How To Develop Epic Content For Your Blog [Q&A with Jimmy Daly]

These days if you want to differentiate from competitors, boost brand awareness and loyalty, and connect with more prospects online, you have to be willing to invest in content marketing. But you can’t just create and publish mediocre content on your blog on a consistent basis—that’s not enough to stand out anymore. You have to really WOW people.

We recently talked with Jimmy Daly, head of content at Vero, and asked him to answer a few of our questions in order to help small business owners understand how—and why—to develop epic blog content that people will love. Read through our questions and his answers to find out how to get started:

For business owners new to the content marketing game, what advice do you have for picking the right blog topics to write about?

Stay true to your core business and write about things you know. That way, when the reader is ready to move on from the “information gathering stage” to the “ready to buy” stage, the hand-off is practical.

37signals has nailed this for years. They’ll write a great post about remote work, then follow up with “Hey we have this great tool that makes it possible.” The content becomes practical when there is an incentive for the reader to continue through the funnel.

Where are 3 places business owners can go to or tools they can use for deciding on a topic?

1. Reddit: Great conversations happen here in just about every vertical and niche. Find a few relevant subreddits and keep an eye on the conversations.

2. Google Analytics: Setup goals to measure which posts convert. Identify the best ones and double down on your success by expanding on the content or writing about related topics.

3. Quora: People likely won’t ask you questions about your product/service directly but they will ask on Quora. Find a few topics relevant to your business and pay attention to what questions people ask.

Why do you think high-quality content is such a powerful lead gen tool for businesses today?

It’s the classic signal vs. noise problem. There is SO much out there and so little of it is good. Even worse, so much content under-delivers on expectations. When readers finally find something they great, they are eager to dig in.

What are some best practices you can share when it comes to creating epic content?

Before you spend hours and hours writing, make sure that the topic makes sense for your blog. When someone reads this, will they have a better understanding of your why your product/solution solves their problem? And do you have a logical next step for readers to take?

I see too many epic efforts wasted chasing pageviews. Chase customers.

What are some things to avoid or stay away from when it comes to creating epic content?

This is just a personal suggestion, but the world does NOT need another infographic. If you want to use a new medium, experiment with something — anything! — else.

On a more practical note, I recommend shying away from flashy headlines. Your headline should let people know what to expect without giving it all away. Then, you have the opportunity to over-deliver. If you go with an “Upworthy” style headline, you run a real risk of drawing people in and leaving them disappointed.

How important is promotion when it comes to the overall success of a piece of blog content? What are the top 3 ways businesses can promote content?

Promotion is it. Don’t even write the post if you don’t have a plan for promotion.

1. Link building: Use your network of peers to build links. Then, make new friends. It might feel strange but making friends online is the best to get links. Also, think outside the box. We put a lot of design effort into our content and sometimes get links from design blogs. It’s not our core audience but it really helps with SEO.

2. Conversation seeding: Use sites like Reddit, StumbleUpon and any other forums in your industry to seed conversation. Just be sure to do so tactfully. If you’re caught promoting content red-handed, you risk getting banned from these communities.

3. Build in opportunities for sharing. If you write a list post, make sure each point has a tweet-able headline and a button so people can share it. Do the same thing with great quotes and numbers.

Any great resources or techniques you want to direct our readers to that can help them master content creation and promotion?

This post has gotten nearly 40,000 pageviews and more than 1,000 email addresses. Here is exactly how we wrote, designed and promoted it:

I highly recommend Brian Dean’s site Backlinko for great SEO ideas. And check out the Signal v. Noise blog from Basecamp. For my money, it’s the best content marketing ever done.

Any other final tips or advice you’d like to share with our readers?

Think big.

If you can’t imagine your content spreading around the world and getting read by the smartest people in your industry, take a deep breath,  quiet your lizard brain and create something you are really proud of.

Jimmy Daly is the head of content at Vero, a behavioral email startup and the editor of Swipe File, a weekly marketing newsletter.

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