From Vanilla to Chunky Monkey: Tools to Sweeten Up Your Content
Reading time: 8 minutes - but it's worth it!
Are you writing blog posts that (almost) nobody is reading? Are you spending hours writing the ultimate post for your startup and the only people reading or sharing it are your boss, your colleague and your parents?
Ever wondered why?
Because your content is boring.
Sorry, but it’s true…..
Get this: There are over 2 million blog posts being written every single day. That means that the challenge isn’t writing a blog, it’s writing a blog that someone is actually going to read. It needs to be relevant, timely, colourful and well presented. You may think you already know that, but high are chances that there are strategies and stages that you skipping over when creating your content. But do not fear. There are tools out there that can help you.
There are tools for almost everything these days and content writing and marketing is of course no exception. There is pretty much a tool (or ten) for each stage of your content writing process.
Here’s a list of some of your possible problems - the tasks you are probably forgetting to do when creating your content - and a list of tools that are available to help you solve them.
(Don’t be discouraged by the length of the list… we promise it's worth it - and we even added lots of pictures!)
Problem 1: You aren’t keeping up to date on what other people are reading
How on earth do you expect to write content people are going to want to read without first knowing what your audience is actually reading and liking?
Reddit: A must-have tool that allows you to see an overall snapshot of content themes your audience is reading and enjoying according to rankings. Rankings on Reddit are determined by a combination of “up” and “down” votes ( “thumbs up” if you like the content “thumbs down” if you don’t). By joining a subReddit group that corresponds to your startup’s target audience, you are able to grasp which themes you should be writing about to gain attention. Reddit is also a great place to post your blogs (but we aren’t quite there yet!)
Feedly: Feedly is pretty much a modern version of an RSS feed and helps you stay up to date on the latest industry news which is likely to influence the topics your readers care about. Create an account and subscribe to the best sources of inspiration - respected publications, blogs you love to follow and even your competitors. Feedly collates the headlines for you making it easier for you to scan the latest news for inspiration.
Cost: Free - but the pro plan will cost you $45.00 for the year.
Google Trends: Google Trends is a tool that allows you to compare the popularity of search terms to determine current ‘trends’ and areas of interest. You can filter your searches according to country, time frame or categories and it even delivers the information in easy-to-understand graphs and tables. What better way to monitor audiences than to track the behaviour of the entire internet?!
Buzzsumo: Once you’ve analyzed the general themes of interest for your readers, Buzzsumo helps you hone into a more specific topic. Buzzsumo tracks content on all social networking sites and ranks them based on the number of shares on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest. Once you know the general theme of your blog, type a few keywords into Buzzsumo and take a look at the specific discussions that are ‘hot right now’.
Cost: Buzzsumo starts from $99.00 a month BUT it will allow you can to make about 10 searches for free when browsing the website which can sometimes be all you need to get started.
Hubspot’s blog topic generator: If you are feeling really lazy or still finding it hard to think of a topic even after using all these tools, try Hubspot’s blog topic generator. Simply type in a few terms you may want to blog about and Hubspot will generate 5 blog ideas for you.
Problem 2: Your headline is boring
80% of people will read a headline, but only 20% of people will read the article. That’s a pretty disappointing statistic after you’ve worked hard to write something people will want to read. But it’s not all doom and gloom. A really good headline can spike your traffic by 500%. Creating a killer headline is key. Try to use emotional words, lists or the phrase ‘How to’ whenever possible in your headline. Once you have a title created you need to check if it works
CoSchedule - A super easy tool that lets you type in your blog post’s headline and will score your overall headline quality and rate its ability to result in social shares, increased traffic and SEO value.
Hot tips from research into headlines and corresponding click-through-rates:
- Don’t be too bossy - Headlines interpreted as pushy have a 20% lower CTR than ones without words like “must” or “need.”
- Magic Eight - Headlines with 8 words performed best with a 21% higher CTR
- Punctuate - Headlines with a colon or hyphen perform 9% better than headlines without
- Use negative superlatives - Headlines with words like “never” or “worst” have a 69% higher CTR than headlines with positive superlatives (“best,” “always”).
Problem 3: Your blog picture is just too ‘average’
How many times have you seen the set same images floating around internet blogs? If you want to stand out from the crowd you need to start using visuals that are a little more unique.
Canva - We love Canva. Why? It’s a super easy way to build your own image. You can upload your own or use what they have to offer. Canva also allows you to create an image based on the dimensions you need for a blog, facebook post, Tweet (the list continues). Choose the image colour and filter, add text or a call to action and you’re good to go.
Hot Tip: Have you noticed that Marketing Envy keep all our blog feature images within a certain theme - black and white with a dash of colour? It’s pretty edgy right? Consider using Canva to create your own ‘image theme’ for your blog…
Problem 4: Your blog looks like a maths quiz
Of course we all like reading blogs that back up their ideas with statistics - it adds necessary authority and positions your startup as an industry leader. BUT a list of numbers makes your content seem like too much effort to read hard to digest.
Easil.ly - If your content is full of statistics, numbers or instructions, why not try to make it a little more user friends by turning it into a inforgraphic? Or insert an inforgraphic inside your blog or white paper. This free web-based infographic tool offers a dozen free templates to start you off. Customize with fonts, text styles, sizes, colours and add extra visuals like arrows and shapes and you’ll create a work of art.
Cost: Free…. but be warned, your customization is still limited. A tool like Visual.ly can look more professional but will cost you $2,500 so it depends on your startup’s budget.
Fun Fact: Visual content is believed to increase engagement by 53%.
Problem 5: Your writing just made Hemmingway roll in his grave
Don’t even THINK about writing something that isn’t reader-friendly. Even the best content can become instantly worthless with poor spelling or awkward language structure.
Hemmingway - Aptly named, this tool scans your content and offers you advice on sentence structure, grammar and vocabulary. It’s pretty much like having another pair of eyes for proofreading. Color coding makes it easy to use and definitely worth trying.
Cost: $4.99 - quite cheap for the quality it offers.
Hot Tip: It’s not just about language and grammar, your blog needs to be structured in a way that makes it ‘readable.’
- Use subheadings - this makes it easier for your readers to scan and can also improve the SEO of your blog
- Use the right font - the perfect font size is 16px and the preferred style is Arial. Make sure that your blog text is a dark font on a pale background rather than the reverse.
- Use paragraphs - we all actually like a bit of white space! If your blog is one long ‘chunk’ of information nobody is going to read past the headline. Try to insert a new paragraph every 8-10 lines and keep each line about 75 characters long.
- Use visual editor - whether you have created your blog in WordPress, Tumblr or Posterous, take the time to experiment with the visual editor to make sure that your text is the right size, your headlines are the right colour and your images are in place.
- Use length - we suggest trying to get your blog as close to 2,000 words as you can manage if you want to rank in Google’s top 10 organic positions. That may sound daunting at first, but if you have researched your topic well, 2,000 words will just fly by.
So we have torn all your cherished (boring) blog posts apart and offered an olive branch list of tools to help you out.
But of course, this isn’t the end of it.
Now that you’ve created winning content, you are going to have to use a different set of tools to increase your readership, generate leads and actually gain some new customers from your content. In the meantime, we hope this helps you battle the boring to ensure Chunkey Monkey gains the prize.