If you want to have a good blog, you need to have good writers. Good writers have to create valuable, useful and distinctive content.
- Valuable – The content shared adds to the reader’s store of knowledge: by showing old issues in a new light, or giving a new perspective to addressing a common issue or a persistent problem — all in the ultimate aim of helping the reader help himself.
- Useful – The advice or methods shared in the article are immediately applicable, and will give positive results when put into practice.
- Distinctive – This can refer to the writer’s style — a distinctive voice which can’t be mistaken for anyone else. Check out James Altucher’s articles on Altucher Confidential, or the recipes shared on Thug Kitchen. ‘Distinctive’ is also generally taken to mean no cookie-cutter re-branded articles, or thinly disguised SEO optimization, or click-bait (articles presented in such a way as to get clicks from interested viewers, but don’t deliver on their implied promises.)
Now, creating quality content takes time, dedication and serious brain-power. The brain power might not be in the same field as, say, calculating deep math or (insert science here) analysis, but it still is involved in problem solving. That’s what good content points to — how people can help themselves. That’s how you get content built around certain ideas, like:
- We know you have these common issues, doing this can help.
- How can you improve X with Y.
- Here are X ways you can address Y.
- Here are Z classic ways to make X work harder for you.
For any targeted online business there is a niche market, and for every niche market there are a sets of easily identifiable issues for which you, marketer and business owner, have tailored your business to addressing. Think of it as a higher level of FAQs, where you provide the answers to your market’s most pressing questions: How can I do this? How can I solve this? How can you help me do both?
Good writers, once you find them, must be cared for too. Writing, in a nutshell, is brain-powered, and can lead to mental fatigue and burnout for bloggers. Here are a few tips to help keep that from happening.
- Depending on the size of your online business, a small group of writers can definitely reduce the likelihood of mental exhaustion, and can help foster your writing team into blog personalities. Check out LifeHacker’s writing team and compare their numbers with the number of new articles that come out per day on the site. Lifehacker is in the top 25 most read blogs in the world, and their entire team is a baker’s dozen. They also have guest bloggers, polls, ask-the-reader posts, ask-the-expert interviews, and cross-posts with their co-blogs Gizmodo, Kotaku, Jalopnik, Gawker etc.
- A team of bloggers can be composed of SME’s (Subject-matter Experts) and their particular interests can be used to slot into sub-niches on your blog, which in turn helps your blog present a rich and varied set of articles. Like the sub-sections in a magazine or newspaper, you’ll have something for everyone in your niche. Letting your SME’s explore and share their expertise in their topics also keeps thing consistent in terms of shared knowledge and continuity.
- “A little something for everybody…” especially the time-crunched, is key. In terms of size, readers appreciate an article that won’t require too much scroll-down. Post limits also help writers be more concise and focused on getting their core message through (Think of Twitter: you’ll waste your 140 characters if you ramble.) In this line of thought, a 500 word limit or thereabouts is fine.
- Polls and ask-the readers are great for soliciting comments and encouraging engagement among commenters and readers. Long-form posts are great when the content and delivery merits the length.
Of course, there are other important factors to consider:
Blog design and platforms
A clean and professional lay-out for your blog may not jump out at visitors and potential followers, but it still helps make the overall impact much more acceptable, even subconsciously. Tying in the look of your blog to the design of your main business website can also help unify the connection between your business and the blog, and encourage readers to see what’s new.
If your budget allows it, the services of a professional can attend to the small details and tweaks that make a site attractive, accessible, and easy to explore. There are also low-cost and no-cost templates available from the popular blogging platforms like Blogger, WordPress and Typepad. These platforms were designed to make things easy-peasy for novice and learned bloggers alike, and it’s your needs that will determine which one will provide the best fit, in terms of budget (there are also paid accounts), features and ease-of-use. Personalization and customization is easy, and can come afterwards.
Team and content calendar
Your writing team needs to have a centralized calendar to show who’s working on what, what posts are in the queue, when posts are supposed go live, what relevant events are coming up (so they can write about them) and what business-related events, promotion or news is in the works. This keeps the team aware of the workflow and adjust accordingly should anything come up.
Brainstorming is throwing things out there to see if the ideas are viable and interesting. Once the good ones are identified, it’s time to slot them into the schedule after assigning a writer the job of building a good article around the seed of the idea in time for submission (first drafts), editing and corrections, submitting the final copy (for review by Legal if that’s part of the process) and then publishing the content.
The small things that keep this production engine running include respect and agreement: informing people of how much time is needed to produce content, when it should be in for review and copy-editing, what’s the progress on deadlines and revision time, etc. Keeping people informed helps the system run smoothly.
Other small details are addressing the time requirements for parts of the process: sourcing photos and checking their creative licenses, for example. Making and transcribing interviews, creating graphics (which may involve your art department, if you’re big enough to have one) …having a detailed process map showing the flow of the entire process, from brainstorming to publishing, is very helpful. You can identify any lags or bottleneck in the workflow and address it quickly.
The main goal is to produce fresh, engaging and relevant content to keep your reader’s interest. Paying close attention to your internal process of content creation, editing and production will ensure that you can do so consistently and keep your writers and readers satisfied.
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