Content is the number one focus of each and every blog, no matter which niche you have chosen. Without content you have no readers. Without readers you have no traffic. Without traffic you make no income. See how that works?
By writing and creating great content that has been optimized for SEO, reviewed for errors and has a great linking strategy, you can provide a useful blog for your readers that drives traffic (all while sharing your passion!).
This page is FULL of information you can review and digest on your own schedule. Try to take bite sized chunks and make your own decisions on the best methods for your blog:
- Blog Topics
- Writing Style
- Post Frequency
- Types of Posts
- Useful Plugins
- Content Mapping
- Call To Action (CTA)
- Reviewing Content Before Publishing
- Overcoming Writer’s Block
- Opt In Forms
“Content is king” (or “queen”!). The first thing you should always focus on for your blog is quality content that your readers will engage with on a regular basis.
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Exactly what you write about is, of course, complete up to you!
The first step in deciding on your blog topics is to decide on a niche. Once you have done that, you can more easily refine the topics and posts you wish to create on your blog.
Here are some questions to ask yourself while you are brainstorming and/or writing:
- Is this topic something that is helpful to my readers?
- How can I add value for my readers through research? (if applicable)
- Does my completed article help solve a problem for my reader?
- Why would a reader want to save my article for later or share my content?
What we all want is a loyal following of readers. To do this, we need to make sure to narrow in on a niche (the main category of your blog) as much as possible.
Narrowing our focus can be very hard for some of us.
However, having consistent content allows our readers to know exactly what kind of content they can expect from us.
Free Blog Post Checklist
Ever forget like 3 steps in your blog post and have to keep going back to update it? Use this master checklist to stay on task and add your own tasks as well!
Evergreen vs Seasonal
You should also think about whether the blog topic is something that is evergreen (good year round) or seasonal (good for a particular part of the year like a holiday or weather season).
Try to have a good mix of evergreen and seasonal content to attract different users throughout the year, regardless of what is currently attracting readers.
But for consistent traffic, try to do more evergreen than seasonal (unless your niche calls for it).
Remember, seasonal content starts early! Start creating seasonal content 2-3 MONTHS before the event, season, or holiday.
Most bloggers choose to write in the first person (using “I”) to bring a personal feel to their words.
On the other hand, if your site is more informational and/or professional, you can also choose to write in the third person (you don’t use “I” statements – think of this style more like a term paper than a journal).
Regardless of which you choose, the best thing you can do is to BE YOU!
You are competing with millions of other website and blogs out there.
What people are going to hear is why they should follow YOU.
This is no small task and can take a lot of thinking.
I highly suggest that you focus on finding your voice through creating a style guide of sorts.
This doesn’t have to be complicated.
You can just write out the tone, imagery style, and whatever else you need to see you and your blog as a brand.
Blogging is a business.
Treat it like a business.
You want to stand out (in good ways) to attract an audience!
Niche Sites or Niche Blogs
Now, I will say that the “following” model isn’t always the goal of a blog. Sometimes the focus is about succeeding through quantity, not through an engaged audience that returns to a given blog over and over.
These are commonly referred to as “niche sites”.
Niche sites are more about attracting a LOT of readers.
They don’t focus on having a personal presence within the blog, merely information that is popular.
With site that focus on volume, the focus is usually on affiliate marketing and ads.
Check out Niche Site Academy if you want to learn more about this type of blog.
Every blogger will have an opinion on how often you should create new content for your blog. And the answer to the frequency may differ depending on where you are in your blogging journey.
While consistency is key, the most important thing is to create quality content!
When you first start out, you may decide to do 2-3 articles a week to build up your site content and try to increase engagement and traffic.
Just always remind yourself it is much better to provide quality, in-depth content once a week than short, poor quality three times a week.
Types of Posts
As you create content for your blog, it can be very daunting to look at the amount of work ahead of you.
Knowing the varied types of articles you can create will help you determine time requirements for each (level of effort to create).
Some blog posts are longer and others are shorter. By varying up your content types you can better plan to reach different parts of your audience and plan your content schedule.
Pillar Content or Cornerstone Content
When you define your Categories for your blog, there will be blog posts that your write that are integral to that Category.
This is content that will be referenced over and over on your site (internal linking, meaning linked to within your other articles) for reference.
It’s referred to as “pillar content” or “cornerstone content”.
These are your generic “how to” or “step-by-step” articles on your site.
Informational content is about solving a reader’s problems in a systematic way or with a clear beginning and end result.
There’s no questioning the transformation (big or small) that the article will provide.
These could be anything from how to house train your puppy to how to grow orchids.
Informational content can also be list articles (description to follow), but are more about specific information sharing to solve a problem or question for the reader.
Whether that’s 10 ways to organize your kitchen to the 15 best credit cards to consolidate your debt, these types of articles provide multiple solutions to a reader’s problem.
These vary slightly from Roundups (description to follow) in that they don’t merely link to other articles or content (yours or someone else’s), but provide multiple solutions to a problem.
These aren’t always what they sound like.
Opinion content is less about being controversial (though some may be so) and more about presuasion of an idea.
These blog posts are more about an ideal (emotion, need fulfillment, mindset, etc) than content that is set in concrete (like tutorials, how-tos, etc).
Round ups (also referred to as “listicles”) are articles you create highlighting content on other blogs. These generally focus on a single topic (like great dinner recipes, fun kids crafts and others).
When you plan to do a round up, Pinterest is a great place to start when looking for articles to highlight. Here are the general rules:
- Never take credit for another person’s content – always give credit and a link back!
- If you want to use a photo from the blog, you must contact the blog owner to ask for permission. Clearly state how you will use the image (in the blog post, in promotional images like Pinterest pins, etc) and make sure to give credit on your blog post when possible.
- You do NOT need permission to merely link to another blog (wouldn’t we all be grateful for a backlink?!).
If you belong to Facebook groups for blogging, you can always ask for members to share content and give you permission to use one photo from their post (a quick and easy way to get permission).
Be clear about whether the blogger will receive a “follow” or “no follow” link. The aim for all bloggers is to get as many “follow” links as possible to rank in SEO.
The question shows up a lot in blogger groups about the etiquette of using recipes on your blog that aren’t your own.
If you want to include a recipe from another site on your blog, you must ask permission from the original creator and provide a link back.
Even if you change 1-2 ingredients, it’s frowned on to not provide credit (at least say “this recipe was inspired by x”). You need to make sure you aren’t infringing on copyright or it can lead to legal issues.
When it comes to displaying your recipes, there are a few plugins you can use to help.
Tip: Make sure if you plan to use Pinterest, you claim your website to get rich pins. The ingredients from your recipe can show up if a user clicks into your pin (one deciding factor for some is whether they have the ingredients).
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is making sure that you are priming your content to be found by search engines (like Google).
When it comes to creating amazing content for your blog, you must also factor in optimizing your blog posts so that people can actually find your articles!
This is not about finding keywords and just throwing them into your blog post (also known as “keyword stuffing”).
You not only need to find keywords (the words people type into search engines to find solutions to their problems or questions) that match your reader’s intent (meaning questions they search for on search engines can be taken in multiple ways.
You want to make sure you are writing the RIGHT answers to the questions!
The goal is to be the BEST resource on the internet for your topic.
Answer every single one of your reader’s questions.
Be thorough but concise (online readers may have short attention spans, depending on the topic and audience).
Google is smart.
So freaking smart, and the way they rank articles does change.
BUT, we know for sure that they watch their readers and how they interact with your content (for these examples I’m going to call out Google):
- Do readers go to a site and automatically leave (“bounce”)? If so, this could mean the content does NOT meet the INTENT of the question.
- How long do readers spend on a site? The longer someone spends on your site the more engaged or informative Google will see your content.
- Does the reader go to another site after visiting yours (even if they spend a lot of time on your site)? This could mean that your article is ok but still left some holes in how to solve the reader’s problem.
These are only 3 of the many factors, but you can see why there are details that you need to account for when trying to get traffic from search engines.
But why is SEO so important?
Many bloggers get a TON of traffic from places like Pinterest.
But what happens if Pinterest goes away tomorrow or a massive change occurs on the platform that you have no control over?
The best and most sustainable source of traffic (visitors to your blog) will be through search engines.
Why I Don’t Write About SEO
I will say that I used to provide some guidance on this blog for SEO (in detail), but to make sure you are getting the BEST information, I no longer do so.
The last thing you need is every single person on the internet giving you advice when there are true experts out there!
We can’t all be experts in EVERYTHING.
There is SOOOOO much more to SEO than this. To see my recommended course click here.
When it comes to copywriting (writing text for your posts), it’s great to have a plugin that will help you find errors and suggest changes if you need a little extra help or reassurance.
Many bloggers use plugins like Grammarly (free and paid versions).
See a list of useful and recommended plugins for your blog.
For those of us who love to be organized, something that can be helpful is to create a content map for your blog.
Content mapping can be anything from just mapping out the categories and the posts you plan to create under them to determining the content (maybe the headers) for every post.
If you want to take it another step forward, there’s this FREE mapping tool called MindMeister (example below) that can help you map out every single piece of content or idea you have for your blog.
Here are some flows you can think about creating that may help you organize your site or your content:
- Site Flow: How does your content go from one topic to another? What pages do you need and how are they connected? Basically, show your content pillars, pages (legal, about, etc), landing pages (like your homepage, category landing pages or opt in/sales pages) and any other piece of content a user may click on (anything with a URL of it’s own).
- Content Flow: Look at all of your categories of content and plan out different posts you will be creating under each (and how they connect to each other). Remember to only keep backlinking within a certain category (if possible) to help Google understand what your site is all about and provide a clear structure for your readers.
Those two are likely the most helpful ways to use mindmapping when it comes to your blog. You can use this to organize the flow of information in any way you can think of!
You can also use digital planners like Trello (free and paid versions).
When in doubt, just buy a bunch of post its and get to work! I’ve done it all!
There are ups and downs to every way you choose to get your content organized so do whatever works best for you! If one way doesn’t work, try another!
There are about 6 types pages you want to consider including on your blog: homepage, Resource page, About Me page, Legal pages, and Contact page, and Category Landing pages.
You can choose to use images of your own or stock photos throughout your blog and on social media.
Search online for stock photo providers, but keep in mind you need legal right to use stock photos! You can’t just do a Google search and copy and paste the image on your site.
Here are a few sites that offer free stock photos:
- Foodiesfeed (for food photography)
- Librestock (searches for free stock photos across many sites)
The biggest thing to keep in mind when using free stock photography is that everyone has access to them. It’s not uncommon to be looking at Pinterest and seeing the same photo on pins multiple times within a single search!
Below are some other stock photo providers but are a paid service:
Do a search online for other sources – these are just a few!
Check out how to create images using services for social media here.
Using Your Own Photos
If you wish to use your own photos on your site, there are a number of ways you can edit them (if you choose) before placing them on your blog.
Call To Action (CTA)
At the end of each post, what do you want your reader to do?
If you don’t writing something asking them to take action, chances are they won’t do a thing.
Now, even if you ask your reader to do something, they also may not do what you are asking.
But, asking your reader to do something simple and easy at the end of your post will help increase how many actually do engage with your site.
Here are some examples of “calls to actions” (CTAs) you can place at the end of your post:
- Like this post? Share it on Facebook!
- Want to save this for later? Pin it on Pinterest!
- Thank you for reading – please leave a comment if you have a question!
It should be quick and easy to read at a glance. If your CTA is too long (say you want to really thank your loyal readers…at length), nobody will read it.
Keep your CTA: short and sweet, simple and clear.
Make sure the CTA stands out by bolding it (do NOT use a heading so it stands out – this will confuse Google).
See Also: Using Social Media To Boost Traffic
Reviewing Content Before Publishing
The most important thing to do before you click that Publish button is to check and recheck your article for any issues with spelling or grammar.
A flawlessly written article will show that you are a professional blogger to your readers.
A lot of people use plugins like Grammarly (free or paid depending on what you need) which will suggest changes to an article you write.
Tip: When you first finish an article, it may feel perfect and ready to go. But, try letting the article sit for a day or two and come back to it with fresh eyes. You will be surprised what you think should be changed (and you may catch some errors!).
If you use an SEO plugin like Yoast (free or paid versions) or Rank Math, you will also receive recommendations on keyword usage, sentence structure (like using a passive voice) and others to help you score higher in search engine results.
However, don’t rely 100% on these recommendations from Yoast. SEO is changing all of the time and Google (and other search engines) prefer well written articles to ones that are jammed full of keywords (“keyword stuffing”) just to increase your score from the plugin.
You can also create a checklist (by hand, in a service like Trello or any method you prefer) for every single post to check off before pushing the publish button.
Your checklist will change as you learn more and more about blogging. But, having a single place to check before your writing is live and ready for your readers will ensure your posts are consistent and ready to go every single time.
Free Blog Post Checklist
Ever forget like 3 steps in your blog post and have to keep going back to update it? Use this master checklist to stay on task and add your own tasks as well!
Overcoming Writer’s Block
Feeling stuck on what to write about? Here are some things to try:
- Search for other bloggers in your niche. What do they write about that excites you?
- Take 3 minutes and write everything you can think of to write about as fast as you can! No editing or thinking too hard about one topic – just free-write anything and everything that comes to mind.
- Search social media for others to follow for inspiration!
- Look through your old blog posts and see where you can round out your blog content. For example, do you have an article about meal planning but don’t have any recipes or tips on what to actually make when meal planning?
- When you feel inspired, take 10 minutes and write out as many topics as you can as quickly as you can! Don’t think, just write or type anything that comes to mind. Get stuck later? Reference your list for inspiration!
Opt In Forms
Information on opt in forms to join your email list are going to be found on this post about email marketing, opt in forms, content upgrades and more.
Remember to pin this for later!