I recently made a new goal to write more on both this blog and my other personal development one, The Hustle Life. I want to ideally be writing one blog post a weekday. It used to be that having one blog post per week was enough, but as more and more brands catch on to how important blogging is, once a week doesn’t really cut it.
I recently attended the virtual Food Entrepreneur Summit that was mainly geared toward food bloggers, but had a wealth of info. One was that you should be blogging three times per week and sharing something on social media at least once per day (more for Twitter). Even though I fundamentally knew that, I wasn’t following this advice, which was something I had also been recommending to my clients. The Summit was the kick in the pants I needed to re-motivate myself to write more.
In the spirit of “getting back on the wagon,” I thought I’d share some of the hurdles my clients and I sometimes face when it comes to blogging regularly, as well as tips and tools to make it easier.
Often, once I come up with the idea, the post just seems to flow. I come up with the title, then the headers, and everything else just comes out easily. Here are some of my favorite tools to use for brainstorming:
- Answer The Public
- My Google Webmaster Tools
- My Google Analytics data
- Portent Idea Generator
- Hubspot Blog Topic Generator
I also keep a running Google Doc for SEJ and an Evernote file for MoxieDot of random scraps that could be turned into ideas. When I’m running really dry, I will look at that file. I sometimes also recap industry news, share infographics, or do roundups of industry blogs or books to mix it up.
Good Grasp of Grammar, Spelling
Tools like Microsoft Word or autocorrect in Skype and Chrome make it super easy to not have as many spelling mistakes or grammar errors. However, just because someone has these tools, it doesn’t mean that they are necessarily a good writer. Not everyone is naturally a skilled writer, and to be able to write for several different industries or in-depth for specific ones is something that takes even longer to pick up.
Whether you are hiring out or assigning blog post creation to someone in-house, it’s important that know the basic rules of grammar and spelling. Regularly riddling your content with typos or malformed sentences is a direct reflection of your company, no matter who is writing it. Ask everyone for writing samples and look at their content online– like their job descriptions on LinkedIn or how they write emails. Even the most lax of “Grammar Nazis” usually takes the time to write coherent, mostly error-free emails.
If you think you’ve found a great writer, try running their content through three places:
- HemingwayApp: It doesn’t matter if you’ve won a Pulitzer. This free tool is going to rip you apart. But it does point out things you might not have noticed, such as passive sentences. Take note: this tool is brutal, so take it as a light suggestion. Like I said, even Hemingway himself would get eviscerated in this tool. Irony at its finest.
- Grammarly: Free chrome add-on that corrects grammar in emails and other text fields (like a WordPress text editor). You can buy the membership to check your content in-browser, like Hemingway.
- CopyScape: I run my employees’ content (and all SEJ contributors’ work) through CopyScape to check for plagiarism. This is a paid tool.
Need to Know Web Best Practices
Another skill that many companies don’t think about when shaping their strategy for writing blog posts is cross-training in aspects of the written word unique to the internet. Knowing the basics of HTML can help writers learn things like how to align images, write alt text, and make sure there aren’t superfluous span tags.
Here are some free places to learn HTML:
I haven’t tried the others, but I really like CodeAcademy. It makes learning a game and it can save your progress.
Another aspect of the web that is a steep learning curve for some is proper image sourcing and attribution. Without proper attribution, websites that post content (no matter who wrote it) with badly sourced images can get fined thousands of dollars. Avoid this with these free image sources (or a stock photo membership):
- Photopin (make sure use the code they give for proper attribution)
- Wikimedia Commons (proper sourcing is important here as well)
If all else fails, I sometimes also embed tweets, Facebook posts, or Pinterest pins in lieu of additional images on posts. That also makes the post more interactive and engaging.
If you and your team are still overwhelmed by content, don’t know where to start, or just don’t have the time to write, MoxieDot can help.