#ContentWritingChat Recap: Blogging for ROI in 2017: Where to Blog, SEO, and Writing Strategies with Julia McCoy

Are you curious about blogging for ROI in 2017? That’s what we covered in our latest round of #ContentWritingChat! And if you missed out, you’re in luck because we’ve created a recap for you and it’s filled with awesome tips. Keep reading to check it out!

Blogging for ROI in 2017: Where to Blog, SEO, and Writing Strategies with Julia McCoy

For this week’s chat, our very own CEO stepped in to guest host. Julia McCoy shared her expertise on blogging for ROI in 2017 and offered some amazing tips for writing, SEO, and where you should be blogging this year. We covered some of the key topics to help you succeed as a blogger this year, so make sure you read through them and start implementing this advice for yourself!

Q1: For those that aren’t convinced, why is blogging still so important for brands?

The reality is, many brands still aren’t convinced that blogging is worth their time. They don’t realize the value that it can provide to their audience and their brand overall. So, let’s convince them why they should be blogging! Here are just some reasons blogging is important for brands:

Julia knows that blogging is a must for brands! She even shared some pretty impressive data that backs it up. The graph above shows Express Writers outranking major competitors solely from blogging. She also shared some stats that are sure to convince you of the importance of starting your own blog this year.

As Annaliese said, blogging is a lead generation opportunity. So many people will stumble upon your blog and want to do business with you because of the content you share. She also said blogging helps you build influence, which is key to drawing in your audience.

Jason knows that blogging is a powerful way to establish an authentic, authoritative voice. Your blog is your place to share your thoughts with your audience.

Blogging is an opportunity to show off your expertise to your industry, but also to your audience. It’s a great way to connect with your audience and to start building a relationship with them.

To put it simply, blogging is an opportunity to expand your audience, share quality information with readers, and can help you establish your voice as a brand.

Cheval’s advice is important to keep in mind. Social media is like rented property when you think about it. You don’t own the platform, nor can you count on it to always be around. If a social media platform shuts down, you’re going to lose your followers and everything you’ve worked so hard to build (unless you’ve successfully converted them to readers, subscribers, and customers). Your blog, however, is one place that you truly own and are in control of.

Q2: Where should you blog this year besides your own website? Discuss how to find the right platforms.

While blogging on your own website is great, blogging on other sites can provide major results. There are a lot of benefits to guest blogging, but it’s all about choosing the right places to post if you want to make it work for your brand. Keep these tips in mind:

Julia recommends creating a target persona for your audience so you know what they’re like. You can figure out their demographics and also what sites they’re reading on the web. That’s where you should be sharing your content! Check out the blog post she linked for more information on creating your own target persona.

The key to choosing the sites to guest blog on is figuring out where your audience spends their time online. You want to post on the sites that your target audiences reads so they’ll discover you and head over to your website.

Jason also knows the importance of finding the popular blogs in your wheelhouse and guest posting there. It’s the best way for you to reach your target audience and hopefully make them a fan of your brand.

Varun recommends posting on forums that are specific to your industry, guest blogging on authority websites, and also using platforms like Quora, Reddit, and LinkedIn.

Another great option is to create content for Medium. Trying posting there a few times and see if you notice any results. Blogging for ROI is going to take some trial and error and you have to figure out what works for your brand.

Q3: What are a few SEO strategies all bloggers need to know if they want to get their content noticed?

It’s no secret that if you want to get your content noticed, SEO is very important. And we can’t talk blogging for ROI without mentioning some SEO tactics, can we? Of course not! So, in order to make sure your content gets noticed and attracts viewers, these are the optimization basics you need to know:

Julia knows how important it is to be able to conduct keyword research. She also said you need to know how to use H2s, H3s, alt tags, and how to write a meta description. It may sound overwhelming for beginners, but it’s all easy to figure out.

Sarah from ThinkSEM said you need to know your audience and what is going to resonate with them. Before you start thinking about SEO tactics, this is the first thing you need to consider.

As Sara said, it’s important to have a keyword tool handy so you can research which focus keyword is ideal for your content.

Once you have the right keyword, you can plug that into your content. You’ll want to use your keyword in the title of your blog post, the URL, the meta description, and throughout the post itself. As Mallie said though, it’s important that you don’t go overboard. Keyword stuffing is a huge turn-off for your readers and Google doesn’t like it either. They should be incorporated in a way that feels natural.

Yoast is a great SEO plugin to use if your site is running on WordPress. It’s very simple to use and it makes optimization easy for beginners and those who are more experienced. We use it here at Express Writers and highly recommend it!

Jeff knows that Google Analytics is another great tool to use as part of your keyword strategy in order to optimize your content.

Q4: How can you figure out what content your audience most wants to see on your blog?

In order to attract people to your blog in the first place, you need to create the content they want to see. Once they know you’re a source of great information, they’re going to keep coming back for more. But how do you figure out what kind of content you need to create for your audience? Check out these tips:

Julia recommends figuring out what your audience’s biggest questions are and answering them. You can use tools like Answer the Public and others to figure out what they need help with.

Not sure what your audience wants? Ask them! It really is that simple. You can create a survey and share it for readers to leave their feedback and you’ll easily see what they’re interested in. You can also post on social media to get suggestions.

Jeff also agrees that asking your audience what they want is a pretty powerful strategy. Not only does it provide you with great feedback, but it gives your audience the chance to have their voice heard. They’ll appreciate that.

Besides flat out asking them, you can also conduct a little research of your own. Figure out what they’re talking about, what they’re liking and sharing. Listening is key to understand your audience. Check out their conversations on social media and pay attention to the comments they leave and the emails they send.

It’s also worthwhile to see what your competitors are doing. Check out businesses that are similar to yours and find out what’s been working for them and what’s not. You obviously don’t want to copy their strategy, but it can give you plenty of ideas for what you can create.

Sending out a yearly survey is a great way to question your audience about their interests. Getting into the habit of doing it every year ensures you’re always updated on what your audience is looking for. It’s also wise to check your analytics to see which posts are more popular since it gives you an idea of what to create more of.

Kristen also knows your analytics can be helpful when it comes to content creation. See which posts get the most traffic and which posts your readers spend the most time on to see what works best.

And as James said, it all goes back to understanding your audience.

Q5: How important is it to include a call to action in your blog posts? Describe an effective CTA.

A call to action essentially tells your reader what the next step is. What do you want them to do after reading your blog post? Do you want them to leave your site without engaging with you, possibly to never return again? Definitely not! That’s where a call to action comes in. Check out these tips for crafting an effective CTA:

Forgetting a CTA could cause you to lose out on leads. Not good! Check out our post on crafting a CTA for more in-depth tips.

Check out a few of our CTAs above!

If you’re blogging for ROI, then it’s essential that you prompt your readers to take action. A clear CTA will tell them exactly what to do and will encourage them to follow through.

As Jeff pointed out, you also can’t assume your readers are just going to take the action you want them to take. You need to make it clear and empower them to follow through.

Zala said you shouldn’t make your readers guest what they need to do next. Make it clear what you want them to do with a CTA.

Your content should serve a purpose and it’s important to let your audience know what’s next. Sarah recommends that all CTAs should be visible, understandable, and well-placed and in order to be effective.

Without a CTA, there isn’t much of a purpose to your post, is there? Make sure it’s well-written, compelling, and concise in order to inspire action.

Q6: What are the secrets to making blog customers convert into real customers and clients?

Once you have people visiting your blog, you want them to take that next step with your brand. You want them to ultimately become customers and clients. How do you make that happen? We’ve got some great advice for you:

Julia’s advice is to choose targeted reader topics and provide thorough answers. Don’t forget to also optimize your content and to add a CTA.

Annaliese said you need to create high-quality, targeted content that leads readers through your funnel. This is key to seeing them finally convert.

Value and CTAs are two keys to success when it comes to blogging for ROI.

Focus on solving the common problems your audience is facing. They’ll appreciate you for it and you’ll be able to establish yourself as an authority in the process.

Don’t forget to engage with your audience as well. This helps to build a trusting relationship with them, which is key to ultimately making a sale.

Great advice from Michael: helping sells. Commit to helping your audience and you’ll start seeing results.

Q7: Do you rely on any tools to create amazing content for your blog? Share your favorites!

With so many tools available to us today, there are plenty to choose from that can help in content creation. Here are some suggestions to check out:

Be sure to check out Julia’s three favorite tools!

Mallie is all about her editorial calendar and so are we. No matter how you create your calendar, what’s important is that you actually use it.

WordPress, Google Analytics, Twitter, and Yoast are all great tools to use! Don’t forget how important that creative brain of yours is and time.

Quora, Reddit, Canva, and Bitly are all helpful tools.

Hemingway and Moz are two popular tools for content creators. Do you use them?

Maria is a fan of Trello for keeping things organized.

These are great suggestions from Sabjan!

Taking pen to paper is always so satisfying! Sometimes it’s just a lot nicer to do things the old school way as opposed to typing or punching out laters on our phone’s keyboard.

Q8: Which blogs do you read on a consistent basis? Tag them and let them know!

To wrap up our chat on blogging for ROI, we wanted to know which blogs our audience loves to read. Here’s what some of them had to say:

Julia likes to read content from Content Marketing Institute, Steve Rayson’s BuzzSumo posts, and Neil Patel’s blog.

Much like Zachary, we’re big fans of Gary Vaynerchuk here at Express Writers.

Annaliese enjoys reading Hootsuite’s blog.

These are all great suggestions from Rebecca!

You’ll want to add these sites to your reading list!

Don’t get so caught up in consuming content that you forget to embrace the world around you. As Shannon said, you need to pay attention and you’ll surely find some ideas for your content.

We look forward to seeing you at the next #ContentWritingChat! Mark your calendars weekly for Tuesday at 10 AM Central Time for great chats centered around content writing and marketing. Follow @ExpWriters to stay updated on our new topics and guests!

don't suck at blogging

6 Ways To Not Suck At Blogging

Blogging is like a full-time profession for many of us, and because of that we have a dedicated interest in our audiences. We are the place that they come for content and we have a responsibility to provide current, accurate reporting as far as content is concerned. Our opinions usually shape the final decisions of a number of our readers and because of that a lot of power rests in our hands. Creating captivating blog entries is always a challenging task, especially when you have a lot on your plate and little time to get it all done.

In order to be a successful blogger, you have to understand what success means to a blogger. For some it equates to a lot of clicks, but to others it means providing a source of information to our readers. We are tasked with presenting an unbiased view that is free from fear or favor when it comes to a particular topic and we should take our responsibilities as bloggers very seriously.

Success Tips To Help You Make Your Blogging ROI Increase

If you truly want to succeed and produce a blog that you can be proud of, here are a few things that are almost guaranteed to net you success.

Success Tip #1: Put Your Audience First

How many bloggers out there truly know their audience? How many of them are simply assuming what their audience wants and instead miss the attractive points that would draw the crowds? Understanding your audience is one of the most important things any blogger can do. By understanding what drives your audience, you locate the motivation behind their need for content and this allows you to better home in what they love to read. Putting your audience first means taking their likes and dislikes into account. Usually in niche blogs this is a simple matter because only an individual that follows the particular area of interest would be a reader on such a blog. When it comes to more open, wide-ranging blogs there is a lot more scope for you to be good (or bad) at presenting your ideas. Knowing your audience helps you to streamline your ideas to present it in a more palatable fashion to your readers, according to Copyblogger. Know what they read and what interests them and you’re well on your way to creating riveting content that will ensure that people take notice of what you say.

Success Tip #2: Be Unbiased In Your Representation Of Facts

Anonymity has made it easy for anyone to be a blogger and hide their real identity. It doesn’t do much to promote trustworthiness, however. When you produce a blog, what you write on it is a direct reflection of your own opinions and ideas. However, if you’re blogging about a factual piece of information then you should be careful to separate your ideas from what makes up the body of truth. Representing fact is important and the more accurate you are in presenting the fact uncolored by bias, the more your audience tends to trust you. Creating trust in an audience means that it is more likely that they will come back to you for news since in their opinion, you are a reliable location to get the truth. Opinion pieces are welcome since the aim of most blogging is to represent a blogger’s opinions on a particular issue. You must be careful to draw the line between opinion and fact since blurring those lines will lose you credibility in the eyes of your audience. Showing your audience two sides of the story before chiming in with your own take on the issue is a very good way to present an issue in a simple, unbiased way.

Success Tip #3: Don’t Get Complicated

One of the things that turns a lot of readers off from a blog is content that is simply padding. Overcomplicating an issue is a very common way to pad a word count, but it does your audience no favors. The more complex a piece of content is, the less likely that you’re going to get readers willing to sit through your filler text. Get right down the point and do it effectively and efficiently. It might be a lot easier to simple research a point in depth rather than trying to create meaningless phrases and words to make up a word count. Keeping it simple helps connect with your audience without alienating them. In some industry blogs, using jargon that is common within the industry does not count as being complicated. This exception is because such blogs are usually aimed at industry professionals that are already familiar with these terms. General Blogs should try to maintain a conversational tone without inserting obscure words and phrases. Doing so usually interrupts the flow of your conversation with the reader and could lead to them dismissing your entry as not worthy of their time.

Success Tip #4: A Picture Paints a Thousand Words

We’re no longer in the dark ages of the Internet where a single jpeg file could take as much as ten minutes to load on a dial up connection. Thanks to the wonders of easily available high speed internet, using eye-catching images is not only an option, it is recommended. Quite a lot of human beings have the ability to process graphic information far more readily than textual information. It’s the reason why memes are such a popular thing in internet culture today. Utilizing images capitalizes on this ability by giving your readers content in a breathtaking flurry of color and shape. Selecting the right image for your post is as important as writing the post itself and due care should be taken to choose an image that best represents what you want the reader to take away from this entry. Images are probably the best way to communicate simple ideas and you should utilize them in blog posts as often as you can in order to give your content a more attractive look.

Success Tip #5: Post Regularly and Consistently

Last but maybe most importantly, blogging isn’t a fly-by-night enterprise. It requires a lot of dedication and hard work before it even has a chance of being successful. Looking at how blogs have been developed over the last decade, it is obvious that in order to maintain your momentum and to keep readers coming back for more, your posts should be done on a regular schedule. Ideally, posting one blog a day is a good idea, although some people do cover more than one post, sometimes incorporating multiple posts of different types of content into one single day. Other bloggers only post once a week, but their content is rich and it leaves the readers on the edge, awaiting the next instalment. Creating regular blog posts not only gives you visibility, it shows that you are consistent. Nothing is more unnerving to a reader to find that a blog they have followed for a long time has simply ceased to exist. The longer you post for, the more confidence that readers have in following your posts over the long term. Blog readers tend to increase over time the longer you blog so it’s in your best interests to keep your posts coming regularly to grow your readership over time.

Success Tip #6: Networking is Essential

The advent of social media has made it much easier to share your blogs as well as to engage in conversation on them. Conversation on an entry is one of the most important driving factors in a blog. With social media intertwined with most blog hosting outlets, it is not a surprise that most bloggers have a social media outlet dedicated to sharing and promoting their blog entries. Many bloggers also ask questions within their entries so that their readers can comment and start up their own private discussions in the comment threads. The true masters of blog networking follow other blogs that have similar interests and attempt to engage their writers in civil conversation. This usually leads to an exchanging of ideas and sometimes even readers. There is a downside to this blogging practice, however. Comments are left to the discretion of the user and unmoderated comments can lead to spam. There are ways to avoid this such as requiring a login to post a comment but it can interrupt the flow of readers who simply want to leave a comment and be on their way. The benefits to reaching out socially to your audience far outweigh the negatives.

A Noble Profession Not Learned Overnight: Blogging

Blogging isn’t something you learn to do overnight. Starting a blog is a simple process, but keeping one running for any length of time will test your dedication. Creating new content can have you feeling burned out at times and even trying to follow multiple threads of discussion can leave you tired at the end of a long session. With dedication comes reward. Blogging is rewarding on many levels, both financially and intellectually. Sharing information about a topic with others who may not know as much as you offers the benefit of helping you grasp concepts easier while at the same time providing a useful resource for others.

Creating compelling content and interacting with users from other blogs helps to bring you closer to your readers and discover new points of view and new ideas. Blogging is a noble profession, and if done right it can be one of the most rewarding things any writer can find themselves undertaking.

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