Guide #2 – Choosing a blog subject

If you’ve already read Guide #1 – How to structure a blog post, you’ll already be familiar with the technique, but how do you decide what to write about?

A blog post is a great way to start a conversation with potential customers in an environment they are comfortable with, but there are different ways you can start that dialogue.

Imagine relaxing a in a coffee shop when someone comes up to you and presses an advert into your face and then walks away. That would be weird, right? Now imagine if someone comes up to you and politely introduces themselves, explains a little about what they do and then proposes a simple exchange: a few minutes of your time for an insight into a subject you’re interested in. Which would you prefer?

In fact, quite a few people are likely to consider a few minutes a fair exchange for a well-written exposition on a theme. The reason is that you’re being offered something in exchange, something of interest – and most importantly – something of value to the audience.

What you’re being offered is a value exchange – their time for your knowledge – and this what’s at the heart of a successful blog.

What’s 5 minutes of your time worth?

Let’s say the average blog takes 5 minutes to read, what’s 5 minutes of your time worth? You can define value in monetary terms, or in terms of its usefulness. At 42group when we create a blog, we ask ourselves whether the reader will feel the time dedicated to reading it is worth the knowledge they will gain – is it a fair exchange?

When identifying a subject for a blog, many writers think first about what it is they want to say (or sell), but in fact where you should start is with what it is your reader wants to know. Find something that your audience will value and shape your message around that.

Focus on a single proposition

When you’re knowledgeable about a topic, it can be tempting to try and cram in a lot of messages into one post. Surely this will give more value to the reader? Not quite. Those reading online are usually time-poor and, more often than not, scrolling through your post on the move, perhaps on a smartphone or other portable device. Blog posts need to be direct and deliver on their promise in order to keep their attention.

Ideally, each post you write should have its basis in one core insight and have one central theme. You can take a single theme and explore it from different perspectives, but it’s important that everything coalesces around one central proposition. This makes things simple for the reader, and ensures that the pay off for the time they spend reading (the value) is what they are expecting.

Having a clearly defined simple, single proposition can also help you to create content for SEO and social media sites like LinkedIn that demand short, snappy messages. (If you’re struggling with social media marketing for your blog, don’t worry – it’s the focus for our next guide in the series!)

Strategic focus

A blog is just for SEO, right? For some organisations it is. But it’s more powerful than that – your blog is a mechanism for you to create a point of difference and one that can be tied to your overall strategic focus.

Over time your blog expands, telling the story of you business, brand or organisation. You don’t want this to be a random collection of thoughts and feelings (unless you’re a teenager), but something that genuinely benefits your organisation.

Re-package, re-use, and recycle

When creating your blog think about the ways the content can be repurposed and re-used. Opinion pieces can be posted across social networks, but could they be pitched to editors? A narrative blog is a big investment, but can this be reused? When writing pitch documents your blog can be an amazing tool to help demonstrate your expertise.

Types of blog

The subject matter can help define how you structure your blog. In our original guide we set out how to approach a narrative blog, but there are other options – all of which are useful in different situations. For example:

  • Photo gallery – why use words when pictures can tell your story? (You should include descriptive captions for SEO purposes though)
  • Listicles – love them or hate them, lists work online. They’re short, snappy and easy to read.
  • Aggregation blog – If you’ve been in the news a lot recently like we have, then why not create a piece about the coverage?
  • Opinion piece – if you’ve got a thought leader in your organisation, your blog is a great way to raise their profile and yours.

Professional blog

We’re not going to labour the point here, but your blog needs to be properly structured, cogent and coherent, grammatically correct and professionally written. (Guide #1: How to structure your blog should be able to help you here).

Save the hard sell

A blog isn’t a sales brochure for your product or service. Detailed information about your product or your service doesn’t offer the reader an insight or any real value. Save the sales approach for the rest of your website.

Want to talk more about blogs and how to create them for your business? You can find more information about how we can help you here.

42group is a leading Bristol marketing agency that helps organisation to tell their stories. We work with organisations of all sizes: from small businesses, SMEs, charities to household brands.

We help our clients to help them develop, design and deliver marketing, communications and content campaigns that make a difference. If you’d like to chat about how we can help you tell your story, contact us today.