Most people I know fall into one of two categories when it comes to their blog content struggles – either they have too many ideas and can't focus on a niche or they have a niche but struggle to consistently come up with ideas. Personally, I've been in both positions at one point or another, but as of a few months ago, I finally figured out my sweet spot. It only took like 6 years…
For the purposes of this post I'm going to assume that you're a blogger / biz owner who wants to grow their audience and grow their sales. Which is probably most people – because blogging “just for fun” seems very 2009 to me. And now I feel old.
Understand your “why”
Your blog has a purpose. When you're planning your content, it's helpful to remember your “why” – what are you trying to accomplish through your blog? I blog to share my knowledge with my audience, to build trust with them, to humanize my brand, and to promote the products and services that I offer. I don't blog about what I did over the weekend or what color nail polish I'm wearing (anymore) because I know that's not something that my audience really cares about. When I plan my content I ONLY think about the topics that will educate, inspire, or entertain my audience in a way that relates to my purpose.
Sometimes you need to go wide first
Everyone in the world is probably telling you to focus on a niche. BUT – I also think that sometimes you need to explore a lot of things to figure out what you really want to blog about. Same goes for your target audience – you NEED a target audience, but I actually don't think it's a bad thing if you work with a number of different types of people in different industries at first. You may even realize that you don't actually want to work with the people you thought you wanted to work with!
In relation to your blog content, it may help to start with a brain dump of ALL THE THINGS you could write about in relation to your “why” – with a ton of ideas, you will probably see a few different categories emerge, and then you can narrow down your specific post topics from there. You could also skip the brain dump and start with a few select categories and only think about post ideas that fit into those specific categories – whatever works for you!
What do you know?
The awesome thing about knowing your purpose and knowing your target audience is that once you have these things in place, blogging is easier. If you know what they want to know, you always have something to share. How do you know what they want to know? If you already have clients / customers, think about the questions that they ask. If you're just starting out,
stalk them do a little research wherever they hangout – search Facebook groups, observe twitter chats, creep on Instagram, etc. And chances are, YOU relate to your target audience in some way, so think about the things that you wish you had known 2 or 3 years ago!
I literally keep a running list in Evernote of FAQs – not only because one day I may actually create a FAQ page, but also because it helps me come up with blog post ideas. I currently have so many blog post ideas that I will probably never get around to using them all, but that's not such a bad problem to have! If someone in your target audience asks a question in a Facebook group or in a Periscope comment or in a one-on-one meeting, write it down! You'll be surprised by how many ideas you will come up with just by LISTENING.
Make the most of what you already have
If you've been blogging for a while, you should be paying attention to analytics. Your old blog posts can tell you what topics your audience is really interested in – I keep track of not only which posts get the most traffic, but also the posts that get the most engagement (comments, social shares, opt-ins) and the posts that result in the most revenue. Think about how you can expand on those popular posts to write new content. For example, 10 ways to grow your instagram following was my most popular post in 2015, so last week I posted 3 more instagram strategies. I also included a content upgrade for both of these posts with a checklist of the 8 things you should be doing for every instagram post, and as of today, that content upgrade is converting around 50% which is a nice bonus!Your blog has a purpose. When you're planning your content, it's helpful to remember your “why” – what are you trying to accomplish through your blog?Click To Tweet
Create a schedule that works for you
If we rewind back to 2010, you'd see I was the type of blogger that went from posting 5 days a week to once every other month… I lost a lot of my audience and a lot of subscribers during that period because I was so inconsistent. Don't be like the old me. If you can't regularly publish a new post 5 days a week, don't try. Pick one day, two days, three days… most people would agree that quality is more important than quantity when it comes to blogging these days, and personally, I'd rather see one really valuable post a week from someone than several “meh” posts. If you only have 10 hours a week to work on your blog and it takes you 5 hours to complete a post, basic math would tell you to do 2 posts per week… but that doesn't account for all of the OTHER things that go into blogging – social media, networking, community building, photography/design, and editorial planning are only some of the other things that you may need to find time to do, so make sure you factor in time for all of your tasks!
Back to the point
Or perhaps I should say, back to your purpose – every blog post you write should have a clear call to action that directly relates to your purpose. Whether you are asking a question to encourage discussion or directing your blog readers to buy your product or you are telling them to click on a link to download a freebie, you don't want your audience to walk away without doing something.
A few helpful tools
To plan my blog content I (currently) use Asana to brainstorm post ideas and for my specific tasks / project management. That sounds like a lot of tools for one end result, but it's the system that works best for me (and all of those tools are free)! Before you get into ANY of that, you should have a solid blog content plan in place – by creating a plan, you will be able to better address the needs of your target audience, focus on creating content that converts, and streamline your blog workflow! I've put together workbook of blog planning exercises to help get you started which you can download for free below!