I hate to say it, but at least 95 percent of business blogs are absolute crap. In some cases, these sites fail because they’re rarely updated, but most of the time, the Achilles heel most business bloggers face is developing content that’s actually interesting to their audiences.
Your customers don’t want to read press release after press release, and they won’t give their attention to articles that read like incognito sales pitches. What they want is what blogger Corbett Barr has described as “epic s***” – content that “makes people think, inspires them, changes lives, creates value and blows people away with your usefulness.”
If you aren’t yet hitting these heights, any of the following ideas can help take your business blog from ordinary to epic:
1. Radical transparency. Want to really blow people away? Give them your secrets! The idea of radical transparency is often used on financial posts, in which business owners or individuals talk about their income, their outstanding debts or other interesting monetary tidbits (as in the case of Pat Flynn’s income reports on his “Smart Passive Income” website).
Even if you don’t want to give away your financial info, you can adopt this same “open door” approach by going in-depth on a recent corporate decision or process. It can be scary to open yourself up in this way, but it’s a guaranteed approach to help readers connect with your business on a deeper level.
2. A complete “how-to.” “How-to” posts are always mentioned on lists of recommended blog post formats because readers really respond to them. But how often have you clicked on a “how-to” post, only to discover a sparse list of bullet points that doesn’t leave you any more educated than you were before you arrived on the site?
If you want to really make your mark, make your posts so epic that people walk away with a complete understanding of the process you’re trying to teach (as in the case of the lengthy “How To Use Goodreads” tutorial pictured above). Using a combination of words, images and video files so that any reader can put the steps you’re describing into action is an easy way to generate blog interest.
3. Massive list posts. Again, list posts are a popular blog post format because they do tend to capture more attention than other structures. But that said, it’s getting harder and harder to stand out with lists of five to 10 items. Want to be truly epic? Create a massive list post with around 100 entries (or even more, if you’re feeling ambitious). Check out the following links for great examples of these types of posts:
- “101 Motivational Business Quotes”
- “The Entrepreneur’s Handbook: 101 Resources for First Time Entrepreneurs”
- “84 Styles to Workout Without Any Equipment”
4. Explore a hard truth. There’s so much BS online that readers are sick of it. Despite your spin team’s best efforts, most people know when they’re getting the whitewashed “truth” rather than the real deal.
For this reason, one of the easiest ways out there to gain attention with epic blog content is to explore a hard truth. As an example, check out Common Health’s controversial post, “Why I Quit Medicine.” It isn’t always fun to be so blatantly honest, but your readers will absolutely love you for keeping things real.
5. Long-form thought pieces. To be perfectly clear, “epic” posts don’t have to be long. If you can blow me away with a new idea or a different way of looking at the world in just a few paragraphs, that counts as “epic” in my mind.
But that said, you need to be aware of how well long-form pieces can perform. The State of Digital blog has observed correlations between content length and lower bounce rates, higher engagement rates and longer average time on site. It’s clear that readers want more content — and it’s up to you to give it to them!
6. Original research. If you truly want to stand out, you’ve got to bring something new to the table. Rehashing the same facts and statistics that are cited over and over again online might provide some value to your readers, but it doesn’t set your business blog apart from others in any kind of meaningful way.
To engage your readers (and boost your blog’s social shares), consider conducting your own original research. Depending on your budget, you can do so using online survey companies, agencies that conduct telephone surveys or even market research firms that orchestrate in-person focus groups. Not only does publishing the results of your work on your blog lead to epic content, it improves your small business’s overall perceived authority and brand recognition within your industry.