Flood, earthquake, wildfire, tornado, cyber attack. The wake of recent catastrophes around the globe may leave you wondering, was there even a way to prepare for this? Not every epic disaster is about the impending apocalypse, and not all mishaps are widespread. There are plenty lesser disasters and calamities that can throw you off kilter or wipe out your progress, like a colossal flood or even discovering you spilled the last of your coffee.
It may be impossible to prepare for the completely unexpected, there are steps people take in making sure they are ready to handle contingencies before, during and after epic disasters.
While bloggers may not face the same type of imminent disaster when writing; producing content that gets limited shares and even less conversion can feel like a colossal disaster that may wreak havoc on your ability to attract and retain clients. It feels like the annihilation of your psyche as well.
The State of Inbound Survey 2014 discovered that sites that produce only fifteen blogs a month can generate as many as 1200 leads. However, producing fresh content day after day and week after week can be a challenge for even the best content marketing writers. In order to produce optimal content that reaches clients, bloggers can apply readiness, rescue and recovery stages to writing content for their blogs.
These stages taken from disaster relief strategies may not keep a giant plague of cicadas from banging around outside your door or hold greenhouse gases at bay, but they may help you deliver the kind of copy your clients want if you know how to be ready, to rescue and to recover.
Here Are The Seven Steps:
- Have a plan.
- Heed warnings.
- Have plenty on non-potable water on hand.
- Reach out to help others.
- Know that people will come to look if it’s something they haven’t seen before.
- Look in the trees and other unlikely places
- Boil the drinking water.
Being ready is about being prepared, and being prepared is not just for Boy Scouts. You can be ready for almost any contingency, from large blobs of guacamole raining down from the clouds to a less appreciated brownout, if you have a plan in mind. That may mean stockpiling cases of corn chips or knowing where those backup batteries are, but at least you have an alternative response to whatever impending doom is handed to you.
Prepping for contingencies also keeps your mind sharp, always looking for, finding and implementing creative ideas.
1. HAVE A PLAN! Know Your Content and How to Access it, Strategize Your Arsenal and Develop a Strategy
If you live in an area known for severe weather, chances are, that you know how to prepare for the kind of emergency you may face. For example, those who live in hurricane prone areas know to prepare for being without electricity for a few days. That means keeping on hand additional drinking water, food that needs no cooking and having a full tank of gas in the event of an evacuation.
Readiness is about purposeful planning and preparation, not zealot-like stockpiling. Ideas may be to writers what ammo is to hunters, but stockpiling without practicing is simply hoarding. Nothing good ever comes to bloggers who hoard.
Great writers always have ideas, and they know how to write them down and categorize them for easy access. They also are willing to use these ideas because, unlike ammo stockpilers, writers know they can get more.
Know Your Content and How to Access It
Neil Patel and Kathryn Aragorn at Quicksprout know about gathering ideas and cataloguing them for easy reference later. While you may prefer jotting down notes on stickies or index cards, these entrepreneurs share some of the tools that allow for agile access literally at your fingertips (http://www.quicksprout.com/the-advanced-guide-to-content-marketing-chapter-5/).
Whether you are already an Evernote or Google +1 fan, or you are just exploring these online tools for the first time, the ultimate goal is for you to find your content. With the world’s collective knowledge doubling every twelve months, you won’t be able to remember it all in your head. These tools make it possible for you to store and retrieve your ideas when you want them.
However, having an arsenal of ideas isn’t enough!
Strategize Your Arsenal
You’ll also need a plan for their deployment. That means you will need to strategize on a variety of fronts. A well-thought out disaster plan involves much more than knowing what to do with the food in your freezer when the electricity goes out. You probably shouldn’t sit down and eat all the contents . . . ice cream, frozen peas, an old bottle of Skyy vodka – at once. Strategize the consumption: eat the ice cream now, throw out the peas (or at least toss them into your ice chest for a useful cold compress) and save the vodka for later since it will keep and you’ll likely want a drink.
2. HEED WARNINGS! Be proactive and reactive.
In the event of an imminent disaster, your safety will depend on how well you listen to not only warnings but also directions. Many times people have been warned to evacuate early, only to ignore the advice at their own peril. Victims find themselves stranded on top of roofs or stuck in traffic congestion that would clog even a black hole.
For whatever reason, they failed to heed warnings!
Your efficacy as a blogger depends on how well you follow advice from experienced masters of the content blogging art and how well you heed warnings.
Don’t wait for the local volunteer fire department to come knock on your door with an admonition. Your warnings come in the form of conversion rates. In order for your copy to convert, your ability to produce interesting content and your ability to persuade must be spot on.
You must, above all else, remember that your writing is targeted to your customers and not your industry peers.
One way to check your progress is to put your post in BuzzSumo to determine how often and in what ways your article is shared. This site will give you feedback on the shares you received via the social network Big Five: Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, Pinterest and Google. You can also view backlinks and shares for a better look at what your conversion rate is really telling you. No shares means no love and no interest in your blog; it also means you are headed back to the drawing board to make Plan B.
Reacting by taking time to figure out what didn’t work helps you be proactive the next time you sit down to blog by establishing what does work.
3. Have plenty on non-potable water on hand. You’ll need something for flushing.
Facing down a natural disaster may mean you are going to lose some basic utilities, like electricity. Any one who has survived a hurricane knows that if you’re thinking you might not have electricity for a few days, you better fill the bathtubs up with non-potable water. Sure you can boil the water if you need it for cooking or drinking, but you’re going to want it for something else. Filling a bathtub or other container with water you don’t plan to drink means you’ll be able to take care of . . . business.
Having plenty of non-potable water on hand means you can metaphorically flush out the unwanted waste from your writing, too.
The best content writing for blogging is not necessarily what you want to write about; it’s about what your customers want to read. You have to be able to solve people’s problems with your writing. Add fresh and current content to that, and you have copy that delivers. Anything else needs to be flushed.
Ryan Hanley of The Marketing Agents was able to flush out a lot of what didn’t belong in blogs by going straight to his clients and asking them what they wanted more of. He focused his blog on answering one hundred of their questions, not on giving them something they didn’t want.
Of course, the content you do have left must be good. The Content Marketing Institute offers a plethora of excellent writing tips that include everything from developing the right tone to inserting the right visual and making sure your copy has good readability on the Flesch-Kincaid scale.
4. Reach out to help others. Share what you know.
Good things happen when communities come together to support each other and help each other out. Neighbors who reach out with a meal or writers who are willing to share a link or a strategy that works for them increases capacity. When you help others, you catapult your own learning and growth, and everyone benefits.
Share first, sell later. Savvy consumers don’t appreciate hard sells; in fact, they really don’t care how much you know until you can show them how much you care. That likely means giving away a piece of yourself first.
To do this, be personable. It won’t further your goal to come across as aloof and stilted, nor will you benefit from using a megaphone to sell your product. That’s why so many sites offer something of value, freely, to the consumer. It may be an e-book, assessment results, or a useful checklist. Of course, there is a trade – an email address – for future contact.
Online marketing expert Neil Patel reminds writers that blogging about the company’s newest initiatives or using the blog for blatant sales techniques is an affront to most readers. Yes, you are writing to convert, but you will win customers with topics that are current in their minds and stories that help them remember. Along the way, you’ll also convert and sell.
5. KNOW That People Will Come to Look if it’s Something They Haven’t Seen Before. Provide interesting content that people want to read.
All it takes is an accident on the side of the road, and people slow down to look. You know you don’t know anyone who drives that kind of car, or that color of truck, but you slow down and look nonetheless. That’s because it’s interesting. The same is true of relevant and eye-catching content.
Roger Bryan’s advice for writing great blog content echoes what many others have said. Find what readers want to read. Make connections to their world. Ultimately, readers are hungry for content that is informative, interesting and relevant.
There’s a considerable amount of debris on the Internet. Readers don’t have the time – or the desire – to sift through it all. However, a great writer can help readers by writing high quality content that delivers value.
Write copy that is interesting and relevant, and you’ll have readers slowing down to take a second look.
6. Look in The Trees and Other Unlikely Places. Go Outside the Box For Ideas.
Flood rescue and recovery are two separate stages in responding to the danger of high water. In the event that someone is swept away by rising waters, immediate rescue is critical, because seconds count. Unfortunately, not every victim is rescued, and that’s when recovery takes place. Those who search for flood victims know to look in other places than along riverbanks and the edges of the water. They have to look in unusual places most do not think about. Rising water elevates its contents. That means when the water recedes, you also look in the trees.
After you write your first blog you’ll have to write another one. When looking for new blog material, you may have to look up in the trees, too.
There are plenty of trees in the forest to help you along the way. Ask people what one question they’d like answered in a particular industry. Social Media Examiner also suggests that you consider using tools such as Bottlenose or Tweetchat, and always read the comments after each post for an indication of what people want more of.
7. Boil the Drinking Water. Edit Until Your Copy is Clean.
After any disaster, it can take a few days or even weeks for the infrastructure to rebound. In the meantime, that means you’d better boil your drinking water to make sure it’s clean and safe. The same is true of your copy.
Any writing for publication requires solid writing skills. That means your grammar and usage must be excellent, and you check and recheck spelling. It’s all too easy these days to whip up copy in a hurry, scan it too quickly and post it.
Spend ten minutes reading on the web, and you’ll find a blog with a misspelled word, confusion about the use of an objective case pronoun or cluelessness about how to write the plural of CD (it’s CDs).
Most readers will forgive a rare mistake. Search engines will not. You owe it to your readers and to the algorithms of the Internet to get your copy as clean as possible, according to Grammarly.
That’s it; seven strategies that may help you be a better blogger or help you find the right blogger for your business. These tips won’t stop a meteor from crashing into our planet, but they may stop you from contributing to the volume of useless content people don’t want to read.
In short, here they are again:
- Know your content, how to access it and develop a strategy.
- Be proactive and reactive.
- Flush out the waste.
- Share what you know.
- Make it interesting.
- Go outside the box for ideas.
- Edit until your copy is clean.
How do you keep the ideas coming and the quality high when the zombies are scratching at the windows and the water is rising around you?