Doesn't matter if your website is brand new or many years old, creating consistent, valuable blog content can be challenging whether you want to share ideas, make money, promote a brand, or boost SEO, blogging is a proven way to do it, by increasing site traffic and improving conversion rates.
This guide helps you with the essential steps for putting pen to paper — or fingers to keyboard — to write and publish your blog post, and then consistently produce and connect content with the audience that is seeking it.
1. Generate Ideas
You've done the marketing competitive analysis, created your strategic marketing plan, and got your content marketing process in place...now let's figure out specifically what blog idea will fit into that beautiful editorial calendar you created.
Coming up with winning ideas is often the most difficult part of blogging, so it’s crucial to carve out time for creative thinking.
To get started, consider your goals, niche, your target audience, and what you want to offer readers and customers. Begin by jotting down the types of stories your readers might be interested in. Who are they? What are their concerns? Where do they live? What topics might offer them value?
As part of our content marketing strategy, the Nifty Method team targets small business owners who want to learn more about building and using Hubspot or Wordpress platforms to promote their product or service. That mission shapes our content and gives us direction. And we keep it in mind every time we generate post ideas.
If you need help brainstorming, use a worksheet, online tools, or Google Docs to keep track of possible ideas and topics. Do word association or mind map exercises. Talk to friends and colleagues (or folks on the interwebs) for ideas, or browse blogs in your niche to get a sense for what’s already been done. Use prompts. Dump all of your ideas into a single place and always carry around a notebook (or keep a virtual one, like a SwipeFile).
⏰How long does this take?
- If you have a content marketing plan or a campaign goal in mind, this part of the process can take around 1-2 hours.
- If you don't have the above, we suggest giving yourself around 4-6 hours to ensure you're on the right track.
2. Create an Outline
Now that you’ve got a million great ideas to write about, it’s time to choose one and create an outline.
For your first post, we recommend choosing a topic that you’re passionate about, one that provides you with enough material — and is interesting enough to you — to write conclusively and authoritatively about. You don’t want to lose steam 200 words in.
Flesh out your story idea by detailing subpoints of your topic and listing important supplemental information. Determine where each subpoint fits in the overall structure of your post. There are apps for easy outlining, or you can follow this simple pattern:
- Section #1
- Main point
- Additional information
- Section #2
- Main point
- Additional information
Segmenting your information — so you can better visualize it — will make the writing step a lot easier.
⏰How long does this take?
- Around 1 hour depending on the proposed length of the blog.
3. Write Your Post
Once you’ve developed your ideas, start writing. Write freely, ignoring the impulse to self-edit as you go along. Polishing your draft takes place later, so for now, just get the words out.
Use your own unique voice, all while keeping your audience in mind. If you seem to have trouble getting the words out, set aside a specific period of time each day — say 30 minutes — to write without distractions (you can try a handy online tool like ZenPen or Coffitivity if you need ambient noise). Keep the keys clacking and don’t stop until the time is up.
💡Pro tip: Google loves long-form content, with the most valuable pieces out there clocking in around 1500-2000 words.
⏰How long does this take?
- Around 3 hours depending on the proposed length of the blog.
4. Edit Grammar and Content
Remember: nothing spells ‘amateur’ to a blog reader faster than careless typos and flagrant errors.
The ease of blogging allows for content to be quickly and easily shared, but you’ll lose credibility — and pageviews — if you ignore the (re)writing step. Because digital consumers are usually “snacking” on online content, they need a hook or a compelling reason to stay with your post. Good writing should be that reason.
So take the time to edit your work. Concern yourself with both grammar and content. Eliminate needless information and wordiness. Is your punctuation and capitalization correct? Are there spelling errors? Have you linked and attributed information properly? Are you using reliable sources? Consider having an editing checklist handy so you don’t miss any little details.
When you’ve given your writing more than just a cursory glance, step away from your computer and take a break. Then revisit your work for one last look. You’ll have new eyes to see any additional mistakes. You — and your readers — will be glad you did.
⏰How long does this take?
- Around 30 min to 1 hour depending on the proposed length of the blog.
5. Craft Your Headline
If you haven’t already, now it’s time to start thinking seriously about your headline.
The title of your blog post is more than just a catchy turn-of-the-phrase to grab readers’ attention; it’s a critical part of getting your content seen by search engines. Plus, your headline is essentially a virtual guidemap, setting readers’ expectations for what they’ll get within your post. Simply put, don’t underestimate your title’s importance.
Avoid the tendency to use clickbait tactics to draw readers in; instead, focus on staying accurate and using keywords to optimize your title for search engines and social media. Consider using benefit-driven phrasing, powerful verbs, and numbers that speak impact.
It’s okay if your headline isn’t set in stone as the first thing you write; use a working title and adjust as your post becomes more finalized.
⏰How long does this take?
- Around 30 min to 1 hour depending on the proposed length of the blog.
6. Add Graphics
A blog post without a photo is like milk without cookies: the nutritional stuff without any of the fun, virtual value. Images are often what attract readers to your post in the first place, and they give them an idea of what you’re going to offer in your post.
If you can’t provide your own photos, consider buying stock images from a site like iStock or Shutterstock, or visit websites that offer royalty-free images. If you’re using online photos, make sure you understand any attached copyright laws, including proper attribution and credits.
💡Pro Tip: Take this step seriously; good visuals can make or break your post.
⏰How long does this take?
- Around 3 hours
7. Optimize for SEO
Truth be told, there isn’t really much point to writing a killer blog post if no one is ever going to find it. That’s where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) comes in.
A common mistake B2B companies make is assuming that including a blog on its website will be good for SEO. While that statement is broadly true, so is the statement “Eating food is good for your health.” With both content and food, it depends on what kind.
B2B blogs need a solid SEO strategy (don't worry, we talk about how you can create one below if you don't have one already) in order to genuinely engage visitors, build brand awareness, and most importantly, attract and develop sales leads. As you read, you’ll notice all successful blog entries grow from the seed of a well-chosen keyword.
Using case studies from our agency's own clients, I’ll demonstrate the steps B2B companies need to follow in order to dominate their industry’s search results. I’ll also share the expected timeline for seeing higher rankings, traffic, and qualified lead conversions.
B2B Blogging SEO Strategy
All successful B2B blogs begin with a planning session that identifies your company’s most valuable keywords. While it’s tempting to want to rank for many keywords within your industry, it’s crucial that you separate “transactional” keywords from “research” keywords.
Transactional keywords, which capture people interested in buying now, are best suited for sales-oriented landing pages linked off your website’s menu. (In other words, they shouldn’t be targeted through the blog.
Research keywords, which capture people who are still researching and aren’t yet ready to buy, are best suited for blogs.
Transactional keywords generate leads more quickly, so you should be creating pages to rank for them first before you even begin blogging. If you are just interested in a blogging strategy, skip this section and head to the next one.
To illustrate the difference between transactional and research keywords, imagine you run an app development firm in Los Angeles. An example of a transactional keyword you’d target is “best app development companies California.” The person who types that in is likely to be a serious, qualified lead.
An example of a research keyword you’d target is “app development outsourcing cost”. This searcher is obviously interested in creating an app, and is researching the best way to do that. While less immediately valuable than the first searcher, this searcher is clearly valuable as well. Thus, a blog entry will need to be created to answer that person’s question.
Once you’ve come up with ~30 of your most valuable keywords, you’ll want to place them into a Keyword Table to use as your blueprint when you begin blogging. Here at Nifty Method, we use a variety of tools to help us source and create your Keyword Table, including SEMrush, Google Insights, and our proprietary database.
Here is an example of a Keyword Table:
Note that the first four keywords are transactional and call for landing pages, and only the fifth keyword, “app development outsourcing cost,” is a research keyword calling for a blog entry. This reflects the higher value landing pages possess.
However, blog entries have one key advantage over landing pages: they’re nearly infinite. Whereas you eventually run out of transactional keywords that in one way or another say “I want to buy this solution,” you almost never run out of problems and situations that could lead to purchasing that solution.
One last note on landing pages before we move on to blogging: there are many different types of these sales-oriented pages, reflecting the various ways people search when they’re serious about buying. There are pages focused on location, industry, specialties/use case, services/subservices, and FAQ. All are typically linked from the website’s header menu, off a dropdown menu. Learn more about how to create a demand gen offer landing page.
B2B Blog Content Generation
You now understand how to identify valuable keywords, so it’s time to start writing. Before you begin, remember the golden rule of B2B blog planning:
The keyword, not you, determines the topic you write about.
When every blog is borne from a keyword that indicates a real potential to become a sales lead, you have no choice but to write only on subjects that will generate leads. In contrast, if you simply wrote about what’s happening in your industry and then tried to find a keyword that matched that topic, you’d undoubtedly be settling for far less valuable keywords.
Now let’s talk about what a B2B blog entry should look like. Unlike landing pages, blog entries should be educational, answering the questions inherent in the blog’s targeted keyword. But they must also be engaging, or else people will leave. A good blog article is synonymous with thought leadership.
Thought leadership means you truly work to understand the search intent of your keyword so that the “answer” you provide in the form of the article fulfills their curiosity, and does so in a language they understand.
It’s common for folks with cursory SEO knowledge to believe they should write in a certain way for search engines. Don’t do this. Simply put, rankings will follow naturally if your searchers find value in your content. (The only SEO-y thing you need to do is put the keyword you’re targeting in the title of your article.)
Finally, great SEO content is that it’s “skimmable,” marked by:
- Bulleted lists (see what we did here?)
- Well-organized headings and subheadings
- Transitional phrases that tell the reader what to expect next
- Links that help the reader navigate your site more quickly
With these principles in mind, write a lot.
How many blogs should you publish a Week from an SEO perspective?
We recommend you publish new content at least twice per week for six months or more in order to see a return on investment. If you do this, your website will rank for more keywords in general, have higher rankings for desirable keywords, and see more organic traffic. Most importantly, you’ll get more qualified leads. On that note, we’ll now explore how to measure and analyze your results.
Assess Results and Refine Strategy
After the first few months of consistent publication, you should see some data you can work with. There are many corporate blog metrics you can measure, but the essential ones are:
- Organic Traffic – how many visitors come to your site through unpaid searches.
- Search Engine Ranking Position (SERPs) – where your pages appear in Google search results.
- Conversion Rates – how many visitors completed an action of value to your business, like filling out a contact form or calling your business.
You can use this information to support, modify, or celebrate your B2B blog strategy, depending on the results you’re seeing. Let’s take a look at each of the possible outcomes.
How to measure SEO success of blogging?
If you are tracking results and seeing a section of your content strategy that is underperforming, you have an opportunity to support this element of your campaign, either through more intentional targeting of related long-tail keywords or by rethinking the approach to your blog content.
Are you speaking the exact language your reader expects to find? Are readers spending enough time on the page to see the value of your content? Are you committing enough high-quality resources and insights to truly answer the searcher’s query? If the answer to any of these questions is “No,” then you have an opportunity to better support your content creation process with richer subject matter insights, more accessible presentations, and more sophisticated graphics and designs.
The case of a campaign where all elements of your content strategy are performing to expectation presents a different opportunity: Here, it may make sense to modify your approach by expanding the campaign’s focus to a larger set of keywords or a more competitive set of keywords that were previously unattainable.
Lastly, if your content strategy is exceeding expectations, returning a hearty ROI, and making headquarters happy, may we humbly recommend you take a moment to pat yourself on the back and then get back to work. Even evergreen content needs regular care and maintenance.
B2B Blog Strategy Results: What They Look Like
Dominating your industry’s search results means deploying a long-term B2B blog strategy. It will require you to research keywords, write high-quality thought leadership content, and reevaluate your strategy on an ongoing basis.
Through the regular performance of these actions, you should see qualified leads and conversions coming in at a regular pace by the end of your first year. Your return on investment will really take hold in your second and third year of committing to a B2B blog strategy.
Here’s an overall average of our clients’ thought leadership campaigns after one year:
65% increase in organic traffic
+$385K raise in organic revenue
On average, our clients see the following results by the end of year two:
- 94% rise in organic traffic
- $1.2M raise in organic revenue
And by the end of year three, our clients typically see:
- 81% rise in organic traffic
- $3.3M raise in organic revenue
Optimizing your site, strategy, and content to rank as highly as possible on Google search results takes years of expertise, and it yields a strong return on investment.
8. Hit Publish
Before you hit that publish button, remember: whether you’re going to post once a day or once a week, it’s crucial to commit to a regular, consistent publishing schedule.
Make goals to stay organized and disciplined, as readers need to know what to expect from your site. Set deadlines for the creation of your content so that you stay on track. Your editorial calendar can be as simple as a Google Calendar document or as fancy as online tools like Asana.
Once you’ve established your schedule, hit that button. Exhale. Then tap the social media, video marketing, and email marketing folks cause it's their turn with the baton.
With your polished prose and attractive graphics, it’s time to share your work and invite consumers to engage. There are so many ways to optimize your content for social media. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Share your post on social media, tailoring the content to each individual platform.
- Tag influencers and use hashtags to get your content in front of possible readers.
- Encourage user-generated content from your followers.
- Capitalize on timeliness.
- Utilize analytics to track your success.
- Read up on simple techniques that improve your social media presence.
- Once you’ve built a list of email followers through your site, you can connect them to your content through email marketing.
Creating content consistently will attract more readers to your site and establish your authority within your field, so in keeping with your schedule, build a routine and repeat these steps. Then sit back and watch your readership grow.
Let's take it a step further...what does that mean, be consistent? The biggest problem most businesses face is planning and creating stellar content on a regular basis.
Many businesses have no ongoing posting consistency, no editorial process, and no time for topic generation.
It’s understandable, though. As a startup or small business, you’re most likely doing this alone. You’re your own editor, social media manager, graphic designer, marketer and more. If you're slightly larger, the pandemic has likely taken a slice through your team.
More digital marketing needs. Less headcount to get it done.
And if you have a family to take care of and possibly a full-time job, finding the time just to plan your content – let alone actually writing a blog post – can be a challenge.
But, there’s a secret why many blogs remain popular. Sure, they have epic and useful content that people devour and share, but these blogs remain popular over time partly because they preplan things. And a great way you can do this on your own blog is with a content calendar.
I know. It sounds easy right? Just plan out your blog posts. But, for a lot of us, creating a content calendar and sticking to is often difficult to do.
You end up going back to just winging it, hoping it will all work out in the end. But it rarely does. And let’s face it:
Having a content calendar can turn your blog from being a hobby that you write about whenever you like, to professional blog status with a system in place.
And better yet – it can help put your blog on the map.
Why a content calendar can help grow your blog (And ultimately bring in and keep those leads)
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a blog that ran like a well-oiled machine?
There would be a plan, a system, and a process from inception to publication without any hiccups or bumps along the way.
And when that happens, everything falls into place and you can focus on growing your blog.
You can get all this – and more – with a content calendar. Let’s look at four ways using one can help you grow your blog.
1. It keeps you organized
Raise your hand if you have blog topics scattered across post-it notes, notebooks, Google docs, Trello, and Evernote?
From the old school method of pen and paper to the digital version, if you brain dump your blog post ideas all over the place, finding them, sorting them, and using them just ain’t going to happen.
And don’t think that using your day-to-day calendar or planner will do the trick. If you have one calendar that holds your appointments, your children’s activities, your spouse’s schedule, and more, adding your blog content schedule won’t really work that well.
Instead of scattering your blog post ideas or using one calendar for your life and blog, go with a separate blog content calendar.
It will keep you organized because every phase of writing a blog post will be in one place. You’ll be able to plan and track your deadlines, topics, graphics, and anything extra like links, in your content calendar.
2. It shows what you’ll be writing about at a glance
Being able to preplan a month’s worth of content for your blog is a big accomplishment.
With a content calendar, you can see what you’ll be blogging about for that month. It can help you identify holes in your content that maybe you aren’t covering and can help you see which micro topic you might be over-focusing on that month.
For example, if you’re a winery, you might notice you have six dessert recipes and only two dinner recipes that pair well with your upcoming wine club blog release. By looking at your content calendar you can balance your blog’s content for the month easier.
3. Helps you stay consistent
There’s something about writing out the plan that helps you stick to it. And the same goes for your content marketing goals.
Planning out your content and then assigning dates to each of your blog posts is a powerful thing. It helps you take action and lets you see your accomplishments as the weeks go by.
There’s also a lot less guesswork going on when you know what you’ll be writing about. No more searching Twitter or trolling TikTok at midnight to find your next blog post idea.
4. Can help hone your content marketing plan
Do you have a content marketing plan? You should! All a busy marketer wants is traffic right? Well, developing a content strategy will help you get there. This helps you identify your niche, target audience, and overall brand for your blog.
Having a content calendar can help you solidify these areas. For example, you might find that your posts on productivity hacks for moms do much better with engagement and shares than your weekly “frugal finds” series.
Based on that finding, you can shape your content calendar to include more content your audience wants – productivity hacks – and less of what your audience doesn’t want.
Now that we know why a content calendar can be helpful to growing your blog, let’s look at how to create one.
Easily create a content calendar for your blog
No matter what type of business you are, the content calendar you use will have a similar setup.
Having an all-in-one place to chart your blog’s content plan is what will help you stay organized, consistent and on track to help attract your ideal target audience.
The sections of your content calendar can include a page with specifics such as:
- Blog topic idea
- Suggested headline
- Idea development (subheadings and topics you will be discussing)
- Image source
- Your call to action
- Idea for a content upgrade
- First edit
- Editing tool (like Grammarly or Hemmingway)
- Published date
You may or may not need all of this information, but it’s handy to have if you want to stay on top of your content schedule.
There are several tools – mostly free – that you can use to create a content calendar. Let’s look at two of them.
Trello is a project management tool that can be used in collaboration with your team or solo.
Trello has boards for what you want to keep track of. For example, if you have several blogs, you can assign a board to each of your blogs.
Within each board are lists. You can break down your board topic into lists or sections. Taking the blog example, your lists can be Blog Topic, Date Assigned, In Progress, and Published.
In each list are cards. For this example, each card is a blog post.
Trello also has color-coded labels which help organize your content calendar. These labels can tell you at a glance if your post needs to be edited, if you have keywords set, or if it’s been published.
Another feature Trello has is the option to view your cards in calendar view.
To activate the calendar view, click on Menu and then on Power-Ups.
From there you can enable your calendar.
If you feel you need more of a breakdown for your blog calendar, Trello also has checklists that you can create for each of your cards.
For example, here’s a Pending Review checklist for one of my blog posts in the queue.
Trello is free and easy to use.
2. Google Sheets
Another easy way to create your content calendar is with a spreadsheet. We’ve done the hard work here and have created a blog content calendar in Google Sheets to get you started.
Click here to access the content calendar (no opt-in required)
We love this Google Sheet template as it lays out the steps you need to go from the initial blog post idea in your head, all the way to publishing on WordPress (or your platform of choice). If you have multiple blogs, it’s a cinch to duplicate the master sheet and have your entire blogging business at your fingertips.
Sometimes working on one master spreadsheet is the easiest for a busy marketer. You can see the whole picture of what’s going on with your blog content for the month or quarter and make adjustments along the way.
Google Sheets integrates nicely with Zapier and lets you sync rows in your spreadsheet to other apps like Google Calendar, Evernote, or Twitter. You could use this functionality to automatically create events in your Google Calendar, for example.
Bringing it all together
Blogging as a hobby is fun; blogging as a business takes planning.
We hope this guide has better equipped you to write, publish, and manage your business blog. Got another tip or trick that you love, have a cup of coffee and let us know!