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100 Blog Posts Later: What I Learned and What You Can Learn, Too
As an unmarried 20-something, I like to joke around about being “always a blogger, never a bride.” I first started blogging in college in 2009 as part of a class I was taking at the University of Pittsburgh. Back then, I thought blogging was basically just like keeping an online diary. I never thought of it as a lead generation tool for businesses, and I certainly never thought it’d be such a huge part of my career.
But here I am writing my ONE HUNDREDTH (that’s 1-0-0-th) post on Blue Corona’s blog. Part of me would love to give a breakdown of exactly how many words I’ve written, how much traffic I’ve brought into the website, how much of that traffic has converted into leads, and more; but at the risk of looking like I’m just tooting my own horn or hinting to Ben Landers that I deserve a bigger bonus (HI BENNNNNN), I’ll focus my attention elsewhere.
You don’t do anything 100 times and not learn something along the way. Content marketing isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, so chances are you might eventually decide to start a blog for your business or attempt to resuscitate the one you let die back in 2011.
So for my ONE HUNDREDTH blog post, I’m going to share what I’ve learned while writing the past 99.
Keeping an Editorial Calendar Helps
When Ben Landers first told me he wanted us to start blogging five days a week on Blue Corona’s blog, I was definitely up for the challenge, but I was also a bit intimidated. I had a much bigger client workload back then, and making sure we had enough content to fuel our daily blogging fire was largely going to be my responsibility.
So I printed out a blank calendar for June 2013 and Ben and I made categories for each business day of the week:
- Monday: Subject matter expertise post day
- Tuesday: How-to post day
- Wednesday: FAQ post day
- Thursday: Industry specific post day
- Friday: Casual Friday post day
Once I had the categories, I worked on filling in the blank calendar squares with post ideas for each day in that month. This usually took me between one to two hours to complete for an entire month’s worth of post. Side note: this project was my excuse to use the magic markers in the office:
I never said it was fancy. Old school, my friends. Old school.
If I wouldn’t have made a monthly editorial calendar, it probably would have taken me a half hour each day just to come up with a topic.
When it comes to publishing content on a consistent basis, an editorial calendar acts like a pacer during a race to make sure you reach your goal.
Write a Combination of Timely and Evergreen Posts Each Month
Evergreen posts are great; you can prepare them ahead of time and they’ll still be relevant no matter when you post them. If I had down time at work, like right before or after a holiday, I capitalized on this time to stockpile evergreen blog posts for when I’d get busier again with client work.
But when I talk about timely posts, I’m referring to posts that offer commentary, insight, or basic education on an event or bit of news that just took place. Bonus points if you can break the news yourself.
Timely posts allow you to take advantage of the hype surrounding an event or news and potentially turn some of that hype into traffic for your website.
For example, if you’re in the SEO industry and you notice that Matt Cutts JUST tweeted that Google’s updated its algorithm, that’s the subject of a timely post. Get that sucker up on your blog ASAP.
You can also take advantage of events and news that don’t on the surface seem to directly relate to your industry.
For example, while most of the world is glued to Winter Olympics coverage, you could write something like “An Olympian’s Approach to Google Penalty Recovery.” Okay actually that was awful. Please come up with something better.
The More Niche You Can Get, the Better
At Blue Corona, Thursdays were our industry-specific blog post days, where we’d tailor our topics to some of the main industries we service (HVAC, plumbing, remodeling, etc.).
Because these posts were so hyper specific, they were more likely to rank, and they were also more likely to convert.
For example, imagine how hard it would be to rank for something as vague as “What Does a Good Website Look Like?” However, it’s not nearly as hard to rank for “What Does a Good Remodeling Website Look Like?”
That’s just my buddy Alanna chillin’ in the number one spot. No big deal.
You Will Never Run Out of Things to Blog About
Maybe a better way to say that would be to say there’s always something to blog about. Just because you’re dry on ideas doesn’t mean you’ve already blogged everything there is to blog.
With that being said, inspiration sometimes does wear thin. Here’s where I go when I’m scraping the bottom of the blogging barrel:
- Talk to the people who regularly interact with your customers. These people know exactly what kind of questions and concerns your customers have. Address them in a blog post.
- Follow as many people in your industry on Twitter as you can. When you run low on ideas, spend 10 minutes browsing through your Twitter feed.
- Subscribe to as many industry email newsletters as you can. Set up a rule in Outlook (or if you’re too dumb like me, do it manually) so that these email newsletters go directly into a specific folder called “Inspiration” or something similarly tacky. When you’re running low on it, hit up your inspiration folder.
- My boss sends me blog ideas much faster than I can crank them out. To make sure I don’t lose any, I set up a “Blog Ideas” folder in my Outlook. I prioritize these over the “Inspiration” folder usually.
- When all else fails, use an analogy. My coworker Alanna is the queen of this. She’s somehow compared our industry to Mario Kart, Game of Thrones, etc.
Track Your Efforts
It’s absolutely vital that you have a system in place to accurately track your company’s blogging efforts. Blogging definitely requires a decent amount of resources, so it was important that we justify those resources with proof that we saw an increase in traffic, leads, and sales from our efforts.
Don’t Be So Vanilla
Not everyone finds your industry as fascinating as you do. I think my boss Katelyn said it best when she said, “If my friends knew how much I knew about Analytics, they probably wouldn’t let me sit with them at lunch.”
That’s why we declared Fridays “Casual Fridays” on the Blue Corona blog. Sure, these posts don’t attract as much search engine traffic as most posts, but they’re more likely to get shared around social media networks and they also give us a chance to showcase our personalities—which is ideal when you’re as unfortunate looking as some of our team members:
Just be glad that Monica, Jake, and myself are better at SEO than we are at bowling.
I don’t even think I’m holding those balls right…
Hire a Content Marketing Company
Not all businesses have the time or resources to do in-house content marketing. That’s where Blue Corona comes in. Give us a call to see how we can help grow your business with content marketing. If you tell them I sent you, I’ll rewrite your homepage for free.
About The Author: Blue Corona is a data-driven online marketing company with offices in Gaithersburg, MD and Charlotte, N.C.
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