You have been staring at your computer screen for hours, stumped.
As a small business owner, you have to deal with unpaid invoices, inventory checks, vendor issues and on top of that, you have to promote your business and build relationships with your clients. So that's why you blog.
But why is it so hard?!
As an expert in your field you should know what topics are important for your clients...what their pain points are. But in the last hour or so, all you're doing is staring at a blank, white screen of your microsoft word document.
Makes you want to throw that laptop through the window....Just take comfort that you're not the only one with this problem....
No, it's not from relaying the neighborhood gossip online... although it can help.
It's by planning your editorial strategy and calendar weeks in advance. As real estate agents say, it's all about the location. Likewise, for content marketers it's about planning, planning, planning. Here are the steps that you must take to never run out of things to write about:
- Research your customers and your competition
- Know your sources
- Create an editorial calendar
But don't just start listing random topics that come to your head...You wouldn't create a sales or marketing plan without doing some market research. So why would you do the same for a content plan? Use the research to know:
- your customer pain points,
- which sites do your readers goto for information,
- compile a keyword / or keyphrase list that your clients type into search engines to find answers to their problems and keep it updated (more on this later).
- research your competition - what topics are they writing about, is it popular? Are too many people writing about it?
Research your competition and readers.
As you can see, an important part of the editorial process is research. And a large part of the research is the information/search habits of your readers. If you are an experienced online marketer, you already know what tools you would use to compile a list of search terms that your readers use to find solutions to their problems.
There are hundreds of tools out there but the simplest one is the Google keywords tool which will allow you to determine the keywords used by a particular site. So, if you want to quickly find out some of the keywords that your competitors are using, simply type in their domain and you would get a list of their keywords and phrases. Use these keywords to use as a foundation for your blog posts.
Know your sources
You need to find an issue that hasn’t been beaten to death already by competitors or experts. If there’s only really one main issue at stake, give it a novel spin; zoom in on a detail; zoom out to put it in context – anything to keep things fresh and make people want to know more about. Spend the time to create a source list that will allow you to keep track of breaking topics:
- Use Google Alerts: Get alert emails on key terms to find out who’s talking about what out there on the web. Using the keywords/keyphrase list that you have created earlier, run a few google alerts (blogs, news, websites) and see what comes up on a daily and weekly basis.
- Use Twitter Search tools: Twilert, Trendistic, Twitter Search and search features built into Twitter tools like TweetDeck let you find out what’s tweeting.
- Follow the top bloggers and news feeds: They know what’s happening in the industry. Interview the best experts and post them on your site.
- Check out the competition: Not to copy them but to better position your content.
- Commenting: See which of your blog posts get the most comments.
- Use association websites: Take a look at various industry association conferences and see what topics the experts touch on.
- Interview your customers: Ask your customers for stories and how they solved their problems using your service. Better yet, interview your customers' customers.
- Create an online survey: Use the data from surveys to create whitepapers and posts..
The editorial calendar is a great way for you to beat writers block. There are other benefits to creating an editorial calendar such as:
- Increasing post quality
- Time efficiency in posting research
- Developing your content properly