In a world where video is becoming more and more prominent, some may think written content’s days are done. This is definitely not the case, because well-written and engaging content can attract new leads, build credibility, nurture new leads, and help you convert and build long term, repeat business.
Nowadays, we often see written content that just doesn’t cut it. It’s too focused on what the business does or what Google wants rather than what the reader wants. But if done right, written content can be a great marketing strategy for your business.
In this episode, Kym Heffernan was joined by Leanne Shelton, a self-proclaimed English nerd at heart. Leanne is extremely passionate about the written word and loves working with Health & Wellness business owners to prepare effective content marketing strategies to best suit their target audiences.
Kym and Leanne cover:
- What blogging is and how important it is to business
- How to structure an engaging blog
- How long should a blog be?
- How frequently should you write a blog?
- Blog topic ideas
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If you want more information from the podcast check out the transcript below.
Welcome to Marketing Show. The 20 to 30 minutes of marketing magic that will help you connect the dots with all the digital, social, and old school marketing and sales options available today. Our aim is to give you practical, effective tips and ideas so your business or professional practice can get more prospects and nurture those prospects to be coming long term customers.
This show is sponsored by the Marketing Strategy Company who help B2B organisations develop winning marketing strategies and sales and marketing automation systems to turn their sales and marketing efforts into new customers and dollars through their marketing.
Check out the Marketing Strategy Company’s planning and marketing services at themarketingstrategy.co.
Hi. Welcome to today’s Marketing Strategy Show. The Marketing Strategy Show is all about getting the right marketing for your business. In our marketing strategy show episodes, we pull back the curtain with experts on a specialised topic.
Today we’re going to look at content. In particular, written content. In a world where video is becoming more and more prominent, some may think written content’s days are done. But they are mistaken. Why? Because great written content can attract new leads, build credibility, nurture new leads, and help you convert and build long term, repeat business.
But all too often we see written content on websites that just doesn’t do the job. It’s too focused on what the business does, it’s may be laid out badly, and sometimes just too focused on what Google wants, rather than what the reader wants. It can also seem daunting to sit down and create good written content. Where do you start, for example, with that blank piece of paper?
So today I’m really excited to have Leanne Shelton from Write Time Marketing to give us the inside knowledge on how to write or create great written content easily, that readers want to engage with.
Let’s get Leanne on the line, and let’s get into some great marketing insights from Leanne today.
Hey Leanne. Are you there?
Leanne: Hello. I am. How’s it going?
Kym: Hey. Welcome aboard, and thanks for joining the show. We appreciate your time.
Leanne: Thank you.
Kym: Why don’t we actually just start with a little bit of a kickoff of the Leanne and the Write Time Marketing story? Not from once upon a time, but.
Leanne: Not that far back, okay.
Kym: Don’t have to go far back. But just what got you into writing and what you love about writing?
Leanne: Well, writing has always come naturally to me. I can go back, I probably have to here, I think I was like in year one, and we were given a journal to write about our weekends in class, and there’s … I still remember it, I had just learned punctuation, and I just picked it up so easily. It just came naturally to me. Where the commas, speech marks went, everything I just got it.
Leanne: I think that was the beginning of my writing journey, because I’m like, “Oh, I seem to be good at this.” From then on, I was writing stories throughout primary school, and I did well in writing. I think I came second in a writing competition in high school and things like that. It just always seemed to be my passion, and I knew I wanted to do some sort of writing in my career, and originally all I knew about was journalism. I was like, “Oh, I want to be a journalist” and did all this work experience at magazines and newspapers.
Leanne: And I did a creative writing degree and yeah, but I had to start somewhere and I started telesales, but then eventually moved into internal comms, marketing comms, and now I have my copywriting business.
Kym: Fantastic. It’s great that you’ve got a business where you can do not only good work for people, but work you love as well, right?
Leanne: Exactly. Exactly. It’s always been, “I know this is my goal. I don’t know how I’m going to get there, but I’m going to be writing at some point.
Kym: And I know from our discussions that your business primarily focuses on health and wellness, because you’re really passionate about this area. But I guess your experience covers a broad area, doesn’t it?
Leanne: Yes. I’ve got a sales and marketing background, and I’ve worked in many different industries and written for different industries. But the health and wellness seems to be where I’m more aligned and just socially, I seem to gravitate towards people in health and wellness businesses, and also just when I’m writing, it just flows so easily when yeah, it’s in that area.
Kym: I think you also run classes and teach people how to write, particularly on blogging and creating content, because I think that passion you have for your own business in health and wellness, a lot of business owners and people who manage a business have that same passion for the business. That’s why they’re there, so sometimes they’re the better creators of content than using an external person.
Leanne: Yeah. I found that I had two different audiences. Those who are like, “Oh, I want to give this blogging thing a crack myself but don’t know how” and then those who were like, “Oh yeah, I know it’s important but can I just hand it over to you?” In terms of web copy and other types of writing as well. And I thought, “Well, maybe I could teach those people who want to do it.” In Sydney’s Hills District, there’s not a lot of training opportunities.
Leanne: You often have to go more like Western Sydney, like Parramatta, or into the city, or North Sydney. I thought this is an opportunity to offer some content marketing training in the Hills. That’s where it kind of began. My dad is a retired high school teacher, and he always told us kids not to become teachers because of all the drama in the school system, but naturally I’ve yeah, gone into that space. I really enjoy it. I basically in 2020, I’m splitting my time between running workshops and writing copy.
Kym: I guess even if you’re not going to write it or are going to outsource it, I think, I always say to people I’m working with, I don’t want to just do it for you. I want you to understand what I’m doing, because then when you’re using someone externally whether it’s me or someone else to do the marketing for you, you actually know what to look for and evaluate. I guess it’s a bit the same with good writing, where if you know some of the principles, even if someone else is doing the work for you, you’ve got something to evaluate it against.
Leanne: Yeah. It’s always good having an outside perspective on things as well. It is a collaborative process. Some people are like, “Oh yeah, can’t you just write it?” You’re like, “Well no, I’m not a mind reader,” although I’d like to be. You’ve got to give me something, I’ve got to understand your business and ultimately I want to be writing in your voice. It is ghostwriting, and I have to understand the business so I can do it effectively.
Leanne: I have to understand where you’re coming from, and if I know all that, sometimes yeah, I can offer some advice based on what my sales and marketing background, and say, “Look, that’s probably not the best strategy for you” or something like that. Or I just say, “Have you thought about this?” In terms of how to angle it. And go from there.
Kym: I guess you know the good principles, if you like, for doing it. Things like how to structure, how long it should be, frequently, all those sort of things, and I guess when you’re doing it, that’s when it comes subconsciously to you I guess, because you do it all the time, right? But someone new doing that, they might not be structuring it properly. They might be running too long, too short, or too frequently, and just in the whole wrong tone. What I wanted to try and do today was suck all that knowledge out of your head.
Leanne: Go ahead. Suck away.
Kym: So why don’t we start with that magic word, blog? I mean, I think a lot of people get hung up on blogging and what it is. Why don’t you give your definition of blogging?
Leanne: Yeah. I guess once upon a time, blogging was seen as an online diary, and that’s how it was used. Some people are still thinking that way, but it’s kind of evolved from there. Especially in terms of business. A lot of even big corporations are including blogging as part of their strategy, because ultimately it helps with the branding, as well as the search engine optimisation, that magical SEO.
Leanne: Blogging has now become a key, like branding tool, a way to give that human element to your business. They’re conversational, but also informative, or educating or entertaining the reader. The reader’s always in mind. It’s not just a way to throw all your thoughts out there, unless you’re asking for advice or feedback on something. It’s ultimately about the audience.
Kym: Can I pull that apart on a couple of elements there? And just use some examples. I understand for example, that people may think if I’m selling business-to-business, people just want the facts, but that’s not right, is it? People want to know what the business is all about, and the person behind it, today more than ever, right?
Leanne: Yes. It’s definitely, because there’s so many competitors out there, for whatever industry you’re in, unless you’re in something extremely unique. So that actually blogging’s probably even more important because you have to really explain it, but you have to show yeah, your point of view, your voice, and then people are more like … The people who are like you, who like you, who trust you, everything, they’re more likely to buy from you.
Leanne: If you have a blog and it’s all really structured, written like an essay, there’s no personality, people don’t really know who you are. They could yeah, go to a website and just read something and it just doesn’t … Your competitor’s page could have the exact same information. You’ve got to show what sets yourself apart, and that’s all about you seeing yourself as an authority figure, in your conversational voice, and yeah, connecting with your audience that way.
Kym: And really from a pure marketing strategy viewpoint, which of course I love, it actually is just a really great way of creating more content to help you get found by people. And when people come back, there’s something new to see. There’s new information that’s on the topic that interests them. If you’ve got the same website pages and I go and visit your website every month, I’m going to see the same thing. Nothing’s going to be exciting for me. There’s no reason to keep on coming back basically.
Kym: But creating fresh, new content all the time around relevant subject areas to your readers, you create that content that engages the readers.
Leanne: Yeah, 100%. You can create a website, not touch it for five years, it becomes static, and then Google kind of glazes over it in searches. That’s the beauty of blogging from an SEO perspective, is that Google sees there’s fresh, new content, so you’re going to rank … Well, it’s going to at least have a chance of ranking. We don’t know the algorithm, it’s always changing, but that’s what I say to people. I go, “All right, last time you did a Google search, think about it. How many home pages and services pages did you see?” Unless they were a sponsored post. You probably saw all articles on blogs, and that is why people blog, because that’s what’s coming up in searches.
Kym: Yeah, you’re right and people don’t know exactly how Google ranks things, but there’s absolutely no doubt one of the key ranking signals is how engaged a person is when they get to a website, and there’s two signals to tell you that. One is time on page, so in other words if you’ve got rubbish content and it’s a few words, it won’t stay there very long. The second one is how long they spend on your website, and how many pages they visit.
Kym: They can go from a homepage, look at a blog, look at an article, look at something else. They’re going to spend time on your site. They get to know you, to like you, and Google says, “Hey, this person likes the website, we should rank it higher.” There’s a whole lot of benefits because of that.
Leanne: Exactly. Exactly.
Kym: And just creating page content describing your services, nobody really cares about that at the end of the day. All services are pretty generic, but if you’re a lawyer for example, and you’re talking about commercial law, you can say, “We do all these wonderful things like contracts, blah, blah, blah.” Everyone’s going to say the same thing, but if you can talk about a client of yours, anonymously, last week they had this problem, here’s how we solved it, that adds a face to the business and the sort of problem solving that people want to hear about.
Leanne: 100%. If they’re in that exact same scenario and they’re reading it, and you solved that problem for that person, they’re like, “Oh well it worked for them, I’ll give them a call and see if they can make it work for me.”
Kym: Yeah. There’s also some benefits I guess in terms of taking that blog, well snippets or pieces of that, if there’s four or five key points, and sharing that on social media. Whether it be your LinkedIn profile or Facebook, or using pictures or Instagram stories even to do it.
Leanne: Yeah. Once you’ve written a blog, don’t waste that. That is a key piece, so you could do so much with it from creating social media posts, creating Facebook Lives or videos for LinkedIn. Talking about some aspect of it. Oh, you could create a podcast episode about it. There’s so many things you can do once you’ve got that blog content.
Kym: Okay, so we’ve established it’s important to have a blog or ongoing content strategy, because people I guess these days, it used to be I think 5-7 touch points. At an event I think you were at the other night, there was a guy from social media talking about people have about 15-20 touch points now before they buy from you. They’re looking at your Facebook profile, they’re looking at your blog, they’re going back and looking at you again.
Kym: They don’t just come straight away and buy. They research you in multiple locations. Having that fresh content is really important, because I might not buy from you now. In fact, only 5-10% of people are ready to buy now. Majority will buy in 6-12 months, so you need to have content along that 6-12 month journey and blogging is a great way to do that.
Leanne: Yeah. I don’t know about you Kym, but I know that if I go to a website and they have a blog but it’s out of date, I don’t know, I always feel like, “Oh, they’re not keeping up with things. They’re not” … I don’t know. It’s a lost opportunity for one thing.
Kym: You know what it reminds me of? It reminds me, if you go to … You’re buying a house and you go up to the house, and you see the garden’s got dead plants in it, or there’s rubbish everywhere, whatever. Your first impression is, “This is not going to be good.” And oh my, you’ve got one, two, three seconds for it to load. When you get there, you’ve got one second probably before they leave.
Leanne: I know.
Kym: If it’s out of date, bad, whatever, they’re gone. They’re gone somewhere else. I can find any subject, anything, multiple times within seconds on Google. I don’t have to waste time on things that aren’t appealing to me.
Leanne: Yes, exactly.
Kym: You’re absolutely right. Fresh content, make sure it’s not out of date. And in fact, the simple way to do that probably a bit sneakily is not put a date on it. There’s nothing worse than saying it was published in 2013, it’s now 2020. It doesn’t exactly look relevant, does it?
Leanne: This is true, but what I recommend is to do evergreen content as much as you can. Which is it doesn’t become outdated. I know people who’ve got blogs that are still ranking really well and they were written three years ago. Because it’s obviously a topic of interest, it may have become a featured snippet, which is at the top of Google searches. Yeah, so don’t underestimate. You write it now, you might only get a few hits now, but something on the news, or something might become topical, and suddenly that topic is being searched heaps.
Kym: Absolutely. You can also go back on old blogs and update them as well, becomes fresh content. It becomes a basis for creating content as well. You’re not always reinventing.
Kym: Okay, so we worked out we need that, that’s an important strategy and we should do it. But I see a lot of blogs out there that are good. I see a lot of blogs that are average. How do you evaluate? What are the key elements, I guess, of how to structure the blog?
Leanne: Yeah, so when structuring your own blog, I’ve got a few little tips I could go through here, but you work through … I mean, keep in mind that people only scan blogs and websites. Everything online, people mostly scan it. The important part is to try and make it … Lots of white space. No heavy, big paragraphs. My tips are yep, with the main heading, try and keep your … Put your keyword in there. That obviously helps with the SEO, and also have subheading. Actually have multiple subheadings.
Leanne: Go from the heading two down to heading six, the different sizing, and that just helps you break up the content and makes it easier for people to be able to read and scan. There might be a certain point that they’re more interested in, and if they can quickly see it, that helps them out with reading it. Another one is to have lots of dot points, short sentences, and bold any keywords.
Leanne: Once again, that just helps. It makes it easier to read, and yeah, if you have the Yoast SEO plugin, it will tell you off if your sentences are too long, which mainly it’s because the meaning can get lost. It’s better to be sharp and succinct as you can. Yeah, I mean, three words sentences can be so powerful, as well, so don’t be afraid of those.
Kym: Things like, “Don’t be afraid.”
Leanne: Yeah, and you have that one alone, on its own, a big paragraph in between, it just stands out. Yeah, it makes good impact. Imagery is good for breaking up words. It adds colour and personality. Look, depending on what your audience and angle is, you could insert those gifs or images in between every point. Personally, they annoy me. I’m like, “Just get to the” … I have to keep scrolling past them, it annoys me.
Leanne: But in some instances, like if it’s for a more social type thing, not business, then you could probably put them for a bit of fun. What’s another one? Avoid using jargon. Even though you know what it means, don’t assume your audience does. Unless you’re going to define it. I always define as well, like you would an essay, define the topic at the beginning, just so they know exactly what you mean. But otherwise keep it conversational and use layman’s terms.
Leanne: Use rhetorical questions. I love that. Because especially at the beginning, because that just like, if you can get them nodding along to those questions, go, “Yeah, that’s me. Yeah, that’s me.” You’ve cooked them in, and that will get them reading.
Kym: Yeah, so it’s almost like … I do this when I read. It’s almost like you’re having a conversation in your head, that’s really what you want people to do, not just look at the words on the page. You want them to be repeating them in their head and having a discussion if you like.
Leanne: Yeah. And say, “Oh yeah, this article’s for me, I’ve got to keep reading because that’s what I want to know.” That’s it. Use hyperlinks, very important. From an SEO point of view, just because it’s always stronger if you’ve got links going to external sources as well, and I say you can get inspiration from a similar blog or from an industry related blog, as long as you reference or do a link, and that all helps you as well.
Leanne: But you can also do links internally, like to other blogs where you go in more depth in that topic, or links your services page if you mention something. Those are also good for yeah, getting your audience to go further around your website and not just that one page. What else have we got? Call to action, so make sure you finish the blog with saying what to do next. And usually that’ll be, “Call me to line up a chat” or, “What do you think? Leave a comment below.” That type of thing, just to tie it all up.
Kym: Yeah. That’s an interesting one, the call to action one. I suppose you mentioned that, I had that circled on my sheet of paper.
Leanne: There you go.
Kym: A lot of people forget that, because ultimately yes, you’re doing this to create content for people to engage with, but you want them to take some steps. There’s got to be a purpose to what you’re doing, and that purpose is a call to action, and it’s usually to take some next step, whether it be to get a copy of the blog, call to action, “Want a copy? Click here” and it downloads a PDF. It could be to take them to an appointment, check out the services. Some sort of call to action.
Kym: And I like, and tell me if you think from a layout viewpoint it’s not great, I like that if having not every paragraph, but two to three, if it’s a long blog, call to actions throughout it. Not just at the bottom. Because people may not make it to the bottom.
Leanne: I agree. Obviously make it when it’s relevant. If you’re talking about a particular service offering and talking it through, then you can insert it. Say, “Oh” … Your lawyer example. “If this sounds familiar, get in touch with us now.” And then keep going. You make it kind of, you naturally insert it rather than just, “Here’s a sales button, click here” kind of thing, mid article.
Leanne: Yeah, as long as there’s a natural flow to it, then yeah, definitely put it in a few times. Especially if it’s a long, 2000 word article.
Kym: Yep. I think just back to the internal link strategy, I think back to the beginning, it’s something that you’ve really highlighted for me was you talked about the keyword in the heading. I think sometimes people create blogs because they think, “I need to create a blog” and there’s not the strategy behind it necessarily. I think you need to think about what people are searching for you online, and make sure you’ve got blog strategies around those keywords or key searches they’re looking for. Don’t just write it because, I’ll use a lawyer example again, or I’ll use an IT one.
Kym: Windows 7 is now not supported, so I’ll write a blog on that. Well, that’s okay, but is it related to the Windows is the key topic? Is it related to you need to update your software? What’s the key topic or keyword that people are searching for? Not just a commentary on what’s happening currently.
Leanne: Yes. What I suggest to workshop attendees is to come up with a key phrase, have a think, put it into Google, and I recommend the Keywords Everywhere tool as a browser extension, add-on, whatever you want to call it. I mean, it is a paid one now, but only after like 20,000 searches, just to get over their little bot issue.
Leanne: But yeah, that then on the right hand column, it will show you all similar searches that people have done in that area, and tell you how they’ve ranked and everything like that. It gives you an idea of, “Oh, there’s some different synonyms or words that I could throw into” … Because you don’t just have one keyword phrase, because people don’t think things the exact same way. You’ve got to think of different ways that people might search for that same topic. Windows is crashing, how to fix on a Windows … I don’t know.
Kym: Why does Windows keep on crashing all the time? Yeah.
Leanne: You’ve got to think of different ways to say, or how do I fix a problem with? And those kind of things. Yeah, then you filter those in throughout your blog. It’s kind of back of mind, but don’t cram, yeah. Don’t keyword stuff, but just keep it in mind.
Kym: Absolutely. The other tool I find is called Keyword.io. I’m not sure if you’re aware of that one as well, we use that a lot in research with people. It comes with a lot of … There’s a lot of rubbish ones sometimes. Say for example I was looking for commercial lawyers Sydney, it will bring up commercial lawyer New York, and a whole lot of other variations, but the Keyword.io is also a very good tool for doing that.
Kym: But also just to be reminded, it doesn’t have to be exact. The days of having to have a keyword exactly that says marketing strategist Sydney, and Sydney marketing strategist, that’s way gone. Google is smarter now, to know if someone says looking for a marketing strategy, I want a marketing strategy for my company, it will know marketing strategist is a good fulfilment for that inquiry too. You don’t have to get too hung up on getting the exact keywords or the variations on them, but it’s the ideas of them is more important.
Leanne: Actually, I had someone recently ask me. She’s like, “Oh, I really need some advice about blogging” and it came down to what’s the magic formula for keywords? What do I do? I’m like, “You just pick some words that work well. It explains what your blog’s about, that people will likely be searching. Give it a shot.”
Leanne: There’s honestly, as soon as I said to her, “There’s no magic formula,” she’s like, “Ah,” this massive weight had just been lifted off her shoulder. It’s going, “I can blog now.”
Kym: She thought she was getting it wrong? Right, okay.
Leanne: She thought she was getting it wrong. She wasn’t thinking about something in particular, and I go, “No, it’s just a keyword phrase that you think” … It could still pick up if two of those five words are being searched. Like you were saying with the marketing strategist, it will pick it up. It’s clever.
Kym: And ultimately people get hung up on the keyword search and finding it, but if the website you’ve got those blogs hosted on is not right, people don’t like it, they leave, all those other things we spoke about before, it’s all irrelevant, too. It’s just part of a bigger strategy. It’s not rocket science. Google wants people to have a good experience. If you have a good experience reading a blog, looking at imagery, whatever, you’ll stay on that website and won’t leave it quickly and you’ll come back to it. That’s going to help you. Don’t try and overthink it.
Leanne: Yeah. As you said, you don’t write for Google. You write for the readers first, the robots second. The robots are actually all about the readers, so that’s why engaging, those tips I gave, that’s going to make it easier on the eye for the reader. That means they’re more engaged, that means they’ll stay their longer. Google will think, “Oh, that’s interesting content, I’ll give that a little push.” It’s just always have the reader in mind, and if you overthink the algorithm, I don’t know how many different versions there are now. How often it changes, it’s yeah, don’t even try to predict Google.
Kym: No. 100%. Understand it’s important though, so don’t ignore it, either, which I’ve seen some people do. Have a strategy around it in terms of doing it. Just for clarification on jargon we were speaking about earlier on, do you want to just explain what the robot is? People may not know what the robot is.
Leanne: Just in terms of Google has little crawlers that look over the websites and works out whether it’s worth putting in searches. Ultimately, that’s all it is.
Kym: Yep, beautiful. Thank you. Okay, so we worked out okay, we should have a blog, doing some key points on what we should have. Some headings, subheading, dot points, short sentences, bold keywords, free words, imagery, avoid the jargon, rhetorical questions, hyperlinks, and call to action. How long should it be, though? I mean, do we make it … I see in some blogs the short, snappy to the point, you can get through it within two minutes. In fact, I think it’s HubSpot which is a great example of content, at the beginning of their page they say, “This should be a two minute read” or, “It should be a five minute read.” Which I thought was a really interesting way of doing it. What is the answer to that question how long should it be?
Leanne: It’s kind of like how long is the piece of string type thing. I mean, Google recommends 1500-2000 words. I guess mainly because the more words, more likely people are going to read it and stay engaged longer, but you also don’t want to just be blabbering on for the sake of it to fill up that space. Whatever your topic is, you just write to as much as you need to answer that question, or answer that angle. Keep it succinct as possible.
Leanne: I do have clients who have 500 word blogs, 500-600 words. I recommend that would be the minimum, otherwise you might as well do a social media post. But yeah, for something more technical, in depth, where you do have to explain all the elements, longers probably better. And it obviously to cover it all. But if you’re doing like a five steps to, or five tips kind of thing, you could probably do that in 600-700 words, to be effective.
Kym: Yep. I guess it depends, we were speaking a little bit before the call as well, about something called … Using jargon here, cornerstone content. It’s a page that you sometimes see that’s like the authority guide to do something. It might be the ultimate guide to finding the right keywords for your business. Then it might have, that’s got everything related, and they’re shot and snappier blogs that talk about keyword research, how to do a strategy for keywords, and topics around that big, long piece as well. So, it depends on the purpose of what you’re trying to do as well, doesn’t it?
Leanne: Yes, yes. If you’re willing to invest hours into a particular blog to make it cornerstone, and that’s going to be your key reference for many inquiries, because a blog topic could be related to a frequently asked question, for example, then yeah, invest that time. It could be 3000 words if that’s what it needs to be. Just make sure you’re breaking it up with those headings, dot points, and everything else, just so it doesn’t look crazy.
Kym: And it links to the shorter part of it obviously, as well.
Leanne: Especially long ones, you need to put a summary at the bottom or a summary at the top, or even yeah, links to different parts of the article, just so people can jump to it. Then it’s appreciated as well.
Kym: Yep. What’s the criteria then I guess, for working how long? Is there some sort of basic … You said between 500 to 1500, how do you when you sit down to write, how do you discern how long it should be? What are you thinking about when you start to write, you’ve got that blank piece of paper? Are you thinking about how long it’s going to be? Tell me what your process is for getting in between 500 and 1500 words.
Leanne: If I am briefed for a client to do a 500 word blog, I learned that the maximum tips or points, if you’re doing a “how to” DIY type thing, it’s basically three paragraphs. You have a paragraph for the intro and a paragraph for something else, and then a few paragraphs, and before you know there’s 500 words. So like 100 words per paragraph type thing.
Leanne: But I don’t ultimately, unless they’ve … Usually I say like 800-1000 words, or 500-700 words, and that’s how I quote based on that. Because I don’t want to be always think about the words. I want to be, “All right, so what are the key points you want covered?” Say, “All right, well these five key points, including the definition, this, this, this this.” And then I just yeah, go and write it, and then I go back and after I’ve written it all, “How long was that? Did I waffle on a little bit too much there?” Or, “Is that not clear enough? Maybe I should expand on that.”
Leanne: But yeah, the word count isn’t the first thing I think about. Unless I have to do two 500 word blogs a week, and they’re paying a little bit less to say, “Yes, only 500 words,” then I’m a bit more mindful, but I just got used to knowing how, from experience, how long it should be. Ultimately, you need to think about the purpose first and yeah, if it’s remaining informative, you’re getting your point across, then it doesn’t matter about the word count.
Kym: Just to talk about something you said then, and it’s probably something you intuitively do, you talked about five key points, so really when you sitting down to write it, probably what you should be thinking about is what are the key points? Start with that.
Leanne: Yeah, and that could be based on five questions or five areas you want to cover off, or whatever it is. Just an aside, Google loves uneven numbers, so like three, five, seven, nine, I don’t know why. If you do tips, kind of keep it like that.
Kym: Because that ultimately determines length, right? So it’s not so much a word count, it’s how many key points you want to get across, because if there’s only three key points, it’s very hard to write 500 words on each point without waffling on.
Leanne: Yeah, it depends on what those words are. If they’ve got subpoints, which they might, so then you might go a bit deeper. You might go, “Here’s the heading. Stress management at work, stress management at home, stress management among family,” just for example, three points. And then you might have, “All right, so at work,” and then there’s all these different dot points, or before work, or during your lunch break, and then you expand on each of those. There could be subheadings, yeah, beneath each of those.
Kym: You’re starting off then from the brief, you’re starting off with what are the key points that the client wants to get across basically, that’s where you start with it. Obviously there’s an intro and a finish to that, and some content around that, but that’s what you’re really trying to start with, is it? The key messages that you want to get across with that piece of content, that blog.
Leanne: Yeah. We have to know the key message, otherwise you just don’t know where it’s going to go. It could just go, transform into something completely different and then it just yeah, you need to keep it succinct, so have a key focus. You need to work that out first, and look, I work differently with different clients. Some are like, “Look, I’m just going to do a massive brain dump and you need to work out some sort of structure from it, but I want these main things covered.”
Leanne: They might send me then some links to similar blogs covering similar topics, and kind of get a feel for what they’re after. Others I do a phone briefing, they just go, “Yeah, I just want to talk through it all with you” and I might use Rev or something to transcribe it, or I’ll just take notes furiously. Yeah, or someone else just goes, “Oh, here are five dot points, go ahead.” People work differently, and I kind of get a feel for them.
Kym: Right, okay. That’s interesting. It’s all around that structure to start with, which is I think the point that I’ve missed before, and I’ve seen other people miss as well. Because without that structure, it does become waffle, doesn’t it? And then in a summary you can talk about it, and an intro you can talk about it, and so I like that idea of working out whether you want to cover three, five, seven people. It’s around a key message obviously, because that then helps you structure subheads and all those other things you were speaking about, doesn’t it?
Leanne: Yeah. Well, otherwise just turns into one of those online journals that I said before. It’ll just be your little ramblings. You’ve just go to value the reader’s time, so it needs to remain relevant the whole time, and if there’s a lot of content you need to get across, you can split it up into a series, like three part series type thing. And then you could say, “Stay tuned” or, “Here’s a link to the next part” and whatever.
Leanne: Don’t feel like you have to cram a lot of information to one particular blog, if you think it’ll work better as separate.
Kym: Okay, so we’ve covered off okay, why you need to have it, how to structure it, how long it should be. I guess the next thing is how frequently should you be doing this blogging or additional content on your website?
Leanne: I think you need to assess what’s realistic for you. If you’re doing it for yourself, how can you fit it into your schedule? And if you’re outsourcing, obviously how much can you afford? They come into play. But I say look, if you can do it once a month and that’s the best you can do, that’s better than nothing.
Kym: Better than zero a month.
Leanne: If you do once weekly, I mean, it depends on your industry as well. Some write blogs like daily, but then they’ve got a massive team who are churning out the content. I mean, if once a week is possible, if you’ve got a team member could do that, or yourself, then do it. But once a fortnight, once a month, I think is pretty good.
Kym: I think the other thing with that is possibly how you’re going to share it as well. Because it’s not good just writing once a month and then letting it sit there, is there?
Leanne: No, that’s it. So-
Kym: Once a week. If you haven’t got an email list that you’re sending it to, for example, or you’re just relying on people to come to the website, once a week, you’re just going to create content that no one’s going to see.
Leanne: Yeah. I always say yeah, don’t wait for Google to find it, or people to stumble across it. You’ve put that effort in, or investment, time, money, whatever. You need to share it with the world. Yeah, you need to allocate that time to create social media posts from it. Yeah, share it in your newsletter, if you have a weekly or monthly newsletter, put all the links to your blogs in there. Link those blogs to your social media accounts. You’ve definitely got to make the most of it.
Kym: Take them and put them on LinkedIn if LinkedIn’s the right channel for you.
Leanne: Yeah, you could create a LinkedIn article and paste it in. Yep, could do that, too.
Kym: Yeah. I think that’s the other thing too, is really, really important, and we’re probably going to run out of time to do it today, but talking about content distribution, whether it’s video, blogs, or whatever, creation is probably only I think about 10-20% of the effort to engage people.
Leanne: Oh yeah. Because otherwise you’re just sitting back going, “Okay, I’m just going to wait and hopefully SEO does its magic.” Yeah, no, you’ve got to be sharing it and people aren’t going to … I mean, you think of how many messages we, I don’t know what the number is, but how many messages are thrown at us on a daily basis. Your message is going to get lost, unless you’re putting it to the forefront. They’re not going to just stumble across your website.
Kym: And repeating it in multiple places, as well.
Leanne: Yeah, yeah. Repeating it, and that’s the thing as well. You’ve written a blog today, don’t just put social media posts out this week. Schedule social media posts about it in three months’ time. Six months’ time, a year’s time. You could basically map it out over a year or two, if you want to go that far. And then because obviously the news feed’s always changing, the same people won’t necessarily see the same things. I know you probably feel like, “Oh, I’m repeating myself” but I mean, if people … As you said with the touchpoint thing, people often have to see things multiple times before it finally sinks in. Although, it wasn’t the right time for them.
Kym: They weren’t ready at that time to take in the message, yeah.
Leanne: Exactly. They see it again, going, “Oh, my gosh, that’s perfect timing. I need that right now.” Yeah, exactly.
Kym: There’s some wonderful rescheduling tools like Meet Edgar and a whole variety of other things that can recycle that content for you as well. There’s a whole lot of tools that allow you to do it, but you’ve got to create it in the first place. I think a lot of people put off that, because of that … Don’t get hung up on that. Just start to do it. It’s a bit like Nike, just do it.
Leanne: Yeah. You have to schedule it into your diary. You can’t just say, “Oh, that’s something I’ll get around to at the end of the day.” Because something will always come up, especially if you’re procrastinating about doing it for confidence or whatever it is.
Kym: “I’ve got nothing to talk about”
Leanne: Well, I reckon with that, yeah, I have business blogging strategy sessions which are a four hour session, we basically plan out at least the next three months, but my attendees usually come up with topics for the next year. It just gives them that space to come up with ideas and then they don’t have that issue.
Leanne: So when it’s time, “All right, sitting down to write a blog in February,” they’re like, “Okay, I’ll go to my list. I was going to write that topic,” and unless something topical has popped up they’re like, “Actually more relevant,” you know what to write about. Yeah, ideally if you’ve got a plan together in advance, you’ve got those dot points ready to go as well.
Kym: The other thing I guess when you’re looking at that, it’s a bit like you think about buying a Honda car, for example. All of a sudden you see Honda cars everywhere. If you’re thinking about writing on a topic of XYZ, you see lots of content out there and it somehow attracts, if you like, more of that content that you can actually look at.
Leanne: Don’t be afraid that … Some people say that, “Oh, but that’s already been written about before.” That is true.
Kym: Everything’s been written about hasn’t it?
Leanne: Everything has, but not in your voice.
Kym: That’s right.
Leanne: Not with your opinion. It’s still original to you and your business.
Kym: Yeah, that’s right. You’ve got a marketing background, and so have I, but we come at it from totally different approaches and different views, because of training and things we’ve worked at. Neither’s right or wrong, it’s just a different view. Clients want to hear that view. Because your view might be in line with their view. Unless they hear it, they don’t know. If your webpage says you provide the same legal services or accounting services as every other guy, well, they don’t know what’s different about you.
Leanne: Yep, exactly.
Kym: And the blog gives you the personality I guess, that adds to the business. Okay, we’ve got what is blogging? We know it’s important, because of Google and also to people, right? We want to make sure that you can stand out in the crowd. We covered a whole lot of key elements to structure it, we covered how long it should be, between 500-1500 words. Frequently. Frequency depends on it’s got to be at least once a month, I think realistically, but it depends I guess beyond that, how much time you can put into creating something decent, right?
Leanne: Yes. Exactly.
Kym: And distributing it. Fascinating. We could talk about this for hours. But it’d be a bit long, like that long form of content we were talking about.
Leanne: Yeah. Don’t waffle on for the sake of it.
Kym: Exactly. We might get you on in a future episode maybe to talk about distribution or even how to go about planning that out, if you’re open to that.
Leanne: Yeah, definitely.
Kym” I guess is there anything else you want to add that you think we’ve missed in those?
Leanne: I think we covered most of it. Just yeah, I think at first you need to decide, are you going to do it yourself, or a team member, or outsource? Look, if you need to outsource because look, you’ve got the ideas but don’t have the time, then do it. It’s definitely worth it. It’s a strategy that yeah, like I said, the big organisations are even put into play. But yeah, if you can do it yourself, just schedule in that time, and make it happen. Don’t be scared.
Kym: Just do it. Look, how can people reach out? What’s the best way for them to connect with you? It’s Write Time, W-R-I-T-E, not R-I-G-H-T.
Leanne: Yep, like write with a pen. Yep. WriteTimeMarketing.com.au. Also can reach out to me on LinkedIn, Leanne Shelton. Think I’m the only one there.
Kym: That’s S-H-E-L-T-O-N?
Leanne: Yes. Also, I’ve launched a podcast called – Marketing & Me
Kym: Ah, fantastic.
Leanne: Yeah. Marketing & Me. You can check that out. That is a marketing podcast for health and wellness business owners.
Kym: And that’s on iTunes I presume, Spotify.
Leanne: Yep. iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, all the big ones.
Kym: Yep, fantastic.
Leanne: But otherwise you can go to MarketingAndMe.com.au. You can find the link there.
Kym: And lots of stuff. I think people go to your website, they’ll find lots of tips, and if they really are keen to do it themselves, or outsource them, I think checking out your course is well worthwhile as well.
Leanne: Yeah, check out the training tab on my website and have a browse. Look through my blogs, too. I’ve got portfolio there as well if you’re interested in outsourcing it to me personally. Or you know what, if I’m not the right fit for you, if you’re not in health and wellness, I do have as massive network of copywriters who are very good, who I can refer you to.
Kym: You’re a bit like the tradie who’s got a lot of other tradies in their phone, right?
Kym: You’ve got all the copywriters.
Leanne: It’s brilliant. There’s 200 of us and we all specialise in different things, different levels of experience. It’s brilliant, it’s a really good community.
Kym: That’s fantastic. Look, Leanne, thank you so much for your time and letting me try and suck some of that knowledge out of your head.
Leanne: Thanks Kym.
Kym: We’ve met a few times, but I’ve learned a lot today. I’ve been writing and using writers for a long time, but just that whole idea of the structure I think is the biggest nugget I took out of it. Because I think sometimes we write with the headings, but not … It’s a great checklist, people just take those 10 points and at the end of it say, “Yeah, is there subheads? Is there headings? Is there focus on keywords? Does it have good imagery? Have I avoided jargon?” It’s just a really great checklist.
Leanne: Yeah. Because sometimes you can get away, just start writing and you forget. If you’ve got that checklist next to you then you can just go back and double check. As well as spell check, please do that.
Kym: Spell check, yes, absolutely.
Leanne: I use a tool like grade proof or Grammarly, or one of those type of ones, just to double check that, too.
Kym: Or even better, find someone else in the business or close to, to read it before you actually print it.
Leanne: Yes, get a second pair of eyes. Yes.
Kym: Always good. Leanne, thank you so much for your time. I really, really appreciate it, and hopefully people enjoyed the podcast today and I’m sure they have.
Leanne: Thank you very much.
Kym” So folks, that’s it for Write Time Marketing, and writing great content. We want to thank Leanne for her time. I think we had a fantastic session today. I hope you get a lot out of it, and just remember, written content is a great key to attracting leads, converting leads, and getting long term relationships. But more importantly, creating a personality that’s setting you apart for other people. Which with so many messages and so many people out there, is incredibly important. That’s it today for The Marketing Strategy Show, and we’ll see you next time.
Thanks for joining us on this episode of Marketing Show. We hope you got some practical, effective tips and ideas so your organisation gets more prospects and nurtures those prospects to becoming long term customers. Just a reminder, the show is sponsored by The Marketing Strategy Company, who help B2B organisations develop winning marketing strategies and sales and marketing automation systems to turn their sales and marketing efforts into new customers and dollars through their marketing. Check out the show notes for this episode and The Marketing Strategy Company’s planning and marketing services at TheMarketingStrategy.co. That’s TheMarketingStrategy.co. Until next time, happy marketing.