What “location location, location” is to real estate, “content, content, content” is to freelance blogging.
Whether you are new or a pro, content drives what you do, the frequency in which you do it, and the likelihood of your writing leading to the desired results (to inform, persuade, educate, etc.).
Yet, content generation can be one of the most difficult things about freelance blogging. How do you come up with meta ideas? How do you know if an audience will vibe with your content? How do you produce original content?
These questions often swirled around in my head when I first started, but as I transitioned from sticking my big toe in the water to diving right in, I learned that when it comes to content development, you are in control and it’s not as daunting as it may seem and here’s why:
Great readers make for great bloggers
I am a reader by nature, but once I started blogging, I shifted from being a reader to being a reading scout. Just as NBA scouts will study potential college players to determine if they are a ‘fit’, a reading scout will peruse the internet and print outlets looking for great stories and topics to explore. I often find that some of my topic ideas are the direct result of something that piqued my interest even if my original intent was not to write about that subject.
I keep a folder titled “Use Later” and it’s filled with various topics that I have uncovered while scouting. Because I write for different outlets, the folder is comprised of a myriad of incongruent topics that I can draw from when, or if, I need to—hence, it is a savings account.
Alternate Between Evergreen Content and Current Events
One of the biggest mistakes that I made when I first started blogging was writing, almost exclusively, about current events. Something interesting would happen in the news and I would try to get a blog post out that same day or the next day at the latest. This proved to be taxing and writing started to feel more like a chore than something I thoroughly enjoyed.
I realized that the urgency and interest in current event blogs often dissipated within hours of my uploading them. So I started to focus more on what some bloggers call evergreen topics—or topics that are timeless. These topics are still viable months and even years after they are written.
For example, two years ago, I wrote a blog about how WWI served as a political springboard for the Harlem Renaissance. The blog was written for informative purposes, and although it was about a specific historic moment, the facts are immutable. I just reposted the blog on social media last month. And I will probably share it again on social media in a few months. Why? Because the content is still relevant even though I did not write it recently.
In essence, evergreen content can be ageless; as such, a blogger can get more traction out of it, especially when sharing it on various social media platforms.
This does not mean that current events should be off limits for content generation; instead, I recommend that you focus on a nice balance between the two depending on who you are writing for and why.
Pick Interesting Titles and Pictures
When we think about blog content, we may only think about the written text, but that’s a misstep. The title of your blog and the picture will probably be two of the first things that potential readers encounter. In fact, they may be the determining factors if someone will even click the link to read your content.
Because these two carry so much weight, it is tempting to engage in what is called ‘click-bait’ where the heading and even the picture are intentionally misleading, salacious, and/or controversial because they will seduce the reader into clicking the link, only for him/her to find out that the actual written content is about something else or that it is not aligned to the title.
I strongly recommend that you do not sacrifice quality or your ethical responsibility to the reader just to get reads. Instead, pick titles that capture what the blog is about. A thoughtful and informed reader will decide if they want to read further.
Lastly, if you plan to blog frequently and you have editorial control over the images, it may be worth your while to purchase a membership to a stock image platform.
If you are committed to launching a career as a freelance blogger (or writer), make sure that once you have a firm grasp on how to generate and maintain your content, you engage in another c word that is equally as important and that’s consistency.