Get specific: 5 ways to turn a generic blog post into a work of art

Did you know it’s easier to write a blog post that tackles a specific subject than one that talks about everything? In my last blog post, I shared how I brainstormed 60 blog ideas in 30 minutes.

My first strategy was choosing 4 areas I wanted to focus on; feature writing, copywriting, productivity and running a business. In short, I got specific.

Get specific. Stay away from generic blog posts that are bland as old porridge. Click To Tweet

If you’ve been reading my blogs, you know that I write a mix of feature articles and content for businesses. Recently, I’ve realised how much the structure of a feature article overlaps with a blog post.

A good feature article and an interesting blog post:

  • talk about a specific angle as opposed to talking about everything
  • cover real life examples to explain points
  • feature interesting people as experts
  • support arguments with statistics and research like Neil Patel does
  • keep readers hooked beyond the headline

So how do you take a generic blog post idea and turn it into something people read, share or comment on?

  1. Pick one topic and brainstorm different ways you could write it. For example, instead of writing a listicle based on 10 different marketing tools, pick one and write about it in-depth.
  2. Research the topic to see what others have written about it. Could you add new information to it? Add a time factor to it to give people a quick fix e.g. Turn your life around in 10 minutes.
  3. Look for an angle that other bloggers haven’t mentioned. For example, there are thousands of productivity articles out on the web, could you share a personal story about one that works well for you or an app that’s made you more efficient?
  4. Feature an expert in a particular field and relate it to your business. For example, say you found a new start-up which became successful quickly. Could you interview the CEO to get insights on lessons learnt and apply that to small business owners who might be stuck where they are?
  5. Predicting trends is a good one as I found out recently. Following this one blog post, I had over 1,000+ people visit my website from social media, received over 20 LinkedIn connection requests, comments and shares. To date, just on LinkedIn, I generated over 200 views of my post with people not in my network reading and commenting. This has been my best performing post so far.
  6. Attended a networking event and enjoyed it? Write about it including key learnings. Many people hate networking events so reading something positive can be great for them and your website.
  7. News and current affairs are a valuable source of blog post ideas. I saw an ad on TV that I loved and so I blogged about storytelling and capturing your audience’s attention.

Next time, you feel stuck writing generic posts, get specific. If you have to blog for a living, you might as well enjoy it!

Need a blog copywriter? I offer blog writing packages for businesses. Email me rashida@rashidatayabali.com.au or visit www.rashidatayabali.com.au for more information.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

How I brainstormed 60 blog ideas in 30 minutes

Let me start by saying brainstorming blog ideas is the easy part. The harder part is writing the actual post and then clicking the “publish” button.

In December 2017, I set myself a goal of writing 52 blogs (one for each week) for my website the following year.

I added it to my goals list for 3 reasons:

  • It’s an experiment to see if it brings me more clients/work
  • To provide a platform for all those ideas which buzz in my head begging to be turned into blog posts
  • To see if I could commit to a weekly writing schedule.

Logically, I needed to come up with at least 26 blog topics to cover me until June 2018.

5 blog posts in and I’m already one blog post behind.

I’m a little red-faced to say I fell off the wagon last week because of work deadlines. But I’m back this week, determined to catch up, so expect another blog post shortly.

 

How I brainstormed 60 blog topics in 30 minutes. Click To Tweet

My blog idea generation process

When I decided to write 52 blogs, I first let the idea marinate in my brain for a few days.

I also thought about what areas I wanted to blog about and who I’d be speaking to in my blogs – fellow writers or potential clients.

I decided to write on these topics: feature writing, copywriting, productivity and running a business.

These were the core areas where I had something to share with readers based on personal experiences.

When I sat down to generate blog ideas a few days later, I turned off all distractions; phone, social media and the Internet.

Armed only with a pen and a fresh, clean page in my idea notepad, I started writing furiously as topics poured out of my brain.

I eventually reached a point when I couldn’t come up with any more blog topics.

As I re-read my list of topics, I found many generic blog ideas with a few sparkling in between that could be refined and turned into interesting blog posts.

Out of 60 blog post ideas, at least half were rubbish and the other half needed refining.

I’ve held on to not-so-great ideas so I can brainstorm different angles from them later.

How to make your blogging into a success

1.Schedule blogging into your diary

The next step, I believe is what determined whether my blogging goal would be a success or doomed to failure resting among the dregs of blogging enthusiasm and tired, neglected topics.

I scheduled writing a blog post in my diary every Sunday.

For the last 5 Sundays, I’d been writing and publishing a blog post religiously. Why Sunday and not Monday? Usually, my Sundays are unscheduled so I do have one or two hours to work without being disturbed. I prefer to allocate Mondays to income producing activities like sending out pitches to editors.

Last weekend, I missed my morning ritual and so my post never got written.

2. Flip the topic over or turn it inside out

If not one of the topics on my list excite me into writing a blog, I scroll through social media or think about something interesting I’ve seen on TV. Could I turn it into a blog by putting a personal spin on it like this one?

If a topic has been done to death – I try and flip it into a negative or opposite to make it sound more interesting.

For example, how not to write a blog that puts readers to sleep.

If I want to go off on a tangent, I give myself permission instead of churning out a ho-hum blog post that no one will read.

Sometimes, a topic pops into my head when I’m reading something unrelated. I write it down quickly in the notes function on my phone or it gets lost forever.

Research blog topics

If you know the areas you want to blog about but are still stumped: use this website to help you think of fresh blog topics or look through Facebook group posts to read what people are talking about. Put that aimless social media scrolling to good use!

These are the blogging tips that have worked for me so far:

  1. Have a list of topics at hand to get me into the blogging mindset. I don’t brainstorm each time I want to write a blog post
  2. Schedule it in my calender
  3. I don’t try to make it perfect. I think of one or two things I want the reader to remember after reading my post
  4. I keep a running list of blog topics on Evernote or a notepad. So I’ll never run out of blogging inspiration!

If you’d like me to help you create blog topics for your business, get in touch at rashida@rashidatayabali.com.au

How do you think of blog content ideas for your business? Do you have a technique or process that works for you?

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

using storytelling to capture audience attention

Using storytelling to capture your audience’s attention

Last week as I was mindlessly scrolling through different channels on TV, my finger stopped when I saw this ad. I’d probably seen close to 200 ads combined over the Internet, TV and magazines that week yet only this one caught my attention and stayed with me as did the name of the business: CGU Insurance.

The question is why did I only remember this ad out of a possible 200 I’d seen that week?

Even though the ad starts with a fact: 33% of Australia businesses are owned by migrants, the story that follows is an emotional one of hope and triumph. One that many migrants (including myself) can relate to. It also starts a positive conversation about migrants’ contribution in Australia.

The ad using a personal story connects beautifully with a product that all small businesses need: insurance. It humanises insurance – something that many people buy without any emotional connection to the product/service. Buying insurance is like doing your taxes, it needs to be done but it’s nothing to be shouted about from the rooftops. This CGU ad shows insurance can make a difference in someone’s business and impacts lives.

The ad works because of its moving narrative – both images and soundtrack combine to form a memorable story which sticks in the customer’s mind. I may not have considered buying business insurance ever from CGU (I had never heard of them before) but I’ll definitely consider them when it comes time to choose an insurer.

Science says that human beings are wired to tell and absorb stories harking from our cavemen days. Many cultures around the world still use stories to communicate their way of life and wisdom to others. I grew up hearing stories like Why the chameleon can change colours and why the tiger has stripes. Stories I still remember and tell my own children – it’s an emotional connection to my own childhood and makes me happy.

Storytelling can win you customers

Many clients are still unaware of how powerful storytelling can help forge a connection with customers whether it’s through blogs, or videos or even case studies. They are hesitant to create content using storytelling perhaps because they’re worried they might come across as unprofessional.

On the contrary, weaving stories into corporate narrative can create trust with customers and lead to desired actions and behaviours. So if you want them to do something, tell them the right story. You can do this by:

  • sharing the company’s past and present stories through employees
  • using images to tell the story – show, don’t tell
  • create a suspense in the story building up to a finale
  • show emotions through characters
  • use a powerful song/soundtrack to play alongside the story as it unfolds
  • sharing other customers’ stories – NFPs do this very well
  • end the story positively – leave the audience feeling good
  • engage the audience’s senses by giving sensory details

Storytelling can help you stand out from your competitors and more importantly keep you top of mind when it comes time for the customer to choose a product or service.

According to a study by Stanford University, people remember information up to 22 times more when it is weaved into a story rather than telling them facts alone.

Create a deeper connection with customers using storytelling techniques instead of dry, hard facts.

What’s the most powerful storytelling ad you’ve ever seen? Tell me in the comments.