4 Steps to Creating Great Blog Posts When You're Pressed for Time
Having a plan for your business blog allows you to create great content in less time.
Having a company blog is really important. But if you’re anything like me, you’re often pushed for time, and writing new content sometimes doesn't get the time or attention it deserves.
That needs to change.
Done right, business blogging can help you establish yourself as an expert in your industry and give you the authority to pull in customers and cement their loyalty. Guest blogging, for instance, exposes you to a new audience and helps you connect with influencers in your industry.
Over the years, I've discovered some simple habits that help me write great blog posts in less time, allowing me to create content consistently without sacrificing in terms of quality. I'd like to share them with you.
Step 1 -- Be systematic.
For effective blogging, you need to have a plan. You need to adopt the mentality that blogging is a powerful marketing tool rather than a leisure activity.
Assuming you’re starting from scratch, the first step might sound a little trite, but you really have to know your audience. This helps you set the general tone for your posts. Would they prefer it formal and professional or informal and chatty?
Your industry can help you predict the kind of tone you should use, but generally, a mix of formal and informal makes for the most impactful content. Whichever tone you use, you won’t be read by everyone -- and that’s okay. The goal is to create a loyal fan base.
You also need to be clear on the type of content you publish. Choose a specific niche -- your niche -- and stick to that. This will help you stay focused and appeal to a specific audience. After all, you don’t have enough time to write across industries.
The third most important thing is to organize your time. Stick to a writing and publishing schedule. If you can only write two days a week, do that consistently. Writing and publishing randomly will not only reduce your effectiveness, but also deter your audience.
Step 2 -- Use outlines.
Do you ever find yourself moving from one idea to another and then back up to the first idea. In the end, you have a post with a flow so poor that not even you can read it without wincing? It might be because you didn’t set an outline first, or you set it poorly.
Creating an outline makes it easy for you to think through a certain topic by helping you visualize a post before writing. That way you know which ideas you'll be presenting and in which order. Outlines also help you avoid writer’s block by breaking down the subject into more manageable chunks.
By creating outlines, you can easily tell if you’re communicating your point as clearly as it sounds in your head. For instance, you can have an outline where you explain a point in three sections -- introduction, supporting facts and conclusion. Once all three sections are sufficiently filled, you can comfortably move to the next point.
Also be on the lookout for inspiration. It’s the middle of the day, and a prospect just asked you a question you think could make for a great blog post. Jot it down, and get back to it. By using a tool like Evernote, or just creating a note in your smartphone, you can create an outline and continue building it up on the go. This reduces the amount of time needed when you actually sit down to write.
Bottom line -- more time on preparation means less time writing and editing.
Step 3 -- Keep it simple.
People want access to as much online content as they can get in a day. They want to wake up the next day and find more. For this reason, most people who come across your blog post won’t read it in its entirety.
So, how do you use the blog post to provide value to the same people you know won’t read it from top to bottom? Simple -- be brief. Always go for the least number of words to make a point. Clear and concise writing requires frugality. This saves time for both you and the reader.
Also, practice writing in the active rather than the passive voice. For instance, say "police raided the premises" instead of "the premises were raided by police." The active voice is shorter than the passive by two words. When you add it up it really makes a difference.
Another way to keep things brief is to use visuals like images, video and infographics in your text. People love visual content, especially on social media.
Step 4 -- Repackage existing content.
Sometimes you’ll momentarily run out of blog post ideas. It happens. At such times, repackaging existing content, especially by industry experts, is a good idea.
As the name suggests, content repackaging means changing the format of existing content and republishing it in a new format. Sometimes it involves updating it without changing the format.
Think about all the blog posts you don’t read because they’re too lengthy and simply because you don’t have the time. You’re not alone. There are readers out there who wish they could find shorter versions of certain online content. So why not create a condensed version? Just remember to give full credit to the original author. For instance, you could have the headline that reads “6 Key Takeaways From XYZ.”
You can also republish SlideShare presentations, videos or infographics as blog posts. The opportunities are endless. However, unless you’re running a content curation site, don’t overuse this tactic as you might lose credibility or misrepresent the real purpose of your blog.
I can’t overstate the benefits of business blogging. It doesn’t necessarily need a huge investment of your time. Sometimes it takes under an hour to write an insightful blog post that will keep bringing traffic to your site day after day, month after month.
Tony Messer is the co-founder and CEO of UK web hosting company Pickaweb. Having worked with thousands of small businesses, ecommerce retailers and startups, Tony knows what it takes to grow an online business. He is the author of two books on online marketing.