Do You Struggle Writing Content?

Struggling Writing Content?









Do you struggle with writing content for your blog, newsletter, or even your social media accounts?





The good news is that writing great content doesn’t need to be hard.





“You just need to follow some straightforward rules… and know when to break them too”…………says Ali Luke  Head of Content at Zen Optimise,







Here are 12 rules of writing from Ali Luke, expert blogger, Firepole Marketing,that you need to learn and implement before your next blog post…





Rule #1: Come Up With Ideas Ahead of Time

  •  You’ve got “write blog post” on your to-do list – so you sit down at your computer, open up a blank document, and stare hopefully at the screen, waiting for inspiration to strike.
  • Sound familiar?
  • Coming up with ideas one at a time is a pain.
  • It’s much more efficient to create a bunch of them at once. 
  • Sit down once a week (or even once a month) for a brainstorming session … and you’ll find it much easier to get those ideas flowing.
  • Break This Rule When…
  • …something in the news, or at an event you’re attending, sparks off a topical idea. You’ll want to get that post up quickly while it’s still relevant.


Rule #2: Plan Your Content Calendar

  • By creating a content calendar, you can check that you’re giving your readers a good balance of the types of content they’re most interested in. 
  • When you know what you should be writing when, it’s easier to stick to a regular posting schedule – this is important so readers know what to expect, and so you can build momentum.
  • Break This Rule When…
  • …your blog is brand new.
  • You won’t yet have a good sense of what types of post perform well.
  • You will want to have a lot of flexibility so you can easily adjust if something doesn’t go down as well with your audience as you’d hoped.



Rule #3: Work Out Your Structure in Advance

  •  All posts need a beginning, middle and end (or introduction, main body and conclusion) at the very least.
  • Know that a well-structured post is easy to write and, much easier for your readers to take in
  • Break This Rule When…
  • …you’re writing a very short post (say, 300 words) and you have a good sense of its structure in your head.
  • Be cautious about writing without a safety net, though: it’s easy to go off on a tangent.



Rule #4: Write Consistently (Daily, or Several Times a Week)

  • Just like exercise, writing great content gets easier when it’s a habit and when you’re using your “writing muscles” regularly.
  • If you struggle to write more than one or two posts a month, it’s probably because you’re not writing regularly enough.
  • You don’t have to write every single day (though it’s great if you can).
  • Aim to write at least twice a week.
  • You also don’t have to produce a whole post in a single writing session – it’s fine to write for 30 minutes a day and create one or two posts a week.
  • Break This Rule When…
  • …you’re on vacation, enjoying the holidays, or visiting family/friends.
  • Even writers are allowed time off!
  • Take that notebook with you, though; ideas often strike when you’re out of your usual routine.



Rule #5: Write in a Conversational Way

  • Does your blog feel stilted and formal?
  • Online, readers expect an informal, casual tone; you don’t want your blog posts and emails to read like a dry business report.
  • The best way to make your blog and newsletter seem welcoming is to write in the way you’d speak, using contractions (“I’m” for “I am”) and avoiding formal language (write “go ahead” not “proceed”).
  •  For plenty of examples of great conversational writing, read any post by Sonia Simone on Copyblogger.
  • Sonia has a real knack for writing in a friendly, engaging way.
  • Break This Rule When…
  • …you’re thinking about structure rather than word choices.
  • “Conversational” doesn’t mean “rambling and unfocused” – even if your real-life conversations often meander from the point.



Rule #6: Stay Focused While You’re Writing

  • Don’t go back and edit while you are writing-focus on forward progress
  • It’s fine to fix the occasional typo, but rewriting your introduction a dozen times won’t get you far.
  • When you’re writing, write!
  • Don’t answer emails, check Facebook, or take yet another BuzzFeed quiz. 
  • If you’re struggling to focus, set a timer for 15 minutes and promise yourself you’ll do nothing but write till it goes off.
  • Break This Rule When…
  • … you need to take a short break.
  • You don’t have to write for two hours at a stretch – instead, try focusing for short bursts of 20 – 45 minutes.



Rule #7: Write to One Person – “You”

  • In blogging, it’s fine to use “I” and “you” (forget anything your English teacher taught you about avoiding these in your writing).
  • In fact, addressing the reader directly is a great way to build a stronger connection.
  • This should also help you target your content: if you know your audience well, and have an ideal reader in mind, you can write your blog post or email newsletter as though it’s just for them.
  • Use the singular “you” rather than the plural (don’t write “some of you may…” or “most of you will have…” or similar).
  • Break This Rule When…
  • … you’re writing to a specific group of people and you want to foster a sense of group identity. In this case, you might choose to use the plural “you”.



Rule #8: Give Concrete Examples to Help Readers Understand

  • If you give high-level theory, or write about ideas in a very general way, readers may get a bit lost.
  • It can be hard to truly “get” something without concrete examples.
  • The examples you give might be real-life ones (e.g. case studies) or ones you’ve made up.
  • They could be written or graphical – a screenshot, photo, graph, or even a video.
  • Your examples don’t need to match up to every single reader’s experience; your audience will be able to extrapolate and see how something similar could apply to their unique situation.
  • Break This Rule If …
  • … you’re writing a series of posts, emails, or similar, it’s OK to give the theory or “why” in one post, then move on to a series of case studies or other examples of the “how”.



Rule #9: Include a Call to Action at the End of Your Content

  • When a reader gets to the end of your email or blog post, what do you want them to do next?
  • Depending on the content and your goals, you might ask them to:
  • Leave a comment – it’s often a good idea to give them a specific, straightforward question to answer.
  • Join your newsletter – link to a landing page that explains more.
  • Take action based on what they’ve learned – you could give them “next steps” or even “homework”.
  • Check out your products – it’s best if you can relate these to the content they’ve just read.
  • Break This Rule When…
  • …you’ve written something short and powerful and you want to end on an inspiring note rather than an action-driven one. Sometimes, your post itself will stand just fine alone.
  •  Here’s a great example of a call to action, from Ask the Readers: Who’s Responsible for Success in an Online Training?



Rule #10: Spend Time Perfecting Your Title and Introduction

  • However amazing your post is, you won’t get far if no-one reads it.
  • Your title (or headline) and introduction are absolutely crucial: if you get these wrong, you’ll lose the vast majority of your (potential) audience before you’ve begun.
  • If you struggle with titles, check out Jon Morrow’s excellent resource Headline Hacks, and Cosette Jarrett’s post here on Firepole Marketing, Is Your Blog Title Worth the Click?
  • The best introductions are short and to the point, and pique the reader’s interest by giving them a promise of what’s to come.
  • Break This Rule When…
  • …you’re already confident you’ve got a great title, as you probably won’t need (or want) to tweak it much.
  • A good example is when you’re writing a series of posts with the same title structure, or when you’ve “borrowed” the structure from a popular post on another blog.



Rule #11: Set Your Content Aside, Then Edit and Proofread

  • Some bloggers make the mistake of skipping editing and proofreading altogether.
  • More often, though, they’ll try to edit too quickly. Ideally, set your post or email aside for a full day before you start editing it.
  • Approaching your editing with fresh eyes means you can spot not just mistakes (e.g. grammatical errors), but also bigger-picture problems (e.g. you need to re-order a few paragraphs in the middle of your post).
  • Try to tackle all the big-picture editing first; that way, you won’t end up perfecting a paragraph you later cut.
  • If possible, always allow time for a final proof-read where you check for typos and any mistakes you’ve accidentally introduced while editing – yes, it happens!
  • Break This Rule When…
  • …you’re truly in a rush.
  • Take a quick coffee-break.
  • Convert your content into a different format (e.g. a PDF or a blog post in preview mode) or print it out.
  • This can help mistakes jump out at you.



Rule #12: Allow Plenty of Time for Promotion

  • Promotion might not seem like part of the writing process … but if you don’t promote your content, you might as well not write it at all.
  • It’s especially important to allow yourself time to build traction around major pieces of content, like pillar posts and downloadable guides or ebooks.
  • Break This Rule When…
  • …you’re building up some content on your blog before a full launch.
  • You don’t need to promote it straight away: wait until your blog is ready for visitors.






 If you follow all twelve rules (and break one or two when appropriate), you’ll be well on your way to a popular blog and an engaging email newsletter.





 By planning ahead, structuring your posts, writing regularly and in a conversational way, and giving extra value with examples, calls to action, careful editing and great titles, you’ll find writing a breeze. 





When you round everything off with effective promotion, your content will finally get the attention it deserves.








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To Your Success,
Joan Harrington









































































































































































































































Facebook Comments

0 Replies to “Do You Struggle Writing Content?”

  1. FABOULOUS, Joan! Thank you for sharing this comprehensive list of tips!

    But I especially enjoyed the ‘Break the Rules When…” section because no guideline is or should be rigid. Being adaptable is mandatory for any professional, and especially a writer. Allow yourself some leeway and explore your creativity! 😉

    LOVE – thank you! #HUGS


  2. Hi – stopping by again from Facebook! GREAT list – thanks for sharing! I’m doing OK with #5, and 7-9 … but really need to work on all the others, ESPECIALLY #4, 6, and 12! Thanks again for a great list!

  3. Back again, although my enthusiasm has dulled over the 14 hour period. Found your comments at the bottom of the page. Phew! my scrolling finger is worn out.
    Great advice about blogging, as usual. Thank you for generating good thought.

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