I recently celebrated my first work anniversary here at Tone. In that short time I’ve really been able to immerse myself in the world of content production and social media and, as a result, write for some really impressive blogs.
One of those blogs is SteamFeed, a marketing, social media and tech blog set up by DJ Thistle and Daniel Hebert. Despite being just over a year old now, the blog has attracted a huge number of experienced writers from every corner of the industry and developed into a really fun, friendly community to be a part of.
In a world where content is indeed ‘king’ and business blogs can act as tools for traffic generation and lead nurturing, it’s understandable that this level of blog success is a dream for many, if not all small business owners. The question is, how exactly do you create a successful blog?
I spoke to SteamFeed’s very own DJ Thistle to find out…
Hi DJ! SteamFeed has a very talented team of experienced writers – a luxury that many small to medium sized businesses don’t have. What advice would you give to those businesses who want to blog but feel that they don’t have the skills to do so?
Everyone starts at point A when they begin writing. Some people learn the skill early on and some later in life. The point is writing is something that needs to be learned. If you feel like you don’t have the skills to write and want to blog then you really only have two options.
First, you can hire someone who knows how to write and knows about your business. But don’t fall into the trap of hiring someone who only knows how to write. If they don’t know the first thing about your business then your blog is just going to be regurgitated content that you can find anywhere on the web.
Second, you can start at the beginning and learn to write yourself. If you’re willing to become a student you can make this happen. There is a plethora of free information out there on how to write a blog. Start reading and make it happen. Don’t be scared of hitting publish. Just make sure you check for basic grammar and spelling mistakes before doing so and you’ll be fine. A good way to practice is to visit other blog posts in your industry and comment on them. Take the time to really formulate a well thought out idea before posting. You can look at these like mini-blog posts. Doing this will also help you formulate some ideas about what to post.
If you simply hate to write and don’t want to hire someone but still want a blog for your business then you can always try creating podcasts or videos. Just make sure that whatever you choose you keep the quality high if you expect people to return.
What types of posts usually do well on SteamFeed and why do you think this is?
Here are the top 5 posts of all time on SteamFeed, based on pageviews:
Photo credit: amanky via PhotoPin CC
This article did extremely well because it was controversial. It was picked up by a number of news outlets and ended up going viral, which caused the traffic to spike before dropping off a week later. However, although the traffic was high it didn’t have the best targeted traffic.
Photo credit: Sean MacEntee
This article was one of our best performing articles over the past year because of Google. I wrote this one because it was something that a lot of people were searching for on Google, and because of the quality of the article it was picked up under the search term “How do I get more Facebook Likes” and reached as high as third on the first page. It no longer ranks there but I have noticed that every time I go back in and update this article we get a bit of traffic for it again.
This article did so well because of a combination of Google love and social sharing. It continues to perform well in search and it has been shared over 1,100 times on social networks. Ray did an excellent job of answering a question that a lot of people were looking for at the time and continue to look for even now. Timeliness and coverage of trending topics are always a great direction to go in with blog posts.
This article, similar to Ray’s, did very well in search and social. I came up with this article because I had spent forever and a day trying to set up Google authorship for everyone on SteamFeed. I searched article after article trying to sort it all out for a multi-author blog. I realised once I was all done that I should put this all together so that others wouldn’t have to go through what I went through, and it worked.
When writing a blog post, try to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. What types of articles are they looking for? Don’t focus on what you want to write about – focus on what they want to read.
I’m noticing a trend that the last three top articles were all concerned with Google. I wonder if that’s a coincidence or if Google is giving some love to us when we stroke their ego!
Ray is on here again not only because he writes informative articles, but because he also does an incredible job of sticking to what he knows and honing in on using his preferred social network (Google+) to find his customers.
Blogging can be quite a time consuming and often frustrating process. What would you say keeps you sane and helps ease the process of writing blog posts?
I write a lot of my articles in parts, which may not work for everyone but it really works for me. At any given moment I may have two or three articles going at once. I try and wait for an inspirational moment and not force my creativity, although there are times when it’s good to stop procrastinating and just get something down. You can always go back and edit.
One of my main pieces of advice would be that if you’re getting bored of writing, go outside and do something fun. Step away from the computer and unplug for a bit. It can only help to clear your mind and come up with something great.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given or come across during your time running SteamFeed?
This advice wasn’t given to me personally, but I read it in a blog post and I think it has been quite powerful for us. I don’t have the exact quote so I’ll paraphrase what I got out of it:
When you write you want to provide as much value to your readers as possible. However, if you just provide value with the hopes of those readers developing a relationship with you and buying from you, but never have a Call to Action, then you’re going down a long road. Once you’ve given them some value it’s okay to ask that your readers sign up for your email list, request a consultation, buy something, etc. If you legitimately have a blog that is full of awesome titbits then you definitely want to be moving that person towards closing a sale.
Let’s end on something fun. Twitter tells me you’re a fellow bookworm – if you were trapped on a desert island with just one book for the rest of your life, which one would it be?
If I was trapped on an island with only one book to read for the rest of my life I would definitely choose the Count of Monte Cristo. A story like that could only give me hope that someday I too could return and seek revenge on all those who have wronged me!
Have you found DJ’s tips and advice useful? Let us know in the comments section below : )
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