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.
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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!

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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.

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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!

express writers

writing a blog

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:

The foundation of #writing a great blog post: write for 1 reader, determine length, create a strong headline.Click To Tweet

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.

cta great copy

blogging statistics

52 Incredible Blogging Statistics to Inspire You to Blog

Are you struggling to get the results you want from blogging?

Wondering if it even makes sense for your business?

Is this whole blogging thing starting to feel like a gigantic waste of time?

If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, it’s crucial you understand two key points:

  • It’s important not to give up too soon in blogging.
  • The game has changed a lot in the past few years.

Giving up too early can be the worst decision of your life (for real: results come 8+ months in the game, listen to my podcast with Sujan Patel for more on that.)

And the battle for attention has gotten tougher. A lot tougher. Over the past five years blogging has evolved into a serious online marketing activity,

If you’re not approaching blogging with a serious mindset these days, then frustration is almost inevitable.

But don’t lose hope. Today’s blog is here to shed some light and inspiration – and my goal is that your blogging commitment will stay strong! Because blogging works if you stay committed to it.

blogging statistics

52 Incredible Blogging Statistics to Inspire You to Keep Blogging

In this post, we’re going to explore 52 statistics about blogging that will help you refocus your efforts and get back on track.

Keep reading to the end, because I’ll also reveal the #1 critical success factor that will allow you to fashion your blog into an indispensable online resource in your market space.

Let’s dive in!

Note: some sources are not linked because the pages are dead, but upon research, the stat provided is still valid and quoted online in major publications (Neil Patel, CMI, etc). 

1. Featuring a blog as a key part of your website will give you a 434% better chance of being ranked highly on search engines. (Source: Tech Client)

434?! That’s HUGE!

It’s no secret that Google loves content. And as a factor for SEO, nothing beats regularly publishing fresh, hot, relevant content.

Not only will the Google-bots love your site, but searchers will also more readily view your blog as an authority hub, a resource for answering their most pressing questions and solving their problems.

2. B2B businesses are more inclined to use blogging for business than B2C businesses. (Source: Social Media Examiner)

B2B businesses tend to use blogging more than B2C businesses because of the nature of how B2B sales work these days.

B2B businesses are often technical or highly specialized in nature, and it sometimes takes some unpacking to answer the questions, “What is it you do, exactly?” and “Why should I care?”

A good content marketing strategy can shorten the sales cycle considerably, and a blog is an excellent platform for delivering this kind of educational content, as well as a powerful lead capture device. Blogs also demonstrate that the B2B company is relevant, up to date and willing to meet the market where they are.

3. Buyers consume content before making a purchasing decision – in fact, 47% consumed 3-5 pieces of content before taking the first step towards making a purchase. (Source: Hubspot)

The biggest hurdle to doing business online is the lack of trust. Blogs are typically top-of-funnel content and are an excellent opportunity to start a conversation with your ideal prospects and educate them into your solution. And because your blog is perceived as a source of trusted information and problem-solving tips, guess who your readers will call on when it comes time to buy?

4. Using images in your blog posts gets them 94% more views. (Source: Jeff Bullas)

As I mentioned in the introduction, blogging has become a serious marketing activity. Which means your blog has not only got to have quality, professionally-produced written content, it has also got to be visually appealing.

5. 94% of people share blog content because they think it might be useful to other people. (Source: nymarketing.com)

This statistic is a biggie. It speaks to the fact that in order to make your content more shareable, you have to make it useful. In fact, not only does making your content helpful increase the possibility of it being shared, but publishing content like “how to” posts and case studies also makes your blog more credible, as you’ll see from statistic #12.

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6. B2B marketers who use blogs as part of their content marketing mix get 67% more leads than those that don’t. (Source: Hubspot)

This comes back to the factor of trust again. If your business is consistently publishing content and engaging with prospects and buyers, you’re contributing to the conversations going on in the marketplace (and in the mind of your audience), meeting your market where they are in their customer journey, and guiding them to make better-informed decisions.

Generating leads out of all this accumulated goodwill is like falling off a log, because over time you become the obvious expert to solve your market’s problems.

7. B2B marketers have found blogging to be significantly more time and cost-effective than traditional lead generation methods (Source: Hubspot)

Advertising in general has lost much of its effectiveness and credibility. And taking into account the rising cost of all media, whether online or offline, this statistic makes perfect sense. Besides, when was the last time you saw a truly great ad for a B2B company?

Instead of paying thousands of dollars for a radio spot or an ad placement that runs one time in a trade magazine or newspaper, you can use the same budget for a content strategy over three to six months, and get multiple opportunities to touch your ideal prospects and build trust with them.

8. Companies that published 16 or more blog posts per month got 4.5X the leads than companies that published 4 or less monthly posts. (Source: Hubspot)

This statistic really speaks for itself, and this is what I mean when I say that the bar has been raised when it comes to blogging. If you could generate almost five times the leads of your competitors by simply publishing more often, wouldn’t you do it?

Four posts a week seems to be the sweet spot for getting the best results from your blogging efforts. This regular publishing schedule is also clearly the factor separating the serious content marketer from the casual.

9. B2B companies that blogged 11 times or more per month got 3X more traffic than those blogging only once or less per month. (Source: Hubspot)

Even though four posts a week seems to be the sweet spot for blogging success, according to this statistic, you can still get positive ROI from posting less if you’re in a B2B business.

10. B2C companies that blogged 11 times or more got more than 4X as many leads than those that publish only 4-5 posts per month. (Source: Hubspot)

B2C seems to be more forgiving in terms of frequency of publishing to get results, but there is still a demanding schedule you need to stick to get those results.

11. Blogs that post daily get 5X more traffic compared to those that don’t (Source: Social Media Examiner)

If you ever needed proof that blogging is the most reliable way to get traffic, well, here it is. Of course, committing to a daily posting schedule is a tall order, so if you decide to go down this path, consider outsourcing to professional writers or a content marketing service.

If you’re getting five times the traffic of your competitors (and you are getting positive ROI), investing in content marketing management services is an easy decision to make.

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12. Written articles, especially “how to” posts, as well as case studies, are the kinds of content that lend blogs the most credibility. (Source: Social Marketing Writing)

Searchers are looking for answers, and more often than not they are looking for solutions to problems. So it makes sense that the kinds of content that make a blog “credible” in the eyes of a person looking for a solution are the kinds that help them with a pressing issue.

(It’s also why the Problem-Agitate-Solution copywriting formula works so well for blog posts – but that’s a subject for another article.)

13. 58% of marketers voted for “original written content” as the most important type of content, outdoing images, videos, and infographics. (Source: Social Media Examiner)

Even though the online experience is shifting from text to visuals and video, original written content still seems to be king of the hill when it comes to effective content marketing.

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14. 82% of marketers who blog get positive ROI from their inbound marketing activities. (Source: Hubspot)

And isn’t the whole reason to do inbound marketing – of which blogging is arguably the most essential part – to get positive ROI on your marketing efforts?

15. 76% of B2B marketers blog, and 73% publish case studies. (Source: CMI)

Case studies and whitepapers are still considered to be the gold standard when it comes to B2B marketing. They are powerful sales tools and are essential for describing key milestones on the customer journey. The thing is, they are like full meals, with multiple ingredients and complex flavors.

Blogging on the other hand is like an ongoing series of tasty snacks, whetting your readers’ appetite to know more. Combining case studies, whitepapers and blogging is probably one of the most impactful things you can do as a content marketer.

16. 7 million people publish blogs on blogging websites, and another 12 million write blogs via their social networks. (Source: NM Incite)

As this statistic demonstrates, competition in the blogosphere is fierce. But then you already knew that. So what do you do to stand out?

The answer is simple, but not easy: become an influencer (or at the very least, a leader – see stats 28 and 29 for more on this).

Being in the top 5-10% of bloggers and content marketers in your industry is fast becoming the price of entry for success when it comes to capturing the attention of your market. Evolving from a publisher to a content aggregator and opinion shaper is how you will win the battle for attention in 2017.

17. Blogs are trusted sources of information and advice say 81% of US online consumers. (Source: BlogHer)

This statistic is proof positive that the model of mass marketing online isn’t viable. Markets aren’t amorphous blobs, they’re fragmented and segmented. What people are often looking for online is information to make a decision; they want to read options, hear about customer experiences, and have the opportunity to talk about and compare options.

Your blog is an opportunity to satisfy this need in your audience. Leverage the inherent trust people already have in blogs as valid sources of information and offer your unique take on the problem you solve in your market.

18. Company websites with active blogs have 97% more inbound links than websites without blogs. (Source: Hubspot)

This is pretty obvious, right? But what should be clear by now is that just having a blog is not enough. You need a strategy and you need to work that strategy to be successful.

19. 92% of companies who blog multiple times per day have acquired a customer from their blog. (Source: Hubspot)

Multiple posts a day probably seems like a steep hill to climb, but the rewards look to be pretty predictable, according to this statistic. What this means, however, is that you will need to have someone in your organization who is dedicated to producing and managing content. You could of course also outsource it, but you should still have a clear content strategy in place before you commit to this level of output.

20. 37% of marketers say blogs are the most valuable type of content marketing. (Source: Content Plus)

While I agree, not all blogs are created equal. The way I see things, your blog should be a content repository, a starting point for potential customers to get to know you and your company before taking the next step, whether that be signing up for a newsletter or downloading a free ebook or whitepaper. Yes, blogs are valuable, but only in the context of a well–thought-out strategy.

21. 81% of companies think that their blogs are “useful,” “important,” or “critical.” (Source: Hubspot)

This statistic may be true, but what would their readers say? I think it is always useful to have a clear-eyed perspective on any piece of marketing collateral you create, and always with your audience in mind.

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22. Once you write 21-54 blog posts, blog traffic can increase by up to 30%. (Source: TrafficGenerationCafe)

This little nugget points out the essence of blogging as a long-term strategy. Too many content marketers want results yesterday, not fully appreciating the value of consistency, in combination with quality publishing, as the criteria for making blogging work.

23. Companies that blog get twice as much traffic from their email marketing than those who don’t blog. (Source: HubSpot)

Again, this is proof that your blog should be a communication hub for your business. Your blog should also work in harmony with all the other content channels you have up and running, if you want to maximize your results.

24. 1 in 10 blog posts are compounding, which means organic search increases their traffic over time. (Source: HubSpot)

Sometimes called “pillar content,” these posts are the ones that consistently rank highly, get the most traffic, comments and shares, and generally make you look like a smart cookie. Having said that though, a “compounding” post isn’t always necessarily what you feel is your best content.

This is the great thing about blogging: your audience will let you know by their engagement what they feel is important and valuable about your content. Listen, then create more of what they like.

25. Compounding blog posts generate 38% of overall traffic, even though only 10% of posts perform this way. (Source: HubSpot)

 This statistic is another reason to publish regularly. You can never predict with 100% certainty how a particular post will perform. But once you have enough content (the 21-54 post mark mentioned in stat #22) you’ll be able to determine your best performing content and make more like it.

26. One compounding blog post can create as much traffic as six decaying posts. (Source: HubSpot)

Because these compounding posts are like traffic magnets for your blog, you can also assess whether you can repurpose these posts into different media, and possibly even into ebooks and other info products.

27. 72% of marketers are producing significantly more content each year. (Source: CMI)

While it is certainly important to be producing content on a regular basis, and even though it has been said that quantity has a quality all its own, this isn’t necessarily true for content. Try producing less content, but with higher value, as “authority” pieces, and get more bang for your content marketing buck. Check out the next stat to see what I mean.

28. Growth in unique site traffic is 7.8x higher for content marketing leaders compared to followers (19.7% vs 2.5%). (Source: Aberdeen)

To assume a leadership position in your market, you actually have to lead. And you won’t be able to do it if you’re just producing “me too” content. Tell stories, give your unique twist on the major pain points in your market and invest in quality content producers. Have something unique to say, and say it with style.

29. 96% of B2B buyers want content from industry thought leaders. (Source: Demand Gen Report, 2016)

I’m sure you’re starting to notice a trend by now when it comes to making your blog a success. Leadership, authority, quality, and frequency seem to be the clear indicators of how to make your blog truly outstanding in your market space.

30. 55% of B2B marketers say they are unclear on what content marketing success or effectiveness looks like. (Content Marketing Institute, 2016)

To me, this statistic relates to #27. And it also points to not having a clear goal with your content marketing efforts. If you don’t know what success looks like, how do you know when you have achieved it? And producing a ton of mediocre content isn’t it. If you aren’t sure what you need to do to make content marketing work for you, speak to the experts to make sure you get a positive ROI on every marketing dollar you spend.

31. In 2014, 57% of marketers reported custom content was their top marketing priority. (Source: Altimeter)

Custom content is the ideal all good content marketers are striving towards, but there is value in smart content curation, too. Curated content can (and I think should) always be customized by adding your particular spin to the topic.

32. 72% of marketers think that branded content is more effective than magazine ads. (Source: Custom Content Council)

Content that tells stories, meets the market where it is, and solves problems in context is naturally more persuasive than a company essentially bragging about itself in a public forum. The nature of content is inherently conversational and invites response, comment and criticism, which is what makes blogging so effective. This kind of marketing is in stark contrast to the one-way conversation of advertising that simply shouts at you. Let your customers brag on your behalf through case studies and testimonials.

33. 69% of marketers praise content as superior to direct mail and PR. (Source: Custom Content Council)

Done right, direct mail and PR can certainly support an effective content strategy. But it is up to you and your business to take the approach of delivering valuable content first, before hitting prospects with offers.

34. Almost 60% of marketers repurpose their content 2-5 times. (Source: Contently)

Repurposing content is an essential piece of the content marketing puzzle, and blogs are excellent for testing and refining topics, angles and ideas that can be effectively repurposed.

35. 68% of consumers are likely to spend time reading content produced by a company they are interested in.(Source: The CMA)

Similar to statistic #32, if you make your content valuable and interesting to read, your audience is far more likely to consume it. A blog is a low-cost, low-risk way to invite readers into your world and begin a conversation with your company.

36. Twitter users are 506% more likely to write a blog, and 314% more likely to post a comment or review than other internet users. (Source: Associated Press Poll)

Never underestimate the power of social, especially the “microblogging” feature of platforms like Twitter. Blog posts are the perfect kind of content to share on Twitter, so make sure at least some of your posts – especially ones on controversial or timely topics – are written in a way that makes people want to tweet. You can do this with list posts, by offering interesting quotes in your articles, and by offering up useful statistics about your industry.

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37. Small businesses that blog get 126% more leads than small businesses that do not blog. (Source: Think Creative)

Some online marketing “gurus” think that blogging for small business is a waste of time and resources, and tend to advise going after paid traffic. But it’s difficult to argue with a statistic like this. Even if you are in the paid traffic camp, consider adding a blog to your marketing mix to collect those organic leads.

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38. Blogs have been rated as the 5th most trusted source for accurate online information. (Source: Search Engine People)

This is a pretty intriguing statistic, considering that anyone can publish a blog. If you’re looking to build up trust for your business in a market, you can’t go wrong with starting a blog.

39. The only thing blogging costs you: your time. (Source: Hubspot)

Here’s another good argument for choosing blogging over paid traffic. If you’re on a budget, but you still want all the benefits content marketing can bring you, start a blog and begin earning your position in the market, one post at a time.

40. 23% of total time spent online is devoted to social networks or blogs. (Source: Mashable)

So if almost a quarter of Internet time is spent on social networks and blogs, that means your best prospects are reading someone’s blog. What shouldn’t it be yours?

41. 61% of US online consumers have made a purchase based on recommendations from a blog. (Source: BlogHer)

Affiliate marketing is one of the key ways of monetizing a blog. Cultivating relationships with influential bloggers in your niche or industry is a great way to get trusted, organic exposure to other segments of your market, and could even help you penetrate new markets.

42. 75% of HubSpot’s blog views and 90% of blog leads come from old posts. (Source: HubSpot)

When you create blog posts you’re creating a series of content assets, which you can potentially leverage for years. This is, of course, provided you can link your post to evergreen topics, issues and concerns in your market. What are the perennial problems in your market?

43. 6-13 word titles tend to attract the highest and most consistent amount of traffic. (Source: HubSpot)

Some aspects of blogging just work, even if they don’t seem to make any logical sense. Like the word count in headlines being a factor for attracting traffic. Wait…how many words in the title of this post again?

44. 63% of online users perceive blogs with multiple authors to be more credible (Source: Social Marketing Writing)

Blogs with multiple contributors are becoming the standard for authority sites. Varied perspectives, a wide range of topics and an opportunity to contribute in a more impactful way to the main conversations going on in your market will make your blog the trusted resource for your audience.

45. Social shares from Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter add the most credibility to blogs. (Source: Social Marketing Writing)

Leveraging the reach of these three power players of social media is essential to your success. Make some of your content bite-sized and “light” for Twitter, engaging and polarizing for Facebook, angled towards business minds for LinkedIn and get people sharing your content.

46. Quality content, regular publishing, good design, and an established social media presence are ranked as the four highest factors determining the credibility of a blog. (Source: Social Marketing Writing)

This statistic gives you the blueprint for making your blog a success, from a reader’s perspective.

47. Almost 50% of marketers are interested in driving content to align with the customer’s journey. (Source: Contently)

This is the real power of content marketing in general, and blogging in particular: the ability to map the entire process of engaging someone as a prospect, turning them into a customer, and finally, converting them into a raving fan. Your blog is the point of entry where you have the opportunity to pull people into your world in such a way that your solution eventually becomes the only solution.

48. When consumers are exposed to both professional content and user-generated product video, brand engagement can increase by up to 28%. (Source: comScore)

Vary your content, mix and match, and give your potential customer an experience they can’t get anywhere else and you will win this game. This is what Seth Godin means when he says “be remarkable” – be worthy of being talked about.

49. 78% of consumers believe that companies behind content are interested in building good relationships. (Source: TMG Custom Media)

Good business is built on good relationships. Businesses that have caught on to this fact, are beginning to make their marketing match this realization. I also believe we have reached the tipping point where consumers are expecting businesses to communicate with them through content.

50. 43% of people tend to skim blog posts. (Source: HubSpot)

As I said right at the beginning of this post, the bar has been raised for blogging. Your readers’ attention is the most precious thing they own.

The Internet is a marketplace for ideas, and ideas are literally the new currency of commerce. Make your content worth reading. If you can, make what you publish as close to the best thing your audience will read on any given day and they will reward with you with their attention and their money.

51. 78% of CMOs think custom content is the future of marketing. (Source: Yahoo! Advertising Solutions)

They’re right!

52. According to 60% of marketers, blog content creation is their top inbound marketing priority. (Source: HubSpot)

As it should be. By now you should be thoroughly sold on the idea of blogging. I’ve outlined the benefits for you, broken down some best practices and given you a clear blueprint for blogging success (based on some pretty compelling proof).

However, right at the beginning, and really throughout this post, I’ve teased you about the secret sauce for making blogging work for you. Well, here it is…

The #1 Critical Success Factor When It Comes to Blogging

If I had to isolate one thing from the list above that makes all the difference between blogs that win and blogs that lose it is this: consistency.

Actually, this is true of any kind of marketing you do, especially online. It’s a process.

You see, every keyword is a conversation going on in the mind of someone searching to solve a problem.

By blogging frequently, that is, by posting new, interesting and relevant content about key ideas from your industry or field, you are serving a burning need in the minds of your readers: the desire for solutions.

You’re also creating more pages to be indexed by Google, which as you’ve seen from blogging statistic #1, is great for SEO. This naturally leads to higher rankings in search engine results, which means your website is more likely to be viewed as a trusted resource by your potential customers. Everybody wins.

So, there you have it. Not only do you now have a wealth of proven data about blogging you can use as a benchmark to take your online marketing to the next level, you also have the key strategy for building top-of-mind (and top of Google) status with your readers.

Sure, it’s a lot of work, but with focus, combined with the right strategy, you can win the battle for your readers’ attention.

SlideShare: 52 Incredible Blogging Statistics to Inspire You to Blog

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how to blog for a photography business

How to Blog for a Photography Business: An Essential Guide

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.

But that doesn’t mean that photography businesses get off the hook when it comes to content marketing. 😉

Today, everyone that has a business presence needs to blog.

Blogging is essential in the current digital landscape, and photographers have a unique opportunity to harness the power of blogging for their benefit and online reach will fall behind.

Fortunately, you can take proactive steps to learn how to blog for a photography business successfully and enjoy a more lucrative business, as a result. Here’s how.

how to blog for a photographer

How to Blog for a Photography Business: Why Should I Blog?

If you’re thinking, “Come on. I run a photography business! Why does blogging matter to me?” you’re not alone.

Today, lots of companies are confused about how and why blogging has become so critical to a good online presence.

The answer, however, is simple: blogging is the most efficient way to communicate with customers online, right now. What’s more, it’s seriously lucrative. Here are a few quick stats about how blogging impacts your ROI and bottom line, from Impact Branding and Design:

  • Websites that blog have an average of 434% more indexed pages than websites that don’t blog.
  • 47% of customers view 3-5 pieces of content before ever talking to a salesperson.
  • Companies that prioritize blogging are 13x as likely as their competitors to enjoy a positive ROI.
  • Compared to outbound leads, which have a close rate of 1.7%, inbound and blogging-focused leads have a close rate of 14.6%.
  • Businesses that blog earn 97% more inbound links to their site.
  • As many as 80% of customers ignore the paid ads at the top of Google’s results (this is a BIG deal for photo businesses!) and only focus on organic results.
  • Blogs are currently the web’s 5th most trusted source of online information.

We ourselves at Express Writers rely on consistent content creation to generate our inbound leads. (Here’s a case study on that.)

As you can see, effective blogging has a massive impact not only on your company’s visibility on the web but also on the way people perceive your brand.

If you’re bypassing blogging for paid advertising or (worse) no digital strategy at all, you’re missing out!

How to Blog for a Photography Business: An Example of Success

Jasmine Star is a great example of a Google success as a photography blogger.

She writes a lot of posts and even offers tips that appeal to a typical photography buyer, but aren’t necessarily photography related. Her target clientele is marketers and those who need beautiful professional photography, and she blogs in a wide sphere of topics that will get the attention of her target clientele. How to Get Your Social Media Posts Seen By More People is one of her blog topics, for example.

how to be a photographer blogger

Are you sitting down for this?

Her blog ranks in the top 3-4 organic results of Google for the highly competitive keyword photography blog.

photography blog

Jasmine’s consistent, awesome blogging has won her a top spot in Google’s organic results. And for a HUGE keyword.

To find out just how huge, I took that keyword to my favorite SEO tool, KWFinder, and found that this keyword brings in 22,200 monthly visitors. 

Jasmine’s blog gets an estimated large chunk of that volume.

photographer blogger

Keep in mind this is traffic fueled by Jasmine’s blog, fully organic, without a paid advertisement.

She gained this incredible keyword spot solely through her blogging chops!

Take inspiration: your one time investment per blog, as long as it’s quality and matches what your readers would expect to read (and will love and share), can last for years!

5 Reasons Blogging Matters for Photographers, Specifically

There are more reasons than the tremendous value in SEO traffic, although that’s pretty huge alone.

While it’s true that blogging is critical for all brands, everywhere, it has some unique benefits for photographers. Let’s break it down:

1. Blogging Lets You Show Your Customers Who You Are

For people outside the photography business, it might seem like all photographers are the same.  Of course, you know this isn’t true! While all photographers take pictures, each has their own individual style, focus, and strengths.

Luckily, blogging helps you showcase these.

By using a blog, you can show your customers what’s important to you and what you value as a professional. This, in turn, helps you connect with the most valuable, relevant clients and build a sense of recognition on the web.

2. Blogging Allows You To Showcase Your Work

Today, it can be tough for working photographers to find a way to display their recent photographs. After all, few photographers have physical galleries, and, even the ones who do don’t get tons of foot traffic to them.

Fortunately, blogging solves this problem by giving you a centralized location to display your newest work and update your customers. This helps you keep your portfolio fresh and ensures that your clients always see your latest and best images.

3. Blogging Boosts Your SEO in a Way Portfolio Sites Never Could

Some photographers address the issue listed in the point above by creating an online portfolio.

And while this is a smart idea, it’s not a super effective approach when it comes to SEO. The reason being that portfolio sites don’t do much in the way of including keywords, offering indexable pages, or providing valuable, customer-focused content.

They just exist.

They seldom get lots of traffic, and they certainly don’t do much to appear in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Blogs, on the other hand, are much more symbiotic – as we saw in Jasmine’s example.

Designed to allow you to communicate directly with customers, blogs make it easy to target relevant keywords, keep your content fresh, and answer the biggest questions your customers have about your services, different photographic methods, and the industry as a whole.

4. Blogging Makes Your Content Shareable

Imagine this: you shoot a wedding or maternity shoot. You post the photos on your blog and share them on social media (with your customers’ permission, of course). The customer sees them, loves them, and shares the link to the blog gallery on their social media pages. Friends and family of that client, many of whom have been looking for reputable photography services, see the link and contact you to shoot their events. That’s the best-case scenario, right? When you run a reputable blog and update it frequently, it’s also a very likely one. Blogging makes your content shareable, which is critical for a salient photo business.

 5. Blogging Helps You Establish Your Personal Brand

Differentiating yourself from the competition is essential for photographers, and blogging makes it easy. Everything from the layout to the color scheme of the blog can be customized to suit your brand image, not to mention that you have complete control over the voice you use to interact with customers.

How to Blog for a Photography Business: 10 Actionable Tips for Your Photography Blog

If you’re reading this, you’re likely considering blogging for your photography business for the first time. While it can seem intimidating to start your first business blog, it’s not nearly as difficult as it might seem. Just follow these guidelines.

1. Understand Your “Why”

The key to a successful blog is having a reason for doing it. While it’s true that blogging is an essential part of running a modern photography business, it’s also not enough to just have a blog you update only occasionally.

Instead, you need to make a conscious decision about why you’re operating your blog and what you hope to achieve. For example, is your blog going to act as a strategy for recognition, helping your customers recognize your work and your brand where it appears?

Or is your blog a movable portfolio that you’ll update regularly? If you’re like most photographers, the answer will be several things at once.

No matter why you’re operating your blog, though, you need to understand the motivation behind it and what you’re hoping to gain from the blog. This will help direct everything else.

2. Pinpoint Your Audience

Today, there are 3,583,926,400 people using the internet.

Can you imagine trying to speak to all of them?

Of course not! For one, not all these people are interested in hiring you, and even the fraction of them who need a photographer won’t hire you for various reasons, ranging from geographical issues to a different preferred style.

One of the biggest mistakes new bloggers make in their photography blogs is trying to talk to everyone. In addition to being impossible, it’s tiring to be everything to everyone.

As such, you’ve got to pinpoint your audience.

Who are the model customers who hire you? And how can you speak to them more effectively?

Answering these questions by constructing a target persona is an essential method for starting your blog off strong and stable.

persona

Read our guide for more on how to develop a target persona.

3. Offer Relevance

The best photography blogs out there succeed because they’re relevant. For example, a great wedding photographer might blog about how many hours of wedding coverage customers should consider purchasing (most people assume they need less than they do, and a relevant blog about how long everything takes would be helpful).

Photographers that specialize in alternative processes might talk about why cyanotypes are so unique, or how large format cameras play into modern-day photography. Photographers who specialize in newborn and maternity portraits might offer helpful tips for getting your baby to pose on picture day or how to help other siblings join the photos in a constructive and equal way.

The more relevant you can be with your blog post topics, the better. In addition to helping your customers connect with your content, it will also make them want to come back for more.

4. Make Converting Simple

When you start blogging as a new photographer, you want to make it as easy as possible for your blog to draw new customers. Initially, this means making it simple for your customers to convert. For best results, ensure that the blog posts you write have all the information your customers need to feel comfortable and trusting in your brand.

This goes for your website, as well, which should feature everything from your location and contact information to your pricing and testimonials. You’ll also want to find creative ways to incorporate calls-to-action (such as “book your session now” or “Get a quote”) throughout your page. The easier your blog makes it for readers to convert, the better off you’ll be.

5. Be Consistent in Your Blogging

You know what’s worse than no blog at all? A stagnant blog that never gets updated. Not only does this show customers that you don’t care about your content, but it also sends the message that you’re not very good at following through. Instead of falling victim to this dreaded fate, ensure that once you start a blog, you can update it regularly.

While the frequency will depend on you and your goals, it’s wise to update your blog at least once a week, if not more often. Once you’ve found a blogging schedule that works for you, stick with it. This is the only way to earn readers and grow your audience, after all.

6. Integrate With Social

If you’re not integrating your blog with your social media accounts, you’re missing out on a large piece of the puzzle. Today, blogs and social media go together like peanut butter and jelly. Without one, the other can’t reach its full potential.

Every time you write a new blog, share it on your social profiles, as well. Most blogging platforms, like WordPress, for example, offer built-in functionalities that make it easy to share the blog post automatically. As you gain likes and shares on your social profile, you’ll also gain readers on your blog.

7. Save Your Best For The Blog

Thanks to the immediacy of blogs, people often assume they’re a place for half-baked thoughts and hastily rattled off ideas. Not so. In fact, your blog should be the home of your best and brightest content.

With this in mind, ensure that everything you publish on your blog has been vetted thoroughly by your quality-control methods. You want to proofread everything adequately, showcase only your best photos and ensure that the formatting of the blog is perfect before you fire it off.

Don’t ever write and publish anything in one day, if you can avoid it. Instead, start drafts and then hone them until they’re perfect. While it’s true that this takes more time, it’s also true that it will deliver better results in the end. When it comes to blogging for your photography business, it’s always quality over quantity.

8. Keep It Professional

Photography is a very personal profession, and that’s bound to come out on your blog. For best results, though, you want to keep it personal but still professional.

This means always getting permission from your clients to share their photos, using discretion when sharing intimate or private photos, and being careful to protect the identities of the people you mention. Over-sharing isn’t cute in any aspect of business, especially photography. When in doubt, don’t share it.

9. Learn Some SEO

SEO, or search engine optimization, is a critical part of blogging, and learning the fundamentals of it can take your blog from good to great. Ideally, you’ll want to learn how to include target keywords, how to format headlines, meta descriptions and titles, and body content, and how to optimize the images in your post so Google can discover them.

While these sound like complicated steps, they’re not!

Here are a few tips to follow:

Keep Your Paragraphs Short

Paragraphs should be between 2-4 sentences.

Include Keywords Naturally

If you’re targeting “portrait photographer in Boston,” you’ll want to include it in your headline, a sub header or two, and throughout your body copy a few times. Don’t overstuff your content with it, though, or you’ll come off as spammy and cheap.

Optimize Images With Alt Text

When you plug an image into a blog, it’s important to use alt text to help search engines “Read it.” Right now, Google can’t interpret images without alt text, so this is a critical SEO component of ranking well. Here’s an example of what good alt text looks like, from Yoast.

image-alt-title-wordpress

Write like you speak. While you always want to be professional in your blogs, it’s also essential to be natural. The more natural you can be in your writing, the more attractive and approachable you’ll be to readers.

10. Keep your topics fresh

It’s easy to get stale as you blog for your photography business. Fortunately, you can keep your topics fresh by writing about things like your recent work, adventures you or your clients have taken, your personal experiences, and general photography tips, tricks, and questions.

Be sure to keep an ear to your readers to ensure you’re writing about topics they find interesting, and covering the areas they want to read about. For example, topics like “10 Tips to Prepare for Your Engagement Shoot” or “What’s the Right Age for Newborn Pictures?” are both great topics.

Remember Jasmine Star’s example of unique photography topics that appeal to her specific audience.

Your topics should be narrow enough to match your niche. For example, if you’re a portrait photographer, you might not want to write about which lenses to use for landscape photography.

The more you can narrow your topics and your niche, the more successful your blog will be.

How to Blog for a Photography Business, Made Simple

While blogging for your photography business may seem like a new idea, it’s one of the smartest ways to make your company stand out from the crowd.

Learning how to blog for a photography business is crucial. In addition to labeling you as an authority, boosting your SEO, and making it easier for would-be customers to find you, blogging also helps you hone your skills and expand your offering to clients.

This, in turn, can boost your entire business and help you grow your bottom line in a big way.

For more information about blogging for your photography business, or to find a team of writers who can help you create content you’re proud of, contact Express Writers today! We have photography writers ready to create your blogs, and blogging packages that are completely hands-off.

blog intro

Hook ‘Em: How to Write a Killer Blog Intro

Eight seconds.

According to Time, that’s how long the average human’s attention span is these days.

For content marketers, that means grabbing someone’s attention is a lot of work and you have less time than ever to do it. This requires more than a little bit of strategic thinking.

How do you claim your readers’ attention? Is it even possible?

The truth is, you still have the chance to do it, but that chance is slimmer than ever.

It all comes down to your introduction and the first few sentences.

But no pressure! 😉

To help you craft that picture-perfect intro, here’s everything you need to know about crafting killer blog intros in the modern world.

how to write a killer blog intro

Why Are Your Blog Intros So Important?

In a world of rapidly shrinking attention spans, the intro serves a critical purpose: it hooks the reader like bait hooks a hungry fish.

Today, people are accustomed to making split-second decisions about people, places, topics, and yes, online content. They swipe right or left, so to speak, without giving much thought to anything beyond how the thing in question makes them feel at first glance.

This can easily be bad news for your online content because it means that anything that doesn’t jump off the page as interesting, exciting, funny, or relevant is liable to get slashed. What’s more, your intros are some of the most high-visibility pieces of your content.

While most people will at least glance at your intro, not everyone will take the time to read your entire body copy, which means that the intro is the perfect and one of the few places to grab those readers you so desperately want.

Finally, the intro sets the tone for the rest of your content. If it’s boring, everything else is likely to follow suit. If it’s exciting and compelling, you can bet the rest of the content will be, too.

By using your intro to show your readers you understand them and want to provide material they love, you can boost their confidence in you while also branding yourself as an engaging and worthwhile writer. Even a strong headline isn’t enough to do this. Many a blog had a strong headline and a weak intro and lost readers as a result.

The Death of the Weak Word

Writing a compelling lede is a lot like writing an impactful haiku or a great tweet: it takes technique.

One of the most essential techniques you can learn to overhaul your introduction is how to kill weak words.

weak words image

Source: Neil Patel

While this seems simple, it’s the foundation of great opening paragraphs.

Think about it: if your intros are filled with weak, flabby words, they won’t be impactful, and if they’re not impactful, your readers won’t stick around.

For your introductions to succeed, weak words need to be chopped out and replaced with more exciting and emotive alternatives.

Thanks in large part to the dismal nature of the human attention span and the fact that introductions can’t, by nature, ramble on forever, there isn’t a lot of room to include bulky, pointless, or weak words. This means that killing them is essential.

At the end of the day, learning how to trim the fat in your writing, and especially in your introduction, is the only way to create strong content that reflects well on your brand.

Include weak words, and you’ll sink, cut them, and you’ll float to the top of your readers’ minds.

Example of a Strong Vs. Weak Blog Intro

Let’s put a strong blog intro vs. weak side by side to truly impact you on why studying how to write a great blog intro is so very crucial.

Can you spot which one is “strong” as you review these two blog intros, pulled from the web?

First example:

weak blog intro

Second example:

smart blogger example

The first was from GoDotMedia, the second from SmartBlogger.com.

Can you see at a glance which one you personally like better?

It probably took you less than 8 seconds to make that decision. At a glance, there is one that sticks out far more powerfully.

Let’s explore how you can write powerful intros for your blogs, all the time, without fail. Ready?

How to Write Killer Blog Intros 101: 10 Fundamental Tips for Greatness

Writing great blog intros is a little bit like becoming a weightlifter – you have to work up to it and learn the right steps along the way. Here are ten foolproof tricks to get you there.

1. Embrace The Process Of Self-Editing

editing meme

Quick: what’s your favorite novel? Okay, now how many drafts of that book do you think its author penned? When it comes to great writing, self-editing is essential.

Even the best writer needs to go back through his or her writing, again and again, to ensure it shines, and anyone who doesn’t embrace this process is likely to fall short.

Hemingway is famous for having said “I rewrote the first part of A Farewell to Arms at least fifty times…the first draft of anything is s&*t.”

With this in mind, don’t expect the first version of your introduction to also be the last version of your headline. To succeed in this business, you must master the process of self-editing, especially when it comes to your most critical piece of content –  the first few paragraphs.

2. Practice, Practice, Practice

Great introductions are formulaic, which is both good and bad news. It’s good because formulas are, by definition, things that can be memorized and learned. It’s bad because it means you’ll have to put in the work required to master it.

Luckily, practicing your introduction writing skills and learning which tricks help churn out the best ones is something everyone can master.

3. Minimize Modifiers

Modifiers:

“really,” “very,” and “literally” are “fluff”

These are words that don’t belong in your introductions, or anywhere in your content!

The more you can cut these out, the more impactful your headlines will be.

Instead of using these low-impact filler words, use a replacement verb that’s more powerful and compelling than the one that came before it.

Check out our free resource of 120 powerful words to boost your vocabulary skills!

4. Test Your Headlines

Did you know that there are a series of online tools that you can use to improve your headlines, which, in turn, improves your introduction?

Options like CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer and AMI’s Headline Tool both allow you to input your headline and analyze it for its concentration of common, emotional, and uncommon words.

headline analyzer

They also evaluate length, impact, and wordiness to help you craft your best headlines yet. Once you’ve nailed a great headline, you can use that momentum to carry you through a stellar opening paragraph, as well.

5. Conduct Multiple Rounds Of Edits

If you’re only editing your intro once, or not editing it at all, you’re falling into dangerous territory. For your intro to be impactful and compelling, you need to put in the elbow grease required to make it shine.

This means at least two rounds of edits, separated by at least six hours. Don’t ever publish a blog without this. The two rounds might seem overkill, but they serve an important purpose.

The second round of edits allows you to see things you missed the first time, and identify different areas for improvement in your intros.

6. Keep Your Opening Sentences One Line

Look back at the opening sentences of this blog.

neil patel

Source: Neil Patel

See how the first sentences live on their own line?

That’s a great tactic because it’s visually impactful and simple enough to root its way into the reader’s brain.

Continue this all the way down to your first headline, where it makes sense to.

The shorter your first (and first few after that) sentence is, the punchier it will be, and the more likely your readers are to remember it.

7. Get Weird

Okay, you don’t have to be weird for the sake of being weird, but if you can say something unusual (while still being relevant and professional), do it!

Take a tip from Kafka’s Metamorphosis, here, which is widely considered to have one of the best opening lines of all time,

As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.”

This opening line has been studied in colleges down around the world, and the words that compile this one sentence are tremendously powerful. What’s more, variations abound, because the book wasn’t even originally in English – it’s been loved across multiple countries. (Guardian)

 Metamorphosis Franz Kafka

Who, pray tell, is going to stop reading after that?

The more unique you can be in your opening lines, the better chance you have of hooking your reader and keeping them interested.

8. Don’t Repeat Yourself

At this point in your content, you’re still so close to the title that one of the worst things you can do is repeat it.

For example, if your title is “10 Ways to Make Money and Be Successful,” your opening line should not be “Everyone wants to make money and be successful.”

Not only is this repetitive, but it’s also insulting to the reader’s intelligence. According to HubSpot, it’s much wiser to assume the reader has already read the title, and move on with a statement that reinforces or adds to it.

9. Write In The Second Person

Second person is the most personal type of voice to use in your online blog writing.

To grab your reader right off the bat, and show them that you understand what it’s like to be in their shoes, use the word “you” as you write.

first person

Source: Right Attitudes

This will showcase to your readers not only that you’re creating content with them in mind, but also that you care about them and have developed the content to be useful and relevant to them. When it comes to intros, that’s an attractive place to start from.

10. Follow A Structure

I mentioned earlier that great intros are formulaic, and they are.

As a general rule, you should dedicate two sentences to the topic of the article (“This article is about X”), two sentences to why it matters (“This affects you because Y”) and at least one sentence addressing a pain point, outcome, or lesson the content will cover.

While there’s some flexibility in how you structure these components, being sure to include them is essential for great intros.

BONUS: 4 Industry Secrets to Create Stellar Intros

Curious how you, too, can create great intros?

Here are four secrets used by the pros.

1. Talk Directly To Your Reader

I know, I know. You’ve heard this before.

But I’m proposing something different. I’m not proposing you just write to one person; I’m proposing you talk to your reader as if he or she was a real person standing directly in front of you.

This adds a whole new level of engagement to your piece and makes it much more impactful and exciting. Talk to your reader like a friend and show them, in your intro, how much you care about helping them find the answers they need.

2. Play On Emotion

To make your introductions more compelling, use them as a place to play on your readers’ emotions. Strong descriptors are an excellent way to do this, as are intros that show that you understand the reader’s experience. Here’s an example:

“We’ve all been there. You sit down at your computer to start a new day of work, but your screen stays black. You start to panic. What’s going to happen to your documents? While computer issues like this are frightening, they’re so common, and they’re more troubling now that we rely on our devices for everything from work to socialization.”

This paragraph elicits emotion from the reader, and will likely encourage them to keep reading, as a result.

3. Break It Up

The best intros don’t confront readers with a huge block of text. Instead, they use short, 2-4 sentence paragraphs to keep the reader engaged and pull them through the content.

We do this all the time on The Write Blog posts:

write blog intro example

 

This intro uses short, sweet sentences to make the text seem more accessible and inviting to the reader.

4. Spend At Least As Much Time, If Not More, Editing The Intro As You Did The Whole Piece

The more efficiently you can edit your intro, the better. Spend a significant chunk of time going back through it to make it shine. Many professionals recommend that you give your intro at least three rounds of editing, since it’s such a critical piece of your content.

As you go back through it, look for weak words and phrases and anything that is fluffy, not emotive, or not as powerful as it should be. If you’re not sure, read it out loud and look for places where you stumble or hesitate, which probably need work. Bonus points for passing it along for a friend or family member to read, as well.

In Defense of a Great Blog Intro

A blog without a shockingly good introduction is just a sad shell of a thing.

By taking the time to create an introduction that will knock your readers’ socks off, you can improve your content, boost your engagement rates, and earn yourself more readers, both now and in the future.

Take that plunge!

Need experienced copywriters to help you craft once-in-a-lifetime introductions?

Contact Express Writers to work with your ideal team of writers today!

blog writers

How to Find & Work With Your Best-Fit Blog Writers

Today, content is everything.

Unfortunately, most companies simply don’t have the time, resources, or skill level to create quality content in-house. While many businesses try to scrape by, anyway, the truth is that opting to skimp on content is an excellent way to damage your business and put your livelihood at risk.

Luckily, there’s a better way.

By hiring professional blog writers to create your content for you, you can reap all of the skill and expertise these professionals have to offer, without pulling your hair out in the process. Read on to learn more.

blog writer

Why Hire Professional Blog Writers?

While many marketers believe that hiring professional blog writers is just an unneeded expense, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, today, blog writers are more important than they’ve ever been before. As it stands right now, the U.S. population conducts roughly 12 billion Google searches each month, and 60% of the clicks produced by those searches go directly to the top 3 search results on Google’s SERPs.

With this in mind, it’s clear that customers have more than enough websites and companies to choose from online, but that they consistently choose the ones that establish themselves as authorities in their niches and industries. While many companies believe this can be achieved through a mixture of paid advertisements and link building, the fact of the matter is that content is the single best way to produce a great business strategy that lasts.

By hiring professional blog writers to manage your content for you, you’ll reap the following benefits:

  • Authority. Customers want valuable, authoritative content that helps them learn something new. Hiring professional blog writers is one of the best ways to ensure that you’re offering this for your audience. Because professional blog writers know how to craft concise, compelling, unique content for your site, their services are a fantastic way to boost your brand authority and become a better-known entity in your industry.
  • Relevancy. Professional blog writers have an intimate understanding of how to make sure content is as relevant as possible. Because blog writers are skilled at writing in an approachable, conversational, friendly tone peppered with heavy research, and then adapting that voice to suit your particular audience and segment of the market, hiring a professional blog writer is a fantastic way to boost your relevance across the board.
  • Skill. Let’s face it – writing well takes skill, and many people simply don’t have it. When you hire a professional team of blog writers, though, you’ll get a skilled, high-quality team of writers who know how to craft flawless content for your brand. From spelling and grammar to today’s most current SEO standards, blog writers understand how to make content shine.
  • Simplicity. As a business owner, you’re incredibly busy. While you might not have the time or the effort to put into crafting quality content, professional blog writers do, and this can help you boost your business. According to HubSpot, companies that have between 401-1000 pages on their website earn six times as many leads as those with between 51-100 pages. With this in mind, more is better, and blog writers can help you populate your site with quality content without sacrificing your sanity or home life.
  • Adjustability. Your business is going to grow and change, and a skilled team of blog writers will be there to see you through it. Because bloggers are highly adaptable and adjustable, they’re the ideal people to have on your side – whether you need to create a blog post, press release, or a simple product description.

Google’s Standards Now Demand Expert Writers

While all the reasons I just mentioned are valid ones to hire blog writers, there’s one huge reason that rules them all: Google demands it. Last year, Google released the entire transcript of its Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines. The document was 160-pages long and designed to assist Google’s infamous human search quality evaluators understand what constitutes a quality site and what doesn’t.

While there was plenty of highly useful information within the long document, two acronyms stood out: EAT and YMYL.

EAT

EAT

EAT stands for expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness and refers to three of the top things websites need to rank well in Google. The acronym, while useful on many levels, provides increased evidence for Google’s obsession with expert writers.

Because there are so many low-quality web pages across the internet, Google rewards sites that offer high levels of EAT. Unfortunately, this is nearly impossible to obtain unless you hire a professional writer. For a page to have high levels of EAT, it must be concise, expert, and relevant.

Be advised that these guidelines shift depending upon what type of page we’re dealing with. While a page that deals with breaking a young horse will require exactly as much expertise as a page that talks about how to become a stand-up comedian, the industries are slightly different and, as such, the knowledge required for each will be slightly different.

While Google does differentiate between formal (Educated) and non-formal (lived) experience, it’s critical to have a high level of expertise to rank well in the search engine.

YMYL

YMYL

While EAT describes what a page needs to rank well, YMYL provides some additional insight on which pages need the most of it. YMYL stands for “your money or your life” and is a critical acronym for marketers who want to improve their content across the board.

You see, YMYL pages are distinct: they’re the web pages that have the potential to have a direct and negative impact on a person’s health, wealth, or well-being if the content within them is not perfect. These pages include financial advice pages, family law pages, any medical page, and the like.

While YMYL pages have always been important, Google underscored how critical it is to have expert writers construct these back in 2015, and recently updated the Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines to reflect an increased importance on both EAT and YMYL.

5 Rules for Working with a Blog Writer

Now that you know why working with a blog writer is such a good idea, let’s talk about how to do it effectively.

1. Set clear expectations

Your writers are only as good as your instructions. By providing clear, concise instructions and expectations, you make it easier for writers to live up to them and create content you’ll love. This, in turn, smooths the relationship between you and your writer and makes it easier to succeed both now and down the road.

2. Understand your target audience

If you don’t understand your target audience, it’s going to be harder for you to guide your writer to create quality, helpful, informative content. While a blog writer will be able to research your audience for you, it’s still essential that you have enough of a grip on who you’re trying to reach that you can provide quality feedback both now and in the future.

3. Be flexible

Blog writers aren’t just blog writers – they’re also social media experts, marketers, and psychologists. To get the most out of working with a blog writer, keep your mind open. Your writer may be able to propose an alternative track or solution that appeals to your company, but may seem shocking at first. Don’t write anything off before understanding why, for example, your writer things you should boost your social content.

4. Read and respond

While a writer can help you craft quality content, you’re still the site owner, and it’s your job to continue engaging your audience. As you notice comments and interaction pop up on your writer’s piece, take the time to reach out and respond. In addition to solidifying bonds with your customers, this approach will also make it easier for your content to succeed in the future.

5. Adjust as needed

As you move on with your content strategy, you may notice that certain things need to be boosted while others can afford to fall by the wayside. Follow your writer’s lead on this and don’t be afraid to adjust as needed.

The Case for Professional Blog Writers

While hiring professional blog writers may be a foreign concept to you, it’s a step that can have a huge, positive impact on your content as a whole.

Get your dream content with the help of our expert blog writers!

summer blogging

3 Easy Ways to Keep Up Your Blogging This Summer

Can’t wait to escape to the beach and enjoy your margarita this summer?

Hold on there, if you’re a business owner or marketer…

The sad news is your business and marketing won’t run itself, if you’re gone and no one else is left to run it.

That’s especially true of your online presence, like blogging and social media.

It might seem ridiculously tempting to just let the blog sit still for a month and take off, but here are some killer statistics that prove why you shouldn’t let your blog stagnate (even for a week).

summer blogging

Why Consistent Blogging Wins

Why would you put all of that on hold for a month? Don’t let your online exposure and presence drop because of time off.

The good news is that you don’t have to fold up that beach towel just yet.

3 Ways to Keep Your Blogging Healthy Despite the Summer Holiday

Keep reading for my top three methods to have a consistent content flow to boost your online presence despite the summer vacation season.

1. Stock topics and keyword research in advance.

This one’s very simple. I’ll break topic skeletons and keyword research topic searches into two points.

#1: Topic skeleton fodder

For the topic skeletons, all you need is Word and a couple hours of time.

Come up with great blog topics by asking yourself a few questions and digging down with solid answers. It doesn’t even have to be perfect, what you write down: a professional blog writer can finalize your content to perfection and come up with headlines that will earn more clicks than your rough sketches.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself. Outline your answers in a doc, which can be a rough sketch you send to your writer.

  • Your story: Your founding story alone can make multiple great blog topics. Think of the value points of your company and why you believe in what you do. For example: “My T-shirt printing company stands out because of the ink we produce and the quality assurance we give our clients.”
  • What are your client’s biggest pain points? Each pain point can make a new blog topic possibility. Example, “My T-shirt printing clients come to me with the problem that a lot of shirts are made cheaply. The print might come off in the wash or with use too quickly.” Aha! 7 Ways to Preserve Your T-Shirt Print-Ons, or How to Wash Your T-Shirt And Avoid Fading (Every Time). There you go – winning blog topics out of a few customer pain points.

The second side of this point can garner a double list of blog topics.

#2: Keyword Research

For keyword research opportunities to help you come up with great SEO topics, I love SEMrush and KWFinder. It’s simple to research for your best keyword opportunities when using these tools.

Check out my nutshell guide to keyword research for an in-depth guide.

If keyword discovery requires too much time to figure out, check to see if the writing solution you’re using can do the keyword research for you. (We offer keyword strategy ourselves here.)

2. Invest in a blog writing service.

There’s no way around this one. If you want your blog to literally run itself, you’ll need to invest in a good blog writer (or two).

Here are key things to ask for when you’re reaching out to your potential blog ghostwriter so you can find a perfect fit:

  • Writing samples: This is key. Those with experience will have a large portfolio available and diverse samples.
  • Online & search optimization writing skills: Although the creative skills of a genius writer are at the core of successful online writing, and that should be your primary concern, you should check secondarily for a skill set in SEO content optimization skills. Make sure your writer knows how to write a unique meta description for every blog, meta title, and how to use your topical keywords naturally throughout the post.

3. Don’t just hire a writer; get a specialist who fits your industry.

Have you heard of the Google E-A-T and Y-M-Y-L standards? Basically, Google looks for expertise, authoritativeness, and trust in every post going out on the web. For the intense industries, like finance or law, Google looks for even higher standards (Your Money or Your Life).

You need an expert copywriter if your content falls in a high level category to get the most results out of your Google presence. To make sure your blogger can match these standards, ask for relevant samples in your industry and their real-life expertise in your niche (example, 10 years as a paralegal).

Conclusion

Don’t let summer get your ‪content strategy down. With a serious, active blog strategy, your leads, online presence and revenue will stay on the rise.

10 off blogging

It’s easy to enjoy time off when you have experts keeping your blog up. Invest in your online content today & save with code summer5. Visit the Content Shop.