So, if you’re reading this article you’ve probably at one point or another heard some hype about blogging. Maybe you’ve even tried blogging for yourself and had some success, or maybe it felt like a waste of time. So, let’s get down to it – Is blogging really all it’s hyped up to be by marketers? Here’s the truth… yes, and no. It all depends on you.
Typical marketer answer, right? But it’s true. Hear me out.
There’s a reason blogging is often hyped up by marketers. If you take a dedicated and strategic approach, blogging can be like rocket fuel for your business.
- It Can Help Establish You as a Leader In Your Field or Specialty Area
- It Can Help You Build Connections with Other Professionals in Your Field
- Google Rewards Quality Blogs with Consistent Traffic
- Leadership + Connections + Visibility = More Business
And, that’s just the summit of the mountain overview.
Before we get carried away in the puppies and rainbows fantasy world of blogging though, let me make it clear – none of these benefits above will come to you overnight with blogging. In fact, they won’t come to you overnight no matter what you do. But, if the above benefits are things you’d like to achieve in your career or practice, blogging is an excellent and efficient way to get you there.
So, who doesn’t want the above benefits, right? More respect. More business. It’s the ideal for most people. But not all people who start blogging are going to be successful. So, what makes them successful?
Here’s the secret.
Dedication and Strategy
Your long term success with blogging is going to be proportional to your dedication and strategy. Typically, a lot of bloggers start out overflowing with excitement and then quickly peter out as they get busy, run out of ideas, and fail to see immediate returns. So, before you march off to start your first blog post, I’d urge you to pump the breaks. You may be dedicated to your practice, but transferring that dedication to building a blog can be tricky. That’s why I suggest developing a strategy and plan before you start. This will help keep you on track when it becomes difficult to stay committed.
Here’s what I’d advise to anyone just starting out:
- Develop Out a Content Plan and Keyword Strategy
- Plan Out a Blog Calendar Of Topics
- Commit to writing at least once per week
To some of you this may sound disappointing. The idea of developing a keyword strategy and blog calendar may sound like a hassle… and maybe even a bit confusing. But they don’t need to be as complicated as they sound, and I’ll explain how they can keep you motivated, and on track to reap the rewards for blogging.
1) How to Develop a Content Plan for Your Private Practice Blog
Please don’t skip this step. Although, planning and strategy may sound like a drag at this point, if you’re serious about blogging, your planning and strategy is the glue that will keep you committed to writing. And planning it out is actually pretty simple to begin with. It might even get you more inspired. And, I’ll walk you through the steps so you know exactly what to do.
Brainstorm Content Ideas
Okay, pick your poison – open a word doc or snag a pad and pencil. You’re going to make a list and answer all of the following questions.
- What Are Your Specialties?
Are there specific counseling approaches you’re known for, or common conditions you get referrals for? Along those same lines, what do you want to be known for? What conditions do you want to treat? Is it Autism? Post-traumatic stress? You name it. Write it down.
- Are there any similarities between your current patients?
Think about the typical client who calls you or client you work with. Are there similarities? Maybe it’s young women in their 30s who are dealing with stress. Maybe it’s concerned parents who call you in regards to their adolescent boys who they can’t pry away from video games. For instance, I had a client I was working with who realized he was getting a lot of calls from mothers in regards to their sons transition from high school to college. Who are these people for you? Write them down.
- What are the most common questions you get?
There must be some questions you routinely hear from clients, or even non-clients. What in general are the questions people are asking you. Maybe it’s even friends who are curious about the work you do. Or maybe it’s questions or even misconceptions you’re aware of in society. For instance, maybe you work with autistic clients. A question for some people may be “what’s the difference between autism and aspergers?”. Whatever the questions are, write them down.
- What are some topics in your field that you are passionate about?
Maybe you read a recent research study that you thought was groundbreaking… or even just intriguing. Or, maybe you read an article that got you fired up and annoyed. If they relate to your practice write them down.
Next, you’re going to do some research to build on the ideas you brainstormed above.
Perform Keyword Research
I contemplated leaving this part out to leave it for a later blog post, but I decided it’s worth touching on here. Why did I almost leave it out? Because some people get carried away or confused with keyword research, and I don’t want that to be you.
Let me reiterate that the the most important thing at this time is developing a list of topics, and committing to writing. With that said, keyword research can help inform you of what to write about. It helps you discover the questions people are asking, and how they’re asking them. Equipped with that information you can then orient your writing toward answering these questions, and serving the needs of people in your target audience. Let’s say for instance you’re a therapist who specializes in Autism, and so you want to begin writing blog posts about Autism to help reach and serve this population. Furthermore, let’s say you’re interested in helping adults with autism. You could just take a stab in the dark to start writing posts that you think people are interested in. But a better approach might be to actually identify what topics people are actually searching for related to “adult autism”. By performing some simple keyword research you might then discover that people are often searching for “adult onset autism”, or asking “can you develop autism later in life?” You then can write targeted posts to help these people find the information they’re looking for. That means you’re time spent writing a blog post is better spent because you orient it toward a topic you know people are looking for.
We could get lost discussing keyword research forever, but we don’t need to overthink it or over discuss it here. There’s two places I’d suggest you start for gathering keyword research at this time:
- Google Suggested Search
This is simple. You know when you start typing a search phrase into the Google search box, and it begins suggesting some auto-completed phrases? Well, take some of your brainstormed topics from above and begin typing them in and see what Google begins to suggest. With Autism as the example again, you might start with “Adult autism”, and then write down what suggestions are provided. You can also try doing a search for your brainstormed topics, and then when the results are delivered, scroll to the bottom of the search results page. At the bottom Google provides “Searches related to google suggested search”. Note those suggestions down into your list.
- Google Adwords Keyword Tool – This method is slightly more complicated but it’s still fairly simple. The keyword planner tool is meant to help Google’s Adwords customers identify the right keywords to bid on and show ads on. But you don’t have to use Adwords in order to use the tool. It’s free to anyone. Simply enter a few of your topic keywords and brainstorming topics from above and Google will return a list of related keywords that people search for plus some data on how frequently people search for each keyword phrase. If this is confusing at all, just hold tight and I’ll be adding a post with more detail on how to use Google’s keyword planner.
When it comes to keywords, don’t overthink it. The most important part of performing keyword research to help you discover what people are looking for so you can develop content that specifically addresses what they’re looking for. Too often people perform keyword research and then try to stuff keywords into their website hoping it will bring them a landfall of customers. Nope. If you just stuff keywords into your website and don’t actually create valuable content that’s relevant to those keywords… no bueno. Anyone remember what websites were like in the 1990s? Yeah, they all had keywords stuffed in at the bottom of the pages. And usually they had not content related to those keywords, and that made you angry if your were the user. That doesn’t work anymore… and even if it did, would you really want to be that dude?
2) How to Plan Out Your Blog Calendar/Schedule
Okay, this planning stage is critical because it’s going to keep you committed. And you can’t have success without commitment.
Writing out a calendar isn’t really too fun, but if once you’ve done all of the brain storming and research above this part will be a cinch. I prefer to do this in Excel, but feel free to use word or write it out by hand on your calendar if you prefer.
In the top row of Excel I then create a column for each of the following:
- Blog Due Date: The due date by which each post will need to be done and then posted to your website.
- Topic: Here I put a rough title… maybe this is “Autism in Adulthood”
- Keywords: Just include a few of the relevant keywords here that you found in your research above. One main one, and two to three others are perfect.
Simple, right? I suggest setting the first blog due date about 1 – 2 weeks from when you create the calendar and plan. Then set the due date for each other post in one week increments, so that you’re writing one new post a week. If you’re calendar has about 10 subjects on it, you’re golden. That will keep you planned for at least 2 months, and you can always adjust the chosen topics on your schedule as you come up with other ideas. The important part is that you have a plan in place, and deadlines to get you started.
Now, it’s time to commit.
3) Commit to Writing One Article Per Week
This is important. In order to develop content for your site and to develop your writing ability, you need to commit. All the planning and research laid out before is there to help you with actually committing. All you have to do is follow that game plan. And, here’s something to keep in mind along the way – Perfection is Your Enemy. At this stage, it’s common to become overly critical of your writing and overly perfectionist. But guess what happens with that…. yup, you get off your schedule and you miss deadlines. At this point, that calendar is your compass. Stay committed to it and tell yourself that good enough is better than nothing…because I assure you that it is.
No matter what you write can be edited, updated, and changed in the future. That’s the beauty of publishing online. Nothing goes to the presses – when you hit publish it’s not to late to make changes. So, again I urge you to follow your calendar and commit to writing each of your articles once a week. If you do, your writing will improve, and your website traffic will steadily begin to rise.
- Install Google Analytics Before you Launch your First Blog
- Commit to blogging for Three Months, and Don’t look at your traffic until 3 months is up
Google Analytics allows you to track traffic to your site, and to specific pages. So, if you install it on your site and then commit to your blog schedule for three months and revisit your analytics when that time is up… you may pleasantly be rewarded.
Make sense? Have questions? Let me know in the comments…