Or… How I became a blog expert in my first year working at Lantern

I always knew that working at Lantern would be a great fit for my career, so when I was offered the position as a managing editor, I jumped at the chance. To be honest, I thought my years of blogging and my graduate writing degree made me a blog expert before I started working here. I expected to learn a lot from my co-workers as well as my clients, but I definitely didn’t know how much I’d learn over the span of a year and how much I’d grow in my career.

You see, I was a blog expert when it comes to everything our clients expect from us. I understood SEO, and could write naturally while still optimizing a post. I knew the power of social media for promoting posts and reaching new eyes. I got catchy titles, subheads, and calls-to-action. I lectured people on the power of posting regularly. I’m not trying to toot my own horn here – well, toot toot – but I got it.

What I didn’t understand at that time was that being a real blogging expert had nothing to do with having blogging skills. Yes, blogging skills are the foundation needed to work with clients and write content, but they didn’t make me an expert. What made me an expert over time was learning how and why everything worked together as a whole, and then being able to translate that lesson clearly for my clients.

In the past year I’ve worked with many clients in various industries. They all had different intentions behind why they wanted to hire us, and many of them had different blogging voices, too. The bottom line was that my clients wanted to increase their revenue, and they knew one way to do that was to use their blog to attract new customers through search. They just weren’t sure how they’d accomplish it. So they hired the Lantern team.

My three biggest lessons in my first year at Lantern:

1. Personas should be your new best friends.

The key to being a blog expert is to first define who the potential customers are for each of our clients. In the Lantern office, we call them personas, and you’re probably familiar with the term if you run a successful business.

This isn’t something we quickly brainstorm in a team meeting or on a conference call with our clients. Defining personas is one of the most important steps to creating content campaigns. If you don’t know who you’re talking to, why are you even bothering starting a conversation?

Remember, everyone who reads your blog is your audience. In some way you want to relate to all of the possible readers. In another way, you want to target the most valuable, most monetizable reader and write posts directed to them. When we create personas for our customers as part of our Content Roadmap, we gather research, market data, and analytics and provide you with a guide that will then inform your editorial calendars, keyword research, and content.

Blog Expert Tip: Your personas are truly your next possible customers. Speak to them directly, and they’ll answer by inquiring about your product or services.

[Tweet “Three lessons @reinventingerin learned in her first year at @lanterncontent about blogging.”]

2. If you’re not going to research, don’t waste your time writing.

Now that you’ve identified your personas, you have to research what it is that motivates them.

What kind of questions do they have? What are they are they searching for on the internet? What do they already know, and what are they trying to learn?

The first step to researching is to discover what possible customers are looking for. When we create a BuzzAudit for new clients, we provide them with a keyword universe showing them exactly what people are searching the internet for (that is related to their business).

This is a great tool to educate customers, because not only will it prove what type of posts their personas would like to read, it also shows what their personas aren’t looking for.

Often, our clients come to us with blogging topics they’d like us to consider writing. We love when this happens. But before writing, we’ll always research their ideas first. Because if we discover nobody is out there actually looking for their suggested topic, if Google tells us 0 people are searching for it, there’s less chance to gain new customers from that post.

Still with me here?

Let’s say one of our customers asked us to write a guide on how to make cold calls to prospective clients. Well, we’re going to research the topic to find the most ideal way to create content for them.

Did you know that the term “how to make cold calls” is searched approximately 260 times a month on Google. That’s 3,120 searches annually. And there are only 28,000 other pages online writing about the same thing. Anything below 100,000 is pretty good for a new online business.

Sounds great, right? Well, if we stopped our research there, we’d miss an even better keyword. The term “cold calling tips” is searched about 4,400 times a month, and has an annual search volume of 52,800 searches. And there are even less pages online targeting that phrase (27,500). That means it’ll be easier for us to snag a spot on Google’s Page 1 search results. Wowza! There’s a big difference between those two.

Now that we’ve done our research, we can easily show out clients why we should write a post with the second keyword, versus using the first one.

Blog Expert Tip: You might have a great idea for a post, though there may be no one looking for it. Don’t sell your content short, research and write the posts your possible customers are interested in.

[Tweet “How @lanterncontent turns content on your blog into sales in your pocket.”]

3. Write great content that will generate sales now and in the future.

We’ve identified your personas, done all the heavy lifting researching what these future customers are interested in, and now it’s time for us to write your content.

You’d think this would be the easy part, but it isn’t necessarily so. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned over the past year is how important evergreen posts are in finding my clients new customers and increasing their revenue.

Think about it. If you write a post that would still be relevant five years from now you’re able to capture new clients now – and then over and over again as long as the post is live! If it’s not, search visitors may arrive and decide quickly that the content is old, and click the “back” button on their browser. This tells Google that your content didn’t meet their needs, and Google will remove your page from their top search results.

Oh, and I hate to burst your bubble, but the research we talked about before doesn’t stop there. Now that it’s content-writing time, we spend an immense amount of time researching our topics. We’ll never share information that we can’t stand behind with facts and figures.

Being a true blog expert means you take the necessary time to also become an expert in the topic you’re writing about. One of my clients this past year worked in the medical industry, and would always wonder how I’d be able to describe – in detail – the content that I wrote. I didn’t go to medical school, and I certainly couldn’t perform the procedures I wrote about, but I knew where to get my information (in some cases, by interviewing her), and how to write so that anyone reading the blog could understand it as well. There’s no point in writing if your readers don’t understand you.

Blog Expert Tip: Make sure whatever you write is optimized so that people can find it in the future. Make sure the content isn’t time-specific so that when it is found years from now, your readers will still relate to it.

Looking back at my time as a managing editor over the course of the past year, I’m so grateful for all of these lessons I’ve learned and am able to translate to my clients. Let’s face it, if you’re looking to work with a ghostwriter or content marketing company, you want the person who takes over your writing to be a blog expert, and not just have blogging skills. Anyone can be a blogger. To do so, you just need to learn how to write. But most bloggers aren’t marketers – they don’t know how to turn a reader into a loyalist, and a buyer. Not everyone can be a blogging expert.

I’m proud to work with a team which I’d consider every one of my peers a blog expert. If you want to hire professionals who really understand content marketing and blogging for business, contact us right away.

What do you think really makes a content marketer a real blog expert? Let us know in the comments!