They get fired up about the idea of building a popular blog. They start producing content. Everything seems to be going well…
But then they get distracted.
So they start publishing new blog posts less and less frequently…
And the next thing they know, they haven’t published anything in ages and their blog looks like a ghost town. Sound familiar?
You are not alone. We have all been there. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
All you need to do to avoid this trap is:
- Create a content plan.
- Follow that content plan.
Want to learn how?
Define Your Target Audience
You can’t create content that resonates with your dream customers if you don’t know who those dream customers are.
That’s why you need to define your target audience using both demographic and psychographic traits:
- Demographic traits are external traits such as ethnicity, gender, age, education level, occupation, income level, etc.
- Psychographic traits are internal traits such as values, beliefs, priorities, fears, desires, etc.
The more precise your definition of your dream customer, the easier it will be to create content that they find valuable.
Are you happy with your current customer base? Then they are your dream customers.
Also, consider creating a buyer persona, which is a fictional character that is representative of your average dream customer.
We humans have evolved to live in small tribes, so we aren’t that great when it comes to empathizing with large groups of people.
It can be difficult to produce content that resonates with your dream customers if you think about them as a “target audience” (e.g. women between the ages 18 and 30 who want to get in shape).
It’s much easier to create content with one individual in mind, even if that individual is a fictional character instead of a real person (e.g. Jane Doe, 28, who wants to lose weight before the summer).
Do Customer Research
Once you know who your dream customers are, it’s time to learn as much as you can about them. That’s where customer research comes in.
The most straightforward way to get a better understanding of your target audience is to conduct personal interviews with your dream customers.
Companies are often skeptical of one-on-one interviews because they believe that working with focus groups leads to better insights.
However, according to Gerald Zaltman, professor emeritus at the Harvard Business School, personal interviews can provide immense value:
“Many researchers tell us that one-on-one interviews are superior to focus groups. That is, even a few conventional one-on-one interviews yield essentially the same data as several focus groups. Additionally, there is now a lot of evidence that personal interviews yield deep insights that can’t be obtained from focus groups.”
And the good news is this:
People love to talk and feel heard, so persuading someone to get on a 15-30 minute Skype call with you might be easier than you think.
So don’t hesitate to reach out to your customer base and ask to pick their brain.
And if you haven’t launched your business yet, you can use cold email to reach out to your dream customers.
Reddit is one of the most popular online discussion platforms out there.
You can find a subreddit (a subforum) on pretty much anything from hobbies to celebrity gossip to politics.
Let’s say that your dream customers are writers.
You can start customer research by checking out the r/writing subreddit that has 1.8 million members at the time of writing.
YouTube is the most popular video hosting platform in the world that has over 2.2 billion users.
You can use search terms like “how to write a book” to learn more about what kind of content writers find valuable.
You might also want to check out niche online forums that your dream customers frequent.
It might take some effort to find them but even the most obscure niches tend to have at least one dedicated forum (e.g. did you know that there’s an active forum for fountain pen aficionados?).
Want to learn what’s keeping freelance writers up at night?
You might find the answers that you are looking for on the Freelance Writers Den forum that has over 1,500 members. It costs $25/month, though.
Don’t be afraid to invest in private community memberships if you believe that it will help you understand your dream customers better.
And then there’s also social media:
You can follow industry thought leaders, participate in discussions, and keep an eye on popular hashtags on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
That’s where keyword research comes in.
You can use tools like:
Keyword research is a complex topic but you can learn everything you need to know to get started in this 10-minute tutorial from Ahrefs:
Here’s are the key points:
- Generate keyword ideas. Start by typing in broad terms that are relevant to your business, then use the “Having same terms” feature to get keyword suggestions that include those terms.
- Determine how hard it will be to rank for that keyword. Check out the domain rating (DR) and the backlink profile of the website. You have the best shot at outcompeting the pages that are ranking right now if your website has a similar DR. Otherwise, be prepared to do a lot of link building.
- Analyze the first page of search results. What kind of content is already ranking for that keyword? Check out the top ten search results.
- Compare your website to top results. Do the pages that are ranking for that search term belong to websites similar to yours? The more similar they are, the better your chances of ranking for that keyword.
- See which topics drive the most traffic to the websites of your competitors. Look at their top pages, top keywords, and referring domains.
In short: do your homework before you start writing.
Brainstorm Additional Content Ideas
It’s important to understand that not all content is SEO content.
Joshua Hardwick, the Head of Content at Ahrefs, shared that the case studies on their blog get little to no organic traffic.
“Does this mean those posts failed?
Some content is unlikely to ever rank on Google but can still provide a ton of value to your readers.
- Interviews with people who aren’t well-known but who can offer interesting insights.
- Case studies that showcase your results, the results of other people in your industry, or the results of your customers.
- Articles that offer a solution to a specific problem that is too rare for relevant keywords to have high search volume.
Create a Content Calendar
Once you have enough ideas for blog posts, it’s time to create a content calendar.
- Use a calendar app to schedule publishing deadlines.
- Work out how much time you will need to create the content and then block out that time in your schedule.
There will likely be some trial and error because of the planning fallacy which is the tendency to underestimate the time it will take to complete a task.
You should be especially mindful of this if you hadn’t done much writing up until now. Make sure to schedule more time than you think you will need to produce each piece.
Of course, you can also outsource content creation to freelance writers. The ProBlogger job board is the best place to find them.
Also, keep in mind that when it comes to content marketing, it’s quality that matters, not quantity.
Commit to publishing one post per week but make each post the best piece of content on that subject out there.
Once you become comfortable with this schedule, you might want to consider increasing the rate at which you publish to 2-3 articles per week.
Just make sure that you don’t end up sacrificing content quality in the process.
Give Your Blog Readers What They Want
Coming up with content ideas can be quite a challenge. But guess what?
You don’t always need to come up with them yourself!
You can ask potential and existing customers what they are struggling with, then take their answers and write up blog posts that offer solutions to those problems.
One of the key things that helped them grow their blog was “plagiarising” their content topics (their words, not ours!).
Here’s how Alex Turnbull, the founder and CEO of Groove, explains it:
“We ripped off our content topics.
Almost every single one of them.
And the people who we stole them from? They loved it.
That’s because our post topics were stolen directly from the mouths of our audience.”
Whenever someone would sign up for Groove back then would get this email:
“Often, we’d see the same responses over and over again.
For example, several founders wrote back and said “I’m having trouble finding a technical co-founder for my business.”
So we turned that into a post,” remembers Alex.
You can use the same approach:
- Include a question similar to “What are you struggling with right now?” in your welcome email. Encourage people to hit the reply button and respond to it.
- Collect and organize that data. You can do this with a simple spreadsheet.
- Create content that offers solutions to problems that come up repeatedly.
This is much more effective than trying to dream up content ideas all by yourself.
Keep Experimenting and Tweaking Your Content Strategy
Your content strategy should never be set in stone.
You need to continuously experiment if you want to learn what works and what doesn’t work in your niche.
In fact, that’s another factor that Groove attribute their success to.
According to Alex Turnbull, over the years they have tested thousands of things on their blog, from the way they phrase their titles to the length and format of their content to the style of their images.
“The overwhelming majority of those tests fail to improve our results.
But every now and then, we stumble on a test that pays us back ten-fold for all of the effort that we put in,” he explains
They once ran an A/B test on one of their blog posts to see if narrative storytelling was hurting or helping engagement.
One variant of the post had an introduction that got straight to the point.
Meanwhile, the other variant used a story in its introduction.
Not only did the story variant had 300% more people scroll all the way to the bottom of the page but the average time on page was more than 5x higher.
Needless to say, the experiment paid off!
“The only way we can get results like these is by not being afraid to mess up by testing things that seem different or strange.
Commit To Publishing 100 Blog Posts
There are two types of goals:
- Results-oriented goals.
- Process-oriented goals.
The reason the vast majority of people who start blogs fail to be consistent is because they are focusing on the results-oriented goal of building a popular blog.
And it can be disheartening when you are publishing content week in and week out yet there isn’t much (or any!) increase in traffic. It’s easy to feel like a failure and give up.
That’s why it makes more sense to set a process-oriented goal of publishing 100 blog posts instead.
That way, every time you publish a new article, you will get a sense of accomplishment because you are making progress towards your goal.
And by the time you publish 100 posts, your efforts will likely have yielded noticeable results, which will then motivate you to keep going.
This concept is known as the “Law of 100” and it’s a great way to stay consistent.
Here’s how Noah Kagan, the founder of Sumo and AppSumo, explains it:
Creating a solid content plan and then following through with it will help you attract potential customers to your website.
Then you will need to convert those site visitors into leads, leads into paying customers, and paying customers into repeat customers. That’s what sales funnels are all about.
Want him to show you how you can apply those same principles to your business?
Check out our 5 Day Challenge.
You will learn how to:
- Generate unlimited leads.
- Create your first lead magnet.
- Build your first sales funnel.
- Create a simple 6-email follow-up sequence.
- And launch your funnel!
…in just five days.
So don’t hesitate.
Join our 5 Day Challenge. It’s completely free!