As I am writing this, it is between Christmas and New Year. The time when people often look back on the year that is about to end, and make decisions about how they can improve upon it in the new year to come. One thing I have seen grow in popularity lately is the idea of the blog-a-day challenge. This is where someone challenges themselves to write something, anything, on their blog every day for a period of time, maybe 30 days.
OK, good start. If you are not an habitual writer, it can be a good way to get some sort of content onto your site if it is looking bare. But what about making it actually worthwhile – build something that will bring visitors, encourage them to subscribe, and promote yourself in your field of expertise.
Too often I see blog-a-day challenge participants write about the weather, or their kids, or what they ate for dinner, or (ugh) post funny cat videos, all just to get SOMETHING on their blogs every day. If they are finding it tedious and boring to do, of course their readers will find it super boring to read. If the only person who will enjoy reading your posts is your mother, think again about posting it.
A better approach
A much better approach is to decide to post something every day that will actually be of some benefit to those who read it. You don’t need everyone in the whole world to read your blog, so stop trying to create something that everyone will like. When you try to create something everyone will like, you end up creating something nobody will like. It is much better to decide who is in the group of people you most want to attract, and writing something super interesting for them. And only them.
Let’s take an example. What if you were a real estate agent in Portland OR, and you wanted to do posts in your blog-a-day challenge that will appeal to people wanting to buy a property in your area. You need to think about what sort of things people wanting to buy a property in your area will want to read. If you have been selling real estate long enough in your area, you know the questions people always ask you. Things like “Are the schools in this area any good?”, “What is the public transport like?”, “Is there a risk of flooding here?”, and so on.
Come up with ten questions people ALWAYS ask you. The Frequently Asked Questions. Even if you are not selling real estate, if you have been doing whatever you do for long enough, you know what people always ask you. Make a list.
Then think about the questions you wish people would ask you. The stuff you have to always tell people because they never think to ask. Things like “There is a new community centre being built here next year”, or “There are great playgroups for pre-school kids here”. Stuff you know the people who are in your target audience would love to be told. Think of ten of these Should Ask Questions – make another list.
Now you have twenty topics for blog posts. Give them names like “Reviews of Schools in Portland OR”, “Public Transport Information for Portland OR” and so on. Use the words, called keywords, that people will be typing into Google to find this information. And answer all the questions. Be generous.
Don’t be self-promotional at all. Don’t say “We are the best real estate agents in Portland OR because we give you all this information for free and you should contact us to buy your next house here”. That is just crass. People are not stupid. They will see that you know the area, and if they are really interested in buying a property, they now know that you are a local expert. If they later see a property with your name on the listing, they will feel that they know, like and trust you, and are more likely to approach you about the property.
The 30 day blog-a-day challenge
So you have done twenty posts, but your blog-a-day challenge is for 30 days. You need ten more. No problem.
Do you know what people like even more than people who answer their questions for them? People who tell stories. No, I don’t mean stories as in lying, I mean stories that engage them.
Tell a story of someone you sold a house to (or whatever is your area of interest). Preferably a true story, but you don’t need to use their real names or show their picture, or even say what property they bought. You know when you are at a barbeque, and someone asks you “So, what have you been doing at work this week?”. And you tell them about this lovely couple who had been looking for a home for ages but needed one with a big high fence because they have a dog they need to keep in, and they wanted it to be on a corner so they can get the truck in the back of the house. And before you know it you are telling the story of this couple, and the person you are telling is nodding and smiling and asking you questions like “So what happened then?”, and you are both enjoying you telling the story.
That. Write like that. Write how you talk (but with no swear words). Show how enthusiastic you are about what you do and how much you enjoy doing it, and how your expertise is an asset to the people you help. Again, don’t end off with “Call us”. This is a story, not a sales pitch.
If you are STILL stuck for ideas on what to write about, try out Blogspot’s Blog Topic Generator.
Mixing it up
I am sure you can come up with ten Frequently Asked Question posts, ten Should Ask Questions posts and ten Story posts. Don’t put them all up in that order though, mix them up a bit. Make sure your grammar and spelling are perfect (get someone to check this if you are not sure). Otherwise you are going to look bad to the “grammar Nazi” types who are fussy about these things, and who make judgements on your intelligence based on whether you can spell correctly.
Now, how about making this even more powerful? Every one of these thirty posts is an asset. Something that can bring you traffic (and sales) for the rest of the year and beyond. But what if you were to add social media, or a video, or a press release, or all of the above?
By tweeting about your new post, you are adding a valuable backlink to it, that helps Google to rank it. Same with a Facebook post. Or LinkedIn, or whatever social media tool you want to use. Ideally, you should do this as soon as possible after your post appears, but it can be the next day, or pretty much any time. Don’t over-do it and repeat it over and over.
How about making a video with you (on or off camera) reading your post? In the real estate example, you could show video or still footage of the area, showing images relevant to what you are talking about. You already have the script, and that can be used in the Closed Captions on YouTube. And you can embed the video on your post, to help the video to rank. Give the video the same name as the blog post, and link to the post (don’t forget the http:// at the front) in the description. There is a lot more information about ranking a video in this post.
You can make the video at the same time as you write the post, or you can go back and make the videos later. Maybe like a second blog-a-day challenge, for videos.
And the finishing touch would be to write and distribute an online press release that announces some news relevant to your business, and which links back to the blog post (and video if you have one). It is an excellent strategy to have one press release come out about your business every week. And you already have thirty topics you can write about, and link back to!
The One Year Plan
Let’s put all this together. Let’s say things are quiet (ish) in January. You can write a blog post every day, for 30 days. Some days you can write more than one post, which is great. But how about if you aim to write 30 by the end of January. Do your social media announcements as soon as each post is published.
In February, make some videos. These can take longer to do, so you might not get one done every day. But aim to maybe get one done every two days, and add them to the relevant posts.
And in March, start you press campaign. You now have ten months left in the year. Write a press release relevant to each of your thirty posts, and schedule them to be released once a week for the rest of the year. There are more than thirty weeks left in the year, so maybe leave a gap every fourth week, so that once a month you write a fresh press release that announces something that has just happened.
Make sure, as each press release is published online, that you also post them on your blog – in a new category called “Press”. In that category, have your contact details on every post (press release). This is the first place “real” news people will look when they are considering whether you would be a good person to interview or feature in a story they are writing.
And, before you know it, you have a ton of content, with lots and lots of super-relevant backlinks pointing to your site. And all of it is unique, original stuff that shows you to be the expert that you are. Well done!