As a professional writer, it’s easy to feel daunted by writing content marketing blog posts – especially when you have a lot to do. Even if you are given a specific brief, you might still have questions in your mind, such as “will anyone really care about this blog?” or “how am I going to make this content engaging and interesting, when I don’t know everything about the product?”.
You’re certainly not alone. Even seasoned copywriters occasionally feel overwhelmed when they face the blank page.
Here are our tips that help dissolve blocks and get the creative juices flowing again.
Know your audience
Whoever you are writing for, the first thing to start with is the audience. Discuss this in detail with your client, and be thorough in your research of who they are and where they ‘hang out” online. Look at what they are saying about the brand via social media and review sites.
Try to build up a detailed picture of how they think. Do a news search, to see what the media is saying about the brand and its products.
You should also develop a buyer profile or customer persona for each type of customer that you target. We’ll be writing more on that in coming weeks.
Know the products or services being offered and what problem it solves
Whatever the product or service it always needs to solve a problem or satisfy that need the consumer has. Here are two things to contemplate:
- Understanding the thinking that keeps people reading – “why should I stay here rather than going somewhere else?”
- Understanding the thinking that leads to genuine interest in the product – “I really want this and can only get this from you”
Although content marketing blogs aren’t about selling directly, you still need to engage and captivate your audience – building trust along the way.
Generate ideas – freely
The very first thing you need is a place to keep your lists – lists of ideas. Lots of them.
It doesn’t matter where you keep this list – on a pad of paper, in your smartphone, on a bunch of brightly coloured Post-it Notes on the wall. All that matters is that you have somewhere to write ideas down – in as free a way as possible. You can discard ones that aren’t right later.
You can also use a blog idea generator, such as Hubspot’s.
Start to get organised
Once you have a load of ideas down, the hardest part is done and you can get down to work. Here’s what to do next:
- Start with the obvious. What does your audience want to know about? What are they already searching for? What headline can you create to capture their attention and convert to interest? Can you break this question or theme down into smaller subheadings?
- Combine more than one of your ideas into the blog. Perhaps some of your ideas would work well within this post? This can take things into an interesting direction and open up exciting areas of your content.
- What are others writing about? Take their inspiration. Have a look at what leaders on this topic are saying, have they written list posts on this topic? How have they approached the initial theme or question? How have they structured the content and has it worked?
- What type of content is it? For example, do you want to include images, embed videos or even create or link to an infographic? Blogs that include images and other media tend to engage people more effectively and get more shares.
A lot of copywriters worry about how long it can take to write a blog post, especially when deadlines are looming. So, writing swiftly is an advantage. The key to this is to deliberately separate out the writing and editing processes.
Writing is about getting your thoughts on the page, expanding on ideas in the moment and adding in any essential stats, quotes or other research that supports your work. Once you’ve got the key ideas down then switch to editing mode – work on honing the general structure, then work down in the level of detail until your paragraphs build logically and your sentences flow nicely.
Finally (almost) look at your headline – this is arguably the most important element of your work. Make sure it’s zingy enough to get people to click through but also accurate enough that it matches with the content of your post – no-one likes bait and switch headlines. Think you’re done? Not quite. Now you need to become a proofreader checking for spelling and grammar errors (at least) and revisiting any clunky sentences or inaccurate adjectives.
Here are two methods that can help with writing content quickly:
- Free writing. Take 10 or 15 minutes to write freely everything you can think of on the topic. Don’t worry about the structure, grammar or spelling at this stage – just write. Anything you write that is inconclusive or unsubstantiated can be dealt with later, don’t worry at this stage, just get it all down. Important points, structure, fleshing out etc., can come later. Set a timer so you know when to stop and to help manage your time.
- Outlining and filling in. Start by writing your headline (topic) and then write all the subheadings that form part of the theme and add credence or weight to your topic. Once you have a good structure, write about each subheading individually – focusing on just that part of the blog. After that move on to the next subheading. Write in this way solidly in one pass, then go back and fix things later.
Make friends with the editing process
Whatever you do, you absolutely must edit your work. This is totally essential.
- Edit twice – Or even three times.
- Read it aloud – This will give you a different perspective on your blog. You’ll be able to hear if you’ve missed anything and it will force you to slow down to catch any small mistakes or phrasing that doesn’t quite work.
- Fact check – Any facts you include in your blog, make sure you check them, at least once. The same goes for any technical terms you use. Don’t make presumptions.
- Sleep on it – Coming to something with a fresh mind is a great idea and will help you think more clearly about the blog and how it comes across. If you can’t sleep on it, then come back to is after 2 hours to do the final check.
You can always improve, but it’s the process that gets you there
Writing blogs professionally is never a static thing, and you can always improve. However, the process you set out is essential for the success of your content. Without a process, you’ll likely run out of ideas and creative energy.
If you have any questions or tips to share, please share them below.