How to write brilliant blog posts quickly
by Anna Kaine on 19 September 2018
I was always told off for rushing my work at school. I was one of those children who powered through, pencil pressed so hard into the page that it scored through the paper. Then ten minutes after the task was set, I’d be poised at my teacher’s desk, telling him I was all finished and needed more work. Of course, he’d take one look at my worksheet, find seven errors and tell me to go and correct them.
In my adult life, I’ve learnt to go at a more steady, methodical pace – as the lead content creator for ESM Inbound, I can’t be the one rushing through my work and making errors! I’ve got better at self-reviewing, self-editing and – most importantly – planning before I get started. However, with the time restraints most businesses are up against, carefully crafted content that might take days to hone and refine isn’t really an option. If your business doesn’t have a dedicated content team and therefore relies on ‘a bit of everything from everyone’, getting non-writers to create snappy, well-written copy in tight timeframes feels like a tall order.
But there is a happy medium. Here we offer you five tips for creating blog content fast – finding that happy balance between speedy for the writer and beneficial to the reader. One of the best resources I know of for this can be found here by Russ Henneberry. It's an outline of different blog types that can be pulled together with minimal effort. Some of this article’s best suggestions are outlined in this blog post.
You could, for example, ask each member of your team to write a single paragraph with 'What's your finance team’s top tip for surviving Year End?' or ‘What’s your top tip for a student’s first week of university?’ – whatever is relevant to your business. Pull those paragraphs together, check and edit them where necessary, and include a headshot of each team member alongside their quote – voila, you've got a blog post!
An example of this idea is on our blog. If we're really pushed for time, then that's our default option, but it’s an idea that could work for pretty much any business that has a team of two people or more.
A similar strategy is to get your customers to write the blog post for you. Send an email to your customers, tell them you want to share their top tips for e.g. wedding dress shopping or preparing to become a dog owner. Then take the best ones and put them into a list. An example of this approach can be found here (the Databox blog featuring a quote from yours truly).
Not only does this work as a blog post for you, showing you have a range of interesting customers who you trust the opinions of, but it acts as promotion for your customers, too – hence, they should be pretty happy about being asked to feature in your blog. Make sure you stress that it won’t take much time for them to complete and send them an example paragraph to demonstrate the expected length and tone of voice.
Not only that, but you might learn something really valuable from a customer that you hadn’t considered before – it’s a two way learning activity!
If you want to go light on the words but heavy on the shareability, you can get some really quick content with video. Use Loom (or similar) to record a short video showing how to complete a specific task using your product. Then you can embed the video in the blog post and just write a paragraph or so as a summary. Here's one we did back in April.
There are many reasons to embrace video more heavily in your marketing, aside from the fact that 64% of customers say that seeing a video makes them more likely to make a purchase. Giving important information through the medium of video – and getting more confident at doing so – will have long-term benefits for your business, showing you’re at the forefront of industry changes. Plus, it’s a great way to build trust and knowledge of your business with customers, literally giving your brand a voice and face.
Another option is to think about repurposing your existing content. Do you have user guides, case studies and 'how to' documents? Do you have some published blog posts that could be repurposed with a more modern twist?
This “old” content isn’t irrelevant just because you brought it out a while ago – with a few updates, your blog post could become really useful to a current customer or prospect who hasn’t necessarily gone far back enough into your website content to find it.Take the copy from these, tweak it slightly and – boom! – you've got a new blog post.
This option stops you from re-inventing the wheel and you might even find that in revisiting old content, new ideas are generated. I often start down one route and by the time I’ve finished that piece, it’s taken on a different angle than I thought it would – this is a common result when repurposing older content – and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Another option is my all-time favourite, and it’s called 'They Ask, You Answer'. It takes the questions your users are already asking of you and turns them into a blog post for everyone to read – helping, not only that initial customer who made the query, but loads of other users who might be suffering from the same problems.
First, go through your support team's sent emails. Find a time when they've written a reasonably lengthy email to answer a customer's question. Copy and paste that into a document, tweaking it so that it doesn't mention the specific customer and so it explains the context. Voila – a blog post that promotes your brand and has the added bonus of being something you can point people to next time they ask that question.
Here's a video from Marcus Sherridan who popularised this approach – he’s the master when it comes to using this idea, and really illustrates how important it is to listen to your customers.
All of these ideas are time savers for blogging – and some of them even split the workload across multiple people in your team – win/win! There are some suggestions here that naturally lend themselves more effectively to some businesses than others, but try them out. Instead of staring at a blank screen next time it’s your turn to write a post, bookmark this page, get it up on your screen, pick one of the alternatives to a standard post, and try it!