When it comes to public relations, many small businesses and entrepreneurs balk at the cost of sending out traditional press releases. Why spend hundreds of dollars trying to reach journalists, bloggers and influencers through a press-release service when it’s possible to create content on the company’s site and disseminate it through search engines and social-media channels?
While press-release distribution companies like PR Newswire and PRWeb definitely have their place in the digital marketing ecosystem, using a blog to tell a story that you can control can be an effective way to have your news and views shared inexpensively and generate coverage in third-party publications.
I’m often asked by business people how much time should they dedicate to writing blog posts. Here are some ideas about how to keep the actual writing part short and sweet and make the whole process a good use of your time, whether you are at a growing startup or make up a one-man-band.
1. Create a content calendar
If you’re blogging once or twice a week, brainstorm and jot down some topics to write about and insert them into a calendar that extends into the next couple of months. Sound out trusted peers or customers about what they’d like to read about in your posts. The more choices you have in potential topics the better.
2. Categorize your content
Within your calendar, define what each piece of content will be. Is it an event announcement or a new product release? Will it be a how-to piece or a customer interview? Listing each blog post as a genre with a reason for posting it will help you vary the content you’re posting and help you craft posts with different calls to action.
3. Start crafting a post a week in advance
With seven days to go before the post is due to go live, start thinking about how it might start off and the way it might end.
You might want to sketch out some subheadings so your readers will have signposts as they work their way through the content. This will help you solidify the structure of what you’ll say.
4. Think about links and mentions
An important part of any blogging initiative is linking to relevant content (both on the website and in outside sources) that readers will find helpful. This will aid with search engine optimization and your readers won’t reach the end of the post without a suggestion for further reading.
Don’t forget to mention relevant brands or individuals by name, too. If people have set up a Google or social-media alert to tracking their name, they will pick up that you’ve been writing about them and perhaps drop by your blog to see what you’ve been saying, good or bad.
5. Set aside time to write
A couple of days before your post is due to go live, block off time when there will be no distractions and just start writing. Since you’ve already thought about your piece and how things will fit together, you’ll find it way easier to put down the words. If you’re aiming for 700 or so words, then 20 minutes should be enough time for you to whittle down your thoughts into a first draft, providing there are no interruptions.
Obviously if the information you’re trying to express needs accompanying screen shots, quotes from others or some research, the process will become more involved. But if you use spare time in the day, during the commute, while waiting for your coffee to brew or before you drop off to sleep at night, the actual writing part need not seem as daunting as some fear.
Do you have a winning system for giving up your thoughts and ideas to the masses?