I talk a lot about things like email lists, online courses, and webinars. And yes, those things have been hugely important to my business’s growth and meaning, but they’re not indicative of how everything got started or what I consider to be the “headquarters” for my business.
Instead, creating a blog and writing blog posts has been the foundation by which I’ve been able to start and grow multiple online businesses.
In fact, my blog has helped me earn money from income streams like…
- Creating a successful web design studio.
- Launching a physical product shop with art prints and greeting cards.
- Earning money through affiliate marketing, advertisements, and sponsored brand collaborations.
- Coaching and consulting.
- Teaching online courses.
It’s also the place that has made the most impact in growing my email list and connecting to my audience. Simply put: I think every business owner — no matter which niche or industry you’re in — should create a blog.
I also believe that if you identify as a “blogger” (rather than business owner or entrepreneur), then you are in an impossibly powerful position to leverage your blog as a way to grow a larger audience and make money online.
But with all that said…blogging is not as easy as slapping together some words and hoping people read them. Your blog (and more specifically, your blog posts) needs a strategy. So, in today’s post, I’m explaining — top to bottom — how to excel at blogging as a way to grow an audience, earn an income, and affect people’s lives.
First, why is it so important to create a blog? Here’s what your blog can do for you:
- Help you grow your email list and audience.
- Act as a starting point for making sales.
- Produce engagement and fans.
- Build authority and credibility.
- Grow your traffic.
Yes. ALL of that. Kind of like a quintuple whammy, yeah?
For those reasons, I truly believe that a blog is an essential ingredient for people who want to create profitable online businesses — no matter what you’re selling.
Businesses that don’t have blogs often have trouble attracting clients, take longer to be seen as leaders in their field, and struggle to grow their email lists because of a lack of traffic to their website (or they have to pay massive amounts of money in Facebook Ads just to get traffic to their site).
And fun fact: businesses that use content marketing (blogging, essentially), earn up to 6x more than businesses that don’t.
So, in this post, I’m deep diving into blog content. And specifically, how to excel at it so that you get all of the benefits out of your blog as you can.
So, let’s travel, step-by-step, through how to write great blog posts and then use them as a way to grow your list and business. Game ON, my friends.
1. Come up with an idea for your post (there’s more strategy to this than you might think)
Before coming up with your blog post topics, ask yourself…
- How does this post help me make more sales? Does it lead into a sales funnel opt-in? Does it attract potential clients?
- How does this post help me stand out as an authority in my niche? Does it accurately reflect my skills?
- Is this topic going to solve a problem for my target audience or clientele? How will it help one of their burning struggles?
There’s no shame in sharing something super valuable that both helps your readers and grows your business. Yes, you may want to create some content that’s just for fun and doesn’t necessarily relate to your products, but doing that for every post (without a monetization gameplan) means that you are growing a hobby, not a business.
Out of ideas? Check Google Analytics for topics that tend to perform well on your site or create a survey for your audience that asks them which topics they need help with most.
Also, consider questions that your target clients or customers frequently ask you. Can you package those answers into a blog post?
I also recommend creating a spreadsheet of topics and questions that seem to come up again and again, as this is an easy way to pull ideas for future blog content.
But how do you know which topics will actually attract an audience? Well, you need to make sure that you’re targeting topics that people are searching for right now. In order to figure this out, I recommend using Google Adwords Keyword Planner, which is a free tool to help you find keywords and phrases that people are searching for on a regular basis.
For example, in the image below, I originally searched for “Pet Photography” (assuming I was a professional pet photographer). These are some of the keyword suggestions that popped up:
You want to look for keywords with a low or medium level of competition and a decent amount of monthly searches (if the monthly searches number is very small, it could mean that that keyword is just not something people are searching for).
Of the two keywords I highlighted above, which one do you think I’d recommend for a Pet Phographer?
If you said Dog Photography…you’re right! While Pet Portraits may be relevant, it has a High level of competition, whereas Dog Photography has a low level (meaning there is less content to compete with, giving you more opportunity to appear higher in the search results on Google).
You can also search for different keywords, like “Dog Portraits,” “Pet Photography Los Angeles,” etc. Refine your keyword search until you find one that is both relevant to you/who you’re trying to attract, and has the right amount of searches and competition.
Pro Tip: Use long-tail keywords, which are 2+ words in length. I would not target the word “Photography” because it’s way too broad. Get a bit more specific with your keywords in order to rank higher in search engines.
Psst…want my “Perfect Blog Post Checklist”? It’s a free download you can get by clicking the button below. 🙂 It’s a great asset to print out and keep handy whenever you go to write a new post.
2. So, you’ve got a keyword. Now what?
Make an outline of the content you want to share.
This will help you organize your ideas in a cohesive way and ensure that you are only including step-by-step, actionable information that has a specific trajectory for your reader.
Aim for creating content that is “the ultimate resource” on that particular topic, rather than short posts that lack much helpful information.
One infographic I found (from 2013) suggested that there are over 150 million blogs on the internet. I suspect there are many more than that now (which doesn’t even begin to consider how many blog POSTS exist…we’re likely talkin’ in the BILLIONS here).
So, naturally, you need to pump up your content if you want it to stand out.
But hey…don’t feel overwhelmed just yet! Many of the blogs that exist online DON’T have a gameplan in terms of writing killer content and will often share brief posts that don’t leave a lasting impression on their readers.
You, knowing otherwise, have an obvious advantage to create something even better. 😉
3. How to make your blog posts stand out among the rest
1. Shoot for at least 1,500+ words (many posts of mine are 2,000-3,000) — > Just the outline I wrote for this post was 800 words.
2. Make your content ACTIONABLE. A lot of the content online is just NOT.HELPFUL. Raise your hand if you’ve ever read a blog post that contained fluffy information you could’ve figured out with common sense?
The key difference in writing actionable, rather than fluffy information, is in telling someone HOW to do something, rather than just WHAT to do.
For example, I could’ve just said above, “use Google Adwords Keyword Planner to find keywords for your post.” Okay, kind of helpful? You’d know WHAT tool to use…but not how to use it.
But instead, I shared a screenshot of what you’d see. I also explained how to interpret the results so you can find your own keywords.
This is the difference between sharing WHAT and HOW.
And of course, this works no matter what you’re blogging about. If you’re a hairstylist creating a blog post with “3 Hairstyles for the Holidays,” don’t just share images of those hairstyles. Instead, show step-by-step photos and directions. Create a video, if you’d like.
Make it so that whoever reads that post leaves it KNOWING how to replicate those hairstyles. This is the difference between creating a blog full of inspiration vs. information.
Inspiration is awesome. I love being inspired. But here’s the difference: Inspiration makes me WANT to achieve my goals even more. But it doesn’t tell me HOW to achieve them. #WhatATease.
3. Divide your content up into smaller sections
Our culture is shifting to a place where we want to consume more, faster. Blogs need to adapt to fit the mold. You’ll notice that in this blog posts, I have short paragraphs.
I know that big chunks of text turn people off. I know that readers prefer headings, bullet points, and short paragraphs.
Some people complain about this. “How annoying that our culture won’t even read a paragraph anymore! Everything sucks! People are stupid!”
Well, no. They’re just changing. And while others are complaining, I’m adapting. 🙂 I recommend you do the same.
Now, you might be thinking, doesn’t this seem counterintuitive to writing long posts?! Not quite, and here’s why:
People are busy, so they like content in easy-to-digest chunks. But we also live in an era of authenticity and information. Marketers are now focused on sharing value vs. sharing fluff and salesy-ness.
We live in the Era of Information. Your audience WANTS to learn and dig deep, but they just want to do it in a way that matches their short attention span and need for engaging info. 🙂
4. Your post should solve a problem. This goes back to my point about sharing information, rather than inspiration. You will attract a much larger audience if you can show them how to solve a problem vs. simply sharing “ideas”.
Yeah, this is a lot to remember. Which is why I created the Perfect Blog Post Checklist. Click the image below to download it so that you don’t forget any of the steps in this post:
4. SEO-ify your content
Remember when you picked a keyword in step one? Well, that wasn’t just so that you could come up with a topic for your post. If used correctly, it will also help your post rank higher in search engines, bringing more organic traffic to your site (resulting in more subscribers and sales!).
So, once you have your keyword, where do you put it?
- The title of your blog post. Ideally, at the beginning of your title.
- In the URL of your blog post.
- Several times within the content of your post (feel free to use variations of your keyword here).
- In the headlines (H1, H2, etc) of your blog post.
- In your image file names (i.e. “dog-photography.JPG”)
- On your Pinterest image (take a look at the image I created for this post at the top for an example)
- In the alt text of your images (before inserting the image into your post).
Most of that will come naturally as you write a post on your topic anyways. You may just need to do a final sweep before hitting “publish” to see if there are other places where you should be putting your keywords.
Overall, SEO-ifying your blog content does not take a long time and is mostly an intuitive process. But if you do it right, it will result in you creating a blog that gets heaps more traffic from Google and Pinterest.
5. What is the next step for this piece of content?
Ultimately, your blog content should be the first step in a path that you’re sending potential customers on. Having someone simply visit your blog is not the end goal. Really, that’s just the beginning.
The end goal is typically making more sales of your products or services.
And the way you typically achieve that end goal is by first attracting people to your blog, then getting them to join your email list, and finally using your email list as a way to share value and pitch your products.
But how do we bridge the gap between “blog post” and “make sales”? Well, there’s a few things to consider…
1. You want to attract potential customers/clients. This means that your posts should be focused on things your target audience would be searching for.
Your content should also flex your authority (by sharing actionable value with your audience) and solve a problem for your peeps.
2. Use your blog to grow your list. An easy way to do this is by adding a “content upgrade” to your blog post, which is some sort of downloadable, extra piece of content. Here’s an example of a content upgrade I’m offering for this blog post (which yes, you can download right now!)…
By using this simple strategy alone, I’ve been able to attract tens of thousands of subscribers to my email list. This is also a great list-building strategy, because you KNOW that you’re attracting people to your list who are genuinely interested in what you’re selling (since your blog posts and content upgrades are related to your products).
You’ll notice that I’ve included a button to download my “perfect blog post checklist” several times throughout this post.
I recommend you do the same, giving your readers multiple options and reminders to download your content upgrade (and therefore, opt-in to your email list).
3. Have a plan of action after someone opts in to your list.
It’s one thing to grow an email list full of your target audience. It’s another to have a plan and strategy in place as to how you’ll turn those subscribers into customers and clients.
Again, I recommend creating your free content around the products and services that you offer so that it’s very easy to promote products that your audience actually wants.
But I do also recommend creating a sales funnel to ensure that you’re making sales on autopilot.
Click here to read a blog post all about how to make money with your email list. It’s the perfect “next step” after reading this post. 🙂
Alright, my friends, I hope this post helped you realize the major importance of having a blog, and how to use your blog to grow your audience and income. 🙂
Got questions? Leave a comment! Let’s chat.