How to End Your Stand Off with a Blank Page
There’s nothing more daunting than a blank sheet or paper or an empty computer screen. Trust me, I’ve been there.
You’ve set yourself the task of writing content but now it comes down to it, you’ve run out of ideas. So, you pour yourself a coffee and stare at the screen….
You know this stuff is important to the reputation of your brand so you put pressure on yourself. You know you can’t churn out something half hearted and meandering, because it makes you appear unprofessional. You know can’t just regurgitate what other companies are saying because you need to show that you’re different. And you know you can’t spend all day on this because there’s a million and one other things you should be doing.
So with all this in your head, you’ve got yourself into a Mexican stand off between you and a blank sheet of paper.
Like most daunting things in life the trick is to break it down into smaller chunks. When you consider there are basically 4 main types of blog, deciding which sort suits your purposes is half the battle. Instead of telling yourself ‘I need to write a high-quality blog post’ which is overwhelming, break it down to think ‘I need to write a post about something my customers are struggling with’ or ‘I need to write about an obstacle we’ve overcome professionally’.
Writing to a brief, even if it’s a self-directed one, is much more manageable. Suddenly it’s nowhere near as daunting.
So, let’s break blog posts down into four main types...
...and then work out which one you’re aiming for.
We’ll look at each type in more depth in future posts (so make sure you bookmark the page and pop back), but for now, here’s what you need to be thinking about:
Thought leaders are the informed opinion leaders and the go-to people in their field of expertise. It’s about taking a current industry trend, a news item, a relevant issue or the general state of the market and adding your own opinion to the debate. It’s a way to demonstrate authority and expertise in your field and help your customers view you as trustworthy and informed.
How to Write a Thought Leadership Post
Set up a Google News alert for keywords in your industry
Stay abreast of industry news and current affairs generally
Be alert to what’s happening on social media and ask yourself ‘What’s my take on this?’When something newsworthy happens, write about it and voice your opinion – is it a good thing or a bad thing for your industry? What do you think will happen next? What should happen next? How will this impact your customers?
Story Telling blogs are a way to focus on the things that make you, as a business, unique and gives your customers a clear reason to choose you over your competitors. Human beings are hard-wired to crave stories and the connection readers have to a well-phrased story is far more emotional, and usually motivational, than to cold hard facts. Stories told through blogs are also far more memorable than drier factual writing and will embed your company more firmly in their hearts and minds.
How to Write a Story Telling Post
Find the interesting stories within your company history or the people who make up your business
Story telling is about finding the human interest angle in any topic so ask yourself ‘Would people relate to this?’
Does your company background include overcoming any obstacles and adversity? If so, tell the story
Look at the stories within the people who run your business. Everyone has a story. Find theirs
Has your business recently done something really well but had to work around a challenge to do it?
Write your story with the ending in mind – stories need to be structured with a clear beginning, middle and end
Compelling stories are usually about people overcoming challenges so focus on these elements
Increase human interest by adding descriptive elements to enrich your story – make it come alive in the reader’s mind
Problem solving, or ‘How To’ blogs are probably some of the easiest to write and, luckily, some of the most valuable. Customers want to read content that adds value to their own lives and are, to put it bluntly, far more concerned about the things they are struggling with in their own lives than anything else – including your product. If you can write a post that gives them valuable information they can use, they will not only feel more favourable towards your business and therefore more likely to spend their money with you, but they will also view you as experts at what you do and put more trust in what you’re selling. ‘How To’ is a massively flexible format – you can write posts that are long or short, serious or funny, specific or general, technical or jargon-free.
How to Write a How-To Post
The first step is to identify what your customers are struggling with
Look at emails your customer service team receive, ask clients for feedback, look at what is being discussion on social media – find out what problems you customers are facing
Once you have identified a problem you can solve with a ‘How To’ post, look within your team to find the expertise
If it’s not something you’re an expert in yourself, talk to the person in your business who is
When looking for different topics, ask yourself ‘What special skills or training do we have in-house?’, ‘What can we do that most people can’t?’
Case studies are absolutely invaluable in proving to your potential customers that what you are offering is good value and worth their money. If the product or service you offer is also quite complicated, case studies can demystify the process and clearly demonstrate how it all works.For each case study you need to present the challenge your client was facing, their aims, the process and the successful results. If ‘Case Studies’ sounds too formal, consider referring to them as ‘Examples of Our Work’, or ‘Success Stories’, but make sure you include the key elements of situation, process and results.
How to Write a Case Study Post
Ask, ask, ask! Remember to ask satisfied customers if they would be happy to be a case study
Find a medium the case study is happy with – they might say ‘no’ to being featured on a video but could be comfortable to be written about instead
Write from the angle of the audience – focus on the problem that it solved and how the challenges were overcome rather than just talking about the product
Use statistics to make it easy to understand how well it worked – ‘sales increased by 75%’ or ‘3 times more leads were generated'
Use photos of happy customers and genuine names to reinforce the case study authenticity
Plan ahead and take photos and make notes throughout the process rather than just at the end of the project
And…voila! Suddenly the task of writing your content doesn’t seem quite so overwhelming. Once you decide which type of blog will suit your purposes - and give yourself a brief to write to - that blank page or flashing computer cursor will seem much less daunting.
(And if you still can’t face it, give us a call. We love this stuff.)