E183 – 101 Guide to Writing Blog Posts

We do get some great ideas and eventually we get to them. Long ago Chuck sent a great idea to Mat and sadly it has just taken us awhile to get to it.

Hopefully this episode and write up answer Chuck’s question (if a year or two late!).

Start With Outlines

It sounds simple but so many just jump to trying to write everything with no clear direction or goal. When you go on a trip do you likely think about these things:

  • Goal of the Trip
  • Trip Budget
  • Who is all going on the trip
  • Possible Destinations
  • Mode of Travel (flying, driving, boat, walking)
  • How Long is the Trip?

Seems simple and thought out right? So why not do the same with content?

  • What is main topic?
  • Who is this for?
  • What is the goal of the content?
  • How long is the content going to be or need to be? Does it even matter?
  • What are the sub topics?
  • What questions should be answered?
  • What assets and material is already created that can be leveraged?
  • What assets and other content can we link too?

Reuse Internal Assets

Mat gives the example of how he approached writing Podcasting Beginners Guide: How and Why You Should Start Podcasting with an outline and past assets.

  • Reuse presentations
  • Use internal documents
  • Use sales or marketing collateral
  • Reuse video and audio content if you have any

The goal is to NOT reinvent the wheel every single time if you don’t have too.

Use the Internet. Find Questions People Ask.

Do your research to understand what questions people have that relate to your topic. Do your due diligence to really understand what people want to know about the topic you are going to write about.

  • Answer the Public
  • SEMRush
  • Quora
  • Yahoo Answers (have fun as this site can get interesting)
  • Search Bing/Google for keywords and see what People Also Ask or related searches appear.
  • Look at your site search data if covering a service/product page.
  • Look at other pieces of content and topics you have covered for sub topics, questions and places to link too.
  • Talk to your sales and customer service teams. What questions do people ask them?

Keyword Research

Now take all of this and dig into keyword research. Here are some past episodes that dig into Keyword Research.

Content Formatting

When you start writing think about what formatting might be needed. Is this a content heavy piece? Is this mostly visual with just short bits that support or is this something people are going to scan so you need bullet points.

Content’s Purpose

We can cover this but really Orbit Media’s Website Content Template is super detailed and great. If you have never looked at it do check it out.

Think about social sharing, what users want, what the goal of the content is, who you are targeting, and just really think through WHY you are creating this content.

Full Transcription

Matt Siltala: [00:00:00] Welcome to another exciting episode of the business of digital podcast, featuring your host, Matt scintilla and Dave roar. Hey guys, excited to have you join us on another one of these businesses of digital podcast episodes. And we got Dave over there and how you doing my friend?

Dave Rohrer: [00:00:19] I am going good, sir.

Matt Siltala: [00:00:21] So, um, I’m almost, uh, it’s almost embarrassing.

I don’t know if embarrassing is the right word or, or funny. Or whatever word you want to use, but, uh, the topic today was something that, uh, you know, it was a idea given to us, uh, given to me specifically by Chuck Reynolds, over a wait for it year and a half ago.

Dave Rohrer: [00:00:43] Probably maybe longer. Maybe not quite

Matt Siltala: [00:00:46] as long.

Yeah. Let’s just go with a year

Dave Rohrer: [00:00:49] and a half. Let’s just say a year and a half. Cause it’s probably like two and a half. I don’t know.

Matt Siltala: [00:00:53] Uh, it was interesting because he was tweeting about something and, uh, He had just mentioned to me, he said, [00:01:00] um, question, do you have an accent blog, post, or a document on how to explain content writers, how to rewrite for organic search, like basic keyword research and basic, you know, how to write with groupings and stuff like that.

And, and so I liked how you kind of took that and, and converted it into a one Oh one guide to writing blog posts, Dave. And so I think that’s really what this went for a while. Yeah. We haven’t sat in on this one for a while, but as we do, I think it’s a good one. And what’s funny is, you know, we have a lot of people asking us all the time about this kind of stuff.

And so I think it’s very relevant. I think it’s good to,

Dave Rohrer: [00:01:40] well, I just did a training and I shared Matt with Matt. You know, I shared him one of the ducks I’ve done and it’s, it walks writers through a CEO one-on-one and then it goes into. Like the ideation, the validation, and then, you know, actually writing

Matt Siltala: [00:01:57] it.

Yeah. And so [00:02:00] I, you know, I’ll, I’ll just kind of kick things off and then you can jump in where, where you feel Dave or cut me off. But like, I think you had a good idea to talk about, you know, recently you and I did a how to guide it. It was basically this how to guide on a. Uh, SEMrush on how to, uh, you know, podcast or how to get a, how to start a podcast, basically like a guide to starting a podcast.

And, uh, cause that’s something, obviously we’re asked all the time. And so SEMrush reached out to us and asked if we would put something together. And, um, well, I, you know, they originally just talked to me and I was like, you know, I want to get Dave involved in this. And I think the both of us can put something pretty good together.

And so I started off. And I think this is where every good blog posts, article, whatever you want to call it. Uh, you know, I th I think this is where everybody should start off, but I basically just, I created a, a, a, a document, a Google doc, and I just started with an outline [00:03:00] and I started saying, okay, here are the major points that I think people should, um, you know, be, be paying attention.

And what was interesting. I jumped into those. Those points first. And then I kind of let where the, where the bullet points led me to start thinking about things like the title and the headline and things like that, that I wanted to use, uh, for that specific, uh, uh, post. But, um, it was really good to get in there and, and, uh, just start outlining everything and then just start putting in all of the content within those major bullet points.

Cause I remember many years ago, um, when I actually thought that I might have time to, to write a book. I met with a guy that’s published several. And one of the things that he told me, um, how he, you know, the best place, you know, if you’re having a hard time writing a book, starting a book or whatever was, he said, just start with an outline.

And so that’s what I did with this. And that’s how I’ve been. That’s kind of the approach that I’ve taken Dave, uh, with all this for, for, for many years now. W [00:04:00] w w again, whether it’s a blog post, um, content on the site, whatever it might be, I just kind of start with that outline. And then fill in from there and go from there.

And so, uh, and then obviously, you know, you, you, you, you add in the things like, okay, well, I w I want, you know, images here. I want, uh, you know, am I going to link to something, their video here or whatnot, but, and also

Dave Rohrer: [00:04:21] you use, you used collateral. We’d already created, so you’d already, or I created, um, a deck that we’d present.

I presented somewhere. And then you had taken that deck and reused it and added to it and done a bunch of stuff and expanded and changed stuff. And then we had presented, um, an hour long session together on like all sorts of stuff around podcasting. So we’d already created one deck and three iterations.

And then you use that. Okay. I think, cause you had already started the outline. You were like, what other collateral is there? And so if you’re writing a blog post, you know, or even a service page or any type of [00:05:00] content, you start with your art outline, but then look internally, you know, at what collateral, what stuff’s already been written, what has been produced?

Is there sales material? Is there, you know, FAQ, is there support stuff? Is there internal memos, internal anything? Um, or even like for us, it was just, you know, uh, uh, Three time used PowerPoint that really blew out a lot of the topics and supported your outline.

Matt Siltala: [00:05:29] Well, and, and if people have been listening to us for any amount of time, Dave, they know that we are the work smarter, not harder grew.

I mean, it’s the whole reason why we started a podcast because, you know, and maybe that’s the reason why we waited here and a half, or if not to answer this because, you know, we do like podcasting more than we like writing. But, uh, um, again, you know, it’s, it’s. Reusing that stuff. And I’m glad that you mentioned that because, you know, that’s, that’s something that I’ve been preaching forever is, you know, you don’t have to [00:06:00] reinvent the wheel, go back and find that stuff and put it together.

And, and that’s really essentially what we’ve done. So, um, as far as like, that’s the way that, that, uh, I would suggest you begin and then when you get to that point, And then you start writing it out. Um, I don’t know. Maybe you want to jump in at this point with the different a one Oh one basics for, you know, just all the different elements that you need to have in there.

Uh, maybe it’d be a good point to jump in and do that.

Dave Rohrer: [00:06:29] At this point. You have the outline, you know, and you start thinking about titles and you start thinking about, what am I going to talk about? Do searches and Google do look up in Quora, look up, you know, even in Yahoo answers, um, some sort of, some parts of Yahoo answers you might want to avoid.

Um, look on Twitter. What people, what questions do people ask on Twitter and go to any, you know, forums or anything? And if any type of, and in some rush has a tool market, muse has a [00:07:00] tool there’s, you know, answer the public are all questions that people are asking, you know, Do any of those questions line up with your outline?

Is there questions that you can ask and answer during your outline? Um, is there anything else, you know, during your topic research, and you’re trying to understand where things fell in and then start doing keyword research around it, figure out what other topics or other things people are asking, looking for, trying to get answers to that are directly related, or, you know, even content you’ve already written in the past.

You know, we just talked about reusing stuff before you start writing. If you already know that, you know, you’re, you’re writing about, I don’t know, there’s snow on the ground. Darn it. Um, you know, if you’re writing about snowfall and you’re like, Oh, well, you know, last year we wrote about, you know, how to, um, Use organic ways and you know, things to melt [00:08:00] ice.

Oh, well, we should probably include that and probably mentioned that, Oh, and we’ve also talked about, you know, the 10 best shovels for blah, blah, blah. We’ve also talked about snow boots or whatever, you know, your, your company or your site talks about. We’ll look for other pieces of content that you’ve written not only to, you know, help you use for your ideation and your outline, but also then to include in link to.

Matt Siltala: [00:08:23] Well, and, and get you made me think of, you know, get everyone involved as well, Dave, like some of the best pieces, uh, you know, blog posts or pieces of content or, um, whatever you want to call it that we’ve put out there has been from just having conversations with people like. Our sales team or customer service team.

These are the people that are getting the most questions that are, that are specific and relevant to your products or your business or your website or whatever. They’re, they’re the ones that people are asking, you know, like, Hey, does this come in or whatever size, or does this come in blue or, Hey, how can I make this work better?

Or, Hey, did [00:09:00] you know that this is happening or whatever? And so like, you want to talk to those guys. In fact, you know, I remember we, we did that for, um, or we still do that, you know, when we’re putting infographics together or micro graphics that are making it easier for, you know, that we include those things on hang tags or, or, you know, when we’re putting up a graphic, creating graphics for cells displays or things like that, we’re basically addressing those points right there.

And that’s what we’re doing, Dave. And, and so again, like don’t, don’t forget those kinds of things because that’s, that’s going to make a powerful, you know, blog, blog posts, and also, you know, remembering those, those things as well. And I guess it’s a good time for us to go in and jump into the whole, you know, you’re doing this for a human, not a search engine.

Um, but yes, that’s true. But you also have to think about those ways that, that humans going to find you and find that content. And that’s where the things come in, like your titles and your headlines and the keywords that you’re going to use on the [00:10:00] images. Things like that.

Dave Rohrer: [00:10:01] Sorry, go ahead. No, no, my computer’s making noises at me.

The, uh, I have a new setup and it, I don’t have, I don’t know why, but the speakers are distracting. The, uh, Well in talking about humans, when you start going through, you know, does your content need to have bullets? And you said, you know, you already talked about images and stuff, but really thinking, is this something that people are going to scan or this is this something that’s really a deep read?

Do I need little breaks and links and visual, you know, things that does it need certain call-outs um, um, sometimes I see. Posts where the images are, everything. And then there’s like two lines of text. Yeah. And it’s just like, you, you, you go right by that point, because the way it’s set up, just doesn’t visually make it easy for you to read and to catch it.

[00:11:00] Um, or it does have a long list of things. And it’s like in this big bulky paragraph and you’re like, I don’t want to read it. I just wanted to skim through what the features are for this thing, you know, or I just wanted to see what the pros and cons are. I don’t want to, you know, read about all the pros and cons.

I want just a quick list. So when you’re talking about the outline, you, you know, when you start filling in everything for that post. Think about what, what the intent is and what the, you know, what people are trying to do. What if they’re trying to read, if they’re trying to scan, they’re trying to solve a problem.

Um, you know, same thing, like our intro is 10 seconds or 12 seconds or super short for the podcast because no one wants to hear it because either you’re binge-watching, you know, and this is like, Netflix has that skip intro thing for the same reason I just saw, I just listened to someone this morning.

Talk about how they’re behind on Cobra, Kai. They just found out about it. Uh, they watched season two over the weekend or the other day, and they spent five hours. I [00:12:00] highly doubt. They watched that intro for all five hours, you know, for all. Whatever episodes, 10 episodes. They probably use that skip intro every time, you know, people want to get to your content.

They don’t want, you know, this 5,000 pixel wide picture with, you know, this long winding story, you know, talking about recipes about how it’s, you’ve been passed down from your grandmother, to your mother, to you, and now you’re passing it down to your daughter, um, you know, or your son or whatever it is. No one cares.

They just want the rest of you. Like I just wanted to know, do I need mushrooms and what kind of mushrooms do I need?

Matt Siltala: [00:12:35] Well, something else. I think that’s important to, to mention that, you know, maybe necessarily this may not be something that I necessarily would have added or thought about, you know, even five plus years ago, but something that you have to think about when you’re putting this stuff together is, um, the social side of it as well.

And creating, you know, little elements, if you will, images, you know, short snippets, videos, whatever it might be [00:13:00] like. Let’s say you have a really long video that’s included in one of your, um, blog posts. Well, you want to create, you know, maybe like a teaser 15 second video that you throw up on social. Or that you put somewhere that gets people interested enough, that’s going to make them want to go and dive more into that specific post.

And so you need to start thinking about that kind of stuff as well. Dave, you know, I think when we’re putting together this one Oh one guide to writing blog posts, that that’s definitely something that has to be added in at this point. Uh, making them think about that kind of stuff.

Dave Rohrer: [00:13:31] Well at orbit media and we’ll drop a link.

I always send people to it and great, great piece of content from like five, six, seven years ago. I don’t even know how long ago Andy Crestodina wrote it, but I still send people to it. Uh, it’s a long list and it gets this detailed question of who’s the audience, you know, what’s the purpose of this content, you know, what are you linking to?

Where are you going to link to it? What, what are the, what, where are you going to share it on social? What are the. [00:14:00] You know, titles and this and that. And it just asks you these detailed, painful questions that I don’t think a lot of people think through. They’re like, w w w what is the point of this piece of content?

Oh, I have to write a blog post. No, then, you know, you just need to stop. Like, if nothing else like that should be the very first thing is why are we writing this piece of content? Well, cause we have, we need, we need to write a piece of content to rank for blah, blah, blah. Like, but who are you writing for it?

Are you going to share it? What’s the goal? Is it to drive links? Like, is it an infographic? You probably need something like that. I think that just stop, go through through, uh, you know, create your own painful list of questions, um, for every piece of content. And start there and then go through everything else we just talked about, you know, do the outline that answers that question, figure out some other additional questions, figure out the content that, you know, you have that you collateral, you have figure out where to link [00:15:00] to and then, you know, wrap it up.

And for me, that’s the one Oh one quick one Oh one guide is to just start with the user and the problem and their intent and figure out. How to answer it along the way and build up that content. And then that’s, that’s it. That’s done.

Matt Siltala: [00:15:18] That’s done. Yeah. No, I like that. And that’s, that’s exactly what I was going to wrap it up with saying, you know, just making sure that you just like all that you just said, you know, before you don’t just write a blog post to have a blog post, you know, we used to joke post and pray.

No, have a, have a plan, have a strategy, um, figure out. What the purpose is and all that, all that you just jumped into. So hopefully, um, you know, quick, quick one Oh one guide, hopefully we did this, you know, uh, for Chuck, uh, you know, hopefully he, he approves Chuck approved, but even asked us, yeah, he’s gonna be like, I didn’t even, I forgot.

I even asked that guys, but anyway. All right. Well, for Dave roar with nearside metrics, I [00:16:00] met so a little with avalanche media and thank you guys for joining us on this. And we. We hope that you enjoyed it and learned from it. And please, uh, remember to check us out on the next one. Also remember that we are on iTunes.

If you could go to iTunes and give us a five-star rating, that would be great. That helps us keep doing these for you. So thanks guys. Bye bye. Thanks.