When I first started writing blog articles, everyone seemed to be giving the same advice:
1) You need to publish search-optimized content to get traffic from search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
2) And you’d better do it consistently so that your subscribers know what to expect from you (and so you can keep up the momentum).
So, write SEO’d articles and publish consistently. This sounds straight-forward, right?
Maybe. If you’re a robot.
Who knows, maybe I’m just lazy. But I’ll tell you now that I’ve tried it, and not only is this often a recipe for burnout, but it can also be a waste of time.
? Search-optimized content is important, but it can be overwhelming to the point where it keeps you from writing anything at all.
? And consistency is important, but not always—and not as much as you might think.
If you’ve decided that a blog is a key part of your marketing strategy, then you’ll need to find the right balance between consistency and search-optimization to keep it up for the long haul.
Today, I’m sharing my recipe for the right blog mix based on your stage of business. Here’s how to build your content without burnout:
Stage 1: Making blog writing a habit
As a new blog writer, your focus should be on throwing all that word spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks.
This means trying out a wide variety of posts. Short ones, long ones, opinions, well-researched how-to’s—whatever you think your audience might find valuable or interesting.
At this early stage, consistency IS key. Publish at least once a week if you can. Once every other week if absolutely necessary. Sound hard? It might be at first, but with a bit of practice, you’ll be able to generate a short blog post in just an hour or two.
Promote every article on social media and email it out to your email list—even if that list is just 5 people. Start the habit now.
Then, pay attention to what your readers seem to like. Track your marketing efforts. Even with a small audience of maybe friends and some past clients, do any seem to catch more attention than others? Why do you think that is?
The goal of this stage is to:
- Get more comfortable with writing regularly, and
- Learn how to write better articles.
When to move to the next stage
Over a few months, you’ll start getting better at writing things that catch and hold your readers’ attention. You might even notice a post or two bringing in some traffic from Google without any conscious SEO efforts on your part.
But the real test? You’ll know you’re on the right track when people leave thoughtful responses on your content. Not just “likes” on your social media posts—but instead, look for email replies, social media comments, and comments at the bottom of your posts (if you have comments enabled).
Stage 2: Optimizing for good ol’ Google
SEO: At least 1 out of every 4
Consistency: Still high (but SEO is more important)
With a healthy repository of published posts and signs that your readers are pickin’ up what you’re puttin’ down, you’re ready to start putting some more effort into the quality of your posts.
Don’t get me wrong—stage one required quality, too. But now it’s about turning some of those regular ol’ posts into highly valuable resources.
So continue publishing once a week if possible. Or if you need to, you can slow to once every other week. This will slow your growth, but again—it’s a long game. It’s better to do things slowly that you’ll be able to keep up for the long haul.
Now, start optimizing some of your articles for search. Ideally, you’d optimize every article, of course. But start at going for just 1 out of every 4—remember, we’re going for sustainable action here. Once you have a good grasp of how to optimize well, increase the frequency.
There are plenty of other resources on the topic of SEO, and if blogging is your long-term game, you’ll want to spend some time researching it.
But in general, I like to focus on two key areas: First, doing keyword research, and using those keywords naturally throughout your article. Then, making sure you’re writing comprehensively. If your article is about “How to train an old dog to lie down,” you might include sections on “Treat training” “Clicker training” and “Training problems with older dogs.”
You can even go back and optimize some of your past posts. This is great to do with posts that got some good initial response, but could be fleshed out with more information. If you make significant changes (like adding new sections of content), you could even re-promote it to your list as “newly updated!”
(If you haven’t added an email subscribe form to the bottom of your posts yet, you’ll also need to do that in this stage.)
When to move to the next stage
At some point, you’ll notice that:
1) Some of your old posts are getting traffic from Google month after month without you having to do anything, and
2) Some of those visitors are converting to subscribers without you having to do anything.
This will happen faster as you get better at optimizing your articles.
Stage 3: Riding the passive growth wave
SEO: As much as possible
At this point, you can begin slowing down. I mean, technically you can slow down at any point. But now you can do it with less of an impact.
You’ve done the work of building a body of content, and at last, some of it is actually working without you having to touch it. Now, every piece you write from here on out will just continue feeding that engine. Your growth will increase exponentially (though still slowly) as your website becomes more favored by Google.
Take the time to write great content. Increase your frequency of search-optimized articles so you’re turning out more winners.
I recommend still sticking to some kind of a regular schedule. But it could be further apart than before—every other week, or once a month. Just remember to continue emailing your list at least every other week, regardless of whether you have a blog post or not, to keep them engaged.
Now, let’s answer some common questions:
Do you have to publish consistently on the same day every week?
If you want to be a perfectionist, sure. Publishing on the same day makes you appear more professional and committed to your work.
If you want to do a good job but you can’t bring yourself to be 100% consistent, I say it’s okay to publish on different days sometimes. You’re still posting and building volume, and that’s the important part.
The key is not to stop. If you find yourself skipping weeks, consider setting a rule for yourself: If you skipped posting last week, you MUST post something this week.
If you don’t have a blog post to publish, should you still email your list?
Yes. Although your blog publishing schedule might vary, your emailing habits shouldn’t.
If you don’t have a blog post to promote to your list, still write up something small and valuable. This could be 200 words that teaches them something about your area of expertise. It could be promoting an older blog post and talking about why it’s relevant today. You could share a resource you’ve found, or record a quick video on Loom that teaches them how to do something.
I like to try to keep to a once-a-week email. This has varied over the years (I’m far from perfect!), but this ensures my readers never go too long without getting something valuable from me.
Do you need a different opt-in incentive for every blog post?
Some people like to create downloadable freebies for each blog post. These opt-in incentives work well because they’re perfectly focused on what the reader is interested in at that moment. I’ve done this with my about pages article, for example, with a downloadable worksheet on about pages specifically.
But doing a new one for every post is definitely a ton of work. My suggestion? Have one main opt-in incentive that you use on every post. Make sure it’s related to your paid services in some way, and it’s really valuable for your target audience. Then, if you have one super-optimized article that’s getting a lot of Google traffic, add a custom opt-in to that post specifically to increase your conversions.
What questions do you have?
Leave them below. I’m happy to help!