If you want your blog to be a success, you need to stop writing blog posts which have no purpose! In this article I explain why every blog post should have a purpose… and how to go about deciding what that purpose is!
As bloggers, writing blog posts is something we do all the time – it’s the bread and butter of blogging!!
If you are a conscientious blogger, no doubt you plan each post carefully, structure it well, edit it to within an inch of its life and make sure the SEO is spot on too… but in your blog writing process, have you ever stopped to think what the PURPOSE of your blog post is?
When you write a blog post, do you consider WHY you are writing that post? And, more specifically, how that post is contributing to the goals you’ve set for yourself?
The truth is, that if you truly want your blog to be successful, every blog post you write should have a purpose – because every blog post should take you one step towards fulfilling your blogging goals.
Why every blog post should have a purpose
1. To help you achieve your goals
If you want your blog to be successful, whatever success looks like to you, you need to set goals for your blog. Without goals, broken down into action steps, you are unlikely to ever achieve your blogging dreams!
It’s often said that ‘failure to plan is planning to fail’ and this is very much true of blogging. Without determining what you want to achieve out of blogging, and then working backwards from that point to the specific actions you need to take, you will almost certainly end up wasting your time doing the wrong things. And that includes writing the wrong blog posts.
To take an extreme example… Let’s say your ultimate aim is to make enough money from blogging to quit your 9 to 5… but you never actually stop to think about HOW you will make any money… as a result, you are unlikely to write blog posts to support that aim, and therefore unlikely to ever make any money from blogging!
READ MORE >>> Goal setting for bloggers
READ MORE >>> How to turn your blogging dreams into an actionable plan
2. To grow your blog traffic
For most of us, one of the key aims of our blogging activities is to increase blog traffic… and it’s true that writing blog posts will help to achieve that aim… (though, of course, regular promotion of those blog posts is also vitally important!) However, you will only achieve that aim if you write the right blog posts, and if you have a purpose for each blog post – you need to ask of each blog post, ‘how will this blog post grow my blog traffic?’.
A good example here would be a blog post that you have written after careful keyword research – from that research you KNOW that the blog post you are planning on writing has a reasonably high search volumes, low levels of competition and fits your niche. You know a blog post like that is likely to drive good search engine traffic and so grow your blog.
3. To make (more) money
For many bloggers, the ultimate reason why they blog is to make money… for some it’s a few pennies on the side… for others, the goal is to earn enough money to quit their full time job… for others they want to earn a 6 (or even 7) figure salary.
But wishing and hoping your blog would make (more) money will not make that money happen by magic. You first need to work out HOW you plan to make money with your blog, and then figure out the steps you need to get there.
The final bit of the jigsaw is to make sure each and every blog post contributes to that aim… it may be subtle (growing traffic or building your email list), or it may be overt (driving traffic to an affiliate link or encouraging sales of your latest product)
4. To use your time more efficiently
Ensuring each and every post has a purpose and works towards fulfilling your blogging goals will ultimately save you time. Why? Because you are not creating all those other posts that serve no real purpose (or worse… confuse your message!) Put another way, this means that you can actually write fewer blog posts, but have a more successful blog!
For example, if your ultimate aim is to earn money through ads, then the main purpose of the majority of your blog posts will be to increase your traffic… If you do careful keyword research for each post, you could write half the number of posts but yet have much more traffic, than if you wrote twice as many posts without any keyword research.
Or let’s say your aim is to earn money through affiliate links… you are likely to have much more success with that if you write each post with the express purpose of ‘selling’ (albeit subtly) one of your affiliate products, than if you took a less purposeful, more scattergun approach…
5. To delight your readers
Of course, you must not forget your readers! There’s no way you will have a successful blog unless you keep your readers front and centre in your mind as you write. As well as having a purpose for yourself (how will this blog post grow my blog / earn me more money etc.) you should also have your reader’s purposes in mind to… how will this blog post help THEM?
One of the key purposes for blog posts is to delight you readers – help them with their problems, teach them how to do things, help them connect with you and with each other and build your blog’s community – that is something none of us bloggers should ever forget!
10 possible purposes for your next blog post…
So hopefully you are with me on the need for each blog post to have a purpose… But so far this is all a bit theoretical. What kind of purposes could a blog post have? Here are 10 possible purposes for your next blog post… (and this list is by no means exhaustive!)
1. To grow your blog traffic (SEO)
Here the aim of the blog post is to grow your search engine traffic. You do this by using keyword research to identify blog post topics in your niche which have a reasonably high search volume (lots of people are searching for that keyword), but low competition (not many good results come up when you search for this keyword) and by optimising your blog post for that keyword.
For more about keyword research, read A beginner’s guide to keyword research for bloggers
For more about optimising your blog posts for keywords, read How to use the Yoast plugin to grow your blog
2. To grow your blog traffic (social media/Pinterest)
Here the aim is to grow your blog by writing a post you think will do well on social media and/or Pinterest. There are some topics which may well not be great from an SEO perspective (e.g. low search volumes, high competition) but which you judge would work really well with your social media followers or on Pinterest. Not only will writing a post like this help grow your blog traffic, but it should also help to grow your social media following too.
3. To grow your email list
Another really great purpose for a blog post, and one which often gets overlooked, is to grow your email list. This usually involves writing a blog post where the blog post leads naturally towards an opt-in offer. This is a free gift which you offer as in return for joining your email list.
Often, I see email sign up boxes added as an afterthought, or opt-in offers which have no connection with the subject of the blog post. It stands to reason that this kind of approach will be far less successful than a blog post written with the express purpose of encouraging readers to become subscribers and a targeted opt-in offer (often called a content upgrade), which ties into the subject of the blog post!
A good example of this would be my blog post on How to use Google Analytics where I explain how bloggers can get the most out of Google Analytics and then offer a free Google Analytics dashboard as an incentive to join my email list.
4. To establish your authority/credibility
Another really important purpose! Here the aim is not to call your readers to a specific action, but rather to establish your authority and credibility in your niche – to encourage your readers to know, like and trust you. This is important for three reasons…
Firstly, the better you establish your authority and credibility, the more likely people will buy from you (or whatever action you’d like them to take).
Secondly, establishing your authority is important for SEO – search engines these days want to send their users to reliable trustworthy websites. The more you build up your EAT (Experience, Authority, Trustworthiness), the more traffic search engines will send to you (for more on EAT see my SEO Jargon Buster)
Thirdly, if you write an authoritative piece on a topic in your niche, other bloggers are more likely to link to you, which will also help your SEO.
5. To promote an affiliate product
Here the aim is to ‘sell’ an affiliate product. This doesn’t necessarily mean a hard sell! It could be a tutorial about how to use the product (e.g. my tutorial on how to use ConvertKit), a helpful list post which includes lots of affiliate links naturally (e.g. my post on the best blogging tools to increase productivity and traffic) or a post which makes your readers realise they have a problem which needs solving… that just so happens to be solved by your affiliate product!
6. To sell a product or service you offer
Again, this doesn’t have to be a hard sell – it could be a blog post introducing or explaining your product or service (for example, my post on SEO Jumpstart), a helpful ‘how to’ post, where you offer your product or service as a time saver or shortcut (e.g. a post all about how to grow your Pinterest traffic, which naturally leads into a pitch for your Pinterest VA services), a list post where your product is just one of the options (e.g. a post on 10 ways to lose weight fast – one of which is buy your meal plan!) or an FAQ post about your product/service.
7. To fulfil your obligations to a sponsor
Of course, if you have been commissioned to write a sponsored post, then the primary purpose for that post will be to fulfil your obligations to your sponsor!
8. To delight your readers
I mentioned above that it’s really important to not forget your readers! Whilst your main aim for a blog post might be to sell a product or build your email list, you won’t succeed in that main aim if you don’t also make sure that the blog post helps your readers in some way.
And whilst most of your blog posts should also have a purpose above and beyond delighting your readers, it makes for a better blog if sometimes you write posts which are simply because you know your readers will love it!
I do this fairly frequently on Productive Blogging – every couple of months I do a call out to my email subscribers and / or my social media followers – for example in my Productive Blogging Community Facebook group asking what YOU want to read on my blog and I try to write as many of these as possible.
9. To fill in a gap
Sometimes a blog post just needs to be written because there’s a gap that needs filling!
For example, perhaps you have a jam blog and you have written about all sorts of jam, but never strawberry jam – it might not do terrifically well on search engines (because there is so much competition), but a jam blog without strawberry jam would be a bit odd!
10. To build cornerstone content
Cornerstone content is content that is long, authoritative and timeless – it’s the bedrock of your blog. Think along the lines of ‘An ultimate guide to X’, ‘A beginner’s guide to X’, or ‘Everything you need to know about X’.
Typically, you should have one or two cornerstone articles for each main category on your blog – for example, for my SEO Tips category, I have a cornerstone article called A beginner’s guide to SEO. In my Blog Content category, I have a cornerstone article about How to write the perfect blog post.
Cornerstone content is really important for SEO as it helps search engines understand your site better – in particular it helps search engines understand which are the most important posts on your blog.
Cornerstone content also helps you rank better for hard-to-rank search terms and helps establish your site as an authority in your niche.
READ MORE >>> How to use cornerstone content to increase blog traffic
How to decide the purpose of your next blog post?
Knowing that your blog post should have a purpose and having an idea of the types of purpose your blog post could have is all very well, but how do you decide what the purpose of your next blog post should be?
Well, to be able to answer that, I really need to take you back to your goal setting. Hopefully you have already done some goal setting work for your blog and have a good idea of what you are trying to achieve. The next step in the jigsaw is to decide what kinds of blog posts to write in order to achieve that aim.
Let’s say, for example, that through your goal setting process, you decided that you wanted to make money with your blog and that you wanted to make money through affiliate links. You would then research affiliate schemes to join – and maybe you select 6 of them.
You might then decide that over the next quarter you were going to write 6 blog posts – one for each affiliate scheme, not necessarily overtly ‘selling’ these products, but rather writing a post which was useful to your readers – e.g. a tutorial, a recipe or a ‘how to’ post, but that nevertheless gives you an opportunity to ‘sell’ that affiliate product to your readers.
You might then decide that you will write 3 blog posts where the main aim is to grow your blog through SEO (the logic being that the more traffic your blog gets, the more people will see your affiliate links and so the more potential sales) and 3 posts where the main aim is to grow your email list (the logic being that getting people on your email list will give you an opportunity to earn that ‘know, like and trust’ factor and also give you further opportunities to ‘sell’ your affiliate products.)
Of course, this is not an exact science, but by first thinking about your overall goals, breaking those goals down into action steps, then thinking about what kind of posts you should be writing in order to support those goals, you won’t go far wrong!
Is it OK to write a blog post with more than one purpose?
Absolutely! Whilst it is always a good idea to give each blog post one MAIN purpose (grow traffic / grow email list / promote an affiliate product etc.), this does not mean you have to limit yourself to only one purpose. It is likely that many of your posts will actually be able to fulfil several purposes at once.
That said, if your MAIN aim is a specific call to action – for example, to buy your product or join your mailing list, it is advisable not to use the same post to also ask people to do a whole range of other actions. It is the general wisdom that you should limit yourself to just one main call to action per post… however that does not mean your post can’t also serve other purposes such as delight your readers, establish your credibility and grow your blog traffic.
For example, let’s say your main aim is to promote a service that you offer. It would not be a good idea in that same post to also encourage people to buy an affiliate product or join your email list, as you want your post to direct people to a single action… hire your services.
However, it would make a lot of sense to use that post to establish your credibility/authority (as then your readers would be more likely to hire you), delight your readers with free helpful information (as then they are more likely to want to ‘return the favour’ by buying from you) and grow your blog traffic by choosing a topic that you have determined will do well in search engines, through keyword research (the more people who read your post, the more potential buyers!).
How to plan purposeful blog posts
Whilst it’s important that each of your blog posts has a purpose, it’s even more important to make a plan so that all of your blog posts’ purposes work together towards a common goal.
How do you do that?
The best thing to do, as outlined above, is to start with your goals and work backwards to your blog posts – deciding how many of each purpose you need and also what the secondary and even tertiary purposes of each blog post might be.
The next step is to add those blog posts to your content calendar, to make sure the order of your blog posts makes sense and also to ensure variety.
To continue our example above, you might decide that Week 1 will be a tutorial about affiliate product 1, Week 2 will be a blog post where the main aim is to grow your blog traffic, Week 3 will be a list post featuring affiliate product 2 and Week 4 will be a post that promotes your email list and also builds your authority… and so on.
Blog Content Calendar
Not got a content calendar yet? No worries – I’ve done all the hard work for you! Simply download my Blog Content Calendar and use it to plan your purposeful blog posts!
For more about creating a Blog Content Calendar, read my post on How to create a content plan for your blog.
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