Writing a regular blog is one of the best ways of keeping a flow of leads coming into you website. But what happens when you can’t think what to say next? A thoughtful guest post from Sharon Tanton.
- Be niche. Narrowing your focus makes it easier, not harder to think of things to write. Having the whole world to write about is daunting – where on earth do you start? – but writing about your own area of speciality is more manageable. Plus the more you can say about your specialist subject the better – it proves your expertise.
- Listen. Knowing what your customers and clients are talking about is sound business practice. You’re probably signed up to the relevant forums, and you already network in the right places – so keep an ear open for blog ideas as well as business leads. (Note them down as soon as you think of them – it will help the process by getting your subconscious chewing it over before you’re ready to start writing properly.) Answering the questions your clients are asking makes your blogs relevant and timely to your target audience – just the kind of valuable content your website needs.
- Research. Keeping ahead of the game makes sense, and is a great source of blog material. Plus being inspired is a great state to write in. If you’re itching to share what you’ve learnt, chances are you’ll write something engaging – enthusiasm is infectious
- Keep an eye on the calendar. Date themed blogs can work really well – I wrote one for Valentine’s Day that was heavily retweeted. Even though it felt a bit cheesy to me (‘what good writing has to do with love letters’), it succeeded because people like to have something seasonal to tweet. A good trick is to get it out there a couple of days before the date, as sometimes blogs on Twitter take a while to take off.
- Think headline first. If you’re using social media to promote your blog, then it will sink or swim on the strength of its headline. Which headlines make you click? Write about your subject in this stye.
- Play. Don’t be afraid to fool around with your material – writing should be fun and some of the best comes from experimenting. Draw up some outrageous lists and see if you can make them stand up.
- Be controversial. Write ‘why I hate consultants’ or ‘social media is for losers,’ and see if it works. (NB I wouldn’t recommend writing really negative blogs – no one wants to work with a misery guts – just using the platform as a springboard for a blog that will grab attention.)
- The comparison game. If you’re stuck for something to say, trying comparing your subject to something else entirely and see if it takes you anywhere. ‘Why good web design is like Christmas,’ or ‘What Top Gear can teach us about marketing.’ Sometimes these posts work brilliantly as thinking round your subject makes for really creative and engaging writing. (Of course, sometimes they don’t work at all, but I bet the process will have sparked a better, more sensible idea!)
- Focus on one client at a time. You don’t need to name names, but writing about how you helped one particular client with a problem will fuel interesting blog writing. Keeping it personal means your writing will be full of real details that demonstrate precisely how you help.
What’s your top tip? What helps you when ideas are drying up? I’d love to know.
Sharon Tanton is a director at Valuable Content, a two-woman band on a mission to shake up the way people communicate, for happy, successful businesses that do good for the world.