It’s probably the number one piece of advice given to marketers looking to up engagement online. If you put out the right content, the right people will find you. Yet companies (us included!) don’t blog as often or as effectively as we’d like because putting out the “right content” is so much easier said than done. We know first-hand it takes time and serious brainpower to identify the topics where your expertise and your audience’s interests intersect.
As a brainstorming tool, I’m breaking down three of the categories that successful blog posts seem to fall into – based on my own experience and other blogs I’ve read. You’re already familiar with the categories, but I’ve included some questions and examples that may be of help if you’re ever asking (like we often are) “What should we write about this week?”
1. The How-To:
There’s nothing like Googling “How to…” to realize that whatever your problem is, you’re not the first person to look for an answer to it. Tutorial posts are a no-brainer when it comes to creating content that’s valuable to your audience. We’re a software R&D firm, so some of our most successful posts have been written by our developers detailing solutions they’ve found to particularly challenging or interesting programming problems.
Tutorials don’t need to be advanced. I recently needed to make some changes to our AetherStore brochure in Adobe Illustrator, a few of which required Illustrator skills that weren’t in my wheelhouse. I posed my “How-to” questions to the web and found tutorials that gave me the exact tidbits of advice I was looking for. In this case, I didn’t need an expert’s overview of the software, I needed specific instructions that were actionable for someone of any skill level.
2. Reviews & Comparisons
If a blog’s purpose is to unite your insight with your reader’s interest, a knowledgeable review is a great way to get there. From which software to buy to which conferences to attend, peer opinion carries a lot of weight, specifically when your organization doesn’t stand to benefit from the review. There are few decisions made today that aren’t pre-researched online.
Blog reviews can be even more helpful when they compare two things directly. At various moments we’ve found ourselves deciding between Jira and YouTrack for task tracking, Optimizely and Unbounce for A/B Testing, even Paychex vs. ADP to handle our payroll. We almost always consult blogs that compare and contrast as part of the research we do make an informed decision – as does the majority of the web. If you’re experienced with a product or service or well-versed in how two different ones stack up – someone may be searching for your opinion.
3. New Ideas
One of our most popular posts was written by one of our engineers, called “The Waiting Game: Fast-Food Queuing Theory.” This post applied our specific skillset, computer science, to a very common problem, long lunch lines. Programmers could study the code, and everyone could appreciate the proposed solution.
If you’ve been musing on a solution to an everyday problem or have ideas on a new way of doing something, why not propose your theories to your blog audience? Whether or not your solution holds up, it could be a great conversation starter.
Per those categories, here’s a list of questions to use as a jumping-off point when trying to brainstorm blog ideas:
- What problems have you solved recently?
- Have you learned a new skill, shortcut or technique? (Think beyond tech, too. Did you restructure a meeting format to make it more productive? Send a thank-you email that received a great response? Come up with some great interview questions?)
- Did you read another tutorial that didn’t answer your question or find one on which you could expand?
- Have you started using any new software or hardware recently?
- Have you attended any conferences or events that you could review?
- Have you switched products or services recently?
- What daily annoyance drives you crazy? How would you propose to fix it?
We’re always striving to improve the quality of the AetherWorks Blog and reach new audiences. Not every post resonates, but it’s worth keeping a frequently-updated blog to help hone in on what does interest readers. If you put out the right content the right people will find you. And if you put out enough content, you have a better chance of putting out the right content.