blogging roi case study

Blogging ROI Case Study: How 18,000 Keywords In Google Bring Us Six-Figure Income Months

“I’m ‘doing’ content, but it’s just not bringing me clients.”

“I’m posting and creating regularly – in fact, consistency is my middle name – but I’m still a one-person show with little funding to achieve my next level.”

Lately, I’ve heard this ALL too often – but the reality is, if you develop content strategically, you CAN achieve six-figure income months in your business.

Since it’s been almost two years since I created a case study on my brand (specifically, how we are our own content guinea pig: we’re able to make monthly six-figure sales happen from clients that found our content online), I decided it was time for a new one.

I started the research for this in February, and today – almost five months later! – the case study is all done and live, as of today.

Our last case study focused on how we achieve rankings – “How We Outrank Every Competitor & Win Through Organic Content Without Spending a Penny on Ads (Express Writers’ Content Case Study),” from October 2016. Today’s case study focuses on how we actually earn real income (to the tune of six-figures per month) from the content and rankings we’ve achieved.

I’m specifically thinking of you struggling, DIY-marketers still not achieving the kind of revenue you’d like to see from your organic content efforts… yes, you! I think you’ll find today’s case study truly useful.

In today’s blog, we’re sharing a real, practical look at how we’ve built our company through content marketing. 99.9% of our leads and business revenue comes through the content we produce. And the majority of that content? Well, it’s published on our blog.

Next, we interviewed a client we work with from time to time: Magnificent Marketing, a full-service marketing agency. They also incorporate content marketing and blogging as their primary marketing avenue, using us to produce much of their content. We’ll share how they’ve boosted their client traffic numbers and rankings with great content.

If you read one blog of mine this quarter, read this one. Grab a cup of coffee or tea, and dig in!

blogging roi case study guide

Why & How SEO Blogging Equals ROI for Any Brand

Blogging (a form of great content marketing) equals ROI, for any brand.

In itself, blogging is a key online content format capable of building a brand, attracting your ideal clients to your website, and growing your entire business. Especially blogging written around viable SEO keywords you want to rank for.

But here’s the caveat to that.

That statement is only true if your blogging strategy includes consistency, relevancy and quality.

Businesses who create content strategically achieve ROI in the form of:

  • Better, more qualified leads that convert at a higher rate than traffic from paid ads or paid search
    • How many leads? Our content marketing ROI formula can help you estimate your average monthly leads/sales from content marketing
    • Here’s the formula: Monthly Visitors x 16% Organic Traffic to Lead Conversion Rate = X Leads/Month)

content-marketing-formula

  • According to that formula, an average of 1,000 visitors/month can get you at least 160 high-quality leads/month from strategic blogging

That’s not all, though.

Blogging also brings in:

  • Year-over-year site traffic growth that’s 8x higher than those at the back of the pack
  • 6x the conversions of those who don’t publish content, according to a well-known study from Aberdeen and Kapost

Incredibly convincing numbers, right?

But, even better than stats, we have a prime, real-life example of what blogging ROI looks like.

Ready? Let’s dig in and see exactly what the power of blogging–and great content–can do for a business.

Express Writers’ Blogging ROI: $1,600 in Content = $66,700 Worth of Traffic & Organic Google Positions

Here’s a real-life, extreme example of how great, consistent content creation can work incredibly well.

Take a look at the current traction below for Express Writers. This is after six years of consistent content, with over 1,000 blogs published to-date on our site across those six consistent years.

(Remember, steady content creation has a dominoes effect: It does better over time.)

hubspot_compounding-blogs

According to our data on SEMrush (pulled June 1, 2018), current paid search efforts to achieve our current month’s site traffic — 22,800 visitors — would cost $66,700. (This amount increases on a monthly basis for us. Lately, every month it’s been a 1-2k increase in traffic, with a fluctuating increase in rankings as well.)

If we were to buy this much traffic through Google Adsense, that would be an average paid search cost of $2.92 per visitor.

And, we haven’t even figured out how many of those are leads (buyers) yet. Expensive! $$$

semrush_06-01-2018

How Much Content Do We Produce to Achieve Blogging ROI? + the Costs

We publish, on average, one long-form, comprehensive piece of content weekly, and we update content on a monthly basis, too. Besides that, we publish monthly podcasts with show notes, and monthly #ContentWritingChat recaps.

Here’s an example of one of our long-form blogs:

ew_seo-blog

And here’s an example of a #ContentWritingChat recap post:

ew_content-writing-chat-recap

What does it cost to create this type of content regularly?

Our costs run:

  • Money: $400/month (this used to be $750, but we shaved off $300+ in costs by switching our Twitter chat to once/month instead of weekly)
  • Time: 4-5 hours of my time/month in blogging prep, publishing, writing, outlining, optimizing, & 3-4 hours/month in email marketing

If you qualify the hours I personally spend on our content into a “staff cost,” that alone could run $1,600+ per month.

How Do the Costs Compare to Paid Methods?

If paid search would cost $66,700 to achieve our current traffic in a month (22,800 visitors), and my cost of content marketing to achieve that traffic is $1,625, then paid search would be (at a minimum) 40x more expensive than my organic content marketing efforts.

Or, put it another way – a solid, consistent content marketing strategy over time could be 40 times cheaper than a paid marketing strategy. For business owners and higher-ups who think exclusively in dollar signs, that’s convincing.

What’s the Estimated ROI from Blogging at Express Writers?

Now, let’s put those numbers into the ROI formula (using my base visitor amount, to stay conservative — my site traffic is an extreme example after consistent years of targeted content):

  • 6,701 (monthly visitors) multiplied by 0.16 (average traffic-to-leads conversion rate) equals 1,072 monthly leads.
  • 1,072 (monthly leads) multiplied by 0.14 (average leads-to-sales conversion rate) equals 150 monthly sales.

In this example, a monthly investment of $1,625 into a content marketing strategy would lead to 150 (minimum) sales.

The Reward: Just How Much ROI Does Our Business Blog Bring In?

Here’s what you really want to know.

Let’s look at real, hard data and see just how much ROI an average month of blogging brings in for us.

Let’s use May 2018 as our example month of data.

Inside that one month, expresswriters.com had 93,000 visitors:

expresswriters-traffic-may2018

And the majority of those visitors came in through search rankings:

expresswriters-organic-traffic-may2018

Let’s estimate the leads and sales from that traffic once again using the content marketing ROI formula. Then we’ll compare the results to our recorded data for May 2018.

Infographic: Using the Content Marketing ROI Formula, Here’s our Real ROI Numbers for Blogging Results

Infographic roi of blogging

Our Estimated Blogging ROI Using the Content Marketing ROI Formula

Our formula is grounded in two vital stats:

Plugging those stats plus our traffic volume into a simple equation helps us estimate two huge content marketing ROI benchmarks: leads and sales.

First, we’ll estimate the leads we could see stemming from the month’s total traffic (93,000):

  • 93,000 Monthly Visitors x 16% = 14,880 Leads

Next, we can estimate how many of those leads will turn into sales:

  • 14,880 Leads x 14% = 2,083 Sales

Based on our traffic numbers for May, we could expect to see 14,880 leads and 2,083 sales resulting from our blogging and content marketing efforts.

The Actual Blogging ROI

Here are our sales numbers for May 2018:

  • 235 orders placed
  • 2,140 “items” (content services) ordered
  • $186,128.50 in gross sales

expresswriters-gross-sales

  • Keep in mind: Many of these orders were from return and repeat clients, although many of them were new clients, too. Our average client retention rate is increasing, as well. Several of our recurring clients have stayed with us for 3-4 years now.
  • But, it’s 100% accurate to say that across all of our clients and lead generation methods, 99% of every client we’ve worked with to date has found us through our search rankings.

Our ROI from Blogging Is on Fire

The 2,140 individual content services ordered matches up very well with our predicted ROI from traffic we earned through consistent blogging (2,083 sales from 14,880 leads).

The real kicker, however, is apparent in our gross sales number.

If $1,600 in content costs per month can generate $186,128.50 in gross sales, I’d say content marketing is a safe investment to bet on if you’re considering every marketing avenue (keeping in mind these are gross numbers before we pay our team of 70+ people, and cover other business costs & taxes).

Even more importantly:

  • If we had to pay $66k in PPC ads to achieve our gross sales numbers, we’d be broke (there’s no way we’d make a profit after that high PPC cost and then the cost of delivering content services).

It’s safe to say that content marketing, mainly in the form of blogging, is the lynchpin for us in terms of drawing customers to our business.

Magnificent Marketing Case Study: Blogging = Steady Monthly Traffic Growth

magnificent marketing case study

I recently sat down with David Reimherr, founder of Magnificent Marketing, and their firm’s content marketing manager, Bre South.

Here’s what they had to say about how content marketing and blogging contributes to their client’s success.

“Our content strategy success begins with a deep dive onboard with our client to walk through targeted audience demographics, content mission statement, and their content tilt. In discussing the core messaging of the client’s product; we dig into the core of a client’s product and why it would resonate with its audience. We find which content angles will serve their audience, and how to reach their audience appropriately.

We help them figure out how to talk the talk their audience wants to hear.

All content efforts are driven by the content mission statement in addition to what our client already knows about their audience and experience. This gives way to the creation of determining main pillar topics and sub-topics the client commits to producing content for.

We help them create this mission statement for which all efforts will follow.

The main pillar topics are determined based on what a persona would actively be searching for as a problem they are looking for help to solve.

What topics will the audience care to read, interact and engage with?

All pillar topics funnel up to the brand’s content mission strategy and position the client as a thought leader in their specific industry. From here we are able to segment awareness, consideration and purchase pieces specifically and begin the roadmap of content construction and execution.

Blog writing is SEO focused which stems from a detailed keyword discovery and current ranking report to highlight the keywords to target for from their pillars.

We outline their content writing strategy by creating suggested headline topics built from our keyword report.

ROI & Success in Content Marketing

We’ve seen tremendous success, specifically in Emancipet, a national nonprofit veterinary service providing low-cost but high-quality care since 1999, through identifying keyword opportunities and crafting content around the terms to target.

We took over the account in January 2018 and through a strategic SEO focus around blog posts, consistent social media scheduling, and additional content creation we’ve seen a 16% increase in organic search. From that increase, 15% have been new users.

magnificent-increase-in-users

In addition, Emancipet nationally ranks in the top spot (#1) organically for the following keywords:

  • affordable heartworm treatment
  • Austin low cost vet
  • low cost heartworm treatment
  • cost of heartworm treatment
  • how much does heartworm treatment cost
  • how does microchip work for lost dog
  • free vet clinics in Houston
  • low cost heartworm test
  • heartworm shot cost
  • affordable pet care Austin

On a local level, we kicked off marketing efforts with Austin Dental Care, a company that has been around since 1997, with no previous strategic marketing in place, in November of 2017. Unfortunately, they did not have the proper Google tracking in place for us to historically compare but we saw the following continual uptick in organic search since our content plan kicked off. 

Increase in organic search users:

  • November: 30 users
  • December: 112
  • January: 216
  • February: 263
  • March: 313
  • April: 337
  • May: 408

magnificent-organic-traffic

Magnificent Marketing continues to implement successful content for their clients–and Express Writers helps fulfill that content!”

How Can You Achieve the Same Results and ROI from Blogging?

One of our passions is to spread the word about content marketing and help people achieve amazing results with it, like our own success at Express Writers.

Because – fantastic news – you can absolutely do this, too.

Here are some solid steps to help you get to a real level of blogging ROI.

1. Write Down What You’re Willing to Invest in Blogging and Content Marketing – and Stick to It

The type of blogging that earns ROI requires a two-fold investment of time and money.

Whether you take content creation in hand or outsource it to experts, the best stuff depends on what you’re willing to put into it.

Thus: Budget for your blogging. Write down a ballpark estimate of what you’re willing to spend, then proceed to the next step.

A typical starting budget could look like a monthly cost of investing a blog management package, where you’re posting 1-3x per week or more, and a social media plan that boosts the activity on your brand’s Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

2. Calculate How the Investment Will Pay Off

Let’s say you choose to outsource your content.

At Express Writers, if you want our best writing level, that’s Authority Content. One authority-level blog costs $375, including full design, content, research, keyword strategy, and more.

ew_pricing

You would actually receive SEO keyword research from our trained experts in each Authority piece, and have the possibility of ranking high with each blog. Investing in one year of authority blogging would cost about $19,500 if you publish one authority blog/week.

Or, if you want our next-best writing level, you could invest in expert writing, which is not as intensified, long-form and powerful as authority, but is also a high-quality, worthwhile writing level. You get an expert writer who knows your industry. No SEO research and full design, content only. This costs $395/month for 1 blog a week, posted on your site. Or $4,740 a year. (See blog management packages here.)

Since we write to appeal to your specific readers and search engines, we can estimate your keyword rankings. We can also use stats to figure out your click-through rate and traffic from organic blogging.

We hashed it all out in our post on content marketing ROI:

ew_content-investment

With an estimate of your monthly traffic in hand, we can then estimate potential leads and sales using our trusty formula:

ew_content-investment2

As you can see, this is an easy and eye-opening way to determine how your blogging investment will pay off.

If you’re not satisfied with the potential ROI, play with the numbers and see what happens as your investment increases.

P.S. A note about blogging. You really need social media activity (posts, sharing of your blogs, relevant facts about your brand, etc.) from a qualified social media copywriter if you don’t have social media going on yet. It will really complete the full-circle picture. For example, our Twitter profile @ExpWriters is responsible for 10% of our monthly traffic! 

If you were to add social media coverage from our social media packages to the blogging you do yourself, or the blogging we could do for you, this would start at $360/month to promote the blog and share other relevant posts about your brand consistently, adding $4,320/year in costs. Making sure you have activity under your brand name on social media is absolutely necessary for every brand.

3. Blog the Right Way (that Makes the ROI Roll In)

Here’s one caveat: You’ll only earn blogging ROI if you blog the right way.

The ROI formula only predicts what you’ll earn from consistent, high-quality, targeted blogging.

If you phone it in, you will not see the results the formula predicts.

We have lots of guides here at EW that can help you blog profitably. Here are a few for starters – read up to improve your game:

4. Remember That Cheapening Out Also Cheapens Your Content

Remember that investment you committed to in step #1?

If you flake out on it, your content will flake out, too.

Cheapening out likewise cheapens your content.

For example, if you cut the time you devote for blog creation in half without improving your productivity, you’ll start pushing out lower-quality blogs.

Similarly, if you cut the budget for your content, you’ll only be able to afford the cheapest content mills. Usually, this means bottom-of-the-barrel writing, or writers whose native language is not English.

With the latter, mistakes like these are too common:

Examples via Mark Matsuno

No bueno.

Mistakes like these can kill your blog ROI, because content that’s thin, riddled with errors, factually incorrect, poorly written, or hard to read does NOT rank.

Need a visual reminder of poor blogging? Here you go:

poor-content-example

Not only does this blog make your brain hurt, it’s also completely useless information. From one post, it’s painfully obvious that this business went the cheap route for their blog.

Yikes.

Ready to See ROI from Your Blog? Be Inspired from Our Success Stories

Here’s the deal:

Our blogging ROI at Express Writers is huge because:

  • We have invested SERIOUS time and money into creating great content
  • We have blogged consistently, regularly, and predictably for six years
  • Our blogs are usually long-form, SEO optimized and targeted to our audience
  • We’re committed, heart and soul, to high-quality blogging

There are no “buts” about it.

If you want to see similar ROI down the road, you MUST commit to blogging and invest in quality.

Are you ready to bring it?

bring-it

We can help with that. 👍Trust us with your blog content creation – we know what it takes. Check out our sample library PDF for a peek at our blogging chops, then request a client account to order services and make your blog ROI-worthy.

express writers cta

blog optimization

Blog Optimization: The Ultimate Guide on Optimizing Your Blog Posts for Better SEO & ROI

Want your blogs to rank in the top #3 of Google… or even earn a coveted Featured Snippets placement?

Want huge ROI in the form of traffic, leads, conversions, and even sales from your blogging efforts?

It’s time to start optimizing your blog posts.

Blog optimization is the road to take if you want to hit the bullseye on Google’s various ranking factors.

SEO success factors

And, because ranking factors for your posts/web pages are based on the relevancy and ease-of-use they provide to your audience…

… Optimization is also the #1 way to draw in more profitable traffic.

In other words, what satisfies human searchers also satisfies search engines.

If you do that, your content will rank.

Here’s how Moz puts it:

search engine rankings

Think of it this way:

The more work you put in to make your blogs 100% user-friendly, the more your results will skyrocket.

So… Where to start?

If you have no idea how to create a blog in a way that nets targeted SEO, traffic and subscriber growth…

…Or you’re staring at a recommended laundry list of what to do, but aren’t sure you know the right points to focus on, this post is for you.

With this guide in your hand, I promise you’ll be able to learn the methods and techniques you need to optimize your blog posts for results, right now.

(Psst: I’ve been able to net 99% of our traffic, leads, AND clients at Express Writers through publishing consistent, SEO-optimized blogs.)

Ready? We’re digging in deep for this one, so buckle up.

ultimate guide on blog post optimization

Table of Contents: Blog Optimization (The Ultimate Guide on Optimizing Your Blog Posts for Better SEO & ROI)

Before the Blog: 4 Simple Steps to Prep for Powerful Blog Optimization

  1. For SEO Rankings: Do Keyword Research
  2. For Your Audience: Do Topic Research
  3. For Better Content: Outline Your Blog
  4. For High-ROI Blog Optimization: Craft Better Headlines

How to Write Your Blog (& Optimize Correctly As You Go) in 5 Steps

  • Keyword Use and SEO Optimization
  • Blog Length
  • Adding Images + Using Keyword-Rich Alt Text
    • How to Optimize Images with Alt Text in WordPress
  • Blog Formatting
  • Conversion Techniques That Get the Clicks
    • Write Matching CTAs for Your Blog Posts
    • Write Your CTAs Powerfully
    • Insert at Least One CTA at the End of Your Blog, & Test Other Placements
    • Try Offering a Lead Magnet

Publishing the Blog (How to Push Blog Optimization Over the Top)

  • Writing Metas
    • How to Write an Optimized Meta Description
  • Optimizing in WordPress with Yoast SEO

After It’s Live (What to Do for Blog Optimization and What NOT to Do)

  • Low-Cost Content Promotion
    • How to Write and Send Emails Promoting Your Newest Blog Post
    • How to Not Get Canned in Spam
  • Blog Optimization Done Right: A Crazy Good Example

table-of-contents blog optimization guide

Before the Blog: 4 Simple Steps to Prep for Powerful Blog Optimization

Before you can start crafting a high-ROI blog, you need to do some blog optimization prep.

This is the research, drafting, and outlining that will make all the other steps much easier.

It all starts with keyword research.

1. For SEO Rankings: Do Keyword Research

You cannot optimize your blog for search results, Google rankings, traffic, and more without keyword research.

quote 1 blog optimization guide

It’s just impossible.

The value of using the right keywords in your blog content is astounding:

Businesses that use blogs with keywords generate 67% more leads than businesses without keyword-optimized blogs.

quote 2 blog optimization guide

The right keywords will attract the right traffic.

No matter your industry or niche, use this general guide to get started finding those high-ROI keyword opportunities to use in your blogs:

1. Start with broad, general seed keywords (also called “root keywords”) related to your industry, products, or services.

  • Example: If I sell bike parts, I might start with a no-brainer root keyword, “bike parts.”

2. Plug that keyword into the tool of your choice (find good ones to use in the next sub-section).

  • Example: Plugging the keyword “bike parts” into Keyword Tool immediately brings up a list of long tail keyword variations I can research further:

keyword-variations

3. Continue to search for long tail keywords that expand on your root term, but hit a desirable sweet spot: low competition + high search volume + low difficulty score.

For a deeper dive into to keyword research, check out our guide, “How to Find SEO Keywords.”

Recommended Keyword Research Tools

2. For Your Audience: Do Topic Research

Got your keywords? It’s time to dive into potential topics you can write about using those hot terms.

Topic research is essential to the blog optimization process because it ensures you’re writing about what interests your readers.

What’s important to them, what will help them, what will capture their attention?

If, on the other hand, you write about topics they don’t care about, your content marketing will suffer. Nobody will want to read those posts.

How do you find hot blog topics?

Try a few tried-and-true methods and tools:

1) Watch Your Competition

The most successful competitors in your industry are a good benchmark for content and blog topics.

Check out their content, and start taking notes about the topics and subjects they’re covering.

Analyze each topic idea and ask yourself a few questions:

  • How can I put my own spin on this?
  • Can I write a better post on this topic? (more thoroughly researched, better writing, better visuals, etc.?)
  • Is there a sub-topic or facet of this broader topic I can write about with more depth?

quote 3 blog optimization guide

2) Use BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo is a great tool to use to get a sense of what’s hot with readers.

One of the easiest ways to find topics is to use two general features: “Most Shared” and “Trending Now” (under “Content Research”).

buzzsumo most shared

The “Most Shared” feature lets you research which content pieces have the most engagements over a set period of time. So, I could search a broad keyword and see which topics have done well in the past for that term.

In the example above, I searched the term “mountain biking” to see which articles were most-shared over the past 6 months.

News articles do very well, but I also notice that mountain bike reviews are hot, as are reviews of the best places to mountain bike.

buzzsumo results

buzzsumo results

buzzsumo results

These results give me some great jumping-off points for my own blog topics.

Similarly, the “Trending Now” feature can help you find topics that are hot or trending in your industry.

To see these articles, you’ll need to create your own Trending Feed:

buzzsumo trending feed

This lets you add custom topics to follow based on hashtags and keywords you specify. Once you create your Trending Feed, BuzzSumo saves it for you so you can quickly click on it and see what content is trending right this second.

buzzsumo trending

Check out the topics that are hot, and brainstorm ways you can use this information.

For a deeper look at how to find hot topics using BuzzSumo, check out our guide, How to Use BuzzSumo to Crush Your Competitors & Produce High Traction Content.

For additional research inspiration, take a look at What Blog Topics Get the Most Shares & Reads? A Data Driven Answer.

3) Analyze Google Results

Sometimes doing a cursory Google search can give you great ideas for blog topics. This is a perfect method to use when you’re short on time.

First, start by entering a keyword into the Google search bar. A box should pop up underneath with a list of keyword variations, which can give you ideas for topics:

google search for mountain bike comparison

Next, analyze the top results for the keyword you want to use and see how various competitors have spun the topic.

google search for mountain bike comparison

Remember, all this research is for inspiration/ideation purposes only. NEVER copy another creator’s content!

For even more inspiration for coming up with blog topics, read up on our list of 20 creative blog ideas.

3. For Better Content: Outline Your Blog

You may groan at the idea of creating an outline for your blog post, but this is a helpful optimization step you shouldn’t skip.

After you have one or two keywords and a solid topic to write about, creating an outline will:

  • Give your blog post direction and organization (think of it as a map or blueprint for writing the post)
  • Help you plan keyword-optimized headers and sub-headers
  • Make sure you cover everything that needs attention
  • Increase your writing speed (because you’ll know exactly what to write about and when)
  • Prevent rambling or tangents that can bore your readers
  • Give your creativity a honed focus

quote 4 blog optimization guide

Convinced yet?

The best part is your outline can be as simple or as detailed as you want. No matter how loosely or precisely you organize your thoughts, your outline will serve as a tool for a better final product.

quote 5 blog optimization guide

Copywriter Henneke Duistermaat of Enchanting Marketing has some great outlining tips – for example, she likens creating an outline to following a recipe.

Henneke on outlining

You could go deeper than this. For example:

  • Try writing out first-draft versions of your headers and subheaders with a short explanation of what will go in each section.
  • Or, simpler: Make a list of your main topic and subtopics using only key phrases.

Outlining is a great way to draft your blog post and get all your ideas on paper. Commit to making outlines and your posts may just become more cohesive, thought-out, and organized – all of which is great for your readers and optimization.

4. For High-ROI Blog Optimization: Craft Powerful Headlines

Another step involved in prepping your blog post for the most clicks, traffic, and shares is optimizing your headline.

What does this mean?

It means you make your blog title as enticing as possible, which ensures it looks good in Google search results.

And, if your headline looks good, more people will click on it and check out the meat of your post.

Here are the steps to get there:

Insert your keyword at or near the beginning of the headline. Google cuts off headlines in search results after about 50-60 characters. Keeping your focus keyword toward the front helps readers understand the relevance of your post more quickly.

example of focus keyword

Keep your headlines shorter, about 8-14 words.

quote 6 blog optimization guide

Research from HubSpot has shown that headlines that fall into this length range get the most engagement on Twitter and Facebook.

content title length vs social shares

Write for the reader. If your headline does nothing but plainly describe what your blog post is about, it won’t look very enticing. Instead, write your headline to appeal to your audience.

Luckily, there are tried-and-true words, word combinations, and formats that have been proven to make people want to click. Here are the best of them, according to a Conductor study:

  • Start with a number, i.e. “10 Ways to Improve Your Life without Spending Money.”
  • Address the reader, i.e. “You Need These 10 Tips That Will Improve Your Life Without Spending $”
  • Start with “how to,” i.e. “How to Improve Your Life without Spending a Dime.”

headline preferences

Find the best words for the job. Don’t be afraid to evoke emotion in your headline. Use strong verbs and adjectives that are descriptive and powerful. CoSchedule says all great headlines include both emotional and power words to make the biggest impact.

To see how many of both are in your headline, use their Headline Analyzer. You can also use this tool to tweak your headline and optimize it for length, character count, format, and more.

coschedule headline analyzer

coschedule headline analyzer

Read more about crafting high-ROI headlines: The Ultimate Guide: How to Create Headlines that Will Go Viral

How to Write Your Blog (& Optimize Correctly As You Go) in 5 Steps

Now that you’re prepped and ready, armed with strong keywords, blog topics, an amazing headline, and an outline, you can dive into writing the actual body of your blog post.

conan o'brien gif

What are some ways to SEO optimize as you write?

Ah, the tricky part.

This section will show you everything you need to know.

Let’s start with keywords.

1. Know Keyword Usage for Better SEO Results From Blogging

Using the keywords you found during the research phase is essential for blog SEO.

But, how should you use them while writing your blog? When? How often?

Strategically, strategically, strategically.

Here are the basics.

Using keywords this way will help search engines crawl your page faster and understand its relevance quicker (which leads to higher rankings).

Your Handy-Dandy Blog Post Keyword Usage Shortlist

  1. Use your focus keyword once in the title tag (A.K.A. your headline).
  2. Use your focus keyword once in the opening paragraph.
  3. Use that keyword in most, if not all, of the subheaders (H2s).
  4. If you can, use the same keyword in a few of your H3s (sub-subheaders).
  5. Write the body of your blog post. If using the keyword feels natural in the text, do it. The same goes for any related terms or secondary keywords.
  6. Include the keyword once in the closing paragraph.

your handy dandy guide to blog post keyword usage

2. Know Your Blog Post Length Standards for Better Optimization

What’s the right blog length for the post you’re writing?

This is a common question that leaves many content creators scratching their heads.

The reason?

There are different answers to this question all over the internet.

Many experts like Neil Patel agree that 2,500 words is a good standard length for highly-shared blog posts.

I’ve even put together a study on why long-form content is incredibly sticky in the rankings:

why long-form content works

Be comprehensive at all times when you're working on blog content that has a goal of building your online authority. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

And remember, the length of your blog needs to depend on the audience you’re writing for, the topic you’re writing about, and the exhaustiveness of the information you’re sharing.

If you’re going super in-depth, your blog post should be longer. 10,000 words isn’t easy to bluff your way through, and will absolutely position you as an expert on the topic (and take weeks, or months, to put together).

Case in point: the blog you’re reading is 5,000+ words in length, and took 4 weeks to assemble, create, produce, and publish.

On the other hand, if you’re sharing news in your industry or a personal opinion, your post might be shorter. The key is to follow the outline you created during your blog prep, edit ruthlessly, and write as clearly as possible.

Remember: A successful blog post doesn’t always depend on its length. It depends on the quality of the research and writing, the accuracy of the information, the usefulness of the content, and the value you provide.

3. Add Images and Use Keyword-Rich Alt Text

As you write the body of your blog post, you may want to use images and screenshots to help support your points.

That’s great!

Images are proven to encourage your readers to stay on your page longer AND remember your content better (this is called the picture superiority effect).

picture superiority effect

Of course, if you include images in your blog posts, you need to optimize them, too. You can do this by using keyword-rich alt text.

Alt text (alternative text) tags are pieces of HTML markup that tell web browsers what to show the user if your image won’t load (like if the user has a slow connection or uses a screen reader).

Here’s what that code looks like, via W3schools:

alt text code

If your image can’t be loaded, the browser will grab and display the alt text inside a placeholder instead, like so:

alt text example

Image via wpbeginner

Alt text is also useful for web crawlers, which can’t “see” or interpret images.

Descriptive alt text tells the crawler what the image is about. (Bonus: this will help your images rank in Google Images, too.)

How to Optimize Images with Alt Text in WordPress

If you use WordPress to publish your blog, you can add alt text for all your images as you go.

1. In your WordPress dashboard, when you’re creating a new post, you can insert images or gifs directly into the body by clicking “Add Media”:

add media in WordPress

Now you should have a view of your image library, where you can select images or upload new files.

2. Select the image you want in your blog post (or upload a new one). On the right-hand side of the image library, a sidebar will pop up where you’ll find the image details as well as the option for adding alt text:

wordpress_alt-text

3. Enter a short, yet descriptive, word or phrase into the text box that will tell web crawlers and users alike what the image is about.

4. Then click “Insert into post.”

add alt text on WordPress

  • Remember to keep your alt text short.
  • When relevant, use your keywords as alt text to describe your images.

That’s it! Easy-peasy.

Bonus: Not only does using alt text for your images help ALL users understand your page better, it can also contribute to Google rankings.

Win-win.

4. Know Your Blog Formatting

Another way to optimize your blog while you write?

Blog formatting.

This piece of the puzzle is important mainly for your readers.

A well-formatted blog makes the text easier to scan, read, and digest for internet users and their short attention spans.

This also means you’ll help people stay on your page longer because they’ll find reading your post as easy as breathing.

This is called “dwell time” – the logic is, the longer someone stays on your page, the more relevant your page must be to their search.

Here’s a good example of that from Ahrefs:

ahrefs dwell time

Longer dwell-time (and a lower bounce rate) is great for more possible conversions and Google rankings.

Since good formatting helps increase dwell-time (time visitors spend on your site), never neglect it in your blog creation process. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

Blog Formatting Shortlist

Here are the basic must-dos for a well-formatted, easy-to-read, organized, logical blog post:

  • Outline! This helps organize your post and is useful for making sure your points are logically laid-out, which aids reader comprehension.
  • Keep paragraphs shorter. Electronic screens are harder on your eyes than printed paper. Plus, the internet is full of distractions that can pull at your readers’ attention, especially if you present them with mind-numbingly large blocks of text. Shorter paragraphs help with both issues.
  • Use headers and subheaders. This organizes your content so readers can find the pieces that interest them. Most online readers skim, so don’t hinder that process.
  • Use H1, H2s, H3s, etc. for headers. Your headers need to be a larger size (and perhaps a different color) to help differentiate them from the body text.
    • In WordPress, you can apply headers to your text by highlighting the phrase and choosing the right heading level from the “Paragraph” settings.

wordpress heading headers

  • Where it’s logical, use bulleted and/or numbered lists. For example, if you have a long list of items separated by commas, that list will be easier to read if you format it with bullets.
    • In WordPress, it’s easy to add bulleted lists:

wordpress bulleted list

  • Use bold or italics to highlight significant words in a paragraph. I’m using this technique right now – it draws your eye to the most important information, which makes the text easier to understand and skim. Just don’t overuse this technique; you’ll start looking silly, and may hinder the reader rather than help.

5. Know Conversion Techniques That Get the Clicks

Everything we’ve discussed so far should go a long way toward helping your blog conversions. Making your post as user-friendly and SEO-friendly as possible are the first steps.

However, there are a few extra strategies you can use to nab more profitable reader action from your blog.

1) Write Matching CTAs for Your Blog Posts

If you want more conversions from your blogs, each and every post you write should include at least one matching call-to-action.

What do I mean by “matching”?

Just that: the CTA you include should seamlessly integrate into your blog post topic. It shouldn’t stand out like a sore thumb – it should make sense within the text.

quote 7 blog optimization guide

Here’s a good example from a HubSpot blog, The 17 Best Advertisements of All Time:

hubspot best advertisements of all time

Their CTA naturally ties into this topic – they want you to download a freebie about “The Best Marketing and Advertising Campaigns”:

cta example

We’ve done the same thing with our posts at the Write Blog.

Check out, for instance, how the header of this very blog you’re reading and our CTA at the end match.

Here’s the blog header:

ultimate guide on blog post optimization

And, the CTA:

cta authority content

2) Write Your CTAs Powerfully

Including CTAs with every blog post is important for conversions, but nobody will convert on a weak CTA.

Your CTA is weak if you use weak words. Here’s an example: Say you want to encourage people to subscribe to your mailing list at the end of your blog post.

Weak CTA:

  • “Subscribe to the mailing list.”
  • “Book me for a call here.”

Why it sucks: This CTA is not persuasive. It’s boring. It uses weak verb, “subscribe,” which, frankly, nobody will care to do, because they have no idea what’s in it for them. And “book me for a call?” you should tell me why I should do it, not just tell me what to do.

Powerful CTA:

  • “Sign up today to get freebies, tips, and updates sent straight to your inbox!”
  • “Want copywriting so good, it’s internet-breaking? Click to see our services!”

Why it works: I use straightforward action verbs (“sign up,” “get”) to inspire the desired action. I also tell the reader what’s in it for them (freebies, tips, updates, results so good they’ll break the internet) if they follow through. Finally, I top the whole thing off with an exclamation point for emphasis.

3) Insert at Least One CTA at the End of Your Blog, & Test Other Placements

There are lots of studies out there that compare how well various CTA placements on a page convert: above the fold? In a right-hand sidebar? Tucked into the body text?

According to Kissmetrics, though, there isn’t much difference in conversion power between these options.

What should you do, instead?

Focus on at least placing a CTA at the end of your blog. Then, test out other CTA placement areas and see what works best for converting your particular audience.

Optimizely explains A/B testing (or split testing) in more detail in their glossary. This technique can be great for finding the perfect formula for your CTAs.

A/B testing

4) Offer a Lead Magnet

If your current CTAs aren’t enticing enough, maybe you’re just not offering the type of goods your readers will go for.

Try to up the ante and offer a lead magnet in exchange for mailing list sign-ups, for instance.

Lead magnets are high-quality content pieces that contain information you haven’t offered elsewhere. Their value should be apparent, which will make your audience much more likely to opt-in to get them. (Read: they’re conversion gold.)

Here are some lead magnet examples for inspiration:

  • Digital Marketer offered these free Facebook ad templates, which netted them almost 36,000 new leads in 60 days:

digital marketer facebook ad template library

shopify return policy generator

  • Our lead magnet, featuring our best samples, earns an organic subscriber growth of 3-4 new people per day, and is heavily targeted to win the attention of our ideal customer: Free PDF: Our Sample Library

express writers sample library

2 Major Steps in Publishing Your Blog (& How to Push Blog Optimization Over the Top)

You’ve done the research and prep. You’ve written the blog.

It’s time to publish.

But, wait.

Not so fast.

There are some final steps you can take to prep for publishing and make sure your blog hits every possible optimization note.

1. Write Your Metas

Once your blog is finished and edited, it’s a good idea to write out your metas, next.

  • A meta description is simply a short summary of your blog, up to 320 characters in length.
  • A meta title is the main headline of your blog.

Search engines often, but not always, use metas to populate your listing in the search results:

meta headline example

Good news: You’ve already written an SEO optimized headline, which also can be used as your meta title.

Now you just need to write your meta description. Then you can insert both metas into your blog.

How to Write an Optimized Meta Description

Along with a short summary of your blog post, your meta description also needs 4 things to be optimized for search engines and users:

  1. Your focus keyword included once, near the beginning of the description
  2. A secondary keyword (if you have one) included once, naturally
  3. Actionable language (much like a CTA!)
  4. A benefit – what users will get from reading your post

Here’s an example of a good meta description, broken down into its essential elements:

meta description example

To learn how to add metas to your post in WordPress, continue on to the next section. You can do it using a plugin called Yoast SEO.

2. Optimize Your Post in WordPress with Yoast SEO

If you use WordPress, you can double-check your blog optimization and add meta information to your posts using Yoast SEO.

Here’s what it looks like on the WordPress dashboard when installed. All the options show up when you’re ready to add a new post. Just scroll down the page and find this box:

yoast seo plugin for wordpress

This plugin has lots of features that help you optimize your optimization (see what I did there?).

First up: the snippet preview. This shows you what your blog post may look like in Google search results:

yoast seo plugin snippet preview

If you click “Edit snippet,” you can directly edit the title, URL slug, and meta description from there.

using yoast seo plugin

Underneath the “Edit Snippet” feature is the place where you tell Yoast your focus keyword:

yoast seo plugin focus keyword

This information is vital, because the plugin will check your post for the strategic inclusion of your focus keyword in the right places.

Next up is the “Analysis” feature. Yoast will analyze your content and SEO for best-practices, readability, and accuracy.

As you can see, this part tells you what’s good and not-so-good about your post. It also offers suggestions for improvement:

yoast seo plugin analysis

If you get a lot of red and orange bullets in this section, you should review and try to fix them.

For example, for the red bullet that reads “No meta description has been specified,” I can click back to the snippet preview and edit the meta:

yoast seo plugin for wordpress

If you’re shaky on SEO best-practices and techniques, Yoast SEO is a great help and can get your blog posts where they need to be. Just don’t go 100% by the green/orange rating: I’ve had a few orange-rated blogs rank in the first three of Google.

Remember, a great blog is all about optimized SEO, relevancy to your reader, and usefulness (value). Put that above a Yoast rating at all times. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

Double-checking your SEO is a fantastic last step for an SEO-optimized blog post, right before you publish.

But, what about after you publish your post?

Are there still ways to optimize your blog for more clicks, traffic, engagements, and conversions?

The answer is yes.

2 Major Steps to Do After It’s Live (What to Do for Post-Publishing Blog Optimization and What NOT to Do)

Finally.

Your blog is published.

It’s LIVE.

You may want to dust yourself off at this point and settle back to monitor its traction…

But wait!

You know the drill by now: There’s still stuff you can do to optimize your blog and get as many eyes on it as possible.

Do Some Low-Cost Content Promotion

Promoting your content can be a vital step toward pushing your blog post to the next level.

quote 8 blog optimization guide

Want more traffic and engagement? Promote.

Here are some of the best, lowest-cost ways to do it.

How to Write and Send Emails Promoting Your Newest Blog Post

One content promotion tactic you can’t beat (it’s free) is sending an email to your list every time you publish a new blog post.

This doesn’t have to be a complicated or long email – it can be nothing more than a short-yet-sweet heads-up with a link to your post.

Here are some basic best-practices for sending out these promotional emails:

  • Test your subject line using the Email Subject Line Tester from CoSchedule to optimize for the most opens.
  • Only include one link in your email (the one to your new blog post) to avoid hitting your readers’ spam folder. (For more tips to avoid being marked as spam, check the next section.)
  • Keep it friendly, but not too informal. Starting your email with “What’s new, losers?” might work among your group of friends, but it won’t go over too well with your audience. Stay friendly, but not too friendly.
  • Quickly summarize what your post is about, then reveal one benefit your audience will get from reading it. This could be insider knowledge, fresh stats, or maybe a freebie/lead magnet that goes with the blog post.
  • Send your promotional emails on a schedule – same day, same time. For instance, if you publish on Monday nights, you might choose to send your emails on Tuesday morning.

How to Not Get Your Fantastic Blog Email Canned in Spam

For your low-cost email promotion to work, your messages have to actually reach their destination (i.e. your readers’ inboxes, not their spam folders).

Here are some tips to avoid getting canned in spam:

  • Only send emails to readers who opted-in for your mailing list. Sending unsolicited emails IS spam. Period.
  • Keep your subject lines honest. Don’t promise something you can’t deliver.
  • Include your business address in the email footer. It’s actually against the law to skip this. If you work exclusively online, consider getting a P.O. box to use for business purposes.
  • Include an opt-out or unsubscribe link in your email. Your readers must always have a way to manage the email communication they receive from you.
  • Keep your sender information accurate. This includes the “from,” “to,” and “reply-to” fields as well as the routing information. For example, you can’t try to make it seem like an email you sent came from somewhere else.

Here’s an example of accurate, trustworthy sender information in a promotional email from Barnes & Noble:

barnes & noble email example

Blog Optimization Done Right: A Crazy Good Example

Whew.

We made it this far.

By now, you should have the hang of optimizing your blog posts from start to finish.

To keep the good vibes going, let’s look at an example of superb blog optimization.

Study this blog and note how all the pieces, from huge to tiny, seamlessly fall into place.

Take inspiration, then go forth and optimize!

How to Write Sales Copy (and Win More Clients) – Enchanting Marketing

Here’s a great example of a post ranking in Google that’s optimized to a tee: How to Write Sales Copy (and Win More Clients).

google search results for sales copy

Let’s look at each piece of optimization that contributes to the whole.

First off, the focus keyword (“sales copy”) is used strategically throughout.

We can find it in the optimized headline and first paragraph:

enchanting marketing on sales copy

And in the H2s and body copy:

enchanting marketing sales copy

Next, let’s dig deeper into the HTML.

The meta title and description are on-point:

meta title and description

And we can even see that the post was optimized with Yoast SEO:

yoast seo

Let’s not forget the blog formatting, either.

It’s easy to read, well-organized, and incorporates lots of bulleted lists. Paragraphs are short, and headings give meaning to the content and make it skimmable:

copywriting articles for beginners

The images are optimized with alt text, too:

optimizing blog post images

Finally, there are CTAs throughout the post that are persuasive, well-written, and make sense for the topic of the blog post:

blog post cta example

Overall, this blog post has optimization nailed. It’s no coincidence that this post is currently ranking #2 on Google for “sales copy.”

Now, what about earning a coveted spot in the rankings… like ranking as a Featured Snippets answer?

Here’s an example of a blog I wrote for Shopify. It’s ranking in the featured snippets as one of the primary answers to define “seo product descriptions.”

Look at how the snippet content itself is structured.

Do you see the pattern of a well-structured blog post that we’ve been discussing all along?

google snippet content

Shopify did something smart and created a Table of Contents featuring these 5 points at the top of the blog post:

shopify featured snippets

You might have seen a Table of Contents in this blog, too (scroll to the top). 😉

And finally, here’s an example of a blog on our very own site, ranking #2 for “blogging statistics.” 

blogging statistics blog post ranking

Again, if you check out the blog, you’ll see the exact same structure, formatting, and style that we’ve been discussing in our guide.

example of a high ranking seo blog

Bonus: I jumped on a keyword that was at a 30-ish score in keyword difficulty at the time of publishing.

Months later, this same keyword went up 10-15 points in difficulty!

Need to know how to find (and jump on) great SEO keywords for your content? Read my guide on how to find SEO keywords here.

Optimize Your Way to Better Blogging Results

Taking the time to optimize your blog from beginning to end can have amazing returns…

But only if you do it the right way.

Follow this guide to make sure your posts are user-friendly, not to mention SEO and ROI-rich.

Trust me: the time it takes to research, prep, write, publish, and promote will pay off tenfold when all is said and done. So, opt to optimize your content!

cta authority content

legal blog writers

10 Smart, Easy Tips for Starting Your Law Blog and Working with Legal Blog Writers

The benefits of starting a blog for a law firm or legal business bear repeating, even if you’ve heard them before (and you probably have).

By now, you understand how blogging helps grow the chances of getting discovered through online search for any business.

You’re well aware of how it builds trust with readers.

You know how a blog helps position you (or, if you’re a marketer, your client) as an authority in any industry.

A blog can play a hugely instrumental role in the first part of the sales journey:

(Via Hubspot)

As a result of its ability to attract prospects, it can help grow your business, too.

Just look at this case study from Jeff Bullas to see five great examples of blogging success, including companies like Etsy and OptinMonster.

The benefits of blogging can’t be disputed. In fact, you’re probably ready to get going with a law blog right this second. After all, the sooner you begin, the sooner you can reap the rewards.

But where to begin?

If you need a little push making the first move toward content marketing success with a law blog, you’re in the right place. These tips for starting a blog with legal blog writers will show you how it’s done.

working with legal blog writers

How to Position a Law Business for Success with a Blog + Legal Blog Writers

The first must for starting a law blog? Hire the right writing talent!

1. Hire Legal Blog Writers!

A blog can’t be successful without good writing talent behind it.

You can’t just hire any writer, either. You’re working within a niche industry. Useful, thorough, factually accurate blogs about legal topics require expert knowledge. You need writers who are up to the task.

Generally, you won’t find these types of writers at a content mill. If you do end up hiring cheap services, it’ll leave you with cheap, inaccurate filler blogs that provide no value for your audience.

Bottom line: If you want a good legal blog, one that does everything you need it to do for successful content marketing and SEO, you need higher-level writers who know their way around legal topics.

You gotta hire and invest in expert legal blog writers.

For inspiration, here’s what a great law blog looks like:

The Startup Law Blog is a perfect example of a blog with solid writing and expert knowledge behind it.

It also gets tons of engagement!

For proof, look at how many comments a recent post got:

2. Don’t Give Legal Advice

Lawyers and law firms need to tread carefully when posting online and blogging. There are ethical lines you should not cross to avoid misleading readers.

The American Bar Association has outlined general guidelines to follow when posting online. One biggie is to know the distinction between offering legal information and giving legal advice.

Legal advice is specific and relates to the information and circumstances of an individual case. Legal information, on the other hand, is general, hypothetical, and can be applied to lots of different cases. To avoid ethical tangles, you should stick to the latter in your blog posts.

Here’s where hiring an expert legal blog writer can save you – they’ll know this distinction inside-out and can make clear statements in posts about it. They’ll let the reader know the information is general and not intended as legal advice.

3. Keep the Language General and the Tone Approachable

It could be easy to forget who you’re writing for and include legal-speak in your blog posts.

This is a big no-no. For one, your audience is probably much more general than you think. You’ll mainly be talking to people who have been searching the web for basic information and explanations about legal topics. These people won’t have any legal training.

This means you need to keep your language general. Don’t include legal jargon (unless you’re willing to define it in plain terms), and explain basic concepts in a down-to-earth way. Otherwise, you may turn visitors away.

4. Focus on Quality and Usefulness

It can be hard to come up with a steady stream of blog topics, but there are always two keys to keep in mind for subject matter. Focus on providing quality and usefulness to your readers.

What does quality look like?

  • Clear, easy-to-read text with good grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
  • Ideas are broken up into short paragraphs for maximum readability.
  • The blog is organized with headers and subheaders.
  • One idea flows logically into the next, and the next, and so on.

What does usefulness look like?

  • The topic is one that would interest your target audience.
  • The blog features enlightening or practical information – it speaks to your readers’ lives, concerns, or pain points.
  • The blog is written in a relatable, understandable, clear tone.
  • It’s factually accurate.
  • The blog is timely, or better yet, timeless (it will still be good information a week from now, a month from now, or six months to a year from now).

Quality and usefulness are two universal aspects that should apply to every single blog you write, no matter the topic.

If you phone it in, your readers will know, and they’ll stop caring.

5. Write to Your Target Audience

With a blog, you can’t write to the entire world at large.

First of all, that’s impossible. Second of all, if you tried to do that, you would end up with something way, way too general to be useful.

You need to have an audience in mind when you write in order for your content to be effective and serve its purpose.

What’s that purpose? Helping people find answers you can provide.

You can’t help everyone, though. You can, however, help the people your professional law services target. Plus, this kind of targeting helps your business and your blog tie together seamlessly.

If you haven’t found your target audience yet, you need to get going on market research. Only then will you understand who to address in your blog posts.

Need training to become a more proficient writer? The Practical Content Strategy Certification Course is an in-depth training from Julia McCoy featuring A-Z teaching for online content creators, including legal ghostwriters. Get in today and save up to $130 on all-access enrollment with coupon BLOG10. 

6. Stay in Your Lane

You may be tempted to write about any law topic under the sun for your blog, but you really shouldn’t. Instead, focus on your expertise.

In other words, stay in your lane. This will help you build a unique blog that is incredibly useful.

Go too general, and you might not bring in the audience you’re looking for. Stick to that sweet spot where you can write about useful topics and employ your personal expertise and practice area. This combination will help you hit each blog out of the park.

For example, this blog successfully focuses on a niche legal topic/practice area – contract drafting:

Staying in your lane also includes writing about your specific geographic region. Focusing on law topics for your state or city will help you attract local readers who could become clients.

Take a look at this blog from a Nebraska law firm. They have targeted a specific county in this post to draw in readers from that region:

7. Use Your Voice

Over 2 million blogs get published on a daily basis. There are hordes upon hordes of voices clamoring for attention online.

To stand out, you have to use your voice. You have to position yourself as an individual. After all, there’s only one of you. Use that to your advantage!

General tips for finding and using your voice:

  • No matter what you’re writing about, pretend you’re talking to one person.
  • Imagine this person as an individual from your target audience (look at your brand personas and choose one to write for).
  • Write to them on a one-to-one level, like you would if you were addressing them face-to-face.
  • Really think about how that conversation might go. It would be professional, of course, but you might throw in a joke or two to lighten the mood. You might have a warmth and sincerity that comes out naturally. Or, you may prefer to get down to business and waste zero time.

Whatever your personality and conversational style, let it leak into your writing. Use your voice and stand out from the masses of other law blogs out there.

8. Avoid Sounding Salesy

If your blogs sound like you’re selling your legal services, you’re doing it wrong. To put it bluntly, you’re making yourself look like an ambulance-chaser.

Selling should be the very last thing you think about when you’re blogging (the call-to-action at the end of a blog post is the only exception).

9. Don’t Rehash Easy-to-Find News or Information

Planning to write a blog about a big law that just passed, or a high-profile case that’s in the news? Just say no to rehashing information that’s already out there and nothing more.

If your readers can easily google the topic and find a better-written news story about it, there’s no reason for you to rehash it. Instead, summarize the details briefly, then provide your take on the issue at hand.

For instance, approach it from your perspective as an expert in a specific type of law. Give your readers a professional’s opinion on the matter.

This tip goes along with #7, above. Don’t contribute to the wasteland of duplicate, useless content that’s already out there. Be unique, have an opinion, and avoid rehashing.

10. Change Up Your Posts

To help your blog stay fresh, change up the type of stuff you post. Don’t feel nailed to one style or format – think outside the box.

Here are some quick ideas:

  • Go slightly off-topic. As long as your blog has a general focus that you stick to regularly, you can feel free to go slightly off-topic every once in a while. This can shake things up and even draw in new readers.
  • Share a personal story. A personal story can help your blog and your brand seem relatable, friendly, and approachable – all great for business. The story can relate to your profession or not. If it’s entirely personal, this helps reinforce the idea that a human is behind the screen.
  • Invite discussion. Sometimes it’s fun to sit back and let your audience take the reins. Introduce a hot-button issue or topic that’s deeply relevant to your readers, then hand it over to them in the comments and see what happens. Make sure you participate and add your two cents!
  • Do an interview. Do you have a wise mentor who guided you to where you are today? Have them drop some of this wisdom on your blog. Can a colleague provide some timely information? Or maybe there’s a law blogger you respect who you’d love to feature. Present any of these people in an interview format to shake things up.

A Law Blog + Legal Blog Writers = A Smart Business Move

Content marketing is proven. Blogging is proven. These facts are undisputed.

If you haven’t started blogging yet for your law business, what are you waiting for? People are out there on the internet, looking for expertise on legal topics that’s both solid and trustworthy. They have questions that need answering.

You are uniquely positioned to provide those answers. It’s a golden opportunity to build your reputation in your field and draw in new clients. All you need is a blog and legal blog writers to make it happen.

Ready to begin, but lack the time or expertise to start writing?

Express Writers has a team of general, expert, and authority writers who can do it for you. Try a blogging package today and start taking advantage of the power of blogging.

express writers cta 2017

professional blog writers

6 Reasons Professional Blog Writers Are Worth Every Last Cent of Your Investment

There are writers, and then there are writers.

Or, let’s put the distinction this way: There are cheap writers, and there are pro writers.

What’s the difference?

Cheap writers are cheap. That’s all they bring to the table.

Professional blog writers have experience, talent, skill, and style. There’s more, though.

Writing is a field of expertise, just like any other industry, and these people know it inside-out. They read widely and absorb different writing techniques. They know how to conduct thorough research. They understand the basics of constructing a solid article, whether short or long. They’re creative and dedicated to their craft.

Should I keep going?

writing skills

Proficient pro writers need to have all of these skills, plus more. (Via Learn How to Become)

And yet, despite the obvious benefits of hiring a professional writer for their content marketing, lots of brands and businesses still aren’t doing it. Instead, they think they can cut corners. Something’s gotta give somewhere, and, a lot of the time, that something is the writing.

You may be guilty of this, too.

If you are, I’m here to set you straight.

You have to understand exactly why professional writers are worth it. You need to know what cheap content mills are doing to your content marketing. You need to understand the value of good, professional writing.

why invest in professional blog writers

Why Professional Blog Writers Are Worth Every Last Cent of Investment

There are reams of blogs out there that try to tell you the secrets of professional writers.

Even more explain the basic elements that make up good content. You’re supposed to learn these and then apply them to your content marketing and copywriting.

Articles like these are all over the ‘net. They try to give you a lesson in skills which pro writers already have. (Via Quick Sprout)

Guess what? Professional writers have an entire arsenal of writing “secrets.” You’ll never learn them all, or understand them in the same way, because writing isn’t your bread-and-butter.

You haven’t been reading and writing for years upon years – for fun. You probably didn’t major in English, journalism, or communications in college. You most likely never attempted to write a hefty fantasy or detective novel when you were 12. (Seriously, ask any pro writer – they’ll tell you all about their ridiculous first novel, short story collection, etc., that they wrote when they were young and foolish.)

Of course, not every writer has professional training or education. However, every single pro writer has passion and experience.

Let’s get more basic. If you’re a marketer, marketing is what you do. If you’re a business owner, running your company is what you do, and all that it entails. If you’re a pro writer, writing is what you do.

If these still aren’t good enough arguments for you, here’s more about what good writers can do for your content marketing. These key factors set them apart.

1. Professional Blog Writers Treat Your Content with Care

Cheap writers are not concerned about quality – they only care about quantity. That’s because they sell their services for the cheapest price possible, then get as much volume as they can to make up the difference.

As such, the work they do has no craft behind it. They are focused on getting the words out as fast as possible to make a dime.

Pro writers, on the other hand, are concerned with quality and quantity in balance. They’re trying to make money, too, but they’re also worried about producing good work.

Because this balance is number one, that means…

2. They Spend the Necessary Time Getting the Writing Right

Any pro writer will tell you straight out: Good writing takes time.

You cannot dash out a page of text in 10 minutes and expect it to be worth anything, let alone readable.

Writing for content marketing requires even more diligence. It needs to mirror the brand’s voice, use the right keywords in the right places, address the target audience effectively, and be readable and useful.

If it’s really good, the content will also pull the reader into the text. It will encourage them to keep reading aaaaall the way down to the end of the page.

Interlude: Case Study Time

You want a good idea of what focusing on quantity over quality looks like (versus a focus on balancing quantity + quality)?

Let’s take a gander at the difference using a fantastic example from this real-life case study by Startup Grind.

They readily admit that they fell for the lure of cheap content. As such, they hired five writers offering ridiculously inexpensive rates to do a paid test assignment. What they got back made them balk, to say the least.

Here’s one example from the test. This piece was titled “Quantity Is the King in B2B Lead Generation”. (The phrasing of this headline alone is worth a long pause of concern. What follows is not all that surprising.)

If you can read this without wanting to bash your head against a wall, I sincerely applaud your effort.

What’s wrong with it? Everything, for starters.

It’s not engaging – it’s repetitive and wordy. The overuse of determiners also makes me suspect the writer’s first language isn’t English.

This is supposed to draw in leads? I don’t think so.

Naturally, Startup Grind abandoned this approach and tried a different tack. They did the research, came up with the blog title, and provided points to cover. They hired two test writers from cheap agencies who could fill in the blanks. Easy-peasy.

Well, actually…

Neither writer could deliver. One handed in an article that had nothing to do with the outline. (After two more revisions, the resulting article was still incoherent and messy.) The other writer included points from the outline but loaded it with filler and meaningless sentences in the gaps.

Yep, it turns out the old saying is true. You get what you pay for.

To drive this point home, let’s compare the example of cheap writing, above, to this introduction from a pro-written blog:

(Via Hubspot)

Can you compare them? They’re not just in different leagues… they’re in different universes.

Part of the reason they’re so different is not just about the overall quality, it’s also about the attention to detail.

This leads us to the next differentiator for pro writers…

3. Pros Love Good Grammar and Are Shameless Punctuation Nerds

Details. Good writers delight in details.

In fact, though it may be counterproductive, a writer can spend quite a bit of time perfecting even one sentence. They may agonize over the placement of a comma or whether an em-dash is necessary.

This is because they know the details are everything. Paying attention to them is how the writing reaches its height.

The details include grammar, spelling, word usage, and punctuation.

If you want to know the truth, writers are punctuation nerds at heart. A well-constructed sentence sets our hearts aflutter (go ahead, judge us all you want).

(Via Bored Panda)

4. Professional Blog Writers Are Often Subject Specialists

Good, thorough research must be an essential part of content creation for lots of niche industries.

Your content needs facts and stats to back up claims. The writer also needs underlying basic knowledge about key concepts within that industry.

Will a cheap writer from a content mill have that expertise? Will they be able to write about your specialization or niche industry with authority and confidence? Can they teach your readers and provide value?

No, no, and no.

In fact, if you go with a cheap writer for your specialized blog topics, you’re playing with fire.

Why?

Because you risk confusing, misleading, or turning off your readers altogether. Goodbye, leads.

This is the precise reason why so many professional writers are subject specialists in multiple areas. It lets them swoop in and write with clout, gravitas, and confidence for lots of different industries.

If you’re in an industry that requires specialized knowledge, like SaaS, stocks and trading, contract law, or advanced B2B marketing, you need a writer with a corresponding specialization. Neil Patel even lists specialization as one of the key essential skills for content marketing copywriters.

Need training if you’re a professional writer seeking to upgrade your skills? The Practical Content Strategy Certification Course is an in-depth training from Julia McCoy, with A-Z teaching for online content creators. Take your skills to the next level. Get in today and save up to $130 on the all-access pass with coupon BLOG10. 

Pro writers will have it. Cheap writers will not.

5. They Can Switch Between Tones and Styles

Another key factor that sets professional blog writers apart is they’re adaptable. Their writing skills can morph to fit the content need.

Part of the reason they can do this is they have immersed themselves in different styles of writing. This means they read. A lot. And, as any writer knows, reading is one of the best forms of training.

They are constantly reading, constantly writing, and continually work toward improving their game.

They can write in third-person, with an objective tone, for a blog in the medical industry. The next day, they can easily switch to writing in first-person for a beauty brand that requires a lighthearted, fun approach.

Pro writers are masters of flexibility. Can a cheap writer do that?

6. They’re Passionate about Writing

Here’s the main distinction between pro blog writers and content factory grunt writers: passion.

Professional writers become professionals because of their dedication to their craft. They have a passion to produce great work, get results for clients, and keep getting better.

After all, the writing profession is no joke. Like most creative career paths, it’s hard out there. Only the most dedicated scribes become true pros and make their living this way.

For writers offering cut-throat rates, the clients they take are no more than dollars and cents. They want to get hired, crank out some mediocre words, get paid, and move on to the next. There is no passion or craft involved here.

These people probably won’t be working as writers-for-hire for very long. They’re just trying to make a quick buck.

If You Need High-Quality Content, You Need High-Quality Professional Blog Writers

Good writing is essential for successful content marketing.

If you want content that’s engaging and grows your readership, you need a pro writer.

If your content needs to address specialized topics in your niche industry, you need a pro writer.

If you want your content marketing to succeed beyond your expectations, you need a pro writer.

If you want to grow your authority and your brand voice, you need a pro writer.

Still don’t think you need a professional writer? Consider this: Lots of marketers have expressed concern that we’re well on our way to reaching what they call “content shock.” It means that we will eventually produce so much mediocre, half-a** content, audiences won’t be able to keep up.

Not that they won’t want to – they just won’t be able to. There simply won’t be enough hours in the day. This means brands will be fighting over readership and paying people to look at their content. At least, this is the bleak future according to Mark Schaefer.

Here’s the thing. This is the future of crappy content. And who writes crappy content? Cheap, crappy writers!

Copyblogger sums this up nicely: “There is no glut of quality content.

“…there is not a glut of content that is useful, passionate, individual, and interesting.”

Useful, passionate, individual, and interesting.

This is exactly what professional blog writers bring to the table. If you want to set yourself apart, if you want to improve your content marketing, if you want to differentiate yourself – you have to have the right talent backing you up.

You’re not a writer. You can’t do it alone. And that’s okay.

If you’re ready to hire a pro blog writer, we’re here, ready to step in and level-up your word game.

Check out our awesome blogging packages and expert copy, and let’s get going!engagement cta

1000 blogs express writers

We Hit 1,000 Blogs! What It Looks Like to Blog One Thousand Times = And the Return

On Wednesday, October 4, we hit a major milestone:

We published our 1,000th blog.

write blog 1000 post

How crazy is that?!

Across the last five years, we never stopped blogging, and it has really paid off.

To celebrate, I’ve put together a short, interview Q/A style piece on why and how our blogging has brought us serious return and become a worthwhile investment.

Enjoy!

we hit 1000 blogs

We Hit 1,000 Blogs! What It Looks Like to Blog One Thousand Times = And the Return On Investment

Ready? Let’s jump in!

How Long Has the Write Blog Been Running?

Since September, 2012, we’ve been blogging at www.expresswriters.com/write-blog.

As of today, that makes 5 years and 1 month.

How Consistent Have We Been?

On average, we publish 3-4 blogs every single week, and have kept up this consistency since our first month.

How Much Has This Consistency Paid Off?

HUGE dividends.

1) Rankings: Today, we have over 11,000 keywords ranking organically in Google from the blogs we’ve posted:

express writers 11,000 rankings

Many of the ranking terms are long-tail keywords, and we see our blog posts hitting the top 3, 5, 10 and 15 spots in Google for these keywords. Over 400+ keywords are within the top 5 results of Google.

2) Direct leads and sales: Our talk to sales forms come in primarily when prospects find our content in Google. Here’s an example of one of those forms. Our Sales Manager, Tamila, assisted prospect Jeff with a cart containing the product he needed, and he bought within just a few days.

And…

We’ve had over 500 talk to sales forms filled out since 2012!

over 500 talk to sales

On average, 50-70% of our Talk to Sales close within 1-2 weeks. Our typical minimum investment is anywhere from $60 – $100 or $150, on a new client’s first order. If we were to shoot for the middle, $100, that’s $50,000 minimum right there. But, many of these Talk to Sales have worked out to much more. For instance, one contract was worth $75,000 over the course of 15 months.

Safe to say, these organic leads have brought us a HUGE majority of our income.

How Much Have You Invested Into It?

I write a major part of all the content on the Write Blog, with a lot of assistance. I have three trained expert writers on staff that help me create some of the content, while I research and write about the trends. I write and schedule all email content. We have a designer on staff that creates the content visuals for us.

Rachel, our social media manager, writes weekly recaps for #ContentWritingChat, and sometimes guest blogs as well as schedules shares on all our published content. Hannah, our Content Director, has also guest blogged on the site, along with one of our client social media copywriters, Krystal.

Content types like infographics, for example this one, can cost upwards of $500 to create, plan, and design. We do infographics quarterly.

Besides that, I audit and check our website content, product descriptions, and update as needed, which is usually a bi-weekly job. We have more than 90 site pages, not including product descriptions!

Tools and Costs Involved?

We use ConvertKit, which is $75/month for email marketing: MeetEdgar, $49/month to social share: and on average, I pay out a minimum of $250/weekly in content creation time to my designer, content creators, editors, and our staff social media manager. My hours are at least 5 weekly, sometimes more.

It’s Not Easy, But Done Right The Dividends of Blogging Are Huge

If you’re not regularly blogging, let this be a testament and inspiration to what happens when you do – and roll your sleeves up and get going!

We’re a team that lives what we say – we abide by the products we sell! Seriously, I don’t know of another content agency that lives and eats because of the huge amounts of content they’ve created. We’re able to see leads organically roll in from Google consistently – day in, day out.

And if you need help – because I for one know how tough this is to maintain! – our professionally written and managed blog packages are always here, anytime you need us to help you.

blog ideas for writers

20 Creative Blog Ideas for Writers: Never Run Out of Blog Ideas Again with This List!

Publishing a steady stream of ever-flowing content is important for ranking.

If you’re an online content writer in any capacity…

You need a seemingly endless river of blog ideas for writers, one that never runs dry.

So, what do you do when it does?

What do you do when you need to come up with topics, but you feel like you’re stranded in the middle of a rain-parched, burnt-out desert?

You’d better head toward that oasis shimmering on the horizon, and pray it’s the river.

Lucky for you, in this metaphorical scenario, it usually is.

The way to the river of content is a path full of writing prompts, research, brainstorming, and good old-fashioned hard work.

To make your journey 10 times easier, we’ve compiled our best strategies for getting there. Come back to this list again and again for a quick way to get on track.

Let’s get going with blog ideas for writers!

creative blog ideas for writers

Blog Ideas for Writers: 20 Prompts, Research Tips, Keyword Discovery Strategies & More to Keep You Rolling

Sometimes, all you need is a push in the right direction to get moving. That little nudge is enough to get ideas sprouting in your head, growing quickly, and bearing fruit.

1. Start with a Subject and Create Variations

Chances are, if you’re looking for blog ideas, you probably already have one or two percolating. Take these and create variations to start off with some quick ideas for lots of posts.

For instance, HubSpot recommends creating iterations of one topic by going both broader and narrower with it. If you start with “X Baking Tips and Tricks for Beginners,” you could narrow it down to “X Cookie-Baking Tips and Tricks for Beginners.” Or, go a little broader: “X Everyday Tips and Tricks for Baking and Cooking.”

Keep going up and down the broad/narrow ladder and you could come up with 10, 15, or even 20 ideas quite easily.

2. Use Topic Generators

Another way to find variations of one blog idea is to use topic generators. All you have to do is plug in a keyword, and the generator will spit out different ways to frame the topic.

Sometimes these won’t make grammatical sense, but the point is to get ideas flowing rather than grab ready-made, publishable topics.

One of the most popular topic generators is HubSpot’s. I entered the keywords “baking,” “cakes,” and “beginners” into the generator:

Some don’t make sense, but some are a great starting point for ideas. (I would really want to read “The Worst Advice We’ve Ever Heard About Cakes”!)

Another worthy tool is Portent’s Content Idea Generator. Mess around with these and see what comes out of it. You could make some good sparks that light up your idea fire.

3. Ask Basic Questions

If you’re stumped for blog ideas, go back to basics. Write about basic topics, but frame them in terms of your business/industry, your personal brand/growth, or your keys to success. Here are some good questions to ask to get you started:

  • What does your creative process look like?
  • Have you discovered any new tools recently that boosted your workflow?
  • What’s the top question customers ask you?
  • What’s the history of your business?

4. Find Trending Topics with BuzzSumo for Blog Ideas for Writers

BuzzSumo is a fantastic tool to aid you in your quest for blog ideas. There are seemingly hundreds of ways to search various topics and keywords and glean lots of helpful data. Here’s just one way.

Go to the site and head over to “Content Analysis.”

buzzsumo_contentanalysis

Plug your keyword or seed topic into the search box and hit “Search.” From there, scroll down until you get to the section with the heading “Popular Topics for Content Related to…”

Gold!

Here we can see the most popular topics for the keyword, which give us a good idea where we can go with further ideas. For instance, a post about beginner baking tips would probably land really well.

To get different stats, don’t forget to filter by date (scroll back up the top to find that filter).

Plus, for more general ideas on trending topics you can use, head to the “Trending Now” tab and filter the information by your industry. Below, the content is focused on trending stories in “Business” within the last 24 hours.

5. Read Competitor Blogs

Your competitors’ blogs are good benchmarks for success, but you also can get lots of ideas from them and add your personal spin.

Look at these blogs, especially solid ones, and see what they’re up to. What have they been writing about recently? Which posts are getting a ton of engagement?

Grab some good ideas for yourself, but remember: Never copy.

6. Search Quora for Questions

Quora is a great resource for discovering what trends and topics people are interested in right this second.

To find popular questions people are asking about topics in your industry (and whether they’ve been answered!) do a quick search.

First, type in your keyword in the search bar. A list of topics will pop up underneath.

Click on any of these to go to an overview page. You can also click on the bottom text that says “Search: [your topic].”

On this page, you can filter results to see the questions asked and which ones are most popular. You can also see how many people are following questions – this can help you determine which topics might get a better response.

Any of these questions would make great blog topics to address, especially if you have unique answers.

7. Use Keyword Explorer

If you want a quick way to brainstorm blog ideas, head to Moz’s Keyword Explorer and do a search.

An easy way to grab blog ideas is to search for a specific keyword and then check out the “Keyword Suggestions” page.

On that page, go to the first drop-down box and select “are questions” to only display keyword suggestions that are in question form. You’ll end up with a long list of blog ideas to address. You can sort them by relevancy and search volume, too. Score!

8. Crowdsource Blog Ideas

Your audience knows what they want to see from you. Why not ask them directly what that is?

You can do this on social media by posting a poll. Or, it can be as simple as asking your followers what they want to see and inviting them to comment. Most people like this type of transparency, and will be thankful when you dedicate a whole post to their suggested topic. That’s a great trust-builder.

9. Do an Interview

If you’re stumped for blog ideas, tap someone else’s brain and get into their headspace.

Interview somebody knowledgeable from within your industry. Get the lowdown on their secrets for success. Or, quiz them about their favorite creative tools, their process, or the advice they would give their younger selves.

Avoid going the boring route by asking unique questions for fresh insights.

10. Blog for a Niche in Your Target Audience

Here’s another great angle for repurposing or rewriting old posts: try writing them for a different niche audience.

For instance, a post about baking tips for hobby bakers could be morphed into tips for hopeless bakers who want to improve. Similarly, a post about baking for health nuts could go further. It could be repurposed as a post with tips or advice for vegan bakers.

Just make sure the niche you’re writing for isn’t too niche – otherwise, nobody will find the post useful.

11. Approach the Positive/Negative Side

Don’t forget to explore both sides of a story when coming up with blog ideas. This means flipping the coin and looking at a topic from the opposite point of view.

For instance, “X Baking Mistakes You’re Making Right Now” could become “X Baking Techniques You’re Getting Right.” “The Worst Content Marketing Advice We’ve Ever Heard” could become “The Best Content Marketing Advice You Need to Hear.”

12. Write in a Different Format

This one is pretty straightforward: Take a topic you already wrote about. Now, rewrite it for a new format.

For instance, turn an old blog post that performed well into an infographic. Expand on a list-based post and transform it into a long-form guide. Use your imagination and keep things useful for best results.

13. Write a Parody Post

Who doesn’t love a little humor? Spice up your blog roster with a brief break from serious topics. Lighten things up with a parody post based on clichés, jokes, or common mistakes or misconceptions in your industry.

Look at this post from Copyblogger about the anatomy of a web writer for inspiration. It’s mainly a useful guide, but they added some tongue-in-cheek humor that’s a nice change of pace:

14. Make a List of Best Blogs/Articles from Around the Web

You’ve got go-to blogs you rabidly read, plus resources you navigate to over and over when you’re in a pinch. Share these with the world for a top-notch, useful blog post.

You can even create a blog series that splits up your must-visit link list by topic, with one topic covered per blog. I.e., expand your favorite writing links into multiple posts, like “My Top 10 Favorite Writing Tools” followed by “15 of the Best Writing Blogs I Read Daily.”

15. Go Behind-the-Scenes

Getting personal is always a good idea on your blog. It makes you, and your business by extension, seem more real, approachable, and trustworthy.

In this vein, do a “behind-the-scenes” post (or series of posts) that explores the inner-workings of your brand. Do an office tour, write features on your staff members, or even show how you get things done day-to-day.

16. Do “Best-of” Round-Ups with Your Past Posts

Once you start amassing a library of blog posts, you can use these for new post ideas.

Go into your archives and see which topics you’ve given a lot of attention to. If you’ve covered plenty of different angles for a certain topic, do a “round-up” post that puts all the best blogs on that subject together in one handy place.

This is incredibly useful for visitors looking for specific information. They’ll spend a lot of time clicking links to posts in the round-up, browsing information, and getting all your expertise on the subject.

The best part? You can do scores of round-up blogs if you have a trove of quality content about a variety of subjects.

17. Pull from Blog Comments

You probably follow your blog comments closely, but did you know they could be fodder for blog ideas?

Look at the questions visitors are asking, the discussions that may be happening, or the related topics that are raised. Pull ideas from these comments and address them in a fresh blog.

If a reader had a question you answered briefly in the comments, you can also reference this experience. Expand on the answer and the topic further in the post.

You can also head to industry authority blogs and check out their comment sections with the same aim. See what people are talking about, then use that for blog ideas.

18. Search for Topic Variations on Google

On your search for blog ideas for writers, don’t forget to hit up Google. A quick search can help you immensely if you’re totally blank.

Type your keyword into Google, then scroll all the way to the bottom. There you’ll find “Searches related to…” that can give you some quick ideas in a pinch.

Look at these great ideas for “how to bake a cake:”

19. Mine Twitter Chats

If you want the down-low on what people in your immediate network are talking about – stuff you could potentially write about – head to Twitter and find out the scuttlebutt (for non-word nerds, that means “gossip”).

Check popular hashtags, including industry chats and topics. What questions are people asking? What topics are popping up over and over? Keep a notepad and pen handy while you do your research, and jot down your discoveries. These can be turned into great blog ideas that are of-the-moment.

For example, here’s what our own Twitter Chat #ContentWritingChat brings up in Twitter search.

twitter search

20. Have an Opinion!

It’s better to have an opinion than to blindly (and blandly) go along with the status quo. Readers don’t necessarily need your unbiased rehash of hot-button issues in your industry.

What’s more interesting? Your personal take on these matters.

Don’t be afraid to have a point of view and assert it. This could win you more readers and more trust than if you stayed safely in your lane.

So, shake things up a little bit. Try being a contrarian in your industry. Don’t just churn out blog ideas; create blogs that have your personal stamp all over them. Don’t just say something – say something with passion.

Turn to Our Blog Ideas for Writers and Get Creating

Hopefully, these blog ideas for writers have switched on that light bulb in your brain and gotten you excited to create. Maybe you already have 10 or 15 new ideas jotted down, or maybe you have a bunch swimming around in your brain ready to be fleshed-out.

Whatever you do, remember you can’t reinvent the wheel. Nobody is an idea powerhouse 24/7. Consider this your helpful little nudge to get you going. After that, picking up speed is entirely up to you.

At Express Writers, we like to think of ourselves as content creation genies. If you need fresh ideas and a fresh content approach, see how we can help.

blog cta course

how to create blog images

The Ultimate Guide to Creating Your Best Blog Images: Sizes, Optimization & More

We’ve all heard the saying: a picture is worth a thousand words.

But how does this impact blogging?

Today, it’s virtually impossible to create a great blog without also creating strong visual content. In other words, your words matter less when they stand on their own. Modern readers want to be engaged on all fronts, and they look to visual materials to facilitate this.

It’s proven: blogs with high-quality, original images rank better, get more attention, and earn more shares than those without. And with 2 million blogs going out daily, you can’t afford not to stand out!

Here’s a crazy eye-tracking statistic by Springer International Publishing about the importance of good visuals in online content: people following a set of directions (which is common to long-form blogs) do 323% better with illustrations included along the way!

This leaves one big question, though…

How, exactly, do you go about creating “high-quality, original images?”

What does that even mean?

Here’s your complete guide.

guide on how to create blog images

The Ultimate Guide on How to Create Your Best Blog Images Ever: First, The Importance of Visuals in Your Blogs

Today, a massive 37% of marketers report that visual marketing is the single most important form of content for their business, second only to blogging.

With this in mind, consider what happens when you combine the two!

While the combination of visuals and blogs has gained steam in recent years, it’s not a new thing. In fact, visuals have always been a critical form of marketing. In addition to the fact that people are more likely to remember what they see than they are what they read or hear, content with images has a long history of performing better in search results, social media platforms, and private channels than its image-less counterparts.

In fact, BuzzSumo once reported that blog posts with images every 75-100 words earned twice as many shares on social media as posts with few or no images!

With all of this in mind, it’s clear that adding images to your blogs is more important today than ever before.

Be aware, though, that it’s not enough to simply slap a stock photo into your WordPress post. Instead, you’ve got to go the extra mile and create high-quality, custom images that provide relevance for your users, and context for your content. That’s what we’re here to talk about.

How to Create Your Best Blog Images (7 Keys)

Like learning to blog or use Twitter effectively, learning how to create blog images that are highly effective is a process. Luckily, these simple tips will help you get off to a great start:

1. Don’t Shy Away From Themed Images

Here at Express Writers, we believe deeply in creating themed images. We create custom themed images in our posts on The Write Blog and have seen great examples of themed images on sites like twelveskip.com.

Check out some of our examples from the blog roll:

blog roll

 

While most people imagine some hokey holiday thing when they think of “themed images,” the reality is much different.

Themed images are actually a series of images that fall into a specific design structure. Of course, this design structure varies from company to company, but it’s always predictable, reliable, and recognizable.

This serves a critical purpose. By making your blog content more recognizable to your consumers, themed images help promote brand recognition and develop a consistent branding presence.

If you’re going to create themed images, keep things like your company’s color scheme, typeface, and voice in mind as you work through the process.

2. Hire a Designer

While platforms like Canva have made it easy to create your own graphic content, it remains a difficult and time-consuming task for people who don’t do it frequently. If you, like so many marketers, have your hands full with other responsibilities, consider hiring a professional designer to create your images for you.

Not only will you get a large batch of high-quality images all at once, but you’ll save the time you would have otherwise spent struggling to create them. This time can then be applied to more productive business pursuits that help grow your company and your social presence.

Not sure where to find a designer? You can go through a content agency (Express Writers offers custom image design for social media and blogs!) or work on finding a freelancer on your own.

3. Develop a Format

Regardless of whether you choose to design the images on your own or hire a professional to do it for you, one big time-saving tip is to create a standard image format that you can work off of and customize down the road. Our agency calls this an “image set.” Put simply, it’s your best featured image size with minimal text, then a formula for an inset image that can be shared on Instagram or other social platforms like Pinterest.

While each of the images you create should be unique, saving these presets in your system will streamline the creation process and ensure you wind up with high-quality images every time. To give you a head start, here’s the best image sizes for all major social platforms, according to Louisem.com:

  • Instagram: Instagram posts look best when they’re 1080PX x 1080PX.
  • LinkedIn: LinkedIn images should be 1200 x 628PX.
  • Facebook: The ideal image size for Facebook is 170PX x 170PX, although experts recommend uploading images of at least twice that size to ensure quality.
  • Pinterest: Pinterest Pins should be about 736PX x 1104PX, while board covers are 736PX x 736PX.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Want to create blog images that stand out? @ExpWriters is sharing how to size and optimize every online image!” quote=”Want to create blog images that stand out? @ExpWriters is sharing how to size and optimize every online image!”]

4. Pay Attention to Alt Text

While frequently overlooked, alt text on featured images matters hugely to SEO. Alt text is the string of text input “behind” an image, which makes it readable for search engines and people with visual disabilities.

According to Yoast, they look like this:

< img src=“image.jpg” alt=“image description” title=“image tooltip”>

But, you probably won’t have to deal with the “code” if you’re in WordPress.

Here’s what alt text looks like on the featured image upload section in your WordPress (arrow on the right):

featured image alt text in wordpress

If you have a target keyword for the blog post you’re writing, it should always be in your alt text.

This helps search engines make sense of your image and rank your content accordingly.

Unlike meta descriptions or tags, alt text doesn’t have a hard-and-fast maximum length. The better rule to consider is to always include your focus keyword here. It is important, however, that you add alt text to every image in your blog (especially the featured image) and that you’re including relevant information, like full product names and product IDs, as well as head or long-tail keywords.

So…

To end tip #4:

  • ALWAYS include your keyword in your ALT text on images uploaded to your blog.
  • This is extremely important to focus on in the Featured Image section, where Google usually indexes key images from to show with your blog in knowledge graph search results.

5. Upload the Right File Format

While most people don’t realize it, the type of files you upload for your images has an impact on their quality! While many people upload JPEGs to the web, there may be another option. First, here’s a quick breakdown of the three main file types for visual content, and their strong suits:

  • JPEG. JPEG files are common in photographs and images where places, things, and people are featured.
  • PNG. PNG files are the best for logos, text-heavy designs, and graphics. They’re also ideal for screenshots and images that have a transparent background, such as a logo designed for website use.
  • GIFs. GIFs are animated files and typically feature in memes.

When it comes to creating visuals for your blogs, you basically have to remember two rules: JPEGs for standard photos, and PNGs for any custom graphics you create.

In addition to the file format you choose, you’ll want to pay attention to your image dimensions, as well. Huge files take forever to download, and can affect the final quality of your image.

While many web publishing platforms (like WordPress) have functionalities built-in that automatically re-size images, it’s still wise to use an editor like Lightroom or Photoshop to resize your images (according to the above guidelines) before you upload them to the web.

6. Be Cautious With Stock Photos

While stock photos can be a valuable tool in blog image creation, they’re best used carefully. Too many stock photos in your visual strategy will make your blog look, well, boring. While it’s best to use original photos whenever possible (take a look at how LMS platform Wisetail does this on their site), this isn’t an option for companies that don’t have the photography power or the personnel to do it.

In these cases, using stock photos is fine. If you’re going to use stock photos, just be sure to follow these tips:

  • Look For High-Quality Options. Stock photos come from professional platforms, yes, but that doesn’t always mean they’re nicely done. As you search for images to use in your visual strategy, look for ones that are clear, crisp, and on-brand. Make sure the people in the photo (if there are any) reflect your target audience and that the topic of the photo is relevant to your post.
  • Focus on White Space. For a stock photo to perform well in your visual strategy, it needs to have enough white or empty space to take to text. While you can enhance the visibility of text overlay with filters, layers, and font colors and sizes, it’s always difficult to get text to show up well on top of a complex and colorful stock image.
  • Understand Attribution. Most stock photos don’t require any attribution when you use them. The operative word there, though, is most. By understanding the topics of attribution and copyright, you can avoid legal issues arising from your stock photo use, and keep your blog images thoroughly between the lines.

7. Focus on 10x Content

While they’re intensely important, most people regard blog images as an afterthought in the larger scheme of their blogging strategy. Unfortunately, this is exactly the wrong approach. Instead, you need to apply the principals of 10x content to your blog images. Coined by Rand Fishkin at Moz, “10x content” refers to content that breaks the mold and does something truly astounding.

It’s essential for good blogs and social media posts, and no less important for blog images.

Instead of just scraping by with your blog images, you’ll want to invest the time and energy required to grow a true visual strategy, and to ensure that every image you publish is the best one yet. While it’s true that this takes extra effort, it’s well worth it.

Think of it this way: your blog image features right next to your headline when you post new content.

While the headline has long been considered one of the most essential pieces of any blog, it’s arguable now that the featured image is up there, too.

When your featured image is high-quality, unique, attractive, and interesting, it draws people in. When paired with a great headline and a strong hook and body content, it makes for irresistible written material that is far too powerful to underestimate.

With this in mind, never stop striving for better blog images. When your visuals move up the content quality scale, the rest of your material will, as well. For more research on this, learn about the Skyscraper Technique and figure out unique ways to apply it to your blog strategy.

For example, can you evaluate your old blog images and come up with ways to make them better? Maybe you can partner with other companies or professionals to create images that the web has never seen before!

How about a hand-drawn image to accompany a fun blog post? We did this for a typically “boring” SEO blog post on a numbered list of SEO tips, by adding “to rule your content castle” at the end of the topic, then giving the title to our creative designer! Here’s the result:

seo dragon castle

The possibilities are endless, and it’s up to you to get creative.

Learn How to Create Blog Images that Win & Become a Better Visual Blogger

Today, there’s no room on the web for low-quality content – not even in your visuals. Of all the digital resources your company has, your blog is one of the most essential.

After all, 70% of customers prefer to get to know a company through content rather than ads, and 61% of consumers make purchases based on information from blogs!

With this in mind, it’s clear that you can’t afford to overlook your blog, or the images that accompany your text.

By getting proactive about your image creation strategy and actively looking for ways to improve your visual content, it’s easy to develop a high-quality approach to images that will benefit your blog for years to come.

 

Don’t waste any more time on sub-par blog images. Check out our custom image design services today!

cta

blog topics

What Blog Topics Get the Most Shares & Reads? A Data Driven Answer

You’ve listened to the data.

You’re consistently writing great long-form content that’s supposed to be generating plenty of shares and traffic for your blog.

But, for some reason, it’s not working.

Over and over again, you’re finding that a large majority of your content generates minimal levels of social engagement.

You’re not alone.

After taking a look at over 1 million blog posts, the team at OkDork found that 89% of posts have less than 100 social shares.

ok dork chart

Yikes. (Remember the post I wrote a while back: social shares are not your best ROI tracker?)

But why is this? And what can you do to make sure that more than 1 out of 10 of your posts generate 100+ social shares?

It all starts with choosing the right blog topics.

Marketing expert Brandon Gaille created a useful infographic that outlines the hottest blog topics by popularity and revenue.

According to his research, the top 10 blog topics include:

Top Blog Topics

As we move through this article, we’re going to use data and examples to show you which of the above topics can help you get the most shares and reads.

We’ll also take a look at some other topics that are proven to perform well.

Let’s get started.

blog topics

The Hottest Blog Topics Today: 5 Topics That Attract Readers & Shares

1. Saving Time

People love to read and hear about what they can do to save time.

In fact, they love to hear about it so much that they’re willing to spend a whole lot of their time reading and sharing content on the topic.

Take a look at BuzzSumo statistics for these two productivity based posts:

Saving Time Screenshot

While both articles are fairly basic, the headline promises to readers that they’ll be able to save “tons” or “loads” of time.

And, since they’re able to deliver on that promise, they both generated over 450k social shares.

Writer and speaker Laura Vanderkam leveraged the power of talking about time management in her TED talk, How to Gain Control of Your Free Time.

Ted Talk on Time

The talk has generated almost 4 million views to date and has proved vital in helping Vanderkam grow her personal brand.

People naturally want to be better at time management. If you’re able to find ways to help your audience become more productive, they’ll reward you with shares and reads.

2. Health & Fitness

Just like time management, health and fitness shines in topic popularity because it’s something that everyone wants to be better at.

When BuzzSumo created a list of the most viral content of 2016, three of the top 10 articles were in the health and fitness niche.

This article, about healthy and portable high-protein snacks, generated over 2 million social shares.

healthy-snacks

And this article, about the top 10 ab exercises, generated almost 2 million as well.

ab-exercises

Now, depending on your audience, talking about health may seem like an odd thing to do.

For example, if you’re a financial consultant, writing about ab exercises isn’t going to yield the results that it will for a blog that already writes in that niche.

What you can do, however, is generate health topics that are relevant to your target audience and the unique situations that they face in their daily life.

In the financial consultant example, you could write an article for business owners about how consistent exercise contributes to increased productivity (which, in turn, contributes to wealth).

And, if you can pull it off, there is clear evidence that people will share and read your content.

3. Money

More time, better health, and more money. Hopefully you’re catching on to the trend.

The blog topics that perform best are the things that people want most in life.

The Penny Hoarder has generated tons of loyal fans by providing readers with advice on how to make and save money.

Here’s an example of one of their most successful money based articles:

Money Article

The article isn’t overly in-depth, but it does provide brief information for readers on how to earn extra money.

And that’s not the only article they’ve written on the topic that has yielded great results. Over the last 12 months, three of the top four articles around the term ‘making money’ were created by their writers.

Making Money Buzzsumo

With social shares above 173k for each article, it’s safe to say that they have a pretty firm handle on what their readers want to hear about.

It’s also safe to say that writing about money, and how to save and/or make it, is a great way to generate the type of interest that produces social shares and visitors.

4. Happiness and Getting What You Want Out of Life

Want to be happy? Of course you do. And so does everyone else.

That’s why content related to happiness, and achieving it, gets shared so much.

Take a look at these six pieces of happiness-related content that have all been shared over 95,000 times to date.

happiness

As we look at these BuzzSumo results, it’s also important to note the platforms where the content is being shared.

The written articles about happiness were most likely to receive a majority of their shares on Facebook.

The content that features quotes, however, received over 95k shares on Pinterest but only 88 on Facebook.

As we move along in this article, we’ll dive deeper into the importance of considering the platform when deciding on a blog topic.

5. Travel

Travel content doesn’t have the share power that the above topics do, but it can certainly produce solid numbers when the topic is implemented into your content strategy correctly.

Not everyone is an adventurer. But as science tells us, there are quite a few people who are born to travel.

And there are a lot of content creators generating massive shares from taking advantage of this.

Take these articles for example:

travel

As you can see, Facebook is where the majority of shares are being seen for this topic.

Pinterest is another platform where travel content works well, especially when it’s posted alongside an appealing visual.

Try to work relevant travel based articles into your blog. Doing so is a great way to break free of the monotony of utilizing the same topics while satisfying the interests of your readers along the way.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Are you writing about today’s hottest topics on your blog? Find out via @ExpWriters!” quote=”Are you writing about today’s hottest topics on your blog? Find out via @ExpWriters!”]

Tying These Blog Topics in With Your Target Audience

As you browse through the above blog topics, you might be thinking, “Well, that’s great that these topics perform well, but my niche has nothing to do with these things.”

With a little creativity, however, you can find ways to work all of these blog topics into the content that you write.

Take Evernote for example. Their app is designed for note taking, organizing, and archiving. So you’d think they’d stick to articles about productivity and saving time.

But they don’t. Instead, they diversify their blog by writing travel articles that give users a better sense of how they can use Evernote to travel better with their app.

They also feature articles about minimalism and happiness, both of which are topics that are trending in recent years.

minimalism

This article generated over 500 social shares. And while that’s nothing to gloat about, it’s certainly a worthwhile number for a brand whose main focus lies in productivity.

Choosing Topics Based on Social Media Platforms

When you’re choosing a blog topic that you want to be read and shared, you absolutely need to consider where it will be posted.

Social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk frequently talks about the necessity of respecting the platform that your content will be featured on.

Vaynerchuk is relentless about this as he feels that you absolutely must, “Respect the psychology of what people are doing when they’re on a platform.”

Someone’s mindset is much different on Facebook than it is on Pinterest. And that mindset varies even more when they’re on LinkedIn.

Vaynerchuk could not be more on point here. Kissmetrics put a post together, titled The Science Behind What People Love to Share on Social Media, that echoes his sentiment.

On Facebook, the most shared articles are those with a word count between 2,000-2,500 words. Articles between 3,000-4,000 words received the least amount of shares.

2-facebook-share-by-article-word-count

On LinkedIn, the opposite is true. Professionals there are looking for in-depth content, and are therefore more likely to share content between 3,500-4,000 words.

4-linkedin-shares-by-article-word-count

As far as blog topics go, LinkedIn users tend to read and share more content related to self-improvement than any other topic.

The keywords that were most often found in frequently shared content there included:

LinkedIn

But writing about these topics and keywords on Pinterest would be an awful idea.

Their users love food, DIY, and wedding related content.

Focus on the Platform and Your Audience

As you continue to work towards creating amazing content that gets shares, be sure that you’re respecting the platform and the mental state that the audience there is in.

By doing so, you’ll put yourself in a much better position to earn the highest possible number of visitors and shares.

If you’d like some help coming up with blog topics, our team of experts would be more than happy to provide assistance. Talk to us today!

art of writing cta

how to work with blog writers

The Business Owner’s Guide: How to Work With Blog Writers to Create & Publish High-ROI Brand Content

You’ve seen the data.

You know that content marketing adopters have conversion rates that are nearly 6x higher than non-adopters.

You’re finally ready to take the plunge and focus on content marketing as a key strategy in your lead generation arsenal.

But then it hits you.

How are you going to produce all this content?

HubSpot is telling you that, in order to optimize your efforts, you need to publish 16+ blog posts per month.

hubspot blog_monthly_traffic

“16 per month?!? My team and I can’t produce that many high quality blogs per month!”

Fortunately, you don’t have to go at it alone.

The proven effectiveness of content marketing has helped to create tens of thousands of capable blog writers that you can handle much of the work for you.

You just need to know how to efficiently find and work with them.

And, through this post, we’re going to teach you how to do it. Let’s get started.

business guide on how to work with blog writers

The Business Owner’s Guide: How to Work With Blog Writers to Create & Publish High-ROI Content

Let’s start at the fundamentals: outlining your writing standards.

1. Creating Writing Standards to Communicate to Writers

If you have a blog, then you probably already have some type of vague writing standards in place.

And while your current standards can be used, they will almost certainly need to be expanded upon now that you’ve decided to outsource your writing.

Your standards set the stage for how you will communicate, hire, and work with your blog writers.

Establishing the Goal of Your Blog

The first thing you’ll need to do is to clearly establish the goal of your blog so it can be communicated to the writers you work with.

HuffPost contributor Danny Wong provides a few options. Some of them include:

  • Tell your brand’s story
  • Express your brand’s identity
  • Build an email list
  • Attract top industry talent
  • Build credibility
  • Become an authority figure in your industry
  • Connect personally with customers and fans
  • Capture media attention
  • Facilitate word-of-mouth
  • Create a competitive advantage

After browsing this list, you’re probably wondering why you can’t just focus on all of these goals.

The simple answer is…because having too many goals and priorities doesn’t work.

As Harvard Business Review contributors Paul Leinwand and Cesare Mainardi have said, your business needs to stop chasing too many priorities.

According to a survey they conducted, having fewer strategic priorities can actually lead to higher revenue growth for your business.

brand growth goals

If you’re determined to chase multiple goals, make sure they work together.

For instance, your goal can be that you want to build your email list while connecting with fans and facilitating word-of-mouth marketing.

Or, it can be to build credibility and become an authority figure in your industry in order to create a competitive advantage.

Each example has three goals that work together.

Hone your focus and create goals that you can clearly communicate to your writers. It will make working with blog writers a much smoother process.

Helping Writers Create Amazing Content

You know that creating amazing content is essential to high ROI content marketing. You may even know how to do it.

Don’t assume, however, that the writers you’re working with automatically follow the same rules of creating great content that you do.

If you’re looking for a checklist to provide to your writers, KissMetrics Director of Marketing Sean Marks created a great one. It includes nine ingredients. They are:

  1. Make sure the content is original
  2. Focus on creating a strong headline
  3. Make the content actionable
  4. Provide answers to reader’s questions
  5. Include accurate reporting and sourcing of information
  6. Make the content engaging
  7. Communicate through visuals
  8. Eliminate fluff and get to the point
  9. Update the blog regularly

Your outsourced writers will be responsible for producing content that includes the top eight ingredients.

You and your team will be responsible for the last one.

Determining Content Length for Writers

While it will obviously be much easier to get to 16 blog posts per month if they’re of the 400-500 word variety, the argument for long-form content is too convincing to ignore.

If you want to achieve your blog goals, ranking for targeted keywords on search engines is the ticket to getting there.

And if you want your content to rank on search engines, long form content is the way to go. Just take a look at this illustration produced by SerpIQ:

content length serp iq

Sure, it’s going to be more expensive to outsource long form content than it is to do the same for 500-word articles.

As you can see, however, the ROI of long form content is significantly higher.

And isn’t the point of marketing to achieve the highest ROI possible?

Breaking it Down

At this point, you should have a solid understanding of what you want your writing standards to look like.

Now you just need to communicate them to your writers. Here’s a quick example of what you can tell them:

  1. Focus on the goal of our blog
  2. Utilize the ingredients of creating amazing content
  3. Make sure the post is long form (1,500-3,000 words)

2. How to Hire the Perfect Writers for Your Blog

Your writing standards help create an overview of the type of writers that you want and need for your blog.

Your job now is to seek out writers that have already proven capable of following the standards that you have established.

This can, for the most part, be done in one of two ways; hire a freelancer or work with a writing agency.

Freelancers vs. Writing Agencies

Ahh, the great debate. Should you hire freelancers or go with a writing agency?

And while there are many advantages and disadvantages to both choices, your decision should always come down to the value provided.

Let’s break down the process of working with each so you can make the best possible decision for your business.

Working With a Freelancer

The typical process for hiring a freelancer involves a few steps. They include:

  1. Find a freelance job posting site. Upwork, Freelancer.com, Textbroker, and even Craigslist are generally considered the most popular options.
  2. Post your project. Outline what the job entails and what skills are needed to complete it.
  3. Choose the best freelancer for the job. This can be based on their past work, their reputation, or after their completion of a test project.
  4. Freelancer is offered project and completes work. Details of project are provided and freelancer successfully completes it.
  5. You receive work and pay freelancer. Work is delivered on time and freelancer is paid.

Easy, right? Yeah, but if you’ve ever worked with freelancers, you’re probably laughing at this.

The thing is, steps 3-5 almost never go according to plan.

If you work with freelancers long enough, you’ll find that misleading portfolios, missed deadlines, and subpar content are more the norm than the exception.

That creates a whole lot of time and energy wasted.

Working With Writing Agencies

Working with writing agencies is a whole different story.

Interestingly enough, a lot of writing agencies are created by successful freelancers that couldn’t handle all of the work that was coming their way.

That’s exactly how Express Writers got its start.

You’ll also find that most successful agencies have a simple yet effective process for working with clients.

At EW, our process looks like this:

Process at express writers

As far as the actual content, it involves six stages.

They include:

  1. Your Input. Your project starts when you send us your relevant project details.
  2. Assigning. Our Content Manager assigns your project to the writer that best fits your topic, industry, and content type.
  3. Creating. Our writer, along with the Content Manager, editorial team, and designer, completes the project.
  4. Editing. Our editorial staff reviews the content using a 5-point quality process that we developed in-house.
  5. Additional Creation. This step varies depending on what type of content you’ve purchased.
  6. Your Review. Content is uploaded for your review and you’re granted up to two free revisions within 20 days of receiving the content.

While this is how we work, it’s fairly common for most agencies to follow a similar process.

The Advantages of Working With a Writing Agency

At the end of the day, the major advantage to working with a writing agency is that we eliminate your risk.

We take care of the hiring process and make sure that the writers handling your project are qualified to deliver the best possible work.

We make sure that you don’t have to worry about missed deadlines or poor quality content and have provisions in place to protect you if this does happen.

Best of all, we make sure that you receive great content that will deliver ROI for your business.

While I’m not saying that you can’t find a freelancer that can do the same, I am saying that it will take a lot more time and energy to do so.

With the time saved and ROI produced, it’s hard to argue against the value that agencies provide when compared to freelancers.

3. Using Your Content Calendar to Guide Your Hiring Process

Hopefully you’ve already gone through the process of creating a content calendar that outlines what type of content you need to produce and when it will be published.

If you haven’t, you’ll want to get on that as soon as possible.

Your content calendar, also known as an editorial calendar, doesn’t have to be too complex. Here’s an example of a simple one created through Excel:

content calendar

If you’re looking for something more in-depth, there are plenty of tools out there that can help you put together a solid content calendar in just a few minutes.

Regardless of the method you choose, the important thing is that you use it to plan your content ahead of time so you know when you’ll need to outsource the writing.

How Far Ahead Should You Plan Your Content?

This is where things get tricky. It’s almost impossible to identify a timeline that works for every business.

A lot of larger blogs prefer to plan their content at least six months into the future. Others tend to go with a monthly calendar that they add onto weekly.

As much as I hate to say this, it’s impossible to provide a one-size-fits-all answer here.

If you’re unsure of where to even begin, I would suggest starting by outlining your content for the next month. Then, every week, pick a day to plan out another week of content.

So long as you’re able to consistently carve out a day every week for future plans, this process should work just fine.

Identifying Who Will Write Your Content

So you’ve got your content topics and publishing dates lined up.

Now it’s time to plan out who will actually complete the writing.

This is a fairly simple process.

Here is an example of how the team at Shape and Sound does it in their content calendar:

Content calendar with authors

As you can see, they create three pieces of content for each topic. Each type of content has an author listed.

By doing this, they know exactly who is accountable for each piece of content.

Since you need to outsource some or all of your writing, you would simply plug in the freelancer or writing agency responsible for the work.

Like I said, simple stuff.

By having your content calendar, and the author section, filled out at least a month in advance, working with writers will be a much smoother process.

Creating and Handling Deadlines

When creating your deadlines for the freelancers and agencies that you work with, it’s always a good idea to set a deadline that is at least a week in advance of when it will be published.

This helps you avoid many of the issues caused by missed deadlines. It also helps ensure you have time to revise poor quality work or, if needed, hire another writer to rewrite the content entirely.

In addition to protecting yourself by setting your deadline a week ahead, you’ll also want to set a policy for what happens when work is delivered late.

Most professional freelancers and agencies will offer a discount when this happens (20-50% is common).

In order to protect their reputation, some will even complete the project for free.

There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong way to handle deadlines. The important thing is that there is a clear policy established between both you and the writer before work begins.

4. How Much Should You Pay Writers?

This is easily one of the biggest questions in the content marketing world. If you’re like most businesses, you have absolutely no idea how much to pay your outsourced writers.

To identify how much you’ll have to budget, there are a few basic factors that you’ll need to consider. They include:

  • Length of content. We’ve already identified that long-form content produces optimal ROI.
  • Depth of content. Are you looking for a beginner, intermediate, pro, or expert writer?
  • Visuals or no visuals. Content with visuals is optimal, but it will come at a higher price.
  • How quickly the content needs to be delivered. Rushed content will come at a premium.

While there are many other factors, most freelancers and agencies create their prices after considering these four things.

For a general list of the prices you can expect to pay, take a look at this infographic:

Writing prices

On the expert level for this chart, you’re looking at $400+ per email.

Now you’re probably looking at this and saying, “I can’t afford those rates!”

And fortunately, you don’t have to. You can still get amazing content delivered by professionals at rates significantly lower than $.15-.50 per word.

You just have to know where to look.

Our writing levels include expert and authority, and we’re reasonably priced! Check out our pricing page here.

A Word of Caution

Before we start diving further into what you should expect to pay writers, it should be noted that the old saying, “you get what you pay for,” is as true in writing as it is everywhere else.

If you make your way over to a freelance platform like UpWork, you’ll quickly find that there are many job postings that look like this:

Upwork

Yes, you can find freelancers that will write your content for $.01/word.

99 times out of 100, however, the content they deliver will be low quality content that’s littered with grammar mistakes.

You don’t want that for your brand.

How Much Do We Charge?

At Express Writers, we’ve created a Content Shop detailing how much every piece of content that we produce costs.

To ensure we offer options that fit the needs of our clients, we offer two options; general copywriting and expert copywriting.

For a long-form article (1,500-2,000 words) by a general copywriter, you’re looking at a price tag of $140.

For that same article by an industry expert, you’ll be paying $300.

So, for high quality content that delivers optimal ROI, you’ll be paying $.10-.20 per word.

The General Consensus

In the end, if you want to maximize the ROI of your content marketing efforts, you should expect to budget at least $.10/word.

While you can find freelancers that will produce content at a much lower rate, be aware of the risk involved when compared to the detailed processes and deadline provisions provided by a writing agency.

5. Maintaining Communication Throughout the Process

Whenever you’re outsourcing content, communication is absolutely vital to the success of the project.

This is true whether you decide to work with a freelancer or writing agency.

As Tamila McDonald, our Client Engagement Specialist, says:

tamila quote outsourcing your writing

Successful communication starts with providing clear instructions to your writer about exactly what you want your content to accomplish.

You won’t find too many writers that complain about detailed instructions.

You will, however, find plenty that become frustrated when instructions are too brief or general.

On the writer side, be wary of writers that don’t respond to update requests or questions within 24 hours. This is especially common when dealing with writers on freelancer platforms.

If the communication isn’t there, it may be time to move on.

6. Focusing on the Long Term

You’re hopefully already aware that success in content marketing doesn’t happen overnight.

It takes week after week of consistently producing high quality content.

But when can you expect your content marketing efforts to finally bear fruit?

Well, as Neil Patel tells us, “At the beginning, you’ll grow slowly and will need to add value drops to your content creation pot. Once your pot is filled considerably, you’ll start seeing the enormous benefits of content marketing.”

This visual by HubSpot shows us that, for most companies, inbound traffic grows fairly slow in the beginning:

hubspot blog_monthly_traffic

Once these businesses hit the 300 blog post mark, however, their traffic begins to take off.

While it’s unlikely that your blog will follow this exact pattern, it illustrates the fact that it’s important to focus on the long term.

Proof that Your Long Term Commitment Will Pay Off

Business owners like Neil Patel have used content marketing to become authorities in their industry and build multi-million dollar businesses from scratch.

At Express Writers, we’ve built a million dollar agency by using content as our only marketing strategy.

Both of us have used outsourced writers to help us get to where we are today. And you can do the exact same thing with your business.

Building Long-Term Relationships With Writers

As you begin outsourcing your content, you’ll find that there are some writers that just get it.

They’re consistently on point with following your instructions and never fail to produce engaging content.

When you find these writers, do everything you can to keep them on board.

Work to develop long term relationships with writers that consistently prove themselves to you. You’ll be saving yourself a whole lot of time and stress in the process.

Outsource Your Writing and Take Your Content Marketing to the Next Level

You now have everything you need to move forward and use outsourced writers to help you dominate your content marketing efforts.

If you’d like some help along the way, feel free to contact us to hear more about what we can do for you!

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The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Blog & a Regular Posting Schedule

Writing a blog can be difficult. Keeping up with your blog and writing consistently can be even more challenging.

And while you’re already aware of the power of blogging for both personal and business brands, actually putting one together is another story.

To do it consistently, and to do it well, you need a process.

Your process serves as your armor for making sure you never just sit there, wondering what to do next.

Having a sound process in place means you don’t need inspiration to create something that can have an impact on your readers.

The goal of this guide is to show you that process and give you a bird’s eye view of everything you need to write a blog and do it consistently.

Let’s get started.

The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Blog & a Regular Posting Schedule inset

The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Blog & a Regular Posting Schedule: What’s Ahead

This is a long post. To help you, we’ve tabulated a short list of contents to guide you on what’s ahead. Enjoy, and bring a latte, coffee or tea to hang with us for the full ride. 😉

  • Foundations of Writing a Blog that Matters
  • The Golden Rule in Writing Blogs
  • How Long Should Your Content Be?
  • 4 Steps for Creating Compelling Headlines That Click With Your Audience
  • 6 Steps for Writing a Blog and Doing it Consistently
  • Self Editing Like a Pro, Even If You Aren’t One (Infographic)
  • How to Come Up with Blog Ideas (Infographic)

Let’s dive in!

The Foundation for Writing a Blog Post That Matters

Here’s a quote to inspire you (Chuck Close):

quote chuck The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Blog & a Regular Posting Schedule inset

Just like anything else, the blog writing process starts with a foundation.

Without this foundation, everything else becomes confusing and inefficient. With it, you can regularly create great content that your readers will love.

The foundation involves three things:

  1. The “Golden Rule.” Write for ONE reader.
  2. Determine Content Length. Focus on creating the right content.
  3. Create a Strong Headline. Intrigue your ONE reader.

Tweet: [clickToTweet tweet=”The foundation of #writing a great blog post: write for 1 reader, determine length, create a strong headline.” quote=”The foundation of #writing a great blog post: write for 1 reader, determine length, create a strong headline.”]

Let’s dive into these a little deeper.

1. Foundation: The “Golden Rule”

The “Golden Rule” of writing a blog is simple; write for ONE reader.

The hope would be that you already have a good idea of who your ONE reader is.

Hopefully you also have a good idea of where they are, what problems they’re having, and how they communicate.

Entire books and long form guides have been written on defining, finding, and targeting your ONE reader (also called target audience, target market, etc.)

You should read them. If you don’t have time for that, Forbes has a great evergreen piece on decoding your target audience.

Don’t fall into the trap of attempting to write for a viral audience.

As Forbes contributor AJ Agrawal points out, ‘Go Viral’ is not a smart marketing strategy.

Since most viral content is based on trends, it’s not evergreen and therefore has an exceptionally short shelf-life. That makes it a bad investment.

Avoid the masses and follow the “Golden Rule” by writing for ONE reader. It’s the only strategy that has long term value for your blog.

2. Foundation: How Long Should Your Content Be?

Google the above question and you’ll find that there are over 179 million answers telling you how long your content should be.

Everyone who’s anyone has tried their hand at answering this question – it’s clearly one of the biggest debates among content marketers across the web.

I’ll say that long-form has tremendous benefits. I’ve created an argument for long-form content here: in all reality, it does the best for SEO purposes. That’s also why I launched authority content at Express Writers last year.

But along with realizing the benefits of long, authoritative content, you want to think most about how to do the right content.

Less of the wrong, high-volume, no return content: more of the right content.

Rand Fishkin, the founder of Moz, has a great statement on this point.

He says: to focus on creating more of the right content.

The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Blog & a Regular Posting Schedule inset quote

What does the right content accomplish?

Fishkin outlines four things:

  1. The right content serves visitor’s intent by answering their questions and helping them complete their goals.
  2. The right content delivers an easy, pleasurable, accessible experience on every device and every browser.
  3. The right content gets the right information and experience to visitors FAST.
  4. The right content does all of the above better than any of the competitors in the space.

But that’s all well and nice to hear what you need to do. How do you actually go about creating the right content when writing a blog?

You create your content with these things in mind and use your editing efforts to ensure that they’re followed.

4 Steps for Creating Compelling Headlines That Click With Your Audience

While I’m sure you’ve heard it more times than you can count, compelling headlines are crucial if you want readers to actually read your blog.

Copywriting legend David Ogilvy is famous for saying:

david ogilvy

But you know the headline is important. How do you create one that works?

Do you use a template that so many others have already used? That’s certainly the easiest option.

Do you list a dozen different options and narrow them down one by one until you find a winner? That can work too.

Do you include a number or ask a question? Sure, go for it.

The truth is, there isn’t a stand-alone strategy that works best for creating compelling headlines when writing a blog.

What is a given, however, is that you must identify who your one reader is and you build your headline around what would intrigue them to read on.

How to Actually Create the Headline

While your headline will differ depending on your ONE reader, there is a simple formula that you can use to short-line the process.

After all, writing a blog is hard enough. You don’t want to spend five hours coming up with an intriguing headline.

Jeff Goins, founder and owner of the popular blog Goins, Writer, has a headline writing formula that many of the top bloggers in the world utilize.

It looks like this:

Number or Trigger word + Adjective + Keyword + Promise

Your best bet is to brainstorm at least 10 headlines that follow this formula. This shouldn’t take more than 15-20 minutes.

If you’re feeling ambitious and really want to nail it with your headline (which you should), using Upworthy’s editorial process is always a good idea.

Upworthy Editorial Process

If, after coming up with your headlines, you’re able to combine this simple formula with the four U’s of headline writing, you’ll have something that will truly intrigue your ONE reader.

Those four U’s include:

quote5

  • Unique
  • Ultra-specific
  • Urgent
  • Useful

Let’s take a look at an example of a high performing blog that has utilized Goins’ formula along with the four U’s and ONE reader philosophy.

hubspot Headline 1

First off, we see that the ONE reader is sales reps.

Following Goins’ formula, we can immediately write off three of the four factors that make great headlines.

Number or trigger word? Check. Adjective? Check. Keyword? Check.

While no promise is made directly, it can be assumed that Aja Frost, the writer, will provide alternative phrases for sales reps to use that aren’t so harmful (which she does).

What about the four U’s?

Well, is it unique? You don’t see too many articles related to deadly sales phrases.

Is it ultra-specific? No doubt about that.

Is it urgent? If you’re a sales rep then I’d say it’s pretty urgent to get rid of bad practices that are preventing you from making sales.

Useful? For sales reps, definitely.

Simplifying the Headline Creation Process

If you want a simple headline creation process that can consistently get you results, just follow the steps outlined below.

quote6

  • Step #1: Focus on your ONE reader throughout the creation process.
  • Step #2: Come up at least 10 (or 25) headlines using Goins’ formula.
  • Step #3: Create a chart to see which headlines pass the four U’s test.
  • Step #4: Choose your headline based on the results.

6 Steps for Writing a Blog and Doing it Consistently

Step #1 – Creating Outlines That Provide Structure for Your Content

Outlines are crucial if you don’t want to end up fumbling around for hours trying to come up with ideas for what to write.

While you already know that you should be writing for ONE reader, your outline helps ensure that you put yourself on the right path to solving their problems or answering their questions.

Putting this together should be a fairly simple process.

You’ll want to start by doing some research about your title so you have a general idea of what to include (20-25 minutes should more than suffice).

While you may be sucked into trying to find the perfect template and using it to detail everything you plan on writing about, this can be a huge waste of time.

The outline isn’t what makes great content, it just provides the structure to help you do it.

As you get into the actual stage of doing extensive research, you’ll also find that you’ll want to alter many of the things that you’ve included; either by including more, giving more detail, or eliminating parts of it.

Think of your initial outline as something that will guide your research. By thinking this way, you’ll ensure that you don’t end up wandering mindlessly with 53 tabs open during the research stage.

If you’re looking for some inspiration as to exactly how to structure your article, Ginny Mineo of HubSpot wrote a tremendous guide on how to write a blog post outline.

Her outline for a fictitious article titled “How to Use Images to Generate Leads on Twitter” looked like this:

Outline 1

As you can see, it isn’t overly extensive. It does, however, provide the structure necessary to move to the next step.

Step #2 – Researching for Your Blog Post

While every step associated with writing a blog is important, the quality of your research will have implications across the board.

As time consuming as it can be, it cannot be avoided if your goal is to create great content that your ONE reader will love.

Not only will it help you put together awesome content, but researching well means that you won’t give yourself the opportunity to have nothing to write when you get to the drafting stage.

Fortunately, you’re in a time when it has never been easier to find resources, data, case studies, images, etc. that you can include in your content.

Before we get into where and how to research, a few words of caution are necessary…

There are a TON of resources out there that you can use. And as we mentioned previously, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and end up wandering aimlessly with 50+ tabs on your screen.

If you take the route of trying to find as many resources as possible, you’ll turn a blog post that should’ve taken you 4-5 hours into one that takes 4-5 days.

Kevan Lee, the director of marketing at Buffer, says that the research phase tends to take him about 40 minutes per 2,000 word article.

His average time spent on each part of the writing process looks like this:

Research

While Kevan’s experience enables him to complete the process sooner than most, this is still a solid guideline for where you want to be.

A good rule of thumb is to stick to your initial outline as much as possible and find 2-3 resources per sub-heading that can be used within the content.

If you find something that doesn’t relate to your current outline but feel that it could positively impact your content, go ahead and include it.

Just don’t do this with every ‘great’ resource you find.

Where Do You Research for Your Blog Article?

While there are tons of options for performing research nowadays, nothing beats search engines.

Google, Bing, and Google Scholar are all great options that allow you to find relevant and authoritative content quickly.

Other solid options include StumbleUpon, Twitter and Facebook searches, online publications, research-based sites, industry blogs, and good old-fashioned books.

To make sure that your sources are legitimate and authoritative, your best bet is to gauge link quality using Alexa.

This easy guide should help you do that:

Link Quality Using Alexa

Last but not least, be sure that you understand how to cite sources if you intend to use them in your content.

Step #3 – Writing Your Blog Content

While it doesn’t always seem like it a lot of the time, actually putting the fingers to the keyboard and writing a blog is the easy part.

You have your outline. You’ve done your research. You know what you want to accomplish.

Now you just have to get to work!

Other than words, however, there are a few other things that you’ll want to keep in mind along the way.

#1 – Visuals MUST Be Included

BuzzSumo ran a study of over one million articles and found that articles that included an image every 75-100 words got 2x the shares of articles with fewer images.

Image Graph

Visuals, which includes images, videos, screenshots, and infographics, need to be a major part of your content if you want to keep your reader’s attention.

#2 – Keywords are Important, But Not More Than Purposeful Writing

SEO expert and Entrepreneur contributor Jon Rognerud recommends that you should include your keyword 2-5% of the time.

He warns, however, that including a keyword should never be your main priority.

Instead, focus on creating content that serves your reader’s purpose for being there and only use keywords when they make sense in the text.

Basically, when someone reads your content, they shouldn’t be able to pick out what keyword you’re using unless they’re actively searching for it.

#3 – Utilize Up-to-Date Statistics and Facts

Everyone wants to create evergreen content that’s still earning traffic years down the road.

But that doesn’t happen by accident. As Content Marketing Institute contributor Al Gomez points out, evergreen content is always comprehensive.

To be comprehensive, your content needs to include a strong mix of up-to-date statistics and facts.

And since search engines care about fresh content, you’ll also need to make sure you’re updating your evergreen content with new statistics and facts as time goes on.

Don’t Fret the First Draft

As you’re writing your article, don’t worry about getting everything right the first time.

Your initial content will be molded into great content through the editing process. For now, just get those fingers typing.

Step #4 – Self Editing Like a Pro, Even If You Aren’t One (Infographic)

Jeff Goins, of the Goins, Writer blog, has a theory about good writers.

His theory is that,

“The difference between good writers and bad writers has little to do with skill. It has to do with perseverance. Bad writers quit. Good writers keep going. That’s all there is to it.”

But while this may look like nothing more than inspirational talk to motivate writers, it’s important to understand that Goins is actually talking about the fact that good writers commit to editing.

As he says, “They’re (good writers) resigned to the fact that first drafts suck…”

Effective editing is the name of the game when it comes to creating great content. No one, not even Stephen King, regularly produces first drafts that are ready made for publication.

Here’s a look at a simple guide that can help you with the process of editing and proofreading your content:

The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Blog & a Regular Posting Schedule - Proofreading Checklist

Our list of 25 Editing Tips for the Modern Marketer can also be used to help ensure that your first draft is eventually turned into content gold.

Step #5 – Optimizing Your Content for SEO

Optimizing your content for SEO isn’t easy, but it certainly is necessary.

After all, isn’t your goal of writing a blog to rank on search engines and generate traffic?

Rather than providing you with a short overview that lacks the girth to actually show you how to optimize for SEO, you’d be much better served taking a look at this extensive guide on How to Write Content for SEO.

You’ll find everything you need there to ensure that your content is performing up to its fullest potential in search engines.

Step #6 – Blogging Consistently by Creating a Regular Blogging Schedule

When it comes to content marketing, statistics across the board show that consistency is the key to success.

HubSpot’s survey of over 13,000 of their clients showed that the companies that published 16+ blog posts per month received about 3.5x more traffic than those that published 0-4 posts per month.

Monthly Blog Post Impact

This isn’t much of a surprise to anyone in the content marketing game. Everyone knows that more great content equals more success.

The problem that most bloggers face, however, is that they feel they don’t have the time to post consistently enough to keep up.

Fortunately, by organizing your content marketing efforts and creating a regular posting schedule, you can create an efficient system that allows you to consistently produce great content.

How Do You Create a Regular Posting Schedule?

Before you get started, you’ll want to choose the right platform for creating your editorial calendar.

If you’re looking for a free version to get started, Google Calendar can do the trick. Be aware, however, that it’s limited in its abilities.

If you want something that will make the process easier and are willing to drop some money to save time, DivvyHQ and CoSchedule are both great options.

These paid options are especially useful if you plan on collaborating with co-workers or contractors.

Ian Cleary of Razor Social put together an incredibly useful article on getting started with an editorial calendar on each of the three platforms. You’d be wise to check it out.

How Often Are You Going to Post?

You already know that more is better when it comes to posting on your blog. But what is even worse than not posting enough is not posting consistently.

It’s almost impossible to develop a loyal readership if you aren’t consistent with when and how you’re posting your content.

Be realistic about how often you can post. Once a week is fine if that’s all you can accommodate with the resources you have. When you make your decision, however, stick to it.

How to Come Up with Blog Ideas (Infographic)

One of the biggest fears of bloggers when they first create a regular posting schedule is that they won’t be able to come up with enough ideas to maintain their schedule.

That’s why it’s important to maintain a running list of 20-40 ideas.

Your ideas should be based on the main goal of your blog.

Are you trying to educate potential customers? Are you trying to build your personal brand?

Know what your main objective is and base your blog ideas off of it.

If you need further guidance or inspiration, this list should help:

The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Blog & a Regular Posting Schedule infographic

Determine Your Process and Create Content Consistently

The key to positioning yourself as an authority within your niche is to create content consistently.

As this guide has shown, you can do that by determining your process for writing a blog and committing to a regular posting schedule.

Feeling overwhelmed and need some content assistance? We’re here for you.

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