When I look back at my early days of blogging—or rather, “article marketing,” because when I started there were no blogs—I laugh at my naïveté. But hey: none of us knew what we were doing with content 10 years ago. We’ve learned and perfected our craft along the way. Still, if I could give 10-years-younger Susan some advice, here’s what it would be.
1. Don’t Think So Hard About Keywords and SEO
We’ve been up, down, and all around when it comes to SEO (thanks Google). What worked in 2006 became a red flag on search engines a year later. Rather than try to adhere to a T to every tweak of the Google algorithm, I’ve learned just to write naturally. I find that the keywords just come. If I’m writing about “how to write a blog article,” I’m going to use that phrase. Measuring keyword density and only choosing highly curated keywords? It’s overkill.
2. Block Off Time to Write
I write a lot of content for a lot of clients. I used to write one here, one there, switching between clients and topics. My brain felt fried. Now I have a system: I block off a chunk of time and write several articles at once. I find that because I’m already in the vein of thinking about that industry and have resources open on my computer that can help for more than one article, the writing flows faster.
3. Prioritize Your Own Writing
You may only write content for your own blog, in which case you are prioritizing your own writing, but for me, writing posts under my name comes at the bottom of the list behind those I get paid to write. But it’s essential that I continue to create content to brand myself, so I try to move it up the priority list. If blogging takes a back seat to other activities, consider it an investment in the future of your business.
4. A Good Image Speaks a Million Bucks
I used to use Creative Commons for free photos, but the quality really varies and I can’t always find what I’m looking for. Last year, I bit the bullet and signed up for a stock photo subscription from PhotoSpin. For under $500, I get as many professional photos as I need to enhance every blog post.
5. Inspiration for Blog Content Is Everywhere
Once I broke out of only looking for content ideas in business books and blogs, my writing got a lot more creative. I’ve been inspired by everything from the Beastie Boys to a Brazilian churrascaria, and those posts always end up being the best received.
6. Read Everything Out Loud
Spellcheck only gets you so far, so my tip here is to read every article aloud. You’ll catch grammatical inconsistencies, like using “then” where you needed “than,” and find places where you stumble when reading. From there, you can rewrite and edit to your heart’s content.
7. Editing Is a Good Thing!
I’ve never liked being edited, and my ego has been hit plenty of times by someone with a giant (virtual) red pen. But the fact is, other people help make me a better writer if I’m open to the lessons.
8. The Best Article Is Worthless Without Promotion
You can write the most perfect, engaging article in the world, but if you do nothing to tell the world about it, it will sit like a bump on a log. Build in promoting every post you write on social media, and make it simple for people to share posts from your blog. Do you have FeedBurner set up so subscribers automatically get your new posts? Do you have a sharing plugin like AddThis so people can share with one click?
9. Analytics Help You Get to Know Your Audience
Writing is just one side of the blogging equation. The other side involves understanding your audience so that you can better the content you deliver to them. Take a peek at your analytics to see which posts are the most popular. These are topics that people want more of, so brainstorm a list of ideas that will piggyback the success of those articles in the future.
10. It Is Possible to Continually Come Up With Interesting Content Ideas
Ten years ago, I never could have imagined coming up with new content year after year after year. And yet, there is always a new way to say something. You have a unique point of view. Use it to stand out from the sea of similar blog posts.