A recent comment on Twitter reminded me again that each person has their own challenges when it comes to creating marketing content. But if you run a business, there’s always something to say.
Ideation, like writing, gets easier with practice. But if you really don’t know what to say, you’re in the right place because I’m going to tell you.
It’s been a couple of years since I’ve been able to teach in person (no kidding!). But when I taught ‘Beginner Business Blogging’, part of the curriculum was to guide participants in creating their first blog posts… and I’ll share how to do that here on my blog.
Whether you’re a new business owner or an experienced one who has decided to start blogging, this series will get you to stop blogging in your head and start for real. Even if you’ve been blogging for a while, this and the next posts might still be useful. Sometimes it’s worthwhile to revisit basics, especially if it’s been a while since you’ve written about these things.
Now you have a choice. You can just keep scrolling or you can decide to get something useful from this post. If that’s why you’re reading, I suggest you grab a pen and a sheet of paper. ✍️ (I’ll wait here.)
The “Benefits” Article
Since confidence comes from writing about what you know, we’ll start with creating content about the benefits of your services or products. This type of article also has significant SEO benefits. Here we go.
Jot down a list of 3-4 of your key products/services. Don’t overthink this; it’s not a contest. You can always come back and do this exercise again with other products/services. If you have many inventory items, you may want to select groupings.
As an example, my own list would include email marketing set-ups, WordPress websites, and ads in my local event listing.
Now you’re going to pick one of those items from your list. Make it easy – pick the one you’ll be most comfortable writing about. Draw a circle around it so you don’t get distracted.
Below that, write a quick bullet list of the benefits to a typical member of your target market. Make sure each is a benefit, not a feature.
A feature is a part of your product or service, whereas a benefit is a positive impact it has on your customer. For example, a feature of the newsletter set-ups I do is that I include preparing and sending the first issue. The benefit is that clients don’t have to learn the software in order to get their first issue out.
Review your list now and expand each bullet point into a sentence or two. Here you want to bring in the positive emotions your prospects will feel.
Reread your first benefit description and think, “So what?” Does it matter to your target market? Does it need more to be convincing? Make appropriate edits.
Do this for each item on your list.
Now you’ve got the “bones” of your article assembled. That wasn’t so hard, right?
OK, stop here and put down your pen. Take a deep breath. You’ve just created a good outline for your article. Now put your writing away and pull it out tomorrow. Schedule time in your calendar to take the next steps. You’ll have fresh eyes and fresh ideas when you come back to it.
Ways to Use this Content
First, let’s address the elephant. Maybe you’ve gotten this far and have realized you hate writing or you’re just not a good writer. Or maybe you already knew that. Obviously, I haven’t solved that problem for you. But what you’ve just created is perfect to give to a copywriter if you choose to hire one. A copywriter will need this type of “draft content” to understand your business, products and services. And there are many ways to use this draft that don’t involve writing at all.
Simple, short article
No rocket science involved. Here’s your outline:
- Introductory paragraph: This need not be long but it should be about your reader, not you. You might choose one of two approaches here. There’s the “fairytale” which might start with, “Imagine if…” And there’s the “pain” which might start something like, “Are you suffering from…?” or “Don’t you hate it when…?” (Tips on writing your first paragraph here.)
- Benefit #1: List the benefit and describe it. Two or three sentences are fine but it could be longer. You can even use bullets if it makes sense.
- Benefit #2 (and so on): List the benefit and describe it.
- Concluding paragraph: Sum up by answering the question you asked in your introduction or referencing the imagined scenario. Again two or three sentences may be enough.
Aim for 300-500 words.
Lengthier, more detailed article
Follow the same outline as above but expand on each point. Beef it up with customer testimonials, links to even more information, images/diagrams.
If you’re ambitious, you can maximize this key content by creating a series of posts that build on each other. Each benefit would be its own article. This is an excellent SEO tactic (which is one of the reasons you’re now reading the first in a series of five posts). (Detailed workflow and tips here.)
Turn each benefit you listed into an FAQ for your website. For example, the question might be, “Exactly how does using xyz save me time?” (Tips on FAQs as blog posts here.)
Video, audio and live-streaming
If writing isn’t your thing, you’ve just created a great outline you can use as the basis for a live or recorded video or podcast. This format is especially good for product demos. My friend Anita Kirkbride has excellent tips for live-streaming here.
Social media posts
What you’ve just written can easily be refined into short text snippets and used as a series of posts. You can create graphics or use images to accompany the text. If you’ve published a full article on your blog or a video on YouTube, be sure to include the link.
This won’t be viable for everyone’s list of benefits but will be for some. If you don’t have the skills to do it yourself, pass your drafted article on to a graphic designer who can make it visually intriguing.
I think you can see how those few minutes you’ve just spent drafting your “benefits” article can be leveraged and converted into a lot of content for different platforms and media. And remember, you only tackled one item from your original list in STEP #1. You can do this exercise over and over again for each product and service.
There is your first “something to write about”. Some combination of the suggestions above can keep you going for quite a while. Or at least until I publish the next post in this series which will be aptly named Small Business Blogging: Your Second Post.
Do you have suggestions or tips to add? I’d love to hear them in the comments.