I’m going to let you in on a little secret: when I first started blogging in 2014 I would get all tripped up because my visuals weren’t on point… and my website was
2nd definition: the substance or material dealt with in a speech or literary work, etc., as distinct from its form or style
Synonyms: subject matter, subject, theme, argument, thesis, message
Not visuals are King. Not websites are King. Content is King. When pulled together with great content, a consistent visual identity can absolutely make a website really P–O–P. But. I’m here to assure you, you don’t need all the fancy bells and whistles to launch your blog or website.
In a recent article for Inc. Magazine, writer, part-time entrepreneur and content marketing consultant Ryan Robinson shares:
Blog posts are a great place to start with your content marketing, as they have the lowest barrier to entry, by far. You don’t need a designer or special equipment. Just start writing and you’re ready to go.
The longer you delay launching the longer you let those fears take the wheel. And honey, we didn’t get this souped-up ride to let someone else drive it. AmIright?
A lot of pieces on the internet focus on the technical aspects of creating great content: the catchy headlines, keyword research, marketing goals, etc. But many aren’t talking about how to write content that connects and ties in the interests of an audience with what you (the creator) have to offer. I believe that you have to know the creative element of content before you get into the formatting and technical details – if an author doesn’t know their book’s plot, how can they fine-tune the scenes?
So in this third installation of “Living Creatively,” we’re going to talk about how to write great content–the topics, themes, and substance in your posts–that makes your readers come back again, and again, and again…and again!
If you haven’t already, I’d suggest starting with parts one “Living Creatively: How to Start Blogging and Do What You Love” and parts two “Living Creatively: How to Set Up a Website with Siteground” of the series. They’ll help you lay down the groundwork before you learn how to write great content and wow
Choose What to Write About
Okay, so where does one even begin? The trick to writing great content that matters is to tell a story. What better inspiration than you? Your experiences are full of laughs, challenges, and triumphs that make for great content. So ask yourself what really fires me up? What inspires me? And I don’t mean, what makes you shrug and say “ok, I might enjoy that.” No. When do you most come alive? What have been some of your past shining moments? These are clues from the Universe. So, start here.
Guess what I would do in my free time when I was supposed to be doing something important? Reading blogs, testing a new restaurant I discovered, curating Pinterest boards, watching Stranger Things and thinking “hmmm… I wonder how they produced that shot?” I know, nerdy. Lol. But I love stories, adventure, bringing ideas to life. I’ll even watch docu-series on the making of shows – without anyone paying me for it – because I ❤️❤️❤️ learning, reading, and hearing about the creative process and how other
That’s just one example. Over the course of the next week, pay attention to what conversations make your heart flutter, or what you decide to do when you’re bored. Jot down 10-15 activities or topics that light a spark in you. If you, for example, find you feel relaxed and in the zone listening to finance + business podcasts put that on the list! There’s your inspiration.
Test a Few Different Topics
Once you have your list, narrow it down to your top 3. This may sound hard to do at the beginning if you have a lot of interests, but trust me this will be a HUGE help. You’re actually “trying on” a few different topics. Kind of like when you try on an outfit. 🙂 Choose 3 that
Your past work experience is also rich with content ideas. Let’s take Luisa for example. Luisa is a stellar photographer, and has a very special superpower: she’s a beast at time management and keeping projects on task. Before turning to her first love photography, Luisa was a sales assistant where she unleashed her ability to create systems + processes. It’s actually one of the reasons clients love working with her – they love how well she pays attention to details! Using this superpower she can teach other photographers how to wow their clients in this area too.
- The top 10 time management tools for newbie photographers
- Why you need a welcome packet in your photography biz (and how to create one)
- 5 beautiful websites to help you keep your team organized
- How to create an incredible client experience from pitch to delivery
See? You can take what you love to do, what you’re really good at and marry them together. And that’s how to write great content your readers can’t get enough of! 😄
One way I love to test out different topics is through research. Usually, during or after the writing process I’ll research what questions pop up on my favorite blogs, or in online groups. For instance, I was inspired to write a piece on healing from trauma based on conversations I was having at the time. I was nervous to share about my experience dealing with trauma after a breakup, but these conversations helped me see I could start a dialogue around this topic. When testing out ideas, see which ones will allow you to share and exchange with readers.
Create Your Blog Categories
Once you’ve nailed down your major themes and topics, create smaller categories. Categories for a fashion blog could be petite style, runway looks, beauty + lifestyle, last-minute sales. Touch upon the specific focuses you want to talk about on your blog. And don’t worry about a category seeming too “unrelated.” You’ll usually notice a lot of bloggers have a few different topics underneath their umbrella niche.
Again, think about what conversations or questions your audience may have. This is really central to writing content that matters. Ask yourself “how does this post tie into my reader’s life?” Going back to Luisa, after a few months of blogging she’s noticed a lot of her readers are first-time moms who want to know how they can run their business, be there for their family, and practice self-care too. Now Luisa can share pieces on how and why to hire a virtual assistant, ways to automate the business and even a behind-the-scenes Insta story on how she (a mom herself) manages a photography studio.
What are or were some of your challenges at the beginning? What would you want to know if you were new to this topic? Use this as a jumping off point.
Pay Attention to the World Around You
A really fun way to create content that readers love is to weave in events and historical themes relevant to your niche. You’re a voice. You don’t exist in a bubble. Don’t be afraid to share your passions and what you believe in.
Here’s how to write great content with seasonal twists:
- Spotlight a woman or women run organization in your community disrupting their space (for Women’s History month)
- Create a roundup of your favorite healthy dishes leading up to Valentine’s Day 🥰
- Share a listicle on your top summer travel destinations for Boss ladies
- Pick an NYFW brand you love and pen a piece on branding tips for your stylish readers
- Try your hand at a gift guide for the holiday season
Create a Content Calendar
Okay, so we touched upon this in part two of the series but it’s important so I’m gonna tell y’all again: create a content calendar. Buy a new journal, pull up an excel spreadsheet, pop open your favorite app – whatever you need to do – JUST PLUG THOSE BAD BOYS IN. I’m very visual so
Whatever system you choose though, the whole point is to schedule your blog like you would a doctor’s
What I love about keeping a content calendar, is that you can look at an upcoming topic and use something you read or heard as further inspiration. You can play around with what you’d like to write. I like to keep a content bank on Trello for when a new idea comes up
A calendar also helps you begin to think long-term about upcoming campaigns, launches or promotions. Brand and blog consultant, Julie Solomon, found that once she started talking about influencer pitching it was so in-depth! So she created a course around it: Pitch It Perfect. This goes to show how a calendar can inspire repurposed content as well. You’ll already have a head start on how to write great content that your audience needs +
Make It Actionable
What’s the one thing you’d like your audience to take away? Do you want them to signup for your email newsletters? Are you interested in hearing their take and perspective on a certain topic? Or maybe you have a great template/freebie they can download that expands on your post? Include a call to action in every piece of content you create – tell your audience exactly what you’d like them to do next.
I love hearing from you because it’s how I find out who you are, what you enjoy reading, and how I can help you. A few ways I do that is through an email newsletter sharing tips on wellness, entrepreneurship and marketing for your business, asking questions about your experiences, and encouraging you to share with friends + family who might need these tips.
Let your audience know what they can do once they’ve finished reading to help you write great content and be a go-to source for them.
Now you’re ready to share! 😄 I’ll admit, self-promotion can be scary. As writers and creatives, we sometimes shy away from sharing our content because it seems icky and self-indulgent, but it’s not. Your art is your value. I absolutely love this one quote from Marie Forleo, who says:
Realize you are on this earth for a reason, and the world needs that special gift that only you have. By devaluing yourself or failing to get your talent out into the world, you’re stealing from those who need you most.
Wow! I never thought of it that way. But when I heard this I thought about all the incredible people who have inspired me and my work. What if your favorite designer never shared their first drawings? Or what if your favorite singer thought her love for music wasn’t worth pursuing? It’d be a very boring world if any of these talents had denied themselves the chance to shine. You’re that spark for someone else. But you have to share your gifts to be able to reach them.
If you’re new to social media then check out my recent piece “Social Media 101 Marketing for Writers” to get a feel for how you can begin to build your personal brand and get your gifts out there.
In the next and final installment of the Living Creatively series (is it over so soon? 😭) we’re going to delve into how you can use social media to build a community, grow your audience, and drive traffic to your website.
Before then, I’d love to know: what’s one piece of advice you enjoyed while reading this post that you’d like to mix into your content this week?
Share it in the comments below and let us know your favorite tips on how to write great content that matters.