You may be a rocket scientist, but coming up with your first blog post ideas will be still the hardest thing in the world. How to write that first post when you are glaring at the blank screen, and inspiration just *doesn’t come*? You feel like the clock is relentless, and instead of writing that killer post you’re on your 6th cup of coffee, you’ve watched three seasons of ‘Suits’ and your house has never been cleaner?
I’ve often been there before! I would simply procrastinate and do everything not to start writing…and then the situation would often repeat the following day, leaving me more and more frustrated, and leaving my blog and content strategy shambles. It took me 5 (FIVE!) years to start this blog!
Waiting for inspiration is like waiting for Godot
Remember Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot?
The two guys were waiting for another guy named Godot and didn’t do anything while they were waiting.
And what happened?
Don’t get me wrong. Inspiration is super-important. It’s the magic sauce that makes you accomplish your task 5 x quicker and 10 x better. As the guys who wrote ‘Rework’ nicely put it: ‘Inspiration is a magical thing, a productivity multiplier, a motivator.’
The hard truth though is: if you want to succeed at content marketing, you can’t write content only when you feel like it. You can’t just sit there waiting for inspiration. It’s just not going to happen regularly enough, consistently enough, to let you keep delivering and promoting high quality content for your business.
If inspiration is important, but waiting for inspiration is not an option, you need to have a system for creating content that will make you inspired. Every single time. Like a clockwork.
Is that even possible?!
No, I’m not going to give you ‘golden tips’ on how to boost creativity / find inspiration with essential oils, through motivational TED talks or inspirational quotes. I’m not going to tell you to drop some acid like Steve Jobs either, don’t worry.
What you need is a clear SYSTEM for writing your first (and second, and third and…three hundred thirty third ? ) blog post that:
- will really resonate with your audience (value), and that will make them come back to you again and again (traffic)
- will build their trust and that will ultimately make you the first person they will go to if they have a problem (and you have a product / service that can solve it)
- will build your authority and your (personal) brand.
The system consists of:
- Plan – so you know exactly what to write and when to write. Having clear deadlines on your calendar, with posts planned for 4-6 weeks, gives you a framework, security and routine. Routine is good! It is necessary to succeed in content marketing and actually, instead of killing creativity (which is a common stereotype) it gives you the a bird’s view on your progress, and momentum that sparks motivation and inspiration. You can download the content plan here.
- A set of questions that will help you come up with the blog post ideas (content) whenever you need. Remember all the movie scenes where the characters are going to a shrink? What does the therapist do? She asks questions. Lots of personal, inquisitive questions. The characters start talking about themselves, reflecting upon what they thought, and then…then they have the ‘AHA! Moment – you will have it too 😉
- A clear TEMPLATE / Outline that will help you structure your ideas into something that reads well
First Blog Post Ideas are Made of This
Understanding your audience, their problems, their ‘WHY’
If you want to write content that will ultimately convince your audience to buy something from you, your content is *not* about you! I should not be about you, your business, or your product. Your audience doesn’t care. They want to see you speak about *them*. They want to see you understand them. That you have walked the walk. That you can show them compassion and – the way.
- Who’s your target audience? (Age, gender, interests, language they speak?)
- What is their main pain point/ problem? (Why do they have it? How does it affect their life?)
- How is your product / service solving their problem?
- PURPOSE – what do you want to achieve with your content? (get more subscribers, website visits, download a freebie / sample?)
2. Selecting what to write about – Start with what’s most important
If it’s your very first blog post, start TOP-DOWN – from the most important pain point of your most important client that can be solved with your most important product/ service.
Then, after you have decided what that pain point is, do:
1. COMPETITION research on the chosen pain point – see what your competition has already written on that point, and what other blog posts are popular on their blog.
Don’t copy – improve!
Again, ask yourself questions:
- What is missing from my competitor’s content?
- What can I add / build upon?
- Can I look at the same problem from a new perspective?
- Can I make the content more interesting / interactive / actionable/ useful?
The content AND structure of your first blog post
First paragraph – start with a story
Not *your own* story. The story of your client. Talk about them. See the problem through their eyes. Be your customer. Here are some questions that will help you step into your customer’s shoes:
- What is the problem?
- What is it like to have the problem?
- What are they feeling when they are experiencing the problem?
- Why do they have the problem?
- When does the problem happen?
- What impact does the problem have on their lives?
- How would their life be different if they didn’t have the problem?
Now, answer these questions to create a story of your target client avatar experiencing the problem. Be as straightforward and personable as possible. Make sure you really mean it.
You can, for instance, ask the clients a lot of rhetorical questions that describe their situation:
Do you sometimes feel like you don’t deserve the recognition and praise you get at work? Are you sometimes obsessing about other people finally *discovering* how inadequate you really are (or think you are)? Do you sometimes avoid applying for a job you are perfectly qualified for
Do you know this feeling when your bra pads shift on the swimming pool, and there’s *absolutely* no way you can adjust them without drawing *everyone’s* attention to your boobs?
What if you are not feeling inspired to look at the problem from your client’s perspective?
Talk to them! Go to facebook groups, forums etc. where clients with your problem gather and *ask them* the questions above. Reading their stories can be a real inspiration!
Second paragraph – describe the problem from expert’s perspective
Now it’s time to put on your expert hat. Describe the problem, it’s symptoms and it’s root causes. Explain why the problem happens, and how it impacts the lives of people affected by it.
Show your expertise and theoretical knowledge on the topic. Speak a more formal, unemotional language, that exudes expertise. Write in shorter sentences.
E.g. This is what psychologists commonly refer to as ‘the impostor syndrome’. The symptoms of the impostor syndrome often involve…
Third paragraph – happy end story
Now, tell the reader – again from your own experience – that the problem is solvable. Describe the situation after solving the problem. Again, speak to the client in their language:
Trust me, I’ve been there, done that. It’s hard and it may now seem impossible for you to overcome that fear, but trust me – if *I* could do it, everybody can! Ever since I managed to overcome my impostor syndrome my life is completely different. I finally stopped being afraid of speaking out and asking for what I want. Heck! I actually now believe I really deserve that! I finally decided ‘yes I can!’ and started publishing content online, which ultimately took me where I am now. When I was still suffering from my impostor syndYou can live your life to the fullest too. Let me show you how I got rid of my impostor syndrome.
Paragraph 4 – N – The N ways how to ….[solve XYZ]
In this paragraph, you are actually spilling the beans: you include a certain number of actionable steps that are designed to resolve the problem.
Be tactical: make sure the solutions are actionable, and that they are connected if you are sharing a process how to solve the problem.
Also: don’t forget the monetisation logic! This is the place where you can promote your service or products in a natural, non-salesy way.
Finally: call to action
This is one of the most common mistakes committed by beginner content writers. Writing killer posts with the right monetisation logic is not enough if you don’t tell your readers what they are supposed to do next (call to action). This should be aligned with the *purpose* of your post, which you should have decided on in the first place while creating your strategy.
For example: Do you want to get more tips like that? Subscribe to my newsletter below and I will be send you a fresh doze of content marketing tips every week!
Download my free DIY Marketing Guide here to find the template on page 19.
You can find a great example of a blog post that conforms to the above rules here (that’s also why it’s number one on Google for the long tail keyword ‘how to stop emotional eating’! – It’s simply so good!)
I am also going to give you my client’s case study in my next post, so stay tuned! 😉