Thanks to you, I’ve been busy lately. (Very busy).
Because it’s readers like you who have been avidly sharing our blog posts, driving traffic our way, massively improving our site’s SEO and sending my team of word-slinging cowboys a whole bunch of new clients.
So cheers for that, mate. I owe you.
And one of the consequences of all this extra commotion has been the need to expand my little collective. To find a new creative blogger who fits right in, and gets the job done – The Creative Copywriter way.
In doing so, I realised that I need to create an official set of guidelines for all my blog writers (both seasoned and new) to follow.
And in doing that, I realised that YOU could probably learn a whole heap from them to.
These are the Exact, Word-for-Word Guidelines That All My Bloggers Have to Follow
Congrats on being part of our small and talented blogging squad (you must be very proud). As you know, content marketing is a big deal these days. And it’s getting bigger by the day. Here’s why:
- It establishes companies and individuals as thought-leaders and experts within their industry.
- It allows businesses to expose their brand and voice to large, targeted audiences.
- It fuels SEO – and is one of the best ways for company websites to do well in the search rankings, and thus generate organic traffic and leads (Google loves fresh, relevant content).
- It goes hand-in-hand with social media marketing.
- It creates a two-way conversation between brands and their customers, prospects and industry influencers.
- It builds confidence, relationships and (eventually) sales.
So it’s powerful stuff.
And what makes our little gang so special is;
- We’re creative. Hence the brand name.
- We’re wizards with words. And skilled in the art of enticing and engaging readers, no matter the topic or target audience.
- We’ve learned what works through great experience, with all its trials and tribulations.
- We understand the bigger marketing picture, and how content fits in. Having done it successfully for ourselves, we know the best practices and tactics needed to make blogging a successful marketing strategy for any business.
It’s this combo of creativity, talent, experience and strategy which makes us stand out. And with you on board, I’m confident we’ll continue to nail it.
So with all of this in mind, here are some essential guidelines I’d like you to follow.
By the end of this document, you should know exactly how we do things round here. And you probably will have learnt a couple of awesome, valuable tips along the way.
So, first up;
Nail the Title
This is arguably the most important part of your blog post.
Why? Because on average, 8 out of 10 people browsing the net read blog post titles, and only 2 out of 10 read the rest of the content. Which means? Your title needs to really hook ‘em, or else they’ll bugger off.
Luckily, there are headline formulas which have been proven to grab attention and convert readers time and time again.
So if in doubt, please use one of these. Or refer to the chapter on hypnotic headlines by the awesome Joe Vitale, which you’ll be getting as a gift along with this doc.
Oh – and another thing.
Our blog post titles should always be presented to the client in a larger font, and should be capitalised. Like this:
10 Easy Ways to Write Compelling Headlines (but larger)
If you’re not sure what to capitalize and what not to, check out this quick and simple guide.
Get the Tone Right
This is where you work your magic.
And I know you can nail it, because you’re awesome (that’s why you’ve been cherry-picked from amongst the masses).
But in order to get the tone of voice spot on, you’ll need input from the client. Which is why we get every client to carefully fill out our ‘branding questions’ doc and pop it in the Google Drive folder where you’ll be dropping your weekly blog posts.
It includes questions about their target audience, what sets them apart from competitors, what their company values are, what sort of style/tone of voice they’re looking for etc.
Please read it carefully before getting started. It’s crucial.
And if you have any questions; fire away. I’m here for you.
Put Yourself in Your Reader’s Shoes
After reading the ‘branding questions’ doc, you’ll know all about the client’s target audience.
So always, always, always try to put yourself in the reader’s shoes. Or get inside their mind. (Whichever you prefer).
Ask yourself these:
Who are they?
What are they doing right now?
Why are they reading your post?
How will you grab their attention in the first few words?
What makes them tick?
What kind of value are you offering them?
Are they looking for some quick tips, or more of a lengthy, slow-paced read?
You should also put yourself in our client’s shoes too – and always have the bigger picture in sight;
What does our client want to get out of this blog?
Why are we writing it?
What’s the end goal?
Avoid Chunky Paragraphs
I can’t stand big, chunky paragraphs. Neither can most people.
So for every blog post – for every client – you should always try to stagger the length of the paragraphs to mix up the flow. And they shouldn’t really be any longer than one, two or three sentences each. Pretty much like these guidelines.
You should also keep some teeny tiny sentences all alone in their own teeny tiny paragraph, for extra emphasis.
It’s powerful, captivating and gives the blog post a nice, addictive flow.
Have a careful look at how these well known bloggers do it, to see what I’m bangin’ on about:
Ramsay Taplin’s stuff is a prime example.
Gregory Ciotti’s flow is darn good too.
I also like how James Charthand mixes up her paragraph length.
And of course, hypnotic copywriting legend, Joe Vitale, always gets it spot on.
Use Sub-Headers and Bullet-points
Subheaders and bullet-points are another great way to break up content and make it look sexy. And they’re especially useful for readers who like to skim through posts for the best bits (like most of us do, most of the time).
See how Ramsay did it in the post I just linked to?
Have a Conversation
I know you know this already. But here’s a reminder.
A blog post should be a two-way dialogue with the reader. Like all copywriting.
So don’t lecture them.
Involve them in the conversation as much as possible by asking questions, giving them direct instructions and encouraging them to think on the spot and imagine scenarios that you describe. It’s hypnotic.
Write stuff like:
Are you starting to understand the value of…?
I know what you’re thinking.
Now imagine this scenario;
How would you feel in this situation?
I’m going to ask you something. And be honest.
Let me guess. You’re wondering if…
What if you…?
Have you ever noticed that…?
You probably already know that…
Remember the smell of…?
Do you remember hearing…?
Have you ever…?
And so on.
* Clients will of course differ on how conversational they want their tone of voice to be, but you should still try to always involve the reader. As much as poss.
Everything clear so far?
Give me a shout if you need any clarification.
A good post will keep the reader’s eyes glued to the screen, till the very end. And one way to make this happen is by teasing them early on with what’s to come.
Let them know what amazing valuable content they’re about to read. Or how much wiser they’re going to be once they get to the end of your juicy blog post.
Write stuff like this:
By the time you reach the end of this post, you’ll be a [something] expert!
As you lap up every drop of this blog post, you’ll become more and more…
I’m about reveal three little known industry secrets. But first, let me tell you a little story.
The tips you’re about to read will drastically help you improve…
The story I’m about to tell you is both shocking and amazing. Brace yourself.
A great example of anticipation-building can be seen in this excellent blog post by our very own super-copywriter, Marek – This 5-Minute Trick Will Make You Blog 50% Faster
Give it a whirl.
You don’t have to tell stories in every blog post.
But stories are a great way to suck readers in, and a great way to illustrate certain points.
Why? Because people are hard-wired to enjoy them. We’ve been hearing and reading stories since early childhood.
And when people read your story, it takes place in their head.
This is a powerful place for you to be. You are in a person’s operating control panel. The more you cause them to think in terms of mental images, the more your message will resonate with them.
Here’s another useful post by Marek about storytelling. It’s definitely worth a read.
Link Out to Influencers
This is an essential part of the strategy we offer when blogging for clients.
In a nutshell: influencer marketing involves linking out to other thought-leaders and influential bloggers within our client’s industry, in order to:
- Provide the reader with extra resources on the topic, and thus extra value.
- Help out these influencers with the hope that they will then share the post, and thus drive a heckload more traffic to the client’s blog than it would attract otherwise.
Yep, it’s smart. I know.
But what does this mean for you exactly?
Inside the client’s Google Drive folder we always keep a document where they can list the influencers and well-known resources in their niche. These websites and blogs will be a great source of inspiration and topics for the posts you write. And more importantly, you should also link out to them whenever possible, and appropriate.
Feel free to grab entire quotes from these influencers, if you think they’ll add value. Just make sure you credit the source/writer and give them a nice juicy link.
P.S. This is not an absolute necessity for every bog post. But in general; the more we do it, the merrier.
P.P.S. If you want to learn more about this super-smart strategy, I wrote a pretty awesome blog post on it once (if I may say so myself)
OK. We’re almost there…
Still with me?
Throw in a Little SEO
Search engine optimisation (SEO) has changed since the old days.
And after Google’s ‘Panda’ and ‘Penguin’ changes to its algorithm, the best thing you can now do to your content for SEO – is make it darn good. So there’s nothing extra for you to think about there.
However some clients include keyword-focused posts in their content strategy.
In this situation, I’ll give you specific directions. But the general idea is; we will aim to use the exact keyword phrase in the title and then only two or three times in the body of the article itself.
The days of stuffing 7 or 8 exact keyword phrases into blog posts are long gone.
If content is king, consistency is queen.
And as a professional copywriter or blogger, you’ll be writing in all sorts of tones of voice every single week – which can be confusing.
Luckily, you’re an expert. And the rest of the team are here to help you out if you ever need a second pair of eyes.
But also, there’s a simple trick you can use to make sure you get into the zone for each individual blog client every week;
Quickly skim-read last week’s post.
Or better yet…
Quickly skim-read the best blog post that you’ve written for that specific client. It’ll help you get the tone of voice spot on once again.
Encourage Shares & Comments
Always end each blog posts by encouraging shares and/or comments (if not another call-to-action requested specifically by the client.) This really is a must-do.
And that’s it for now.
Good luck! You’ll do great my friend.
And welcome to the team.
Did you find these guidelines useful?
Good. That was the intention.
So share the love with all your awesome friends and followers now!
And feel free to add your pearls of wisdom in the comment section below.