A great apprehension (and perhaps misconception) about blogging is the idea that generating meaningful content continuously is painstaking and close to impossible. But is it really?
One of my favorite quotes as of late is from Rheba Estante in regards to producing content substance. According to her, to be successful you must: “Stop selling. It may sound counter-intuitive, but, seriously, stop selling. Speakers who earn top dollar have substance that sells itself.”
While these words were spoken to a room full of professional speakers, Estante’s philosophy applies in the blogging world as well. Which brings me to today’s lesson: Substance sells products and services in blog content writing as well. To deliver substantive blogging for business, blog writers need to follow Estante’s advice to stop pushing the PR and start focusing on knowing what your audience wants and delivering that. That’s the only road to being seen as an authority and a go-to resource for important things.
So what is substance exactly? Speaker Magazine says it’s the difference between façade and fact, between appearance and reality. It’s about providing proof. As a corporate blogging trainer, I really relate to Speaker magazine’s article about Substance, With Style where it says:
It isn’t what you’ve done, but what you’ve learned-–and the insights you can share–that give your expertise substance.
I think that observation is extraordinarily relevant to anyone writing for business. The facts, which are the raw ingredients of corporate blogging for business, need to be translated into relational, emotional terms that compel reaction–and action–in readers. The typical website explains what products and services the company offers, who the players are, and in what geographical area they operate. The better websites however, give at least a taste of the corporate culture and some of the owners’ core beliefs. The function then of the business blog writing is to give readers proof as well as a deeper perspective with which to process the information you’re offering.
The challenge, as many bloggers may first encounter, is how to generate meaningful content that readers actually want to read. To any one of us, our blog may be well written and exude a fantastic message, but this isn’t to say we are guaranteed readership by the dozens, hundreds or even thousands. So how can we create content with substance? Robby Slaughter, a principal with Accelawork, suggests taking to open ended questions to prompt blog content:
When people check out our productivity blog, they sometimes ask me how we come up with all of our content. “There’s no way I could write that much about our organization”, they say. My reply is always the same: “You have more content than you realize.”
Naturally, it’s easy to debunk the “content generation is hard” by listing open-ended questions. Here’s a bunch just off the top of my head:
How did your company get started?
Who was your first customer?
What’s the biggest misconception about your industry?
What do you hope to accomplish next year?
Who is one of your strategic partners, and why?
What great idea did you have that turned out to be a flop?
What’s a great story about how you saved the day?
What’s industry innovation most excites you?
What are the legal issues in your industry?
How do you go about finding new employees?
What’s something that tells you that a customer is going to work out well?
Answering any of these prompts will of course make great fodder for your email marketing campaigns. Think of any brand that you currently follow— wouldn’t you love to hear someone inside their organization talk about any of these topics? We all adore stories.
It’s easy to complain about the challenge of generating story ideas for your online marketing campaigns, but in truth the real challenge is deciding what not to say. Once you begin to share your beliefs and your experiences, the content floodgates are open. It’s often harder to stop talking than it is to keep the conversation going. That is: once you actually begin.
Tips for Blog Substance and Meaningful Content
- The first step is to define your business niche and then focus blog content writing on the needs of that niche target market.
- When online readers feel their needs are being addressed, versus sites containing purely promotional material, blog posts are able to achieve better conversion rates.
- Blogs are the perfect tool for achieving “throughput.” While even the most unwieldy websites contain only a finite space for text, blogging doesn’t have such constraints. While individual posts are short, the content stays around forever, helping you build equity in those all-important keyword phrases and categories.
If you take only way thing away from this blog today, please let it be this: Truly effective SEO marketing blogs don’t appear to market anything. The substance sells itself.