This article is for you data geeks out there
My team has published about 852 posts as of yesterday morning.
Each post is roughly 700 words, which means we’ve written 596,400 words. According to Wikipedia, the “typical mystery novel might be in the 60,000 to 80,000-word range.”We’ll split the difference at 70,000 words which mean we have written the equivalent of 8 1/2 books over the last three years. Take that Malcolm Gladwell.
What did we learn from publishing almost every day for Pushing Social and our clients?
21 No-Holds-Barred Blog Publishing Observations
1. Develop a voice.
Your voice is how you sound in your reader’s head. It’s your fingerprint. No one can match it. Think about how you express yourself with close friends. That’s your voice. Businesses have a voice too. Harley-Davidson doesn’t sound anything like Viper. Dell doesn’t sound like Apple.
Don’t publish a blog unless it sounds like you or your company. It’s the only competitive differentiator you have.
Blogging is tough. It gets easier with practice.
Apps, techniques, best practices won’t help you if you don’t write and write often. Each of those 500 of those 852 posts took me 2 hours each to write. The remainder took about 1 hour. Why? Practice. I practice by writing at least 500 words every day. I’ve been doing this for four years now. I’m still not as good as I think I could be. This isn’t supposed to scare you; it’s meant to reassure you. Your first blog posts will stink, but they will get better.
By the way, hire us if you don’t have the time to practice.
3. Be Different
Your readers are swimming in a sea of me-too blog posts. It’s all white noise to them. Publishing yet another dry diatribe won’t catch their attention. Humans are wired to notice the thing that doesn’t fit. It’s our evolutionary warning klaxon that gave us a jump on the predator hiding in the grass. We dismiss anything that looks the same but give 100% of our attention to the stuff that is out of place. You need to be unique to win online.
Being unique isn’t easy and fast. It’s tough and profitable. You shouldn’t be in business unless you are willing to put in the work.
4. Have an Opinion
One of our clients is known for having a distinct opinion on any issue. Their customers describe them as “Black and White” – no gray. Their posts are sharp, distinctive, and decisive.
I used to be the master of verbal fence-sitting. This talent translated into lukewarm blogging drivel. I didn’t see any success until I got some guts and stated a well-researched but distinctive opinion.
Find where you stand and fight for that spot. Your audience and future customers will love you for it.
5. Don’t Write In WordPress
I use Blogo to write my posts. My writing team uses Google Docs. We avoid WordPress because it’s full of distractions. You’ll spend hours massaging the spacing of paragraphs instead of getting the darn post written. I would write in notepad if I could. The goal is to remove anything distracts you from writing.
6. Good Writing Takes Time
A good post takes time because of research, outlining, writing, and editing. Rushing any of these steps will result in garbage. It took about 300 posts for me to slow down and take my time.
I imagined myself as a blogging chef rather than a line-cook. I needed to produce a gourmet meal 52 times a year. You can’t create quality posts at scale if you only have 30 minutes a week to do it. Do yourself a favor and build time into your schedule to write.
Use our 5-Step Blog Creation System If you don’t have time to write but still need results quickly.
Outline your posts before writing. Creating an outline will cut your writing time in half. It doesn’t need to be fancy. As you can see from my outlines below, just scribble out some notes to keep you on track.
Next, follow the outline. Modify it in the editing stage, but get your thoughts on paper the first time through the draft.
8. Set a Timer
I know that I told you that “good writing takes time.” But, good writing should also be efficient. Your goal is to produce quality as quickly as you can.
The best way to do this is to write in focused spurts. You can do this if you discipline yourself to write for a small chunk of time, take a break, and then start again. This is called the Pomodoro technique, and it works. My cadence is 33 minutes write, 5 minutes break, 33 minutes write. After three years of practice, I can finish in an about an hour. Pick the cadence that works for you.
9. Find Your Framework
We use blog post frameworks religiously at Pushing Social. These frameworks allow us to start with a post outline that is a proven winner with the audience. On this blog, the Problem-Solution-Application framework works exceptionally well. We have designed custom frameworks for our clients based on their readership.
Find your framework by analyzing your most popular posts by shares, visits, and conversions. It’s likely that you’ll see a pattern show up in most of the posts. Discipline yourself to develop your post outline using the framework. Try it for a month to gather consistent data on the framework. If it is a winner, keep it. If not, keep looking. In a pinch, you can borrow frameworks from your competitors by analyzing their top posts.
10. Write More
Most people only write 500 words when they must. Ironically, writing one time per week is harder than writing every day. You are under too much pressure to create something amazing. You spend days procrastinating then 3-4 hours agonizing over a blank page.
Write a 500-word blog post every day for the next 14 consecutive days. Something amazing will happen around day 6. You’ll quit whining and start writing like a machine. You’ll pound out that post because it needs to get done. You’ll also create little techniques and rituals to get in the groove (or Flow).
11. Focus on Getting Search Engine Visitors
Google is the top source of readers for all of our sites (clients included). Google is where people go to start their research. Ranking well there is the best way to grow your blog quickly. I’ve spent the last decade studying Google, and I’ve come to one conclusion – Google wants to deliver the best search result possible.
Yep, it isn’t complicated.
Offering a steady supply of fascinating content is the best SEO strategy. Google will find the content, evaluate its usefulness and index it. I recommend selecting a handful of keywords that best describes your content. Keep these keywords handy as you write. Your goal is to create relevant content that organically includes your keywords. That’s it.
This simple “heads-down” strategy has generated hundreds of thousands of visits from Google for our clients. It will work for you too.
One more thing. Go to TheShortCutts.com to get quality SEO advice from Matt Cutts – the head anti-spam guru at Google.
12. Become a Curator
We love content marketing and blogging at Pushing Social. Follow us on Twitter (@pushingsocial), and you’ll get a steady curated feed of #contentmarketing articles. We’ve recommended similar strategies for our clients in their specific niches.
Your goal is to become the #1 curator of information about your niche. Committing to this job will attract an audience interested in your content. As your audience grows, so will your traffic from social networks. In our experience, this curator strategy is the most effective way to attract quality traffic from LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.
13. Promote Your Readers
You gotta give to get.
When is the last time you retweeted a readers blog post? Do you maintain a list of reader twitter addresses that you check at least weekly? Tell me this… What is the best way to catch the attention of your readers? How about promoting them on your social platforms? It works.
— Nacho Garcia (@01nachogarcia) July 8, 2015
Most of our social traffic to blog posts comes from readers we’ve retweeted, liked, or shared in the past. If you sign-up for any of our tools or blog updates, you’ll receive an email asking for your Twitter username. We promptly tweet a shout out to you from Twitter (@pushingsocial) account.
— Stanford Smith (@pushingsocial) November 25, 2014
After curation, this little bit of love has generated the most goodwill and traffic.
Look for the chores that you do the same way every day. One of those chores for us is promoting blog posts on social networks. Each network requires a specific style, has its distinct best practices and procedure for updates. We’ve automated the process of updating the networks via the CoSchedule plugin.
Each minute saved here can be used to research, outline, write, edit, and publish content. Let smart apps and bots do the other stuff.
A quick disclaimer before the “be human” police chime in. Automate the stuff that doesn’t require personal attention. Check your social networks periodically to thank, encourage, and support your followers. Be smart.
15. Repurpose Your Content
Take your blog post, modify it, and use it on other content hubs such like Pinterest, iTunes, and Slideshare. You’ve spent the time crafting memorable content; you should get as much use out of it as possible. Repurposing content is the best way to turn 852 posts into 1,704 hard-working content marketing ambassadors on multiple platforms.
16. Content Worth Buying
Blog posts are products. It’s better if you think of them that way. Every blog post adds value to your product or service so invest the time needed to make them exceptional.
17. Use Content Upgrades
Your blog’s sidebar is very close to being worthless real estate. Go ahead and stick your latest promotion there, but assume that it won’t perform well. The best place to promote is within your blog post. Think of it as Native Advertising, where your blog post pre-sells the item you’re promoting.
The term content upgrade refers to including a bonus tool that supplements the content and helps the reader get more from the post. Of course, the readers get the tool by giving their email address. For the moment, content upgrades are the most effective way to build an email list and generate leads. You can see an example of a content upgrade in this post.
18. Solve an Aggravating Problem
Blogging used to be about publicly journaling your life. It still is for some. For you and I its about building a business; this means we must solve problems. I tried opinion posts, brutal transparency, and other feel-good tactics. They did make me feel good but hurt business too.
Now I solve problems. The more aggravating, the better. You should be a problem solver. Everyone has a problem, but only a few have real solutions. Find the solution for your readers and blog about it.
19. Fill the Funnel
Your blog’s role in your marketing plan is to fill your sales funnel with pre-sold prospects. Your blog does this by demonstrating your expertise. It also gives your readers a way to anonymously learn more about your product’s value. Your blog is the first step in a journey that ends with a customer.
With this in mind, how well is your blog doing? How many leads did it generate? Your blog isn’t a business-building asset until you can quantify its contribution to your sales funnel.
This is a nice segue for…
20. Track Your Performance
“What gets measured, gets managed.”
Peter Drucker is credited with a game-changing quote. You can’t increase traffic without measuring it. You can’t boost search engine traffic without tracking your performance. You get the point. Tracking is the perfect complement to practice. Do both and win faster.
21 Get and Maintain Momentum
Blogging is hard to start. The most effort will be expended when you first start. But once you get going, it gets easier to create world-class content. Once you have momentum, do all you can to stay on the right track. After 852 posts, I can’t help but write every day. Momentum is working for me instead of against me.
Momentum will work the same way for you. Go all-in today to make tomorrow’s actions a little easier.