In the previous part we had a look at the different types of pages your blog needs and what should each of these pages contain. These pages form an essential part of your blog, and getting them right is important.
Today we will be looking at content creation process. Content is the lifeline of your blog. Once the framework is in place, your blog needs content to bring it to life. Creating quality content is important in order to bring in readers and gain popularity in your niche. However another aspect of content which will impact your blog’s success is the presentation of your content. Right presentation encourages your readers to share your content and make it popular.
Lets have a look at what you will be learning in this part today.
So lets get started with designing some awesome content for your blog.
Designing Content for your Blog
Creating quality content is as much science as art. In depth research on your chosen topic, is essential and equally essential is writing and presenting these research findings in the right manner.
Here we will be looking at the different steps that will help you design great content, that compels readers to share comment and like it. Lets look at the different steps and what they entail.
Content Creation Process:
Step 1: Define Your Target Audience :
Your blog is going to cater to your audience, so the better you know them the better your blog can function. Defining your audience in as detailed manner as possible is a good idea.
Who are you writing for? Let's say you want to make a blog about movies, lets define my audience for this blog:
- Whats the age group of my audience? – 13 – 25, 25 – 40, 40 -60, 60+
- What are they looking for ? – Movie Review, song list, Movie cast, Information on actors, New Releases
- Where is my audience online? – Are they on any social media channel like FaceBook,Twitter etc, or do they come from Movie forums, or does the audience search on Google about movies
- What other blogs, websites or places does my audience visit online? Other blogs, forums, wikipedia, imdb
- What are your audience's hobbies and personal interest?
- What motivates your audience?
- Does your audience prefer more or less images on site? which type of images do they prefer?
The better we can define the audience, the better we know what to write & how to present it. Best Bloggers are not those who write the most well researched, or most in-depth article. Best bloggers are those who write what audience wants, and present it in a manner that the audience would like to read.
Brian Dean has done a great post on getting converting traffic where he mentions how he was writing detailed post a nutrition, but wasn't getting any audience, because his audience didn't really want to read detailed analysis. Goes to show even the best of bloggers learn a lot as they grow.
Step 2: Find out what your audience wants to know
Now that we know well about our audience, it is time to find out what the audience wants to know. This is very important.
Imagine you go to the newest restaurant in town, it seems to have amazing ambience so you have high hopes of spending a great evening. As you wait for your menu you realize nobody is placing menu or taking order!! Whats this you wonder. Meanwhile a waiter comes by, and pours you the finest white wine, but you would much prefer red wine. As you try to explain this to the waiter he walks off. You are left to stew with white wine. Waiter serves your appetizers, you don't know what it is, because nobody ever asked you what you want. You realize its seafood, but you are a vegetarian! As you try to explain the waiter your predicament he walks off again. Thats it. You walk out of the restaurant.
This is precisely what will happen with your audience if you do not know what they want. Only when you know what your audience wants, can you write and present information that will be liked and appreciated by your audience.
So how do we find what the audience really wants to know? Check out the following places to get a feel of what your audience is discussing, what interests them, what they want to know more about, what would they like to explore further.
- Q & A sites like Quora, Yahoo answers, etc
- News sources
- Comments section on Competitors blogs
- Content Curation sites like BuzzSumo
- Social Media space – FaceBook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn
- Check what Google Autocomplete tool suggest when you type in keywords from your niche
- Set Google alerts for the key terms in your niche
Whatever is trending, and generating interest and conversation amongst your audience on these spaces is what you need to write on. These are topics your audience is searching for. If you write content on these topics, marketing that content to your audience will be pretty straightforward job.
Step 3: Develop a Tone for your Blog
Think of 5 of your closest friends. If you were to invite them to dinner, how would the dinner table conversation be like – A would crack jokes and make everybody laugh, B would do serious talk about world politics, C would be debating with D about the latest controversy in news, While E would be observing the happening on the table. You of course would be preparing the meal 🙂
Each of your friend has a distinct personality, a way of interacting and being around others. This defines them, and makes it easy for you to connect with them. You know you can joke with A, debate with C and E is happy with minimum conversation. You know your friends. If left to themselves, your friends if they do not know each other well might find it difficult to hold conversation amongst themselves. A would try engaging E in conversation, and both would end up feeling unsatisfied, because they don't know each other’s personality or interaction style well enough.
Similarly every blog needs a personality, a way of interacting; so that your audience can know your blog and decide how to relate with it. This is what is referred to as your blog's tone. Since you write and create your blog, hence you set its tone and this is also referred to as writing tone of the blog.
Will your blog be humorous or will it be serious, or maybe it will take a conversational tone. Maybe you prefer sarcasm. Whatever it is you need to decide and set the tone at the onset of the blog itself.
Most bloggers prefer to set the tone of their blog as an extension of their own communication tone. It gets kind of tough for a funny person like A to write in a serious tone which people like B would appreciate. Its much better to stick to your natural tone.
However if you can be versatile then check out the market. Explore your niche and see which is the most popular blog tone. Dig further and check if there is some tone missing from your niche and maybe your audience would like to read more in that tone.
For example, lets look at the movie niche again. Most blogs in this niche are conversational in tone, with a couple of humorous ones thrown in the midst. How about you write a blog with serious tone? Will it be appreciated? Does your audience really want to read serious tone in movie blogs? Or would a controversial tone earn you more readers?
Answering these questions will help you develop a writing tone that will interest your audience and guarantee you more visitors.
Step 4: Define a Writing Style for your blog:
This might seem boring work, but believe me it goes long way in building loyal audience, and brand recognition both. Everybody loves familiarity. the degree to which a person likes familiarity might vary, but everybody loves it.
If you develop a writing style right at onset of your blog, and stick to it, this becomes another point for readers to get familiar with your blog. Look up 5 top bloggers in your niche, if you follow them regularly, after a while if I show you a article and ask which blogger wrote it, you will be able to identify the correct blogger, without any external indicators. This conclusion you will draw from the writing tone and style. Thats how important both these factors are.
We are looking to develop this same level of comfort and recognition about our blog. And for this consistent writing style is important.
Your writing style will be composed of following components:
- Introduction – How will you introduce your posts. You can make it short or long, funny or to the point. Pick your own style.
- Grammar – If you are writing in English, will it be American or British. Some grammer, certain words and some connotations will vary as per language so take a pick and stick with it.
- Capitalization – You might choose to go with the regular grammar capitalization of Proper nouns, etc, or you might choose to capitalize important words in your post. You can also choose to use all capitals in your headings.
- Formatting – How would your post look. Which text will be bold, where will italics and underline be used. How large will fonts be, will headings be in different color, will important points be in bullet style or in block format, how will quotes be formatted. What bullet will be used for points. There are numerous such small details which will develop the final look of your postl. Keep this look constant and your readers will love you.
- Images – Will you use less or more images, or maybe non at all. Will the images be from Google or from image sharing sites.This will be particularly important if you are making an image rich blog. What will be the standard image size and so on.
You will need to initially work on all these finer points to develop your own unique writing style. Once you have it in place then whenever you make a post, you can quickly edit it to fit right in with your blog, and lend readers the familiarity of how your post will flow and look.
All Set. Here are 5 Blog Post Ideas to get you started
- Make a cool infographic on some popular topic in your niche
- If you can take on some touch love, critique some famous person/technique/blog in your niche. This will lend you some quick eyeballs, but might earn you some notoriety as well.
- Share a secret with the audience it can be anything relevant to your niche. share it. Everybody enjoys secrets, and especially dirty one, like how you made your first sales 🙂
- Your blog doesn't need to be about you all the time, expand further and once in while write about other people. It can be fellow bloggers, somebody famous in your nice, or maybe just a random person you came across whose story touched your heart. If the stuff pulls some emotional cords, your audience will not mind reading it.
- Giveaways are quite popular, everybody loves it. As a blogger you get traffic and interactions, readers get their prize and the giveaway company/product gets some nice publicity. If you can manage to source items of Giveaway, host one right away. And do tell me too, I will join in as well 😉
Every once in a while even the best of writers face a writer's block, source of inspiration dry up and you wonder why you started blogging if at all 🙂 Happens with me on regular basis. To combat those ‘out-of-idea' days, here's a small compilation of some sources from where you can draw inspiration for your next post.
13 Post idea’s to cure your Writer’s Block
- Curation – If you cannot come up with new post ideas, how about collecting the ones that other have come up with. Find out the most popular questions in your niche. You can be sure there must be tons of blogs out there who might have written post answering these very questions. Explore these blogs, separate the best from the average and create a curated list of the best answers/ solutions to the most popular questions/problems in your niche.
- Ask Readers – Evergreen solution, ask your readers what they would like you to write about. This way you not only get content ideas, you also have ready audience for you content. You can run a poll asking readers to choose amongst some post ideas you already have, or simply ask readers to reply in your comments section with their suggestion.
- Interview Someone – Approach some of your blogging colleagues in the same niche and reach out to them with interview proposal. Some of these colleagues might have interview topic suggestion up their sleeve already while with some other you might be able to work out on a topic mutually. Do the interview via Skype, email, or in person.
- Guest Writer – Invite over some blogging colleagues to post on your blog. All you will need is some guest posting guidelines to make sure your posters content is in line with the writing style of your blog.
- Case study – Pick up some product or technique which you use, have written about or is currently being used in your niche, and work a case study around it. How to use it, its effectiveness or how it can be improvised.
- Review Something – Any new product, technique or process in your niche. Pick it and write a review on it. Make the review interesting and useful for your audience. Occasionally you can review something unrelated to your niche as well. If a popular brand has launched new mobile and if you have brought it, you can share your experience about it with your audience.
- Share success/ Failure – It can be something small or something big, size does not matter – share it. In most niches audience loves to connect with the bloggers on a personal level once in a while, and when you write about your success or failure you are creating this connection. It will be a doubly successful post if this success or failure is related to your blog topic.
- Rehash old post – Things change with time. You might have done a fabulous post on some topic 6 months or maybe even a year back, with time new developments might have happened in the topic. Bring out your old post, rework the developments into it, and voila! you have a whole new post.
- Comb through competitor's Website – While you should regularly follow your competitors website, in times of idea crunch it's a good idea to borrow a bit from your competitors. Comb through their blogs and find the most popular content. And there's a topic for you to write on. Either improvise on what already written, or write your take on the matter.
- Invite your readers to do a guest post – Once you have regular blog followers, you will have enough audience to pitch them the idea of guest post on your blog. People who subscribe to your blog/follow you would love to be featured on your blog. Matthew Woodward recently did one such reader guest post on his blog, about how to make money via elance
- Create a list of Jargons used in your niche – While old timers are comfortable with all the jargons, newbies find the jargons baffling at times. Also you can include some obscure terms and some funny terms, which might get your jargon list some interesting comments.
- Answer a Comment Question – Often a reader might pose an interesting question in the comments section, something thats big enough to warrant an entire post on it. Pick up any such question from a reader and write a post answering it. Anna Hoffman has done one such detailed post on her blog Traffic Generation Cafe, explaining all there is about Pinging
- What ….. can teach you about ……. – Mash up two thing, something famous with something useful. This kind of post works in most niches. Find out something that's popular or well know in your niche, it can be a movie/tv/book/comic/celebrity/character or anything similar, now pair this with a useful topic in your niche. For example Lets Take Superman & pair him with ‘how to protect your blog from Hackers'; here is few potential topic for us –
- What would Superman do to protect his blog from Hackers
- 10 Things we can learn from Superman about Blog Protection
- Superman v/s Blog Hackers -( I could make a cool infographic on this:-)
Now we know what we need to consider when designing content for our blog. Also you have some topics to give you a jumpstart on your blog. Great content will bring in readers from far and wide and help make your blog popular. You can read Matthew Allen Post on how he Used a [Mostly] Content Only Strategy to Grow a Brand New Site to 400+ Daily Visitors.
Make sure you keep writing interesting content at regular intervals. Nothing kills a blog faster than unscheduled posting. Loyal readers prefer knowing when they can expect a post from you. Posting once a week followed by once in a fortnight and then posting every alternate day dose not build consistency. Consistency fosters loyalty, hence ensure you are consistent in your blog posting schedule.
In next part we will be looking at how you can brand your blog. Different components that impact your blog branding and how you can control them to build a strong and positive brand image for your blog.
Until next time, make sure to like, comment and share underneath about your content creation process. As always all questions are welcome, I will try my best to answer your queries ASAP.
Also read How to become an expert blogger