Great blogs are founded on great ideas and research. Professional copywriters take 1-2 hours per 500 words just to research their articles. That’s a lot of time for a professional – so it will take even more time for a part-time business blogger.
Often corporate blogs are not written by professional copywriters. Imagine the time you could save if you could minimise researching and writing best-in-class content.
Here are four easy methods to improve your blog, and save time in the long term:
1. Monitor the web for relevant content
Make sure you have a method for keeping up to date on the topics you educate your audience on.
[quoter color=”sand”]Make sure you have a method for keeping up to date on the topics you educate your audience on. [/quoter]
There are many different ways to do this. The most inefficient is monitoring social networks and scanning an online newspaper. You’ll rarely be reading up on topics that matter; instead you’ll be cajoled into clicking on a clickbait article! The second most inefficient way is to set up Google Alerts on email. Daily alerts can get overwhelming, and often there is a lot of rubbish in them. You’ll again find yourself spending time on information which has no relevance.
The best way is to set up bespoke feeds and filters yourself, so all the information that is pushed your way has a very high chance of being relevant for you. The upfront time investment doing this will be repaid within a week.
2. Ask your team for help
When writing a post, ensure you ask your team for feedback every step of the way.
Firstly, make sure they agree with the goal you measure your post by. Do they believe that getting more traffic to your website is more important than encouraging current customers to try a new feature? Do they think that writing a post for a specific target market is a good idea? In order to write a post, you must know the reason why you are doing it.
Secondly, ask for their help surfacing relevant information. Which writers do they admire the most? Have they come across any research that has some great statistics you could pinch?
Thirdly, ask them to annotate the articles you are going to reference. Do they think the conclusion you come to will be the best one? Is a study on which you rely your argument completely false? This is absolutely critical – too often bad blog posts are written purely because the research wasn’t good enough. Why waste time writing a blog post when you don’t have the foundations in place? It takes just as much time to write a badly researched blog post as an informed one.
[quoter color=”jeans”]It takes just as much time to write an ill-informed blog post as an informed one [/quoter]
Most people ask for feedback right at the end. However, by this point the work has been done! You are essentially asking colleagues to proofread your work, which is not a good use of their expertise and time.
We’ll admit; getting your colleagues to take time out of their day to give you feedback is incredibly hard, even more so when the only tool you have is email or IM. Establish a culture where everyone asks each other for help, and make sure there is a process where you can give feedback on research efficiently.
3. Fit blogging into your every day
Planning every post you write in advance will exponentially improve the standard of your blog. Write a plan for when you have to publish a blog post, exactly what that blog post should say, where you will distribute the content afterwards and the goal you will measure the content by.
Your content calendar should fit around different events that you are attending, topics you know will be key for your customers at different times of year, or pre-empt the launch of a new feature.
That way, when you are going about your every day work, whenever you read something which is useful for an upcoming post, you will store it away somewhere. You’ll be surprised how much research you actually do for individual blog posts whilst you’re naturally browsing the web.
[quoter color=”sand”]You’ll be surprised how much research you actually do for individual blog posts whilst you’re naturally browsing the web [/quoter]
Once you establish this kind of rigour, creating well informed articles which come out on time will become infinitely easier.
This is something you can start today! Choose a topic you want to write about in 3 weeks time and save research as you come across it. You won’t find yourself scrabbling around search engines 2 hours before you’re due to publish and the process will be much more relaxed.
4. Make sure your posts remain relevant for as long as possible
Great content needs to deliver value for a long period of time. Each time you produce a blog post (that takes over 2 hours to write), you need to know that it will be relevant for your audience in 4 months time.
A content calendar can solve this problem too – if you know a subject was relevant 4 months ago, then chances are it will be relevant in 4 months time too. Planning in advance will keep your readers engaged for longer.
And by the way; Cronycle can help to improve your blogging in these ways:
- Collections; pull in articles from websites and twitter accounts which you have specifically selected, and only pushes articles that have keywords you’ve chosen
- Boards are an enriched collaboration space to get feedback from your team. Notifications mean you can keep each other up to date as you work on researching a blog post
- The Content Clipper is a browser extension which fits research into your every day. Easily add articles to boards as you read them on the web and annotate them as you go
- The WordPress plugin allows you to embed collections into your site. A post will always be kept up to date with the most relevant content, so your readers will always be satisfied