One of the top tips I’ve gotten over the years about marketing effectively online is to keep your website changing. A website that changes regularly gets more regular traffic, ranks higher in the search rankings, and drives more leads than one that’s static. Plus, we’re trained to notice and be attracted to that which changes and to ignore that which doesn’t pretty much from the get-go. That’s in part why blogs are so popular. They’re always updating, always changing, always holding interest.
For the writers among us, blogging or adding articles regularly is fairly easy, although it can become an overwhelming job. For the rest of us, keeping one or more websites updated can become a serious headache. The truth is, it doesn’t have to be that hard. Everyone can benefit from a few of the tricks professional writers use to keep the content changing.
How often does my content need to change?
If you haven’t been updating your website regularly but want to start doing so, begin with a realistic goal. In some industries, like the crafting industry, one to two updates per week is ultimately where you’ll want to be. In others, like the restaurant and entertainment industries, once or twice a day is the goal. For those of us who’ve struggled to pull off one update per quarter, either of those are lofty goals…but baby steps will get you there.
Begin by setting goals you can attain; once or twice a month updates are a good place to start for the first three to six months, especially if you’re going it alone and can afford to make slower progress. The first few months will be all about putting systems in place to make regular updates a whole lot easier. After that, aim to shift your thinking to weekly updates for the next three to six months, increasing the frequency per week until you’ve hit your goal. The key is to give yourself the time you need to garner enough support and create enough systems to make regular updates an easy habit to maintain.
One of the beautiful aspects of how the internet has evolved is you don’t need to be a writer to create content your potential customers will appreciate. Imagery, short tips and tricks articles, and favorite videos can all offer benefit to your potential customers as well as draw new traffic and new clients to you. Even writers need to rethink how they keep the content changing; Youtube, Instagram, and Pinterest have opened us up to a whole new way of communicating.
As you’re planning your regular update schedule and setting up your systems, keep in mind that regular updates can take the form of imagery, videos, podcasts and audio clips, slide shows and presentations, downloads, RSS feeds, and, of course, written articles.
Authorship is another avenue you can redefine. You don’t have to be the only author, even if you’re a sole proprietor. You can ask others for help creating your content. Once you start asking around, you’ll likely find a surprising number of clients, friends, or even family who’d love to help you out by providing photos, videos, or short articles. Beyond that, you can embed images and video from other sites, like Youtube, with the appropriate attribution. You can also ask permission to repost articles from other websites or blogs that offer the kind of information you know your potential clients want. Just contact the website or blog owner and ask. Chances are they’ll be happy to let you repost all or part of their work in trade for a link back to their site.
Create a Plan
Ultimately, you want your website to change at predictable intervals, like once a week on Monday or Tuesday. Create a plan for your updates that includes all the types of updates you’d like to use. For instance, plan to write an article to publish in week one of the month that offers tips or ideas for using your service or products. In week two, post at least one photo of your recent work to your Portfolio or Photo Gallery. For week three, publish a photo with a short description from a client or customer in your Satisfaction Guaranteed gallery. In week four, post a video or audio clip your potential clients might find useful. The key here is to plan the type of content you want to publish at each interval in a structured way so you know what you need to do when you sit down to update your site. The structure frees you from trying to figure out what’s next so you can focus on the task at hand.
Put Your Systems in Place
Once you’ve got a plan for the updates you want to make and the frequency for making them, you can set-up systems that help you schedule the work more easily. Most website platforms offer scheduling features. Those allow you to create content in advance then schedule it to be published at a pre-determined date and time. If you’re someone who’s inspired by getting a lot done at once, you can schedule one day a month to create all the updates for your site. Using the scheduling features, you can parse those updates out so your site changes as often as you desire, but you don’t have to make time every week to do the work. If you work better by parsing the work out, you can set time each week to make updates then aim to do enough in the first couple of sessions to get ahead by one or two weeks. Having at least one or two articles or updates ready ahead of time takes the pressure off, making it a lot more fun to sit down to do the work each week.
Beyond the scheduling feature, you can set up templates for images, videos, audio clips, and similar media that allow you to make creating that kind of content for your site easier. Once you have an initial look and feel you like, save the settings or make a list of the settings you used so you can use them again and again. For instance, you can create your credits screen and your title screens in your first video once, then copy those into all your future videos and make the minor changes you need for the video you’re working on. By making all those decisions up front, you cut your work time down considerably. Plus, you can more easily hand the work to someone else, like an intern or worker, knowing they’ll produce a video that fits your look and feel with minimal instruction from you.
You can create basic outlines for articles, too. For instance, you can create one outline for Tips and Tricks articles that includes the generic points you want to cover in every Tips and Tricks article you write. A basic outline is one of the tricks writers use to get articles written fast and easily. It also helps you make your writing consistent; each article using that outline will contain the same types of information, so readers know what to expect when they read it. Most of us will forgive a lot in the style of the writing if it’s consistent and delivers what we expect. The outline helps you set those expectations, thus taking pressure off you to churn out golden prose every time you sit down to write.
With the right plan in place, a reasonable goal for your updates, and a few systems to support your work, regular updates for your website are not that hard to manage, even if you absolutely Hate to Write.