A prospective client asked if there was some easy way to discern whether a blog post idea would go over well with her audience. She didn’t want to waste time developing a post that wouldn’t connect with her readers.
The first thing we did after she hired me was create a blogging plan, including her blog’s key topic areas (categories). Now she knew that as long as a topic fit into one those categories, it was aligned with our goals for her blog.
Plans are meant to be flexible, though, to leave room for inspiration and opportunities you couldn’t predict when you created your original outline.
In those moments when you have an idea for a brand new topic (something you’ve learned, seen or done, or related to a current event), the litmus test I suggest is the question, “Is this for me or for them?”
Your readers are not inside your head
In our quest to help people, we sometimes forget that they’re coming at the topic from an entirely different perspective. We eat, sleep and breathe our subject area, and we’re constantly thinking of ways to improve how people make use of our products and services.
(I admit, I do tend to be an evangelist when it comes to the benefits of business blogging.)
While it’s great to share your excitement for your topic, it’s important to be sensitive to your reader’s outlook. Otherwise you’ll be trying to start a conversation from several steps ahead, or even on a different road completely.
I loved this slide that Ben Fox used in his presentation about teaching WordPress at WordCamp Toronto 2013. He noted that web professionals, in their enthusiasm for a particular program like WordPress, tout it as some sort of magical solution to every imaginable problem.
Clients, on the other hand, sometimes see technology, web programming, and social media as horrifically scary and intimidating. Maybe they have similar feelings about what you do in your business.
Let your blog readers catch up
This doesn’t mean you can’t introduce novel ideas or perspectives to your readers – part of why they’re with you is to learn new things and tools for improving their lives or businesses.
Just back up a bit and ease them in. When you acknowledge their potential discomfort and give them the background information they need, they’ll be more likely to stick with you and keep reading.
The key is to look for the topics you care enough about to keep writing, that are also relevant and accessible to your prospective customers. You may also need to connect the dots and show how this information will help them.
Is it really just for you?
Sometimes a blog post idea is motivated by your own desire to delve deeper into a topic or issue, rather than to share a specific lesson or insight you know would help your ideal customer where they are at now.
If so, think twice before publishing. There may be a place for personal stories on a business blog, but an effective business blog must be more than a diary.
About the Author
Linda Dessau is the author of Write Your Way to More Clients Online and the founder of Content Mastery Guide. Her hands-free blogging services help small businesses attract their ideal customers with captivating content, and her book ghostwriting and editing services help authors clarify and express their brilliant ideas.
Tom Treanor is the founder of the Right Mix Marketing blog. He’s the author of the Search Engine Boot Camp, the co-author of Online Business Productivity, and regularly speaks at industry and corporate events. His writing has been featured on the Content Marketing Institute, Social Media Examiner, Copyblogger and other leading industry blogs.