. To get at these topics, we try to empathize with our audience, to put ourselves in their shoes. We ask questions that we think might make for some useful, helpful, actionable answers.
Asking questions is a blogging method used by some of our favorite bloggers. Darren Rowse recently put together a huge list of blogpost ideas, and there’s some good overlap between his list and the list at blog.bufferapp.com - Here’s a collection of 55:
1. What are your customers’ most frequently asked questions?
2. What are the biggest myths about your industry?
3. What are the biggest misconceptions about your company?
4. What is something about your industry that you know and others might not?
5. Describe the way you and your team use your product.
6. How did your company come to be?
7. What early lessons did you learn along the way that might be useful to share?
8. How did your company get its name?
9. What was your first sale?
10. What was your first big “a-ha” moment? How about your first moment of doubt?
11. What type of complete guide would be useful to help your ideal customer?
12. What makes your company/product distinct?
13. How did you choose the distinguishing features of your company/product over others?
14. Tell a story about customer success.
15. What is a typical “day in the life” for your ideal customer?
16. What things keep you awake at night? What might keep your customer awake?
17. Describe a process of your day that might resonate with your audience.
18. How did your new product or service come to be?
19. What is a counterintuitive bit of advice that you can share?
20. What is an unpopular piece of advice that you can share?
21. What must someone know to become an expert in your field?
22. What would you say to someone just starting out in your field?
23. What are the essential tools you use every day to get work done?
24. What are the mistakes you made when you were just starting out?
25. What mistakes do you see others making?
26. Introduce your team and how they came together.
27. Explain how you hire.
28. Explain how you collaborate as a team.
29. Explain your product creation process.
30. What is on your recommended reading list?
31. What are you reading right now?
32. Who are some of the leading voices in your industry?
33. What articles from the past week caught your eye?
34. What articles did you read from inside your industry that you think you could maybe improve on or take in a new direction?
35. What are some statistics about your industry?
36. What are some statistics about your customers?
37. Where do you see your industry headed in the next year?
38. How about the next five or 10 years?
39. What are the current trends that are taking hold in your field?
40. What do your customers have a hard time doing?
41. What have your customers suggested you add/change about your product? (And why have you made the change or not?)
42. Which quotes inspire you?
43. Which people inspire you?
44. What is a useful checklist that would provide value for your audience?
45. What is a useful pdf, ebook, or guide that would provide value?
46. What have you presented on lately? Turn it into a blogpost.
47. What are you company’s goals for this year? Next year?
48. What were some of the biggest obstacles and challenges from this year?
49. Which two products could you compare and contrast?
50. Which two strategies could you compare and contrast?
51. What tips do you have for your industry for next year?
52. What 10 customers, peers, staff could you ask a single question of and create a wrap up article on?
53. What is the history of your industry – from inception to today.
54. What were the key takeaways from a conference or industry event that you attended?
55. What are you most passionate about?
Plus a few others that aren’t exactly questions but are super stellar ideas from Darren.
· Sum up the year that was
· Review a book your customers should read
· Review a tool, product or service relevant to your customers
· Create an award for your industry
Atomic Reach was kind enough to share their go-to blogs for content marketing tips and resources, and the Bufferchat community chimed in with their favorites, too. Here are 34 amazing blogs for you to check out:
4. Marketing Profs
5. Content Marketing Institute
6. Buffer blog
7. Jeff Bullas
9. Jay Baer
10. Atomic Reach
11. Hub Spot
12. Short Stack Lab
15. Brian Solis
16. Social Media Examiner
17. Marketing Sherpa
18. Neil Patel
22. Word Stream
28. Feldman Creative
29. Joel Klettke
31. Gregory Ciotti
33. Social Fresh
34. Marie Forleo
A well-written article can:
Let's assume that you understand the basics of constructing and editing an article (it has a beginning, middle, and an end and you know how to check the grammar and spelling.) Most of us can manage that. But if you're not content with simply "getting something out there" - if you want to WIN readers - then you need to start thinking about what they want to know, rather than what you want to tell them.
Put your readers first - every time. Give them what they want, and they'll be queuing up to read anything you produce. Give them something bland (or worse, blatantly self-serving) and they'll blast by you so fast you'll be spinning in the back draft.
The following four steps will give you a blueprint for writing articles that captivate your readers - whatever the topic.
1. Find Out What Your Readers Really Want
Sometimes you'll know what they want because you're an expert in the field, and understand the problems. If you don't know the subject area well, you'll have to do more research. Look for forums on your topic and see what people are discussing. What are the problems that need solving? Can you provide an answer? ("If they have a headache, give them an aspirin.")
2. Start With An Attention-Grabber
Spend time working on your opening. Try to avoid trite questions like "Have you ever wondered why so many people find it difficult to lose weight?" Firstly, it's dull. Secondly, it's not targeting the person reading the article - what do they care about the difficulties "many people" have with losing weight? They only care about THEIR weight problem!
Try to come up with an opening paragraph that gives the reader that warm "Hey, this is about me!" feeling right away. Better still; try to generate a rush of excitement - "This could be the answer I've been looking for..."
Example: "The diet gurus make it all sound so easy: to lose weight, all you have to do is expend more energy than you take in. Huh! If it were that simple, the "Big People" stores would be out of business in a heartbeat. Luckily for those of us who are tired of diets, gyms and dull group meetings, there is a back-to-basics way to tackle this. A way that won't cost you a fortune or leave you feeling deprived."
3. Write As You Speak... Then Edit!
The sample opening above also illustrates the importance of the tone you use in your article. You need 'meat' in each article, of course, to make it worth reading - but make sure it's not indigestible!
You're better off writing your article in a natural, relaxed style that's akin to normal conversation. It doesn't matter if the first draft is a little too informal - you can fix that when you edit. Naturally you don't want to irritate your readers with a too-breezy style, but too-formal is worse. Readers may want facts, tips, and strategies, but they hope to be entertained, too! Let your personality shine through.
4. End On A High
What's one of the biggest problems with most articles? They fizzle out! Writers often don't know how to end on an upbeat note. They either just stop dead or they come up with a trite ending like: "So what are you waiting for? Get started today!"
The beginning and the end of your article are the two parts that make the biggest impression. Start by creating a feeling of anticipation... and leave them feeling satisfied (or excited) when you finish.
If you are offering advice to help them solve a problem (like obesity) gives your readers a reason to feel optimistic and good about them. Don't make rash promises... but do offer hope. If you are giving hints on marketing or business, sum up the benefits of acting on your tips. You can also experiment with using a pithy/humorous quote, or giving readers a specific action to get them started. Be creative - and don't rush it.
Here's a final tip: create an article-writing cheat-sheet for yourself. Divide it into beginnings/middles/ends and add more useful strategies as you think of them. (For example, using the tips in this article, you might write: ENDINGS - end on a high, offer hope, use funny quote, suggest action to get started.)
Do this, and you'll be steadily cranking out articles that everyone wants to publish!
Article by Terry Jackson.
You may be a small business that has just ventured into the world of social media marketing. You also have a great product and service. Do you know that you can market your product via social media marketing -- by blogging? While traditional ways still work, blogging is cheap and easy to do.
Well all know about Google, and whatever is listed on top wins this contest for that day. What’s the big deal with Google? Well, it’s because being listed at the top is free. Listing at the tippy top of search engines also mean a higher profit margin for your product and better business for you.
Blogging and article writing is a cheap, cost effective way to put your product or service in front of customers. It takes nothing more than your time or the time of someone you may hire to help keep up with the content. The big advantage of blogging is that it’s “organic,” which simply means that your product marketing via the blog stays in the search engines. This gives you free traffic on a constant basis.
Getting to the top of Google is a feat that anyone can do whether they are the largest company in the world or a tiny home-based business. All it takes is consistency and of course some understanding of your product. Blogging your product is a great alternative to traditional media, and if you get others to blog about your product, then you are really aiming for the top of the Google chart.
If you keep seeing a name, it starts to sink into your memory. This is basically the same strategy to increase your search engine optimization (SEO). To maximize this effort, you want to spread your company’s name on as many useful websites as possible whether it be a social networking site or maybe a search engine.
Having your company be active on different sites. This will increase the average user’s knowledge of your company. Here are some ways to do this.
Use blogs and free social networking websites to post articles about your company.
--Make comments on other blogs or social pages.
--Aside from posting articles, you should try to leave comments on other sites – especially ones that have similar interests to your company. What can happen? Users will check out your company’s profile on the social networking site and your webpage. Make it meaningful or it may get deleted.
Wikipedia: get your company on it.
--When something comes up on Wikipedia, people assume that it is credible. It is after all the modern enclyopedia. But getting on it can be a challenge. It usually requires a Wikipedia-approved writer. Also, some people do not know that it should come from someone other than at your company and should be newsworthy. Another plus to Wikipedia is that it feeds directly into Facebook and that means more chances that people will connect to your company. Wikipedia entries often show up at the top of search results.
Sell your product on multiple websites.
--Aside from selling your service or product on your own website, why not try Craigslist, eBay, and Amazon.com? By putting your product on these types of sites, you can increase the links back to your site and increase your SEO for organic search.
So, just like commercials, the more information about your company available to internet users, the better it is for business. Of course, the information can’t be a jingle; instead it needs to be helpful information on history and service. By doing this, you will increase awareness of your company and reach a wider pool of potential clients.
Over 85% of people contact businesses they find in local searches. That's why 100% of businesses need to be online! Your local business has many options, to remain current online such as a website, business facebook page, social networks, videos, blogs, online ads, etc. Even for businesses with a limited marketing budget, there are ways to promote your business online. Here are 10 free ways to promote your business online:
Here’s a good tongue twister for the day? Say “Build a Better Business Blog” three times!
This mantra can be difficult to say but small business blogging shouldn’t be that big of a deal. There are blogging tips and guidelines to help your small business create not just a blasé blog but a successful internet marketing tool that will ultimately bring more business.
Here is a basic checklist to review each time you are just about to publish your blog:
These days, it seems everyone blogs about something. Most won’t follow any type of rule. But if you want your blog to help grow your small business, you need to do it correctly. With guidance from these tips and plenty of practice, just like the tongue twister, you are bound to get it right.
In the old days, direct marketers could tell you which day of the week was the best day to send a direct mail piece out on. Then there was e-mail marketing. Studies show that you should send your e-mail marketing message out on Thursday because you'll get more opens and click-throughs on that day. But what about blogging?
Blogging is a little different. Unlike e-mail or direct mail marketing, with a blog you can achieve high search engine rankings. The more you do it the better your chances of seeing your content rank in the top 3 positions on Google and Bing.
With that in mind, then, every day of the week is the best day to blog. In fact, you could say it's better to blog three or four times a day every day of the week. After all, not only is quality important, but quantity can get you there as well. Ideally, you'll focus your content on quality and quantity. But let's face reality. You do have a budget.
So when should you blog? How often and when? You should blog as often as you are able to and as often as your budget will allow. When you blog, focus on your efforts on delivering high quality content that talks to your target market in terms they can understand. Otherwise, what's the point?
Here in Adams County, there are still small business owners who think that Internet marketing doesn't apply to them. But there are a growing number of small business owners who are taking an interest in online marketing. And they're starting to ask questions.
Which is more important - blogs, e-mail marketing, or social media?
That's a good question, but the answer isn't so simple. All three have their places and to what degree you engage through each channel depends on your own marketing goals, the type of business you own, and where your audience is. In many cases, a good mix of all three is the best approach.
E-mail marketing is a mainstay of online marketing. It was an early channel and is still strong. I highly recommend an e-mail strategy for most businesses - especially retail businesses.
Blogs are good marketing tools for a number of reasons. First, the search engine optimization benefits are incredible. Secondly, there are the huge branding opportunities available for serious business bloggers. Then there are the social benefits involved in having a blog that is highly trafficked and elicits a lot of direct reader feedback.
Finally, social media is good for building relationships and driving traffic back to your own Web properties.
Which of these tools is right for you? Maybe we should talk about it. Give me a call and I'll consult with you on a strategy that makes sense for your business.