Blogger’s Guide to Creating Better Content
Yesterday I wrote about the effects of creative blog content. Now that you know about all the benefits that come with creative content you may be wondering what you can do to improve your posts. Regardless of what topics you blog about and what your blogging goals are, content creation is a huge part of being successful. There’s no way to get around the need for quality articles. With that in mind, here is a guide that will help you to maximize your content creation abilities.
Prioritize Content Creation
As a blogger you’ll always be pulled in several different directions when allocating your time. While there are many essential, time-consuming activities, content creation and writing should certainly be very high on your list of priorities. Other things like reading and commenting on other blogs are important, but they should not cause the quality of your writing to suffer. Some blogs post several times each day, while others may only post a few high-quality articles each week. Whatever your posting frequency, content creation needs to be a priority if you want to have a blog that draws loyal readers.
Know Your Subject Well
The quality of your content will obviously be affected by your level of knowledge of the subject. If you haven’t already chosen a topic, consider those that you know well. However, you don’t necessarily need to be an expert right away. The great thing about blogging is that you will learn more each day. If you’re not going to pick a subject that you know well, you at least need to be willing to spend a considerable amount of time learning more.
Even if you are making money with your blog, it’s difficult to keep going sometimes. Those days when you really don’t feel like putting forth much effort will be less common if you choose a subject that you’re passionate about and that you enjoy. Not only will it be easier to dedicate time to, but your quality of writing will be better and your readers will see and experience your passion.
With millions of blogs out there (and more coming everyday) it’s not easy to stand out. Successful bloggers have made a conscious effort to differentiate themselves from other bloggers by creating unique blog content. If your readers and visitors feel that they can get the same content somewhere else they’ll be much less likely to come back on a regular basis. You’ll have far more success if they see your content as something that can’t be found anywhere else, and they won’t want to miss an article.
Spend Time on Brainstorming and Idea Generation
A huge part of being unique is creating new and interesting ideas. In the first point I mentioned that content creation should be one of your most time-consuming activities. Article writing and content creation does not only involve actually writing the post. The time spent coming up with ideas is just as important. A very well-written post on subject that’s already been covered by every other blog is unlikely to create much interest from your readers. On the other hand, a so-so article on a completely unique and thought-provoking subject will create much more interest. Ideally, you’ll have a combination of great ideas and well-written posts. (For more information in idea generation, see Brainstorming Techniques for Bloggers.)
Know Your Audience
Because blogging is very conversational in nature, you’ll be more successful if you really know your audience. Knowing your readers will make it possible for you to cater your content to them.
Know What Your Audience Wants from You
Part of knowing your audience is knowing what they want to gain from reading your blog. You can’t effectively serve them unless you know what they want from you. Some bloggers accomplish this by using polls or surveys to see what their readers want to read about. You can also accomplish this by paying attention to the comments left by readers and by reading email that you receive.
Know What Will Cause Your Readers to Respond
When a new visitor first arrives at your blog one of the first things they’ll probably notice is the number of comments on your posts. You can make a great first impression by having a high number of comments and some valuable on-going conversations. Over time you’ll see that certain types of posts create more of a reaction from your readers than others. Comments aren’t the only type of reaction you’ll want from your readers, links are another. Creating content that others will want to link to is part of growing a larger audience.
Make Your Posts Readable
Regardless of how well-written your blog posts are, a big part of their effectiveness involves readability. Online readers are more likely to scan than read, and if they like what they see when they’re scanning, they’ll probably stop and read the whole thing. Making it difficult for your posts to be read is a great way to get them ignored. Make use of white space, bold text, lists, headers, etc. and your readers will be able to quickly digest the post. For more information, see my post 10 Keys to Effective Writing for the Web or Pro Blog Design’s post 30 Ways to Improve Readability.
Pay Attention to Grammar and Spelling
Anytime your writing will be seen by other people you should make an effort to keep it as professional as possible. We’ve all been on websites and blogs where everything looks great but there are a few glaring mistakes that seem to draw your attention. Most blogs are a little bit more laid back than some other types of publications, so you may have a little bit more flexibility, but proofreading is still important.
Engage Your Readers Quickly
You only have a short window of time to grab your readers’ attention before they move on to another site, especially with first time visitors. Use titles and opening paragraphs to draw in the reader and create interest. Get to the point as quickly as possible. Many times shorter articles will be preferred by your readers.
Part of creating an effective blog post is the timing with which it’s published. Some blogs specialize in breaking news. In this case, they obviously have to find and publish the news faster than anyone else. Trends are also an important aspect of being timely. You’ll want to cover topics that are hot, but do it in a unique way that hasn’t been done before. I remember a month or two ago when BlogRush was released. The first few articles I read on BlogRush were interesting and they caught my attention. But 3 days later when some blogs were writing almost identical content that had already been published by thousands of others, I skipped right over it.
If you want to create repeat visitors (which I’m sure you do), you’ll need to give first-time visitors something to remember. High quality, useful content is obviously a great way to be memorable. This is one reason why having a unique theme design is important. Free themes are fine for starting off with, but if you hope to take it to the next level you’ll probably need a premium theme or a custom design to help readers to remember you.
Have a Clear Goal
Each blog post you publish should have a purpose. The goals you have for your posts will depend on the style of your blog, but it should be clear to your readers. For example, is the blog post written to be informative, thought-provoking, funny, helpful? Most blogs write for the same purpose with most of their posts. Either they write for humor or they write to inform their readers (any something else). Readers come to expect a certain type of post from you. If you typically write informative, resourceful posts and you make an attempt at a humorous post, make sure that it’s clear to readers that the post is supposed to be funny, or it can confuse readers and backfire on you.
Create Marketable Content
One of the things you will learn throughout your blogging experience is that certain content is easier to market than others, especially with social media websites. By considering marketing while you are creating content you will be able to reach a larger audience.
Always Be Learning and Improving
Regardless of how well you know your subject, you should always be learning. Read other blogs and magazines to constantly stay on top of things and your readers will benefit. In addition to just learning about your topic, strive to learn more about marketing your blog and you’ll see better results.
What else would you add?
Published November 8th, 2007 by Steven Snell