Blogging is not just for big brands with big budgets. We show small businesses how to generate compelling content ideas on a budget.
Like a lot of businesses, you probably aspire to have authentic conversations with your audience, build trust, and convert those leads into lasting clients—in other words, to start blogging.
And, like a lot of businesses, you’ve probably got your hands full with running the day-to-day, with little time left for blogs.
But blogging is a type of content marketing that can increase your customer base and help your business grow.
In this blog, we show you how to make the time, and all you need is just 20 minutes.
With this tool kit, you’ll save hours each week. Ready to begin?
Start the clock!
Why blogs matter
Blogging is not just for the big brands—those with huge resources to invest in content strategies.
Small businesses can also take advantage of blogging, without draining time and budget, to generate real, measurable results.
Some of the benefits of blogging for small businesses include:
- Low cost: Aside from labour, blogging is virtually free. You might use a few subscription services, but these aren’t necessary (more on this later).
- Search engine optimisation: Drives traffic to your site, which boosts your ranking on Google.
- Reduces ad spend: If paid advertising is part of your marketing strategy, blogging will increase organic traffic to cut advertising budgets.
- Create an identity: Through blogging, you can show your audience who you are and what you stand for in an authentic and engaging way.
- Brand awareness: Don’t be put off by this fluffy term, this lucrative strategy helps you connect with your audience, pouring more leads into the sales funnel.
- Build trust: Not only does it bring new audiences to the fold, blogging helps nurture existing audiences to help convert leads into sales.
- Pillar content: Once you’ve created your blogs, you’ve created a source of content for many other channels, from email to social media, redoubling your content marketing efforts.
There’s nothing worse than devoting hours of time to crafting (what you think) is a beautiful article, only for that post to sit quietly in a dark nook of your website and attract zero readers (or at least, none that you know of).
We’re about to show you some powerful methods to lure readers to your fantastic blogs, but before we do, the key is to ensure your posts fit in a relevant campaign type.
By knowing your campaign type and purpose before crafting blogs, you can ensure that you create something of value to your audience and achieve real outcomes.
Blogs can fall into these campaign types:
• Weekly newsletter
The low-down on events relevant and interesting to your audience.
• New product release
Introduce the next best thing your audience are waiting for.
• Useful blog
Educate or inform your audience on your topic of expertise.
• Interesting blog
Share interesting or entertaining info in keeping with your brand.
With this knowledge under your belt, you’ll be better equipped to produce effective blog topics in quick time.
Understand your purpose
Your goal for creating blogs should never be to convert leads into sales.
If you try to do this, your blogs won’t attract customers but rather scare them away.
Instead aim to align your purpose with one or more of the campaign types above.
Purposes for blogs should be to:
How to generate topics
Start with keywords
A good way to start generating blog post topics is with keywords relevant to your business and offerings.
To start this part of the blog ideation process, you also need to understand a little thing called search engine optimisation (SEO).
SEO is a way of boosting the visibility of your website or page by getting it to appear higher in a list of search engine results.
By using keywords as the foundation for topics, you ensure topics are relevant to your brand, your audience, and will effectively drive organic traffic to your site.
You can find keywords that are relevant to your business simply by brainstorming. To start, try your offering plus location, like “best health spas Wollongong”.
You can also use free keyword research tools like SEMRush and Moz.
If you’ve already got a handle on the basics and need more in-depth guidance on SEO keywords, check out our article on How to do Keyword Research.
Turn keywords into topics
Take your keywords and enter them into the following tools to help generate ideas for post topics.
Shows you how often your terms were searched in Google, where those searches came from, related topics and queries to spur your imagination.
HubSpot blog post topic generator
Churns out catchy blog headlines that can be hit or miss, but great for getting the creative juices flowing.
A nifty brainstorming tool which gives you insights into related relevant search terms presented in a visual format.
Crafting a blog post in 8 steps
So now you know the basics of topic generation based on keywords. It’s time to improve your topic turnaround time. You can do this by learning the ins and outs of crafting blog posts.
To be effective, your topics need to support all other aspects of the post, from the headline to the call to action.
Your blog posts need to have the following elements:
- Target keyword in the title and in one subhead
- 3 internal links to other pages or posts on your site
- 3 External inks to resources elsewhere on the web
- Scannable formatting with subheads, small paragraphs, bullet points, lists, quotes, etc.
- 2 Images or more that are relevant and high-quality
- Call-to-action (CTA) near the end of the article.
Step 1 Outline
With the above post elements in mind, create a blog post outline in a Microsoft Word or Google document.
You’ll also use these platforms for the drafting stage, rather than drafting in your content management system (CMS) e.g. WordPress.
This is a good time to start thinking of a way to introduce the topic to your audience. Also known as an angle or a hook, it helps you and the audience enter into the subject of the blog. E.g. the angle for this blog is that small businesses are time-poor but want content marketing. This article shows them how to make the seemingly impossible a reality.
Jot down some notes for key points that your blog will cover, a kind of top level overview. You might even call to mind some sub-points for each one.
Look over your notes and consider whether the order of information flows logically. If not, reorganise as needed.
While you’re working on the concept and outline, it’s a good time to start thinking about the action you’d like your audience to take after reading. This will become your CTA (more soon).
Step 2 Headline
The first thing to know about headlines is that readers catch the first and last 3 words first.
That means you’ve got a total of 6 words to grab a user’s attention and inspire a click.
But that doesn’t mean that headlines need to be 6 words long every time. The length doesn’t matter too much as long as your important keywords come first and last—where the eye scans.
Remember to include a keyword in the headline and to check the quality of your headline using a tool such as Coshedule’s Headline Analyzer.
Don’t be ashamed of writing a simple Listicle (an article based on a list, e.g. “10 Reasons to Love Bloggers). They may be common, but they’re still popular– listicles get 2x more shares as other post formats.
If you want to continue honing this skillset, check out our post on how to write better headlines and subject lines.
Step 3 Write
While headlines grab attention, the body of a post or article does the important work of keeping your reader on-page.
Here’s where you deliver on the promise of your headline.
If the headline says, “how to”, the body tells people how to. If the headline says “5 Steps” the body explains those steps. You get the picture.
How long should your post be?
Although internet users have notoriously flighty attention spans, that doesn’t necessarily mean they want short blog content.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but “long-form” blogs (1000+ words) actually perform better.
In fact, compared to shorter articles, article at 3000+ words get 3x more traffic, 4x more shares, and 3.5x more backlinks.
The reason for this is that people don’t often read articles from top to bottom, they scan for relevant info. And when they have found a point that interest them, they start reading slowly for valuable and detailed insights.
The lesson is to write long form articles when you can, but always break them up into “snackable” sections, with bullet-points, lists, and other formatting breaks.
Step 4 Call to Action
Earlier we talked about how blogs are a content marketing strategy. As such, they are a “top of the funnel” strategy designed to increase brand awareness, build trust and generate leads—not to make sales.
This is important to consider while formulating your call to action at the end of your blog.
Anything that sounds salesy will spook your audience before they get close enough to form a relationship with.
Here’s how to mind your language in that all-important CTA.
These high friction words suggest that you have to give up something (like time, money, energy or your email address). Avoid the following in your blogs.
- Sign Up
- Donate / Sponsor / Support
The following words suggest that you get to do something you want to, but it may require work. They’re medium friction but use them sparingly.
These terms suggest that you’ll achieve gratification passively or do something that hardly feels like work. Use these gold star words liberally in blog CTAs.
- Check Out (as in “check this out”, not “checkout”)
Step 5 Images
Images may seem like a non-integral add-on that serves mere beautification purposes. But images are an important feature of blogs.
While many readers will come from search engines, another large share will come from social media. Here, images do the work of headlines to snag scrollers’ attention.
Images also play a star role in search engine optimisation. By giving your images relevant keyword-based titles and informative alt text, you can help boost your Google ranking.
And don’t let the image requirement scare you. For the design illiterate among us, there are now heaps of tools that make sourcing and creating images easy (really, truly.)
Search for relevant stock images on websites like Unsplash or Pixel Bay. Many images are free, some are paid.
You can also create original graphics using a revolutionary design platform called Canva.
Unlike pro tools like Photoshop or Indesign, Canva is free, loads in your browser, and will give you professional results with no experience needed.
Step 6 Polish
Read the article draft several times to check spelling, grammar, typos, and tone of voice.
Look for broken links and check your readability using Grammarly or Hemingway app –aiming for the lowest reading grade possible.
Finally, share your document with others in your team for feedback before posting. Ask them if it adds value, if any key points are missing.
Step 7 Post regularly
Best practice for how often you should post depends on your business type and size, what you offer and what your budget is.
The only way to figure out the ideal number of posts for your brand is through testing and measuring. See how many posts and how often gets the best results without breaking the bank and annoying your audience.
Rather than focusing on quantity, it’s better to focus on quality—and regular. You’re better off posting once per month than 12 times in January and 0 times through the rest of the year.
Step 8 Share
It’s not enough just to write your blogs and publish them to your website.
You’ll have to get them in front of your audience, at the right stage of their buyer’s journey, through the appropriate platforms.
Use the following platforms to share your valuable content:
Email marketing – Promotes your blog posts to an audience who are primed to hear what you’ve got to say.
Social media marketing & advertising – Draw from blog post content with supplementary posts on social media to generate interest, clicks, likes, and conversations.
Blogging for your content marketing strategy
As you can see, you will need to use SEO and keyword research, blogging, email and social media marketing in a harmonious way to see results.
For this you need a content marketing strategy that defines your goals, sets targets, and measures your outcomes against those goals to reveal your ROI.
Read more about this process in How to Master the Digital Content Strategy.
A year of topics in 20 minutes—Pipe dream or reality?
Creating a year’s worth of blog post topics in just 20 minutes may sound like a pipe dream for time-poor small businesses.
But with the knowledge and toolkit given here, this target should now be realistically within grasp.
Generating blog post topics is about efficiently drawing keywords from your SEO strategy to come up with compelling ideas that will resonate with your audience.
Blogging is your opportunity to raise brand awareness and generate trust, all while enticing your leads gently into that sales funnel.