6 Things You Need to Know About Creating Awesome Blog Content

Many people believe one of the many good blogging habits to have is writing posts close to 2,000 words to help you have a higher Google ranking. Another good habit is to incorporate statistics and with links to well-respected sources. But regardless of the length and number of links, you still need to have great blog content.

There are over 2 million blog posts published each day. How will you stand out from the crowd?

LeftSideArt is all about bringing together your creativity and the necessary technicalities of making an online business possible. When you are thinking about what your blog posts will look like, try to find a balance.

You need to have great blog content and written in a way that has great flow. Finding your flow may come with time as you develop your writing skills. In the meantime, you can start incorporating a few statistics throughout your blog and link it to the source. This will help you build credibility.

You can also bring your creative side to each blog post. Hopefully this part will come easier to you. Purchasing high quality photos can get expensive real quick, but who’s stopping you from taking your own photos? Are you an artist but don’t know the first thing about a camera? Maybe you can as a friend with some photography skills to take some photos. Swapping services can help you save time and money.

The technical side of blogging can get a little tricky, especially for a beginner. SEO optimization and social media strategies can be overwhelming. But don’t panic, we’ll get into that in more detail below.

6 Things You Need to Know About Creating Awesome Blog Content

1. Style your blog posts right

2. Keep your readers engaged

3. Use beautiful photos

4. Rank high with SEO optimization

5. Social media plays a large role

6. Capture email addresses

1. Style your blog posts right

How long is good enough?

In order to rank higher, many people believe longer posts around 2,000 words is recommended. If this is difficult for you to achieve, don’t worry - great blog content is much more important.

A study by Medium determined a 7-minute blog to capture the highest reading times. But how do you determine how long a 7-minute blog is? Stay between 1,500 and 2,000 words and that’ll get you close enough.

Make the most of your titles and sub-headings!

Most people will only skim through your content. If the first few words do not captivate them, you may have lost them for good.

There are many ways to structure your title to grab someone’s attention. You can use power words like “Free”, and “Must Have”. People love lists, so try “Top 3 Ways of….” or “10 Blanks You Can’t Live Without”. If people feel like they are missing out on something, they may be more inclined to read: “8 Ways You Need To Improve Your Product Today to Stay Ahead of Your Competition” or “This Is The One Thing You Are Likely Missing In Your Diet”.

Try to keep your titles and sub-headings around 5-6 words. If it needs to be longer, keep the power words in the first couple and last couple of words. You reader may not be interested in your entire post, so having sub-headings helps them find what they really want to read more about.

Breaking your longer posts into sub-sections with bolded headings makes it easier for a reader to navigate through your posts. Limit the length of your paragraphs to 2-4 sentences. Leaving some white space will also help your readers with skimming your blog content. Website layout

Keep your site layout simple and to the point! When someone visits your site, they should be able to understand right away what the purpose of your site is. Keep your site well organized and easy to navigate. Don’t clutter it with ads or distracting pop-ups. Let your information and your product be the focus.

Many people use ads for additional revenue and pop-ups to gain email subscribers. These are still excellent ideas, but there is always a limit to how much of these you should be using. What will work best for your site? You’ll have to use some trial and error, or A/B testing, to figure it out.

Asking people what they think of your site is always a good way of getting some direct and hopefully honest feedback.

Can they understand what your site is offering?

Can they find what they are looking for?

Is it easy for them to sign-up and know what they will be getting out of their email subscription?

Create links in your blog content to other relevant information that you have on your site. This helps with navigation and keeps your readers engaged on your site rather than trying to find additional information elsewhere. WordPress makes this very easy to do.

Look at this page. Do you like how the width of the post does not cover the entire width of the screen (if you are viewing on a laptop)? There’s a reason why newspapers use very narrow columns and books use the entire page. It’s easier to skim when the text covers less width on the screen.

2. Keep your readers engaged

Your blog content needs to not only be accurate, but it needs to be written clearly and with great flow. I like to use MindMeister which is a mind-mapping online tool. It has a great free version and I can map out the overall content of my site to be sure I continue to take my blog content in the right direction.

Start with a specific subject that you want to write about. Ask yourself, what will my reader want out of this article? Will they be learning something new and need a specific step-by-step? Is this blog answering questions your readers have? Or is it an inspirational story?

In any of these cases, you'll want to address the purpose of your blog content in the first couple of sentences. From there, list out what you’ll want to talk about and stick to those points. Creating a general outline will help you from going off on a tangent that may be unrelated. Keep these additional ideas for later articles or follow-ups that you can link back to this main article.

Always try to include interesting published data or other well written articles by other people in your industry. This will show you are not just reporting your opinion, but have others that support your view as well.

Who doesn’t love it when others link to your site? This can be a good way to continually connect with others in your field. Simply email them and let them know you are linking to their article because you find their information interesting or on par with the message you are trying to convey to your audience. You are essentially driving traffic to their site. Maybe they’ll do the same for you in the future.

Have a voice of your own. It’s great to link to other information available on the web, but be sure you have your own voice. Talk about yourself and your experiences and how you can relate to what you are writing about, or how you would be able to use the product or process you are promoting.

The ending of your article should compel the reader to take an action and do something. It can even be to go and read another article on your site for detailed information regarding a specific topic you briefly covered in your current blog. People like direction, and oddly enough, sometimes even enjoy a little bit of homework.

3. Use beautiful photos

6 Things You Need to Know About Creating Awesome New Blog Content
6 Things You Need to Know About Creating Awesome New Blog Content

Who doesn’t love a book with large photos? A blog post is no different.

Incorporating a great set of photos in your blog content can be the difference of someone continuing to scroll down through your post and someone that just barely skims.

Use at least one good photo at the beginning of your blog. This is easier said than done. Look at this blog as an example. We are talking about ways to improve content in a blog. How do you find a photo that best captures that idea?

Photos can be expensive, but here are some great free sites to check out:

Gratisography is free and has some pretty unique photos like the one above. Death to The Stock Photo is free, but you have to sign up. Public Domain Archive is free and full of very good architectural and still life photos.

Adding a few photos throughout your blog content really doesn’t take more than a few minutes. You may have to adjust the size of the file to get it to load faster and be the optimal size, but with a little practice and the right tools, you can be very proficient at this.

When deciding how large to make your photos, use what works best for your site layout and your personal style. Also be sure the photo is not too small to see detail and be sure it is clear and crisp no matter what size you end up with.

The larger the size, the longer it may take your site to load which can frustrate just about anyone.

You can have your photos with text wrapped around the words like I did in this article: click here. Or, they can be just as wide as your blog content. If you wanted to do this and your content was 600 pixels wide, then your photo would be 600 pixels wide and allow the height to be automatically adjusted.

I usually do what works best for that specific blog. There are many people that select one photo size and stick to it no matter what. It’s really up to you.

For social media, there are some great rules to go by so your image isn’t strangely cropped. Including a great photo on your post to social media can really increase the number of engagements (the number of times someone clicks on your post) up to 70-80%.

You don’t have to pay for expensive software to edit your photos. There are plenty of online editors that do a pretty good job if you are looking to resize and do some minor editing. FotoFlexer is a great one. You can upload photos from your hard dive, resize, crop, edit, and save back to your computer with a different file name.

If you did want to pay a lot of money for editing photos, my favorite is the Adobe Creative Suite: Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign is what I tend to use.

4. Rank high with SEO optimization

SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization. There are hundreds of excellent sources of information regarding SEO, but to give you the most high-level understanding of what SEO is and how you can best start utilizing it today, you have to know a few key things:

When you Google any word, the first page of websites that pop up have been optimized for that word. In order to drive traffic to one site over another, bloggers are careful to use a certain keyword or phrase that has been ranked high, but possibly with low competition to drive traffic to their article. There’s a lot more to this, but now you have an idea of the general concept.

So how do you know which key words or phrases to use? I like to use the SEO by Team Yoast plug-in for WordPress. After you create your post, you can check your SEO status.

The screen shot below is what will appear at the end of your post. In this example, you can see I have “starting a website business” as my keyword. I used LongTailPro to determine what my key words would be. This phrase is also how I named the link “leftsideart.com/business/starting-a-website-business/“ and used it in the article heading, page title, and 7 times throughout the blog.

Screen Shot 2015-04-25 at 2.37.40 PM
Screen Shot 2015-04-25 at 2.37.40 PM

The SEO title and Meta description is the text people will see when they search for your key words in Google. You can either leave the Meta description blank and it will automatically pull the first couple of lines from you blog, or you can customize it here. I would recommend customizing it to be sure you are ranking as high as you can.

Another great resource is Buzzsumo. You can search for key words and see how many shares the top results are getting. This will also help you determine the best title for your blog. Here’s what it looks like:

Screen Shot 2015-05-03 at 9.35.04 AM
Screen Shot 2015-05-03 at 9.35.04 AM

You’ll also want to have inbound links. If you can get others to link to your page, you’ll have a much easier time ranking higher. This is not an easy thing to accomplish, but there are ways of promoting your blog post, which takes us to Social Media:

5. Social media plays a large role

We are probably all familiar with the usual top hitters for Social Media platforms: Twitter, FaceBook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, etc.

But you might not be familiar with Reddit, Stumbleupon, and Digg. These types of social media platforms are a great way for you to get your blog post read by more people.

If you’re a business marketing to other businesses (B2B), then definitely use Linkedin.

Marketing Land posted a great lista great list of questions and answers regarding social media that you might want to check out.

How will you keep up with all of these social media platforms? You can use Buffer or HootSuite.

Create a social media calendar that will help you stay organized. This does not need to be a complicated step. I use Google Calendar and sometimes an Excel/Numbers file.

Use Buffer or HootSuite to keep your social media platforms posting on a regular schedule. By pre-loading your posts, you’ll save a lot of time and energy from having to do this manually each and every time you want to post.

How many times a week should you post? This answer will be different for each industry and each geographical location. Buffer and HootSuite have built in recommendations based on how often people are checking those platforms. This will be a great starting point for you.

Remember to post links to your own article and to other relevant information you find on the web. You can save what you find on the web in Pocket and then be able to easily refer back to it whether you are on your phone, laptop, or tablet.

Didn’t write anything new this week? No problem, post a link to your old blogs that haven’t been read in a while.

If you are getting ready to promote a new product or host a webinar, then start promoting at least a month in advance. The bigger the product or service, the earlier you need to start promoting.

6. Capture email addresses

6 Things You Need to Know About Creating Awesome New Blog Content
6 Things You Need to Know About Creating Awesome New Blog Content

Social media followers are great to have and are in integral part of your business. However, without capturing email addresses, you are at the mercy of the social media platforms to always be there. Don’t count on them always being there - new social media plat forms come and go all the time. Also, you are at their mercy that your posts will reach your entire customer base.

For example, Facebook is continually updating and changing their rules on how many people your posts reach. Have 5,000 followers? Great. You’ll be lucky if 50 of them see your post.

The HelloBar or SumoMe equivalent can help increase your email sign-ups, social media likes and shares, and track the effectiveness of different designs through A/B testing. You will have to pay for a HelloBar that is advertisement free. With SumoMe, the free version just has their logo displayed.

I found SumoMe more enticing with so many additional tools like the social sharing side bar in the free version with the option to upgrade later for A/B testing and heat maps.

Another option is Thrive Leads. This is an entire package: HelloBar equivalent, sidebar email opt-ins, pop-ups that are time-delayed, A/B testing, etc. It’s a plug-in starting at $59 and it works with MailChimp and other email providers. These were 6 great things to keep in mind when creating your blog content.

1. Style your blog posts right

2. Keep your readers engaged

3. Use beautiful photos

4. Rank high with SEO optimization

5. Social media plays a large role

6. Capture email addresses

But what is the single most important factor in all of this?

You have to practice writing blog content just like anything else to improve.