I learned the hard way that, while content is still king, good writing is only half the battle won. A witty, entertaining, and well-told blog post won’t automatically result in a flurry of traffic to your website (apparently the “if you build it, they will come” theory only applies in baseball movies – who knew?).
A lack of engagement and sharing of my content woke me up to this reality, so nowadays I don’t write a thing before I’ve answered this one question:
What Is the Purpose of This Blog Post?
Whether it’s to rank for a specific keyword, showcase someone in our company as an industry expert, or provide a template answer to a question asked repeatedly by clients, only once I’m crystal clear on the piece’s purpose will I move ahead with it.
What Exactly Is Purpose?
This is your “why”– your reason for producing a piece of content in the first place. Ideas, facts, and tidbits of interesting information are all well and good, but without a solid “why” underpinning them, they become nothing more than white noise.
If you’re writing a novel, your purpose is to entertain, to weave a good enough yarn that you take your readers down the rabbit hole into another world and keep them there until the very last word.
If you’re writing for inbound marketing, your purpose is to generate new leads that convert into paying customers. This should always be top of mind, but should never be obvious to the reader. Think of it as your long game.
The blog posts you write – along with whatever other content you generate – facilitate that. They’re the plays (to continue with our sports metaphor) that, if well executed, will win you the game.
Each blog post needs its own purpose. A rock solid reason for existence that extends beyond a writer’s desire to fill their article quota.
Why Is It so Important?
You have to remember: people are busy. We live in a permanently “on” world, and we have all kinds of information rushing at us like freight trains all the time. There’s only so much we can process, so we’ve become hyper-selective about what we’ll actually take on board.
If you’re going to go through the trouble of creating a piece of content, then you’d better make damn sure it counts. If you’re fortunate enough to get someone to read what you’ve written, you need to leave them with a takeaway beyond, “Okay that was interesting, but so what?”
Developing Ideas and Writing Content with Purpose
Check in with your team to see what sorts of issues keep cropping up on their radars. If they’re finding that prospective customers are always asking the same question, then writing a blog post to answer it definitely checks the purpose box. Plus, sharing a link to your post with the prospect is way easier than writing the same answer over and over again.
Goals are also a great place to mine for purpose ideas. Are you trying to generate X number of new leads by Y date? Have you written an ebook and want to get more downloads? Brainstorm some angles that correlate with these goals – and off you go.
In the beginning, it might be a little tricky to come up with a really good purpose for each piece of content. You may even feel tempted to skip this step, particularly when you know you have a great idea.
Don’t. Without a solid “why” to back it up, a good piece of writing is like a decadent slice of cake without icing. What’s the point?>