I was never good in English class
image credit: L_Dan
I like to talk about starting a blog for your hunting business. Here are a few of the past posts I’ve written on blogging:
4 Ways You Can Use a Blog to Improve Your Hunting Website
20 Steps to Starting Your Hunting Business Blog
The First 4 Days of Your New Hunting Blog
A Plan for Increasing Your Web Presence: The First 3 Months
Writing a blog takes a lot of effort and continued dedication, but the benefits are numerous and the payoff can be large in terms of sales and connections in the hunting industry. The difficult things about having a successful blog are actually starting it, staying dedicated, and putting in the effort and testing it takes to find your voice.
Most likely you are not afraid of starting your own hunting business blog. You’re already an entrepreneur and have the guts to start your own hunting business so starting things is not something new to you.
What usually takes some time when starting your blog, however, is learning how to format a blog post that your audience will read, share, and connect with.
A Short Story
I struggled in my high school English class.
My teacher was always trying to get me to be creative and share the things I was thinking. I’m not exactly sure why I didn’t have the motivation to put forth some kind of effort in high school English, but perhaps it had something to do with the fact that I was isolated to a cement-walled classroom, we were discussing content I couldn’t connect with at the time, or that it was high school and I only had basketball, golf, and girls on my mind.
Or maybe I was just little bit lazy.
Whatever the reason – I didn’t like writing and I had little interest in expanding my writing skills. And it wasn’t until a few years later that I took an interest in creative writing.
Today, I enjoy writing about the things I love: Marketing and Hunting.
I realize, however, that simply writing about what I love differs from writing about what I love in a way that is easy for hunting business owners to digest, learn from, connection with, and share with other hunting business owners.
While writing this blog and while writing various emails, meeting summaries, and other business memos I’ve realized that the ability to connect with others via the written word requires a format that makes sense to the readers you’re trying to connect with.
Here is the outline I’ve come up with that you can use to possibly be a beginning guide for your blog posts as your work to connect with your audience.
Starting with a Title
I’ve always found that it’s easiest to start a new blog post with an idea that comes from a moment of inspiration. This moment of inspiration often turns into the title of the post. Having the title written down right away from the beginning at the top of the page also serves as a reminder of the topic of the post as I write the content.
Usually what happens is I’ll have a thought – something like:
Aggregate Your Archives to Capitalize on New Popularity (Inspired by Record Companies)
Use Others to Find Motivation
The Convenience Store Guide to Blogging
How to Create Marketing Pull by Commenting on Other Blogs
There are other times when I want to sit down and write a post and I can’t think of an idea for the title. This is usually when I’ll turn to unique resources to find that spark of inspiration. One of the best tricks of blog titles is one mentioned on the great blogging blog, Copyblogger:
The Cosmo Headline Technique for Blogging Inspiration
I thought enough of this post to include it as #3 in my post:
7 Unconventional Web Tools and Resources for Your Marketing Initiatives
Hint: It also works with Men’s Health so you don’t have to visit Cosmo’s site if you don’t want.
I’m looking at a Men’s Health magazine on the table next to be right now and I’m seeing a few potential titles for blog posts:
Men’s Health Title: Life’s Biggest Mysteries – Solved!
HBM’s Title: The Web’s Biggest Mysteries – Solved!
Your Title: Bow Hunting’s Biggest Mysteries – Solved!
Don’t tell me you can’t think of a few hunters who would see that last title and click on it right away looking to find out exactly what the answers to hunting’s biggest mysteries are.
The theory behind Men’s Health and Cosmo titles is that they are eye-catching and impactful when people are looking for content. These magazines have the best headlines and article titles in the writing business so why not use them for inspiration for your own blog posts?
Here is another one:
Men’s Health Title: 8 Lessons All Dads Should Teach
HBM’s Title: 8 Lessons All Outfitters Should Teach
Your Title: 8 Hunting Lessons All Parents Should Teach
This is an example of a list post. People love list posts and articles because they’re easy to browse for content. (For more on lists read Adam Singer’s A Guilty Pleasure of the Blogosphere and Social Media: Lists). Web readers will often scan content looking for the main points and if the article appears interesting they’ll dive deeper into the content. This is important to remember for formatting purposes, which I’ll discuss later.
One last example:
Men’s Health Title: Your Shortcut to Four-Star Meals
HBM’s Title: Your Shortcut to Four-Star Blog Posts
Your Title: Your Shortcut to 150-Class Whitetail
This is a great way to spark inspiration for blog titles and there are many more sources of ideas for blog titles.
The important thing to remember is that your posts should be aimed at being beneficial for your blogging audience. This takes focus and you’ll have to throw out some ideas that don’t fit the needs of your readers. Have a picture of a single person who you believe is your true reader and always write with the intent of providing value for them.
Let the Topic Grow From the Title
Usually when I write a blog post, I have a small vision of what I want the final product to be as it relates to the title. The topic grows and expands as I think about what the title means for you and your hunting business.
For example, when I wrote Aggregate Your Archives to Capitalize on New Popularity, I thought it was an interesting headline and that would draw attention. The vision I had was to use a technique from the recording industry as inspiration for bloggers.
Eventually the post grew to include examples, a few suggestions, and hopefully some inspiring words. The idea that started as the title grew into a complete topic with the focus of providing useful tips.
The next step was to outline the topic and vision into a simple and digestible format.
I’ve found that outlining a blog post is the best way to create focused, valuable content for readers.
Once I have a title, vision, and topic for a blog post, I outline the post with headings and subheadings before filling in any body content. I’ve found that the heading and subheading format is easy to digest for readers as opposed to large paragraphs or large blocks of copy.
The closer your blog posts are to list format the better. This is not saying that all of your posts should or should not be list posts. However, having headings and subheadings makes it easy for readers to scan the article first for the most important content (the headings). Once the reader scans the headings, they’ll decide whether or not the article is worth reading in its entirety. So it’s important to have strong thoughts to support each heading and sub-heading.
Once you have your outline prepared it’s time to fill in the blanks.
Fill in the Blanks
Filling in the blanks under your title, headings, and sub-headings is generally easy because at this point you have your mind focused on the topic you would like to communicate to your audience.
It doesn’t usually matter at this point what order you take to fill in the blanks. You can skip back and forth between headings and sub-headings depending on where you’re having the inspiration to write.
With Aggregate Your Archives to Capitalize on New Popularity, I started filling in the blanks for each of the four recording artist examples, but skipped ahead to fill in the three sub-headings under Using the Technique for your Content. Writing the text for the examples sparked some inspiration and I wanted to skip ahead and write down my thoughts before I forgot (this happens to me quite often).
Don’t worry too much about order when filling in the blanks. Make sure you give time to each area and reinforce your headings and sub-headings substantially before deciding that the arguments and suggestions you’re making are sufficient.
I like to include an intro after the title as well to lead into the blog post. This fits into the old writing cliché that a writer should tell the readers what the post is about, then provide the post, and then remind them of what they just read. So you can see that I also generally like to include a summary at the end of each post as well. This is also nice for scanners who like to skip ahead to summaries and determine if they should go back and read the entire post for more detail.
Once you’ve filled in the blanks you can edit, link, and publish the blog post.
Edit, Link, and Publish
By the time I reach the editing and linking stage of the blog post, I’m eager to get the post published and out in front of readers.
However, it’s important to read through the post you’ve just authored and edit where necessary and link to sources and related content where appropriate. This process seems like it takes a little bit to complete, but it’s well worth the effort to ensure your blog post is high quality and valuable for your readers.
When scanning through your new blog post, make sure to check and make sure that each thought is in the correct area of the post. I often move information from the intro to the body of the blog post if I feel I should only give a short summary in the intro and further, more in-depth thought underneath a corresponding heading within the body.
I like to include related articles on from Hunting Business Marketing as well as articles from other sources on the Web. Adam Singer at The Future Buzz does an excellent job of explaining the advantages of linking to other articles off your own blog and Website with Make Every Post a Link Post.
It’s also important to use the new text you’ve written as entry points for your archives. If you touch on important areas within your new blog post that relate back to previous posts, you can link to those posts using the relevant text.
For example, if I write the phrase utilize your blog archives I can link to the post Aggregate Your Archives to Capitalize on New Popularity. This way I utilize the important text within the new post as an entry to related posts from the archives. It’s a way to revitalize your archives by allowing readers who either forgot or have never seen important posts you’ve already written.
The anchor text you use for your links (internal and external) is an important consideration for optimizing not only your own content, but also the content of the sites you link. Anchor text includes all of the text (or keywords) you include in your link (external or internal). For example, Motivation – the word ‘motivation’ is the anchor text. Be sure to keep keywords (yours and those of the sites you link to) when doing your linking. The golden rule applies here. If you generously link to other bloggers and site owners with quality, keyword-targeted anchor text, it’s likely you’ll get some good karma coming your way. 🙂
For more interesting thoughts on anchor text, read: Only the First Anchor Text Counts from SEOmoz.
Once you’ve read your post, made necessary edits, and linked to relevant resources you can publish your article and begin sharing it with your audience.
An important and often forgot part of writing a blog post is sharing.
After your brand new blog post is published, shiny, and new it’s time to start letting your audience know that you have a new post for them to read and enjoy and hopefully use as a valuable resource of information. Make sure your posts include automated sharing tools for social content sharing sites like Digg, Stumble Upon, Delicious, etc. Also use an RSS feed provider like Feedburner so users can subscribe to your blog posts in a reader.
I usually post on Twitter that I have a new blog post available for followers.
If you have an email newsletter or similar email contact strategy you can include your latest posts when you send an update to your subscribers.
Also make sure to mention your posts, when appropriate, on other blogs, in forums, and anywhere else in the Web where your audience is asking for the content you are writing about.
Share is an important part of ensuring your blog post is successful so don’t forget this important step.
Writing, publishing, and sharing blog posts that relate to your business’s customers is not as daunting as it may seem at first. Go through a few steps as a guide for your blog posting and you’ll fall into a groove that allows you to former more meaningful connections with your current and future customers. Blogs are also great ways to gain attention for your company’s Website.
Start with the title and let the topic form as you focus on what your readers are looking for from your blog. Outline the most important thoughts you have for the post with headings and sub-headings. Fill in the blanks with your expanding thoughts to add in-depth value for each of the headings. Edit your post for simply grammatical errors and rearrange your content so it flows well and takes the reader through a story – always tell your reader a story with your posts. Link to your archives and to relevant articles throughout the Web to expand with resources your readers will find valuable. Finally, publish your post and begin sharing it with your audience so they can enjoy your brand new blog post.
Ultimately I think it’s best to test various formats while keeping a few things in mind regarding Web users:
1| Web users like to scan
2| Web users like external and internal links to expand their reading
3| Web users like images
Finding the best format for your blog posts will take some testing so don’t be afraid to try various formats – new and old. Do what other successful bloggers do with their formats and see if it works for you. Try a few things until you find a format that is easy for you to use and valuable for your readers.
When I was in school I wasn’t a good writer because the topics we covered had no intrigue. Today I write about the things I love: Marketing and Hunting. My passion for these two things forced me to learn how to write effective blog posts in order for me to grow as a marketer and a hunter in the online world.
Discover your passion for writing by writing about what you care about – your business – and tell a story that will prove valuable for your target customers.
When you realize that writing is easy when you write about your passion, your blog will grow along with your business’s online presence (ultimately leading to more sales with new customers and expanded sales with existing customers).
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