- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On October 30, 2015
Research shows that blogs are a key component of content marketing but our research shows that only 40% of hospitals have a blog.
According to MarketingProfs, one of the main challenges in executing content marketing is consistently producing content and this is likely the reason so many hospitals do not have blogs. A solution to this production challenge is of course to get help writing your blog.
We’ve written hundreds of blog posts over the last few years both for ourselves and for our clients. To handle the volume we’ve used both a pool of staff writers and freelance bloggers. Through these hundreds of posts we’ve learned several secrets to making the blog writing process more efficient.
In this post we’ll share what we’ve learned so you can make producing content for your blog an easy process.
1. Develop categories first
Rather than trying to nail your blog post titles right off-the-bat, brainstorm the broad categories you want to write about.
If you like mind-maps like me this is a great place to use one. For example for our marketing blog I brainstormed a mind map of the top level areas marketing VPs at hospitals might like to know about, such as social media marketing, SEO, blogging and general business topics such as time management. Then I filled in sub categories for each area, such as local SEO and links.
2. Create working titles
Once you know the broad categories for your blog posts you can use a couple of tricks to come up with initial working titles.
Like most innovation you don’t need to start with a blank sheet. Find some other blogs, ebooks, books or magazines in your area and look at the titles they use. You can come up with your titles based on those you’ve seen. It’s mostly a matter of using synonyms.
For example, you can turn “7 secrets to making blog writing easy” into “How to produce blog posts consistently without stress” or “9 ways to make running a hospital blog a breeze.”
Another approach is to use a tool like Buzzsumo. Type in your category keywords (like “SEO”) and a couple of other words as modifiers (like “healthcare”) and you will see a list of popular posts in that area (popularity in Buzzsumo is calculated based on the number of social shares of that content). Take those titles and introduce synonyms and you will arrive at your own blog post titles (that are likely to be somewhat popular). You could also use Google in a similar manner (just without the popularity ranking).
Put your working titles in a spreadsheet and keep a link to any articles that you found that are on a similar subject (they can be useful inspiration for you and your blogger). This spreadsheet is the basis of your blog’s editorial calendar.
3. Get some blogs written
Now you have working titles for your blog posts you can send them to your freelance blogger(s).
For those of us that like control over the end product I suggest giving your blogger several bullet points to outline the contents of the post in addition to the title. Also give them the links to similar articles as reference. Finally, tell them what research or data must be included in the post (tip: try to include data in every post to back up your assertions).
People often ask how long a blog post should be. The real answer is “as long as it takes” but since that answer is a little unsatisfying we find our posts average out around the 500-word mark (note: this post is longer—around 1,150 words).
I suggest assigning several posts to your blogger at the same time. Most bloggers appreciate this as they often have other commitments and this way they can write your posts when they have the best opportunity. This is also a good approach for you. You will have several completed blog posts in “inventory” at any given time. If something goes awry with your blogger’s schedule, or yours, you will still be able to publish posts on time as you will have several completed posts on hand.
4. Edit posts
When you get your posts back from your blogger you need to edit them. Rule: Never assume your posts are ready to be published without editing.
The amount of time you need to spend editing a post is a good indication of how good your blogger is. If you’re spending too much time editing your posts (more than approximately 15 minutes for a 500-word post,) then you probably need a new blogger.
5. Setup final posts
Once your post is edited you need to find a good photo—”readers” are very visual these days. Finding a good photo that matches your blog’s topic or key point can take a while.
Keep in mind images on the Internet are protected by copyright unless othwerwise stated. Find images on a stock site or make sure you are searching for images where the owner has waived copyright.
Study your post title and see if you can optimize it. The number of people that read a post is highly dependent on the title. Your post title should also include at least one of your keywords if you are trying to rank for SEO. The title of a blog post becomes the title of that web page on most content management systems (CMS). Web page titles are the most important spot for keywords.
6. Final check
Finally set up your post in your CMS system (for example WordPress).
You may need to format items like the subtitles in your post with the correct HTML tags (e.g. “heading 2” etc.) Other setup tasks can include adding more images to your post, checking the position and spacing of your featured image, inserting hyperlinks and adding a “read more” tag. Your CMS may need certain “meta data” such as author and a description that will show up in Google.
Once everything is finalized, preview your post and look for problems. You could have missed a text edit or some part of your formatting could be off (line spacing is a classic problem.)
Finally, I recommend having someone else on your team preview your post. If you read your own post too many times you become blind to problems. Bring in another pair of eyes and they will immediately find issues you missed on the last five reviews.
7. Schedule for publishing
Once you’re confident your post is clean, schedule it to be published. Most CMS systems are set to push your post to your social media accounts, which for most of us is a good time-saving move.
If you’d like to get more tips on setting up a great hospital blog, grab our free ebook. We looked at 375 hospital blogs and captured their secrets for you.