5 Journalist Secrets for Creating Astonishingly Great Blog Content

5 Journalist Secrets for Creating Astonishingly Great Blog Content80 million.

That’s the number of blog entries posted last month on WordPress, alone.

It’s a lot of competition for attention—the attention that you want your blog to get to draw website traffic, build an online reputation, or establish your expertise.

So, how do you create the kind of blog content that goes viral or helps navigate your website to the top of search engine results pages? Well, you approach it the same way a journalist approaches an article idea that’s been approved by the editor and is ready to be written.

1. Spend a lot of time thinking about the headline.

Journalists and editors know the power of headlines, and you should too when you’re writing and planning your blog. In fact, there’s online marketing data that shows that only 2 out of 10 readers will make it past the headline. Marketing strategists have narrowed that down even further to show what types of headlines get the highest rate of response, and found that the most preferred headlines are those that begin with a number, for example, 5 Journalist Secrets for Creating Astonishingly Great Blog Content (see, it worked with you!). You can see the other headlines that rank in the top five choices in the following graph.


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2. Use metaphors.

By drawing a comparison between a journalist and a blogger in writing engaging blog content, I’ve done two things. First, I’ve given you a way to look at blogging in a way you might not have seen it before, which provides a unique slant to this article that likely hasn’t been used by most other articles published today on the same topic. Metaphors help create unique content, which is one of the things Google’s new Panda algorithm looks for when determining where to place your website on its search engine results page.

Second, I’ve provided a good example of the attitude you should take when writing a blog. You recognize the care and professionalism that goes into preparing great journalism—from solid research of your readership demographics, to locating credible sources, to ensuring a final draft that doesn’t have grammatical errors in it.

3. Write when and what people want to read.

Dan Zarrella is the man to ask if you want to know “when” is the best time to publish a blog. He’s a “viral marketing scientist” at Hubspot, Inc, and here are the times he suggests.



Now, on to the “what.”
Every journalist knows that if they want to be published in a magazine or news source, they have to write about something that will appeal to the readership of that particular media. Knowing what your readers want to read is half of the battle of successful journalism. The other half involves writing that content in a way that speaks to them, offers them something of value (information, for example), and makes them want to read more.

In the same sense, if your intent is to create a blog that builds a significant audience—or draws a lot of traffic to your website—then the first step you should take is to dig deep and find out what topics they tend to read.

Here’s what one large content marketing company found when analyzing data from over 300 of their campaigns regarding topic preferences.


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While this might be an example from only one large marketing firm, it shows that there are topics that get a better response than others—particularly with social media shares. If you’re writing a blog within a particular niche, there are easy ways to do your own internal research to find blog content ideas that will appeal most to your intended readership. If your business has a presence on social media, then look back over some of the posts you’ve made that garnered the most response from your followers. Which topics received the most likes or comments?

Let’s consider an example: Lila is a small business owner who has recently opened her own garden supply and nursery. She’s hoping to use social media and her website’s blog feature to draw traffic to her place of business. Since she offers a few garden supplies that can be purchased online and shipped, she also hopes to draw Internet traffic to her website. She’s a savvy business owner and has learned that engaging, informative blog content is one of the most effective routes to building a company’s reputation—both online and off.

After gaining a sizeable social media following, she made a few posts that seemed to catch a lot of attention. Pictures of unique plants in her shop seemed to get a lot of Likes on Facebook, along with comments wanting to know more information about the plants. After scrolling through several posts and using data provided by Facebook for all of its business pages, she found that there were a lot of comments made on her posts about the easiest plants to grow and care for in their local climate. She found that her knowledge of growing locally was useful for creating content, and that a lot of people responded to posts that offered “Tips for growing tomatoes in Northwest Mississippi.”

From this simple research, Lila has a great start in determining the blog topics that will be most relevant to her potential clients. She now has a solid direction for content strategy, and she can start writing informative, engaging content that will work hard as a powerful marketing tool and establish her reputation as an expert in her business. On top of that, her readers are given expert advice that is unique and likely hard to find elsewhere, so everyone wins.

And all it took was a little observation.

4. Tell stories and provide examples.

If you pay attention, you’ll find that some of the best pieces of journalism contain stories of real people. Taking that exact approach—interviews and all—will add a lot of value to your content, and resonate with people who are curious about others in the community (whether that community is local or virtual). It’s also highly sharable, as those you’ve interviewed tend to share the link with others across social media.

Of course, the average small business owner doesn’t have time to schedule and conduct interviews, so there’s an approach that works almost as well, and that’s providing an example. While the example of Lila might be only a fictional example instead of a real-life story, it represents my practical knowledge of marketing online and allows the reader to see the real-world application of what I’m talking about.

Simply put, humans are wired to consume stories. It’s how we learn and have learned from the dawn of recorded time. A journalist knows that there is a story to be told, and excellent journalism depends on that device. Noted journalist of NBC Nightly News, Tom Brokaw, puts it like this: “It's all storytelling, you know. That's what journalism is all about.”

5. Use powerful quotes.

I gave you the Tom Brokaw quote above because he’s an expert on journalism, and it’s a great quote. It also supports and closes an article focused on helping you to create great content that gives you a big boost ahead of the other 79,999,999 blogs that will be published this month.

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