Are you new to the wonderful world of blogging?
Believe it or not, there was a time when I was in the same position as you. While I didn’t know much about blogging in my early days, it was always clear to me that this was one of the best ways to reach my target audience.
So, over time, I continued to perfect my blogging skills as a means of reaching my audience and growing my brand. Now, as you’ll see in the sidebar, my monthly reach is well over 300,000.
But, here’s something to remember: blogging didn’t always come easy for me. This blog didn’t attract hundreds of thousands of visitors in its first month of existence. Instead, it took dedication and plenty of high-quality content to reach this level. And, even then, I’m still far from reaching my long term goals.
In this post, I’m going to provide actionable advice on things that first-time bloggers can do to create industry leading content. This is the type of content that can establish you as an authority in your space while putting your website in a position to achieve high search engine rankings in the future.
If you implement one or more of these strategies, I’m confident it will put you in a position to succeed. This advice may not change your outlook on blogging. But, in the long run, it will definitely help.
1. Research Your Industry
How can you create industry leading content, if you don’t know what your competitors are writing about?
The answer is simple: you can’t.
This is why I always tell new bloggers to take as much time as necessary to study their industry. Answer questions such as:
- Who are you primary competitors?
- What type of content have they created in the past?
- What are their primary keywords?
- How can you improve upon the content that your competitors have created?
- How long will it take you to create a post that is head and shoulders above what is currently considered to be the best?
If you need help researching your industry, don’t waste any more time. Head straight for BuzzSumo and run a search. This tool is free, easy to use and full of features that will provide you with high level data.
Maybe you’re a fashion blogger and you’re interested in creating content on the topic of shoes. Upon running a search for this term, here’s what you’ll see:
The second post is a great place to start. If this is the type of content that you’ll be producing, here’s an idea for a new topic: 200 of the Best Shoes from Pinterest.
In other words, take what you know is successful and make it better. Your post may not generate 400k+ shares, but at least you know that it’s something your target audience is interested in.
You no longer have to guess what type of content your audience wants to read. You can use BuzzSumo, among other tools, to answer this question.
2. Create a Content Calendar
What process will you implement to ensure that you remain on track, day in and day out? How will you know if you’re reaching your goals?
It doesn’t take a genius to create a content calendar. All it takes is somebody who is interested in staying organized and remaining on the right path.
If you’re new to blogging, it’s safe to assume that, at times, you’re all over the place. One day, you write a few blog posts. The next day, you focus on social media. Soon enough, you realize that you’re spread too thin and not making any real progress.
I strongly urge you to create a content calendar, as this is one of the best ways to ensure that you’re posting high quality content on a regular basis.
If you need help staying on track, use a tool, such as CoSchedule. The company describes its solution as follows:
“#1 Marketing Calendar for Everything You Need Organized.”
So, not only does it help, from a content organization point of view, but this tool can help keep many other areas of your business in line. For example, its social media scheduler will work hand in hand with your content calendar.
While there are many high powered solutions out there, don’t overlook the fact that a basic Excel spreadsheet or Google Sheet can do the exact same thing. What matters most is that you have a system in place for staying organized.
3. Master the Skyscraper Technique
This has nothing to do with big buildings and everything to do with creating industry-leading content that attracts and engages your audience.
When it comes to content creation and SEO, Brian Dean of Backlinko is one of the top names in the industry.
He’s the guy behind the Skyscraper Technique, so I’m going to borrow his explanation:
This is something every beginner can understand. It’s also something that works for bloggers in every industry.
The first step is the most important. This is when you scour the internet, making note of the best content in your space. As noted above, you can use BuzzSumo to speed up the process.
From there, you have one goal and one goal only: to improve upon the best content. This can mean many things, but in an overall sense, you should be focused on quality above all else.
When you create the best content, it’s only natural to be rewarded in several ways:
- Higher search engine rankings.
- Better engagement with your audience.
- The chance to prove yourself as a thought leader.
Once your content is published, you have one last task: reach out to influencers who can amplify your content by sharing it with their audience.
Instead of using a scattergun approach, hoping to pick up some interest along the way, Dean shares the following advice:
Instead of emailing random people, you’re reaching out to site owners that have already linked out to similar content.
By doing this, you know that the person has an interest in what you’re sharing. And, since your content is now the best of the best, there’s a good chance that the person will want to share it with their audience. Easy enough, right?
If you master the Skyscraper Technique early in your blogging career, it’s something that will pay off for many years to come. Even if you fail, in regards to reaching out to the right people, you still end up with quality content that has a good chance of performing well in the search engines.
4. Create Killer Titles
If you don’t think headlines are important, I want you to stop what you’re doing and read this piece, published by Columbia University.
Now what do you think?
It’s easy to believe that headlines don’t matter. It’s easy to believe that the meat of your post is what readers are truly interested in. While this may be true, to a certain degree, chew on this: a large number of your readers may not make it to your post, if you don’t attract their attention with an intriguing title.
As you start blogging, you’ll soon find that creating unique, attractive titles is more difficult than it sounds. In fact, it can take an hour or more to settle on something that you’re happy with. This may sound like wasted time, but it’s the opposite.
I know that your time is valuable and that you can’t spend hours thinking about titles. That is why I suggest that you use Portent’s Content Idea Generator.
All you have to do is type in your keyword or keyword phrase. From there, the tool does the work for you, spitting out one idea after the next. A search for “red shoes” generated the following:
- How Red Shoes Make You a Better Lover
- Why Red Shoes are the New Black
- Why Your Mom was Right About Red Shoes
You get the point. This tool helps you to create catchy titles that have a greater chance of keeping a reader on the page – and that’s exactly what you want.
5. Get Feedback from Industry Influencers
As somebody who is new to blogging, you may not know the first thing about what your audience wants and how to give it to them.
Above, we discussed how you can learn more, by examining your competition. Even so, this is only going to get you so far.
That’s why I suggest that you reach out to a minimum of three industry influencers. Your goal in doing so is simple:
- To receive professional advice on the type of content that your audience wants to read.
- To connect with somebody who may be able to help you push your content in the future.
- To pick the brain of somebody who is already achieving success in your space.
To a certain degree, this is a type of influencer outreach. You are getting in touch with industry influencers, in hopes of receiving feedback on your content, your content strategy and anything else that’s on your mind.
To speed up the process and improve your chance of success, use a tool, such as Pitchbox, to remain organized and cut through the clutter. The company describes its service as follows:
“Pitchbox automates the grunt work, so you can focus on what you do best: creating real, person-to-person connections with the people that you want to reach.”
The most important part of this process is making a comprehensive list of influencers that you want to connect with. Since you aren’t likely to get in touch with every one, you need to start with a large enough list.
Any feedback, even if it’s not what you want to hear, is good feedback. You can learn from every influencer you connect with, so be sure to keep an open mind. Remember, it only takes one nugget of information to change your approach and put you in a better place moving forward.
6. Use the Hemingway App
It takes many months (or longer) to master the art of creating a high quality blog post.
Fortunately, there are some things that you can do along the way to speed up the process. One of my favorite tips is to take full advantage of the Hemingway App. If you don’t know what this is, maybe the description from its website will do the trick:
The app highlights long, complex sentences and common errors; if you see a yellow sentence, shorten or split it. If you see a red highlight, your sentence is so dense and complicated that your readers will get lost trying to follow its meandering, splitting logic — try editing this sentence to remove the red.
That may look like a lot to take in, but it’s actually quite simple.
In short, the only thing that you are doing is running your content through the editor. Upon completion, you’ll find everything that you need to know in the right sidebar. It’ll look something like this:
A Grade 6 score means that your content is “good,” but there’s still plenty of room for improvement. You can push your score higher, by reviewing the suggestions and making the necessary changes.
For example, if a sentence is hard to read, adjust the structure until it’s no longer highlighted by the app.
Yes, this adds a step to both the writing and editing process. Even so, it’s well worth the extra time. When you use the Hemingway App, you’ll soon find an increase in the quality of your posts.
7. Write, Walk Away, and Write Again
If you know anything about my blog, it’s that I strive to create long form content that provides real value.
What you may not understand is just how long it takes to create this type of content. From settling on a topic to choosing a headline to building an outline to actually writing the post, there’s a lot that goes into writing a high quality blog post.
For this reason, coupled with the fact that I have many other responsibilities, I don’t hesitate to walk away from a post before it’s finished. In fact, this is something I have found to be extremely helpful. Here’s why:
- It gives you time to take a break from the content, resting your mind and reenergizing you, before finishing it off.
- It provides the opportunity to clear your mind, which often leads to an idea that you did not previously consider.
- Upon your return, you are likely to find things that you want to change, along with grammatical errors.
I know what you’re thinking: this advice is counterproductive.
Why would you walk away from a blog post before it’s 100% complete? Doesn’t this mean it will take longer to write?
Yes, this strategy means that it will take longer to write a single blog post. But, it also helps to boost the quality of your content, and, as we’ve discussed in the past, there’s nothing more important than that.
You should never feel that you have to sit in front of your computer until a piece of content is complete. If you feel the urge to walk away, do so without delay. You may even want to pull yourself out of your chair and work standing up, as this can benefit the final post in many ways.
If content marketing is on your mind, there are many trends that you can leverage in the near future.
But remember, it all comes down to the quality of your content and whether or not you are sharing a unique point of view with your audience.
With this advice, you’ll find yourself in position to create content that quickly establishes your blog as a credible industry resource.
Have you implemented any of these tips in the past? Do you have any others to add? Share your thoughts and strategies in the comment section below.