Once upon a time, blogging was the domain of a few internet-savvy people, journalling their daily lives. Fast-forward to 2018, and the blogosphere is a very crowded place. How do you make yourself and your content stand out? How can you get people to visit your blog, interact and return again and again?
We’ll share with you 11 of the key tips that we’ve learned about creating good blog content during our decade of writing and publishing.
Research your subject
Even though you may know a lot about your chosen niche, you can’t know everything. That’s what the internet’s there for! Stuck for ideas? Find inspiration for your content creation. Most importantly, visit other blogs that publish content in a similar vein. Every blogger worth their salt needs to size up the competition! Spend a few minutes or more browsing sites like Pinterest and StumbleUpon; flick through books & magazines. Lastly, attend events in person – blogger meet-ups, press days and launches are fab ways to get ideas, network and meet new people.
What are you good at? What do you know about? What are you interested in? Do you suffer from wanderlust? A travel blog is a perfect way for you to share your recommendations for stay-cations and trips abroad. A parenting blog can be a useful tool for stay-at-home mums & dads to connect with like-minded folks. Have you just got engaged? Then, it’s a good time to make and share your plans via a wedding blog. A general lifestyle blog can incorporate all these different segments as your life takes its different twists and turns.
Know your audience
Getting to know your audience helps you develop your niche. Find out who your readers are; investigate your visitor numbers and how many pages they visit. Demographic information including their age range, gender, location, whether they’re likely to have children and the type of device they use to visit your blog is all available from sites such as Google Analytics, Quantcast and Alexa.
Content is king
Perfect use of grammar, punctuation, vocabulary and spelling should go without saying. Check, recheck and recheck again your content before hitting that ‘publish’ button. Use a catchy subject line. Pitch it right – don’t use too much jargon, cliché or acronyms. Make it interesting; use humour and find your ‘voice’.
There are a number of tools you should be using to ensure your copy is in tip-top shape. There’s a free version of Grammarly which helps you improve your sentence structure, punctuation and check your spelling. Activate the built-in spell check if you’re using a CMS such as WordPress or Blogger. Make sure your settings are set to your mother language – in our case, UK English as opposed to US, CAN, or AUS. Save thesaurus.com in your browser for when you encounter that ‘tip-of-the-tongue’ moment. Ditto, dictionary.com – sometimes you need to check if a word actually means what you’re trying to say, or find out that the adjective form of the noun ‘adjective’ is… ‘adjectival’!
In your own words
Under no circumstances plagiarise other people’s content. Firstly, it’s just rude. Also, you (and they) may be penalised by Google. Lastly, your credibility will be seriously damaged. If you must use other people’s words, enclose them in quotation marks and credit them using a link, if appropriate. For example:
Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe. Albert Einstein
If you want to use someone else’s image, contact them for permission first. If you don’t receive a response and you still want to use the image, credit the source and include a link back to the website or web page where you found it.
Consider the layout
Make use of headings, paragraphs, bullet points, numbered lists, bold fonts & italics; but don’t go overboard. Make it easy to read, otherwise, visitors will click away somewhere else.
Ensure your content is accessible to disabled people. Think about your visitors who may be visually impaired. Include alt tags for all your images for those that use a screen reader. Set your font size large enough to make the text easy to read. Make certain the contrast between text and the background is easy on the eye. Dark grey, sans-serif text on an off-white background, is ideal.
Break up text-heavy posts with photos, diagrams and illustrations. There are a number of websites where you can download copyright-free stock images for use in blog posts. Two of our favourites that offer high-quality, eye-catching photos are Pexels and Unsplash.
Make short, informative, relevant videos. Upload them to YouTube or Vimeo and embed them into your posts to save on your precious hosting space. Being stored on YouTube/Vimeo also makes them available to a global audience.
Don’t play hard to get
Be SEO-friendly – If your blog is on the WordPress platform, Yoast is one of the first plugins you should install. There is a free and a premium version (currently £69). It makes light work of inserting SEO title, focus keyword(s), meta description and so much more!
Go international – Do you have a fairly large foreign readership? Use tools/plugins to make your blog multi-lingual.
Share your hard work
It can be time-consuming, however, cross-posting your content across social media is essential. Luckily, there are a number of free scheduling tools at your disposal. We like Postcron, which allows you to share and schedule posts (with images) on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn and others… all in one go!
Engagement goes both ways
Regularly leave relevant comments on other blogs and Instagram posts. Pin/repin other people’s Pinterest images. Join groups in your niche on Facebook, comment on posts and engage with other members. Doing these things often results in people going to check out your blog.
Analyse your stats
Which of your posts get the most hits? What subjects are the most popular? What gets commented on and shared the most? What time of day is the best time to post? Conversely, which of your posts get no attention? Can you go back and improve them?
Continuously tweak and work on your content. Over time, and with experience, your blogging will steadily develop and improve. Do you have any other ideas for creating good blog content? Share your content marketing tips below!