If you’ve been blogging even for a short while now, you are fully aware that there are a lot of blogs out there and it’s tough to get your own blog content noticed. Lost in the articles about SEO and keywords and email lists is an obvious question: how can you get your customers to love your blog content?
Because, after all, if your customers don’t love your content, all of that other advice is dust in the wind.
Find Ideas That Customers Love
Great blog content, before any words end up on the screen, start with ideas. They have to be good. All the beautiful writing in the world won’t hide bad ideas. So, where do you find ideas to write about?
1. You must know who your customer is.
If you’re out on the sales floor, working directly with customers, you already know who your customer is. You know of specific customers, and you know the types of people who have become your customer.
If, however, you are removed from direct contact with your customer, you need to do a bit of work.
Talk to your sales staff. Ask them about who your customers are. Begin to understand your customer demographics.
Create customer personas. Come up with three to five “typical” customers, and create a detailed persona. List their interests, their concerns, what they care about, what they’re worried about — anything you might know about a real customer. You will refer to these as you create content.
2. You must know what they want to read.
Again, if you’re working directly with customers, you’ll know what they want to know about and that translates into what they want to read on your blog. If you don’t have that direct contact, however, talk to your support staff. They are the ones receiving the comments, complaints, and questions. They know very well what your customers want to know.
Don’t forget to monitor your social media accounts. Your customers are talking to you there, and you can see what kinds of things they are sharing, too. Take note of what general interests your customers have. What causes do they care about? What makes them laugh? What kinds of things do they share the most?
Once you know what interests your customers, you will have ideas of what to write about on your blog.
Write Content That Is Fun To Read
Once you have your blog content ideas lined up, you’re faced with the biggest challenge: turning that idea into something fun to read.
1. Write introductions that make people want to read.
Introductions are tough to get right, but they are a lot like the headline — whether your reader actually delves into your post or not hinges on how well their initial experience with your post goes.
Your introduction must have a hook.
Introductions must prepare your reader for what they are about to read, but in the highly competitive world of blogs, you need to hook them, too. You need to stand out.
An interesting fact. Start your blog post off with an interesting fact. I use the word interesting, because not all facts are. Find something that is startling or surprising that ties into what your blog post is ultimately about.
Start at the end. Despite the fact that the introduction is the beginning of your blog post, try starting with the end first. This creates curiosity, and the reader will want to know how it resolves. State your conclusion, and then show you got there.
Tell a story. Everyone likes a good story. Start the introduction off with a story. Use a personal anecdote. A story that actually happened to you means more to the reader. Be funny or make an emotional connection.
Ask a great question. Using an question in the introduction can work, but not if it is a leading or rhetorical question. Ask a question that the reader would ask while reading your post, or one that is truly open-ended and makes the reader curious enough to keep reading to discover the answer?
Confront the reader. While brutal confrontation is not the way to keep blog readers in the long term, a gentle confrontation of your reader’s long held opinion, which your blog post hopes to dispel, is a good start. Your reader will immediately straighten their back and think “no way!” and read to see how you could possibly be correct.
Worry about your introduction at the end.
Yes, that’s correct. You’ll write an introduction when you start your post, but you will inevitably do a much better job of it if you rewrite it when you’re done. The post will have changed from your original focus, you’ll have a better understanding of the topic — whatever the case, go back and re-write your introduction when you are all done.
2. Avoid turning your reader off with these common mistakes.
There are a few things blog writers do that can turn readers off. Some are unconsciously done while others are things writers don’t realize people don’t care for. Definitely avoid these mistakes if you want people to keep reading your blog content.
Writing too much. There is nothing wrong with long form posts, but think of the guy who keeps talking about the same thing over and over. That’s frustrating, and that’s what happens when you keep writing long past making your point. Excellent editing after you’ve written a draft of your post, with a heavy dose of red pen, will help keep this from happening. Make your point, and then move on.
Phrases and jargon. Each industry has its own phrase and jargon lexicon. Try to avoid using that kind of language. Use clear, direct language instead. You don’t know who is reading — are they new to the topic and will be confused by the jargon? Are they jaded by the same meaningless phrases? When push comes to shove, you really don’t have to say…when push comes to shove.
Vague facts. If you make a bold statement — e.g. most men prefer steak over chicken! — then have some data to back it up. Avoid the use of words such as most, some, every, few whenever possible, particularly if you are able to link to a study that puts a number to that fact. “68% of men prefer steak to chicken!” is much more interesting for the reader.
Heavy market-speak. Use of sales-heavy language, hyping up our product, service, or abilities, is a turn-off for readers. They don’t want to read a blog post that tells them how great you are. They want you to tell them how great they are, or could be. Take it easy on market-speak and always focus on your reader, not yourself.
A standard approach. Getting stuck in a rut is particularly easy if you’ve been blogging a long time. Not every post should be that three-point outline. Some posts should be a story, some should be how-to, some should be proving a theory — whatever you do, take a different approach periodically.
One of the best ways to ferret out lazy writing is to read what you’ve written out loud. You’ll find linguistic oddities, poor grammar, clunky phrases, and all kinds of words to cut out.
3. Approach your idea creatively.
Writing blog posts should be fun for both you and your reader (yes, really!). This ties into avoiding a “standard approach”, as mentioned earlier, and approaching your blog topics in a different way each time.
Quick tips. Make a point to create “quick tips” that the reader can easily remember and take with them. Write a post structured around quick tip summaries throughout.
Use interviews. Interview a customer, staff member, or industry expert as a way to approach your idea from another person’s perspective.
Create infographics. Find the data in your blog content and sum it up into a handy infographic, ebook, or worksheet that your reader can take with them.
Write in lists. Readers love lists. It helps them know what they can expect from the post. Break your idea up into easily consumed lists. It will help you write more clearly, too.
Use case studies. Perhaps your idea is best served using a real life case study, or data you’ve gathered from surveys or your own years in business. Case studies appeal to readers who want solid proof before they’re convinced.
Share news. It’s OK to share news about your business once in a while, especially if you write about it in a way where your reader can see how it matters or affects their lives.
Link collections. Create blog content that is meant to curate and share useful content that others have created. Compile links, videos, and other online resources that your readers would find useful. Wrap it in “the best of” at the end of the year, or create such posts at regular time intervals so readers look for them as a regular feature.
Share stories. Share the stories that matter, both your stories, your customers’ stories, and your employee’s stories. This approach to blog content makes you appear human and approachable.
Teach readers. Write posts in a how-to format, and teach your readers how to do things that are related to your industry. If you sell lumber, show them how to make a few simple projects. If you are a restaurant, give them a recipe to try. Readers love to learn.
Review products. Review products and services that customers who are interested in your business would also be interested in. If you are selling cameras, review different types of camera equipment. Tell people what’s good, what isn’t, what prices to expect, and what they should look for. This is a particularly good approach for using videos.
Worksheets. Creating worksheets or checklists are not only helpful, but they are items you can brand with your name and logo that will get them seen offline, when they are printed out. Perhaps you are an accountant — you might want to create a tax preparation worksheet that your readers can use at the end of the year. Your blog post can talk about how to use it and why it works. Not everyone is into worksheets, but there are many people who love free printables.
There are so many different ways to create blog content, yet we all have a tendency to get used to one or two and stick with them every time.
4. Remember what your reader actually wants.
Your reader wants you to talk about them.
It’s not about you. It’s about your reader. What can you give them? How can you make their day better? What are you doing for them?
Even when you’re talking about your own product or service, you need to be talking about them. How they could use it, how it would make their life better — your blog content should be put in terms of the reader.
As you consider the topic you are about to write your blog post on, ask yourself a few questions to help get in the mindset of writing for the reader:
What does my reader need to know by the end of this post?
What questions are developing in their mind as they read the post?
What problem brought them to search and find this post?
When your reader is done with your blog post, they shouldn’t feel cheated, abused, or confused.
Make Sure Your Content Is Shareable
The final part of creating content your customers love is to create something that they aren’t ashamed to share. You want to make your readers look good when they share what you’ve written. They want to find something cool and useful to share with their friends!
Content that is valuable. It’s not fluff or boring, but has a particular value. It might be funny, helpful, unusual, emotional, informative — whatever it is, it adds value to the life of your reader.
Content that feeds a particular identity. You want to create something that helps your customers define themselves. One of the reasons people share is to let others know who they are.
The big takeaway on all of this?
Create unique content, using a variety of approaches, that has value for your reader. That sounds simple, but it takes consistent work to pull it off. You won’t go wrong if you ask yourself, every time you sit down to create blog content, why and how this matters to your reader. If you can’t answer those questions, scrap the idea or the approach and try again.How To Develop Blog Content That Your Customers Will Love Julie Neidlinger