In part 9 of this series, we’re shifting gears a bit so we can dig into how to create great content for your company blog. In this lesson, we’re going to show you a number of examples of great company blogs, give you a ton of ideas for blog post topics, and teach you our five secrets to writing great content in less than two hours. We’ll also give you hard data that you can use to know exactly when to publish and how often you should blog.
Examples of Great Company Blogs
The first thing I wanted to share in this lesson are some of the best examples of company blogs that are out there today. These are my top five personal favorites, and I’ll share with you specific examples of blog posts (in the links) so you know exactly what I like about each one.
#1 – The Zillow Blog
The Zillow blog is a real estate niche blog, but has a ton of great examples of building expertise in a specific vertical while also coming up with creative ways to reach a wider audience.
In this post about how to get approved for a mortgage, they share in-depth details that establish the company as industry experts on the topic of housing.
They also run sweepstakes to reach a wider audience, such as this blog post that generates additional reviews for lenders on the Zillow site, using the iPad to create incentive.
Finally, they create celebrity-related postings called “eye candy” that give insider details about which celebrities are selling and renting their homes. Everyone loves to take a peek inside a celebrity’s home, so people are natural curious and come for the images.
#2 – The Whole Foods Blog
Whole Foods is a large grocery chain that specializes in organic, fresh, and unique food options. They created a series on Home Composting that generated a number of comments from foodies. Any time you can create a series, the posts will promote each other and boost pageviews.
Whole Foods also knows that its customer base loves “green” cleaning products, so they tied their content to Spring Cleaning in an original way. Just like you might tie discounts or coupons to a relevant holiday, you can also do holiday tie-ins with your blog content.
#3 – Marriott Blog
The Marriott, a hotel chain, puts its CEO front and center with its blog. This helps establish trust, authenticity, and vulnerability. It also adds a personal touch.
#4 – The Cleanest Line Blog
Patagonia, an outdoor clothing company, takes a different approach with The Cleanest Line. They’ve created a place where employees, customers, and fans can interact.
They highlight true stories of customers with a series called Worn Wear. Because their customers are so dedicated to the brand, they are also able to write posts that go into deep detail about their product features.
#5 – The Wegmans Blog
The Wegmans blog is the last example. What I like about this blog is that they incorporate author images at the top of each post, which helps establish credibility and trust and makes the blog more personal. They also try to highlight changes they make based on customer feedback, which helps get their customers invested in the company because they feel they can directly affect outcomes by voicing their opinions.
My Five Secrets To Writing Great Content
Now that I’ve shown you my five favorite company blogs, let’s talk about how to turn your company blog into an exciting place that readers want to visit. It all starts with great content.
Would it surprise you to hear that it takes me less than two hours to write each of the posts in this series?
The thing about great content is that it doesn’t need to take a long time, if you know the secret shortcuts that will help you produce amazing work in fewer than two hours. Here are some of my secrets:
Secret #1 – Blog About the Things You Are Passionate About
It is no surprise that you will be able to write content faster when you know a lot about the topic because you are passionate about it. When you build a blog around topics that you love, your enthusiasm for the content will shine through. You’ll also have a lot of knowledge from reading about the topic after work hours and keeping up with industry news related to your topic.
I don’t know if you can tell, but I am super passionate about reputation management. There’s no way I would be able to write a 34-part guide otherwise! Because I’m so passionate about reputation management and because I know the topic in such great detail, I’m able to produce amazing content that is really useful to my clients and readers.
Secret #2 – Get Inspired by Similar Blogs and Websites
One of the insider secrets to finding topics that people are excited to read about and share with their friends is looking for ideas that have already been proven to have virality. You can find these ideas by looking at other blogs that are closely related to your industry.
For example, if you wanted to write about fitness topics, you might go to Tim Ferriss’s blog, the 4-Hour Work Week, and look at some of his most popular posts. One post that has served as pillar content for his site as well as inspiration for his New York Times bestseller, the 4-Hour Body, is a post called How to Lose 20 lbs. of Fat in 30 Days… Without Doing Any Exercise.
This post has received nearly 6000 comments and has been shared over 10,000 times on social networking sites. You could steal this headline and write your own post that is similar in format for your readers.
For example, you might write a post called “How to Lose 20 Pounds of Fat in 30 Days if You are a Woman.” Anyone who studies diet and exercise topics knows that women have different needs and considerations than men when it comes to losing weight quickly. Of course, you would need to have the content to back this headline up, but you could write a similar post that includes your rules for women and a case study of one of your clients that you helped lose weight quickly. You could also include pictures and a simple list of “Yes” foods, similar to how Tim Ferriss does it.
Secret #3 – Create an Outline
Once I decide on my topic, the first thing I always do is create an outline of exactly what I want to include in the post. I start with a very basic outline and then I continue to fill in the details with any links to research I want to include or any case studies that may be relevant to the article.
The thing that sets great content apart from the rest of the internet is adding facts that back up the points made in the article. Any time you can incorporate research that supports your opinion, you add great value to the reader. The same thing goes for case studies, stories, examples, insider tips, frameworks, and digestible lists.
I include all of these in my outline so I won’t get distracted by needing to look up something on the internet in the middle of my writing flow. This step typically takes me 10-15 minutes.
Secret #4 – Separate Writing From Editing
After you finish your outline, you’ll need to do two additional steps:
- you’ll need to write the post
- you’ll need to edit the post
Many people try to do both at once, but that’s a huge mistake! One of my greatest secrets for writing amazing content quickly is that I’m very good at separating my writing process from my editing process.
When I get into the writing zone, I type as fast as I can without worrying about formatting, grammar, fixing any errors, or making each sentence perfect. My goal when I’m writing is to get all the information out of my head and onto the screen as fast as I can, putting everything in as close to the order as possible to what I want the final product to look like. The writing portion typically takes me an hour or less.
Next, I do the editing portion. This is where I do things like rearrange the content, rewrite the sub-headers for search engine optimization, improve the flow of the blog post, add anything I forgot, and correct grammar and spelling errors. This often only takes me 15 minutes, especially if I give the post some time to rest. I find that if I wait a day and come back to it with fresh eyes, the editing happens even faster.
Secret #5 – Add Images and Post on Social Networks
We live in a visual society, so including an image in your content can truly increase your sharing results on social networks. You already have a great headline and great content, so taking this extra step will really put your content above all the rest.
Once you’ve added your images, you should post and share on all your social networks. You might also consider scheduling additional tweets and shares using the buffer app so that you can continue to promote your content over the next several weeks and months. The reason content gets lots of shares is because you continue to share it. If you’re not promoting your content, no one else will.
Think of it this way: you know that your content has value and is going to help your reader once you put it in their hands. That means it’s your duty to get your content into as many readers hands as possible so that you can keep helping people long after you finished writing your blog post. Every time you share content, you’re giving people a gift, so don’t be shy!
What To Write About
We strongly encourage our clients to use secret #2 when choosing what to write about. There are tons of benefits, especially because the headline and the topic are often already tried and tested. It’s much easier to write about a topic you know has already done well on social networks than it is to come up with topics you think might do well. Still, I wanted to share a few other ideas that we encourage our clients to write about, because they tend to be popular and simple to put together:
- Create Guides and Series – People love series, and often when they find one great post they are looking for another by the same author. A series increases pageviews, builds trust, and helps you establish a relationship with your potential client. It also increases the conversion rate to your newsletter.
- Take Advantage of Holiday Trends – Business owners in retail will know all about the benefits of tying marketing to relevant holidays. The benefits of creating blog content tied to holidays is that there is a renewed annual interest in the same content year after year, which can make the article more and more valuable over time. For example, if you have a photography business, why not create a blog post with your favorite fireworks images over the past several years?
- Highlight Customers – Whenever you can highlight a customer, you do three things—turn that customer into a fan for life, build trust with other customers, and create an amazing conversion piece that serves as both a case study and testimonial to your product or service.
Crafting Your Voice
It’s really important for you blog posts to have a bit of personality injected into them. When I write blog posts for you, I hope that my personality shines through so you can tell that I’m genuine in my expertise and passionate about reputation management. Here are a few guidelines for crafting your unique blogging voice:
- Be authentic – When you write like you speak, your natural personality and voice will come through in the words.
- Be transparent – Share failures and successes and be honest in your dealings. People can spot a fake.
- Give advice – A great blog post shares an opinion and provides an actionable step the reader can take. Blog posts that readers can’t take action on are fairly worthless, so make sure you are saying something of value and sharing your perspective in a way that will help your readers.
- Ask for feedback – At the end of each post, encourage readers to chime in with their own thoughts.
- Raise the level of discourse – State your opinions respectfully and be respectful of others who don’t agree with you. Your blog posts should be viewed as conversations, not attacks. Don’t aim to offend!
How Often To Write and When To Publish
One of the questions I get from every client I work with is how often should I be writing on my blog and when are the best times of day to publish to get the maximum results?
Let’s start with the first question:
How often should you write on your blog?
Dan Zarrella, a data scientist at Hubspot, analyzed the top 1000 blogs on the web and found that frequency of posting was highly correlated to the amount of traffic per day.
Blogs that posted one or more times per day saw triple the unique visitors per month and double the incoming links than blogs that posted fewer than once per day.
Now, I know that you’re a business owner and posting multiple times per day probably isn’t realistic, but the research shows that the more frequently you post, the more traffic and incoming links you’ll get. Pretty simple, right?
We tell our clients that they should post as many times as possible, as long as the content is great. If they are creating high-quality content each time, there is no reason not to post as frequently as possible. You won’t annoy your readers or overwhelmed them; instead, you’ll continue to attract inbound leads and new potential customers.
Now for the second question:
When is the best time of day to publish to get the maximum results on social networks?
Dan Zarrella studied activity on both Twitter and Facebook and found the following:
People are most likely to retweet between the daylight hours, particularly starting at noon EST and continuing until about midnight EST. Retweets hit a peak around 4pm EST.
Retweet activity peaks later in the workweek, particularly on Friday at 4pm EST. Weekends remain low.
People are most likely to share on Facebook during the weekends. According to Wired, 50% of employers block Facebook at work, which may account for the discrepancy.
Facebook sharing tends to happen throughout the day, with the peaks being around 9am EST (before regular work hours) and in the evenings around 7pm EST (just after regular work hours).
Dan Zarella also published his results on a survey of over 1,400 blog readers and found that the most popular time for reading blogs is in the morning. As the day continues, fewer and fewer people read blogs regularly.
To summarize all this data, Reputation Hacks has three simple guidelines to answer this question:
#1 – We recommend that clients with business-related blogs post during the week, while clients with lifestyle or special interest blogs have a little more flexibility in terms of which audience they prefer to target with their content.
#2 – We recommend that clients schedule their blog posts to publish in the morning, but schedule their tweets and other sharing to happen in the afternoon at peak hours.
#3 – We recommend posting some blog posts later in the week, when fewer blogs are publishing. Plenty of readers enjoy catching up on their blog feeds over the weekend, and it is important to catch the attention of this demographic.
Of course, the most important part is to write great content! Posting great content consistently is what will bring the leads, clients, and customers to your company website.
Thanks for reading this part of the guide and if you have any questions, you can email me at Jun [at] ReputationHacks.com.