In a blogging rut? Here's my favorite prompt to spark a post that connects. 💡
Note from Sarah: This article was originally sent via my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers receive pieces like this before anyone else. Click here to subscribe!
I think Kath and I drive our clients bananas because we’re always rattling on about blog post this and content strategy that and pillar content over there. But there’s a reason for that—I swear.
Not only can a well-conceived blog can help boost traffic through search engine optimization and your website’s authority, this kind of content can passively carry a heavy load for you for a long time.
For example, last year I wrote a blog post about membership options and Squarespace. This is something that I get asked a lot of questions about, I see folks discussing on Twitter and I’ve had a lot of folks ask me about during their strategy sessions with me. The reality is that there isn’t a cut and dry direction with this. Instead, there are many choices and it depends on what you want to achieve, your budget, you technical skills, and a whole lot more.
So, I researched options and drafted a quick post outlying the highlights in terms of options. This isn’t a definitive, comprehensive article, but it is a good jumping off point for someone digging into this topic. Now, this post serves a few roles for me. It gives our website some nice SEO benefits, which is awesome, but it’s even more fabulous in terms of using as a context framing tool when I talk to clients and potential clients about this topic. I’ve already laid out the top-level information about the subject, so we're working from a common place of basic knowledge. See? Super useful!
While I always encourage you to create a content calendar for at least a quarter, I also realize that not everyone has this capacity and that sometimes you just have to put one foot in front of the other and get something out there. (Done is better than perfect, folks!) All those ideas tossing around can make it overwhelming to just get something DONE and up on your website. So, I like to start with a little prompt.
Ready for it? Are you sure?
Here’s my favorite prompt to get ideas flowing—and, yes, it’s how I got the idea for this very article.
How can I help someone today?
Sounds simple right? Well it is.
Annnnnnd it isn’t.
Simple questions are always the hardest.
What is the thing that you consistently hear is painful, challenging and frustrating for your audience? What if you solve that for them? If you empower them with knowledge, that will that help you build trust with that audience.
Now I’m not saying give away all your secrets (though there’s a lot of value in giving away secrets which I will inevitably get into in a future newsletter), what I’m saying instead is that if there’s a little thing you can share that can make someone’s life a bit easier by sharing, then do it. Some of my unexpectedly popular and useful content on my blog has come from asking myself this very question.
For example, I have an easy peasy little video on my website about integrating Acuity scheduling into your website. It’s such an easy thing to do (for me), but is something that really confuses and frustrates people—I know because clients and potential clients tell me so. I sat down made a quick blog post and video one afternoon because it's something that I saw was painful and frustrating and irritating. And people email and thank me for it over and over again, which is still wild to me because it wasn’t even a big deal when I put it together. But for other people, it is a big deal. That matters and it builds trust.
The key with using this “how can I help someone today” notion as a jumping off point is that it must be authentic and meaningful information.
Where is the people falter with this as a starting point is when it quickly converts to “how can I help—now buy my stuff,” and that’s not how this works. Not at all. That's just sleazy and gross.
Sure, you can put an invite to book a strategy call with you or schedule a consultation or inquire about project — that’s fine. However, that’s not the focus of this type of content. Instead, you're building what I call “asymmetric intimacy.” (That’s a complicated idea that I’m always kicking around in my head, which as an audience we can feel via a blog post, podcasts and YouTube videos, but I won’t get into that here.) The end result of that type of trust-building through content is a connection with your ideal audience, a greater understanding of your unique value, and authentic authority.
These helpful posts can take many forms—it’s up to what feels good to you, for your brand and in your voice, such as:
A quick checklist (it doesn’t have to be perfect and gorgeous—my newsletter service, ConvertKit, makes this dead simple to set up!)
A common question, answered
A tutorial video (loom is free and easy to use for this kind of content)
A “three things you need to know” post
A list of resources on a challenging topic
You get the picture.
So, how can you help someone today? Answer that question and start sharing!
If you use this prompt, I want to know! (And I bet once you do, you use it over and over.) Just drop a note in the comments with a link and I’ll check it out!