How to Save Time with blogging, social media and email marketing
As a small business owner, solopreneur or marketing manager, written content continues to be central to communicating our message. Whether it’s a straightforward piece of news or a complicated change to legislation, we need to get our point across in a clear and concise way to our audience of existing and potential clients or customers.
Our content should try to achieve one or more of the following goals:
- Engages with the readers’ emotions
- Persuades, and
- Inspires them to take action
For busy professionals it is important to spend time planning how your carefully crafted content not only meets these goals but is seen by as many people as possible. This is no easy task in a time-poor, overloaded working day.
In this post, I’m going to provide some advice about:
- Planning content to make the process of writing a breeze
- Exploding your content across multiple platforms, so that it reaches a wide audience, by turning your content into over 100 pieces of online activity.
- Using content in emails
1. Planning your Written Content
For many people the fear of a blank page results instantly in writer’s block. Never fear. There is a way round this.
Let’s use the example of a blog post about ‘Finding Strategic Partners on LinkedIn’
Step 1: Determine your goal
For this post I am looking to educate my audience and inspire them to use the information to use LinkedIn to building relationships with partners.
Step 2: Brainstorm your main points
Choose your brainstorming tool – a large piece of paper, Post-it notes, an app like Workflowy or Trello – and dump all your ideas down, without editing any out as you go.
If you get stuck for ideas take a look at Google’s suggestions. As you type in your topic slowly into Google search you will see a dropdown with a selection of common searches.
Also when you have clicked ‘search’ there is a list of related searches at the bottom of page 1 of the search results.
Another alternative is to use the website Answer the Public which provides insights into the questions and phrases used on internet searches linked to your ‘root' topic.
Here I have entered the term “strategic alliances” into the search box.
Enter your own topic into the search box, and up will come a spider chart of different questions people enter into Google about your topic. The first chart uses the following words and finds a phrase which forms a search term. Next to each phrase there is a green dot; the darker the green dot, the greater the number of searches on Google are carried out using the phrase monthly:
Step 3: Put your main points into a logical order
Take your main points and put them into a logical order. At this stage don’t worry about the introduction – we will return to that at the end of the writing process.
Step 4: Gather similar points together
According to Buffer the ideal length of a blog post is 1,600 words. My recommendation is that it should be as long as it needs to achieve your goal and to be more valuable than a similar post written by a competitor.
For the purposes of this example, I’m choosing 5 points or sections of about 200 words (totalling 1,000 words) leaving 600 words divided between the introduction and the conclusion. For a very long post, you may need to summarise the content at the beginning of the post and link to each section, rather like the contents on a Kindle book. This will guide the reader to the parts of the posts they are most interested in and help to keep them on the page as long as possible.
Step 5: Write your sections
Now we get to put the meat on the bones. For my article, I know that I need about 20 sentences of on average 10 words for each of the 5 sections.
For example, if one of my sections is “How to use LinkedIn Search to Discover Partners”, I would cover the following points in a couple of sentences or so:
- Search filters
- Filtering using a job title
- Filtering for a specific location
- Searching competitors’ connections
- ‘People also viewed’ profiles
- Searching using hashtags
- Searching within groups
- Searching for specific people in a particular company
- Combining search criteria
I would then repeat this exercise for each of the remaining four sections.
Step 6: Include Sub-headings which tell a story
Craft your sub-headings for each section so that they lead the reader seamlessly through your message. Like a newspaper article, the reader should be able to understand the premise of your content by simply reading the sub-headings.
Step 7: Bringing the post to a conclusion
Once the main body of your blog post is written, it is important to bring your ideas together with a strong conclusion which reinforces the importance of your message and the action the reader should take as a result of your guidance.
My action point for the example might read:
“Now you know how to discover highly relevant potential partners on LinkedIn, how to connect with them and how to create a sequence of carefully written messages, set aside 10 minutes a day to use the platform and build your network.”
If you have additional information to support your topic you might want to create a downloadable PDF to accompany your blog post. Readers would enter their email address in order to download this extra information.
Step 8: Write your introduction
I highly recommend that you keep your introduction to just a few sentences. Interested readers will want to get to detail quickly. Unless the topic requires setting into context, get to the point quickly.
Step 9: Add Images
If possible, include several images to support your writing. This can be found on royalty-free websites such as Pixabay. Ensure they do not breach any copyright. For some topics an infographic helps to display statistics in an eye-catching format.
Step 10: Review, edit and proofread
Having written your post or article let it ‘sit’ for a while and return to it with fresh eyes before publishing it to your website.
2. Exploding your content across social media
Having spent a significant amount of time on your copy, you will want to make the most of it across your social media channels. If the subject-matter is ‘evergreen’, i.e. not time sensitive, you can share the content many times over.
Simply extract an attention-grabbing phrase from the post and share it including the URL along with an image.
If you use an app such as Hootsuite or Buffer you are able to schedule posts for the coming months, pulling different phrases for within your content. Add different images to accompany your posts.
I am not suggesting you share content from the same blog post repeatedly in the same week. So, ensure you spread out the posts over several weeks or months.
From a single post with 5 sections and 10 points per section you already have 50 posts – one per week for a year!
Now think about all the different platforms you can share these 50 posts on:
- Facebook Page
- Facebook Groups (your own and in others)
- Facebook Stories
- Twitter Stories
- LinkedIn Personal Profile
- LinkedIn Company Page
- LinkedIn Groups
- LinkedIn Stories
- Instagram Feed
- Instagram Stories
You have instantly created content which fills your feed.
This isn’t the only content strategy you will wish to use but it can form the foundation for your social media. If ‘life’ gets in the way, you don’t have to worry about keeping your social media channels filled.
3. Repurposing your content
Your content makes the perfect subject-matter for your email newsletter. Summarise the main points in the body of your email and link back to the blog post.
After sending look at the contacts who clicked on the links within the email and use the information to follow up. For example, if I have 3 links in my email to the post (each with different URLs) I'm able to follow up with a tailored email for contacts who clicked on Link 1, Link 2 or Link 3.
Taking time to plan out the next few month's topics for your blog not only saves time but also provides ample social media content to fill your news feeds and your email newsletters.
Ensuring each piece of content has a message which achieves a goal will ensure that the information you are sharing is truly valuable to your audience.
Measure the effectiveness of your content by analysing your Google analytics and your social media insights.
If one type of content is proving successful, use it as a basis for further blog posts.