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Day One: How to Build a “Backbone” for Your Content Marketing

Posted By Guest Blogger 31st of January 2017 Writing Content 0 Comments

A System for Easily Publishing Consistently Great Content - Pamela Wilson on ProBlogger.net

This is part two in a series on Content Marketing Strategies from Pamela Wilson of Big Brand System.

On the first day of your content creation process, you’re going to choose your topic and create what I call the “backbone” of your post.

Need to review the 4 Day Content Creation System introduction? Read it here: A System for Easily Publishing Consistently Great Content.

Hopefully you already have a content idea library. It’s a concept I talk about in my book Master Content Marketing. It’s nothing fancy — just a place where you’ll consistently maintain a running list of content ideas that fit within the already-established categories on your website.

When you have a content idea library, you don’t have to spend time staring out the window, waiting for an idea to hit you — you have content ideas to draw from and can easily find something to write about.

With your content topic in hand, let’s create the backbone of your article, which consists of two parts: your headline, and your subheads.

Write Your Headline

Your headline is the most important promotional part of your content. Your headline is what gets people to click on your content and read it.

Spend plenty of time generating lots of headline ideas.

When I write headlines, I like to think of writing the first 10-20 headline ideas like clearing a clog in a pipe: once you get the “junk” ideas out of the way, the good ideas can flow. So don’t worry if your first attempts at headlines are dull, or clichéd, or boring. Just get them out of your system so the good stuff can flow through, and keep writing.

Writing great headlines becomes easier and more natural the more you do it, so keep at it. For more guidance on writing headlines, refer to the headlines chapter in this book.

Write Your Subheads

After you’ve written your headline, map out the subheads you’ll use in your article.

Subheads are like signposts that guide your reader through your content.

But they’re also signposts for you, the writer!

Writing subheads at this early stage of the game helps you to think through how you will present and develop the ideas you want to communicate in the piece.

If you’re aiming for around 1,500 words for your article, you could write five or six subheads.
For more on writing subheads, review the Subheads chapter in this book.

Day 1 Tips

Tools to use: I like to keep it simple, and I tend to do everything on my laptop. But because some people strongly prefer to interact with tangible objects like pen and paper, I’ll make recommendations for both.

My writing life changed for the better when I incorporated mind mapping tools into my process. Any mind mapping software will do: find one that looks good, seems easy to use, and fits your budget (many are free).

The reason I love mind maps so much is they allow me to get ideas out of my head quickly and easily, and move them into a format where I can work with them. My ideas don’t come to me in a linear or logical order (do yours?). I don’t fret about that — I just use the mind map to record them in whatever order they appear.

When I’m done thinking, I begin moving things around on the mind map to arrange them into an order that makes sense. As I move things, I notice gaps in my thinking, and I fill those in with more ideas.

In the end — once I have my ideas arranged — I can see what subheads are needed. Some of my main ideas can be lightly edited to turn into subheads.

If you prefer to work with tangible objects, you could use index cards or sticky notes. I have a friend who makes major decisions by standing in front of a window with a pad of square sticky notes, jotting down short concepts with a marker and sticking the notes to the window, moving them around and grouping them together until she can see what she needs to do.

Some people swear by a combination of colored and white index cards arranged on a table top. Remember, you’re just jotting down main ideas at this stage, so don’t feel like you need to fill the lines on your index cards if you use them. Jot a concept across the top and that’s it.

Use whatever system works best for you. Remember, the magic isn’t in the tools you use — it’s in what you do with them. So don’t get hung up on trying a bunch of different tools or techniques: find one that works and stick with it.

Once you’ve finished writing a compelling headline and strong subheads, you are done with Day 1.

Walk away and go about the rest of your day. Your mind will continue to work on the content — you may get ideas about it when you’re working on completely unrelated tasks. Find a way to save those ideas: you’ll need them for the next day’s work.

Here’s the sneaky thing about your Day 1 tasks: by the time you finish, what you’ve created is an outline of your article. But since most of us are still recovering from having to generate outlines for our term papers in English class, we won’t call it an outline. Instead, think about it as the backbone of your content.

You’ve created the main structure you’ll hang the rest of your content on. It’s the foundation of your article. Good job!

Pamela Wilson is a 30-year marketing veteran and is the author of Master Content Marketing: A Simple Strategy to Cure the Blank Page Blues and Attract a Profitable Audience. Find more from Pamela at Big Brand System.

*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

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Comments
  1. Hey Pamela,

    The backbone of the article is the headlines. People neglect its power. Many studies have shown that the percentage of the people who decide whether they read the content or not is based on the headline.

    If it’s catchy, you’re on. Otherwise not.

    After start writing, the next step is to craft the compelling sub-headings which add the value in the content.

    Sometimes, I use headline generators which give me some idea.

    Thanks for sharing with us.
    ~Ravi

    • It’s so true!

      I believe headlines are important on the page, but their most important job is to serve as ambassadors for your content on social media and in your email marketing.

      If they don’t work, they won’t get clicked, and your content won’t be consumed.

      Any time you spend developing strong headlines (and subheads) is a good investment.

  2. Hi there, I really liked your article – that’s for sharing your wisdom. It’s a vital point you are making here about writing headlines and subheadlines. Most people neglect them totally while very often they decide whether a person reads the whole article /or shares it with others. Spending enough time on making headlines and subseadlines perfect will bear fruit to everyone who does it. Greets!

  3. Hi Pamela,

    Thanks for the article. I always have trouble with my headlines – sometimes they’re too long, or don’t grab peoples attention. I like the idea of “clearing the pipe” and getting all the junk ideas out of the way to find a perfect headline.

    • Sam, the first headline ideas are usually pretty boring … but until you write them down, they’re in the way of the good ideas that are behind them. :-)

  4. Nice article I really like your way to define how to use heading and subheading.

    Thank you very much for sharing…keep it up.

  5. In my short blogging career I also look for a catchy & relevant headline for my article. It’s not only help my blog grow but people visit my blog to get this kind of sauce & believe me It works all the time. I got some new points to learn today by reading your article. Thanks for sharing with us. I get bookmarked your article as well & love it :)

  6. Hey Pamela,

    Interesting headline of your blog post have potential to go viral in web smoothly. A catchy title or compelling headline can make a huge difference to whether a content-saturated audience is going to stop at your post.

    Google searches are becoming more about conversations and intent, and this is absolutely the case for your headlines, as well.

    The more creative and fascinating you are with your headline copy, the more likely your potential customers are going to want to read what you have to say or look into what you have to sell. Eventually, thanks for sharing your healthy experience with us.

    With best regards,

    Amar kumar

  7. Hi Pamela,

    Thank you for this interesting article. Can you pleases tell us more how do you decide what are the best subjects to write about in your next blog post? I keep writing but find it difficult to choose the best subjects which can interest my blog readers. Thank you for your suggestions.

    Renata

    • Hi Renata,

      I know this subject is difficult — as a matter of fact, it’s going to be the subject of my next book. :-)

      Depending on where you are in your blogging journey, there are different approaches you can try.

      In the early days, try writing about the topic you most want to be known for, approaching it from different angles.

      After you’ve written some articles, you’ll have information to work with. You can see which articles got the most comments, shares, and traffic (in your analytics).

      Use this information to help guide you toward new topics — or approaches to topics — that your readers are responding to.

      Also, watch your comments carefully. Your readers will ask questions, share frustrations, request clarification. These make great topics, too!

      Answer questions, help them with what’s frustrating them, write a new article to clarify something that was unclear.

      I hope this helps. Good luck!

      • Hi Pamela,

        Thank you very much for your reply to my question. I am glad to hear you will be writing more about it in your next blog post. For now my blog is so new that I even don’t have anybody commenting there yet. I see more and more people visit it and like some of my posts. What I have noticed is that some of my blogs post get many more views, and as you have noticed yourself, it seems to depend on the day and time of the week. I will try to publish my next articles at the most popular time of the week and see what happens. Still it is not helping me much in deciding what to write about.

        I look forward to reading your next blog post and thank you very much for your help.

  8. Nice article. Also, would it be useful when writing a series of posts, to have links taking you up through the series and back down? I am just starting out and would appreciate your thoughts on this.

  9. Hey Pamela Wilson,
    Initially i too got stuck up on Title and Headings, i got ranked on SERP but failed to make it click. after some case studies changed it to some attractive title and added description too. now getting clicks from those pages. CTR improved little bit even some of my pages ranked on 0th result aka featured results.

    Kind Regards