AskPat 161 Episode Transcript
Pat Flynn: Hey, what's up, everybody! Pat Flynn here, and welcome to Episode 161 of AskPat. Thank you so much for joining me today. I'm still recovering from jet lag, having come back from Australia, but it was an amazing trip. Thank you to Queensland, thank you to Darren Rowse from ProBlogger, and thank you to everybody who attended and watched my keynote presentation at the ProBlogger event.
No sponsors in this episode; just want to say thanks to all those people, and thank you for just being awesome, just sweet.
All right, so let's get right to today's question from Patrick. Great name.
Patrick: Hey, Pat. It's Patrick Grady here, and I was wondering how you would go about writing content for a niche website. And if you could just get back to me on the best way to do it for a beginner, and maybe the best way to do it for someone who's not very good at writing content yet. That would be great, and just get back to me as soon as you can. Thank you very much. Bye.
Pat Flynn: Patrick, thank you so much for the question today. There's a lot of interesting discussions around the topic of writing content, but specifically, about writing content for a niche site as a beginner. Now, on the outside, you might think that you have to be an expert, or somebody who's incredibly knowledgeable about that topic in order to even start, or even begin to think about writing for a particular niche like that. However, I will say that I have a couple niche sites, where they're doing very well, they are providing value, but I don't necessarily … I'm not in those particular spaces myself as a person. So, for example, I have a site at SecurityGuardTrainingHQ.com, which helps people train to become security guards, and I'm not a security guard myself. I also have a site at FoodTruckr.com for food truck business owners. I'm not a food truck business owner myself either.
So, on the outside, you might think: “Well, how can you ever succeed with a site like that? How do you—” … And we'll get into how to find out what to write, but they are successful. Security Guard Training HQ has made over $50,000 over the past few years, through AdSense alone. And FoodTruckr.com recently released its first book, and has generated over four figures in just a month's time, so it's done really well. Even though I myself am not in those particular spaces, both of those sites provide massive value for that particular audience, and that's the key there. That is the key. I entered those niches not as somebody who was an expert, but somebody who wanted to know what it's like to go from beginning to end with those particular things. From going in knowing nothing about security guards to being able to become one if I wanted to. From knowing nothing about food trucks to now having a resource, and a book, about exactly how to do that. Yes, you do have an advantage if you are … I mean, it's obvious, if you are in that space already, you do have an advantage over somebody who's just beginning.
However, I will say you also have an advantage if you are just starting out, and you're not in those niches. How? Well, there's this thing called “the curse of knowledge.” If you are an expert on something, or if you know even a little bit about something, it's really difficult to know what it's not like to know those particular things. Meaning, if you were to teach somebody something, it's really hard to understand what it's like from the other person's point of view. And this is where I believe I particularly excel online. That is, taking the knowledge that I've learned and making it incredibly easy for others to consume. You can see this across all of my sites. Point being here, if you are going into a space where you are considered an expert, or even you just know more than your audience already, then you have to really focus on: “Okay, what is it like from my audience's point of view?” Or better yet, your target audience's point of view, the people who are going to be beginners on your site, who are understanding and learning that information.
Of course, if you don't know that information when you build your site, it could be hard to write content—which is what your question was about, Patrick. Going back around to your initial question: “How do you write content if you're a beginner in a particular niche?” There's a lot of things you can do to help yourself. The hardest thing in the world to do is look at a blank screen and be like, “Okay, let's go.” That's really hard, and the big theme here, and the theme that I talk about across all, any sort of goal setting, is to take that big goal that you have, and chunk it down into little pieces. Understand your next step, and try to get help along the way. In terms of writing content as a beginner, the best thing to do is not start with a blank screen. Start by creating a list of all the questions in and around that particular niche. I would start with the questions you have yourself. For example, when I went into the security guard training market, I thought, “Okay” … And then I just made a list of like 50 different questions I had. How do I become a security guard? Where do I go to become a security guard? Do I have to take any tests to become a security guard? Anything and everything that popped into my head, I wrote down, and that's important. It's important because you are somebody who is going to eventually come to your site. Meaning, you're a complete beginner at that point, so you have to think of the questions you have, in your head. Because those are the same questions that people coming to your site, who have no idea where to begin, are also going to have. That alone is going to help you discover what types of content to write.
However, it's also important to know what other people are already asking. It's not just about you of course, it's about what your target audience is wondering as well. Find out what questions other people, people interested in what you're eventually going to be talking about on you site. What questions are they already asking? You can do this in several different ways. You can find out what those questions are. You can go to social media, find out on Facebook, on Twitter, go to LinkedIn. Type in those keywords related to your niche, and find out where people are.Those groups and those conversations where they are happening, and discover what types of questions people have related to those things. They're right there; you don't have to look very hard. You can also type certain keywords into Google, and find out what questions people might be asking. You can even use the Google auto suggestion feature to do this. For example, “How do I make a …” Depending on what your niche is, you can ask different questions. Once you start typing in stuff, you can see the auto suggestions for what people are also typing in or wondering in and around your particular niche. You can also type in your main keyword and scroll all the way to the bottom and see the related searches, searches related to that particular niche as well. Those are going to give you an idea of sort of the questions that other people are asking as well.
That's the first part. Discover questions. What are those questions? That's smart, because people are typically typing in those questions in Google, and that's how people are eventually going to find you. That's also how you're providing value on your site as well. That's a great starting point. Instead of a blank screen, start with the questions. Then you can starting breaking down those questions into different parts for your answer, or for your blog post. That's how you can write great content for these particular niches. Now, in addition to figuring out the questions that people are asking, which is a very precise thing, there it's actually what they're typing in, or what they're looking to find. You should also discover what topics should be written about as well, trying to discover what categories should be posted on your site. To do this, you can do a number of different things. You can do keyword research, and find … You should have an idea of what your primary keywords are, but through keyword research can find out your secondary, or tertiary keywords, your target keywords that you could be writing about in and around, and related to your particular niche. The related search, like I talked about earlier, will help as well. You can use tools like the Google keyword planner, on Google AdWords, which is free to use. Or you could use something like Market Samurai, or Long Tail Pro, which are more robust keyword research tools. Another thing you could do to discover what topics you should be writing about is go into forums related to your topic. You can type in: “forums/forum: primary keyword” for your particular niche or just the niche in general. You're going to discover the forums that are out there talking about your particular topic. You might be able to discover, just from the way the categories are organized within that forum, what categories you should be posting about. Within those conversations, you'll be able to discover other things that will give you inspiration for content to write about as well. You're going to get some great ideas from the conversations, again, that are already happening out there.
You can also look on Amazon. This is a really cool trick that I love to share. If you go to Amazon, find a book related to this topic, that you're going to be creating a site about. Look inside the cover, and look at the table of contents for that book. Now don't steal anything … Those table of contents just breaks down that big, general topic that the book is about into smaller, more digestible chapters. Use those as inspiration for different topics you should be writing about. For example, if there's a fly fishing book, if you're targeting the fly fishing niche, find a fly fishing book, open the cover, and you might discover topics like: casting, equipment, how to tie a fly, where to go fly fishing. Those are all particular blog posts you could write as well. You can get creative with how you create those blog posts. “Top 10 Places to Go Fly Fishing,” “Top 10 Rods in 2014 That You Should Be Looking for if You're Looking to Upgrade Your Content” … That's a very long title, but you get the idea. Use these topics that authors are already putting out there for you and testing, as inspiration for your blog posts. That's how you can get great content done.
In terms of just writing a blog post in general, if you're not great at writing, just write. Keep writing; it's going to get better over time. I was a terrible writer at first, and now I think I'm pretty good. It only happened as a result of just constantly doing it. Just keep writing. But of course, there's some tips I can give you. Break down your big posts once you find out that topic, or that question you want to answer. Break it down into little, mini sections. Separate them into headlines. It's not only good for you as a writer, because you can just focus on that one little, specific part of the post, and not everything else, which can be a little overwhelming. But for the reader, it breaks that content down into digestible chunks as well, which is good.
My biggest tip for you in terms of writing great content is to always ask yourself, “How is this going to transform somebody in my target audience?” Super-simple question to think about, but a great way to discover the purpose of it, but also work backwards from there to help them achieve that purpose. That's how you go about it. Don't get stuck at the title. A lot of people, before they start writing anything, get stuck with the title, trying to make a catchy, social media-friendly, curiosity-generating title. Don't start with that. Start with the goal, the purpose. How are you going to transform your audience, with that particular post? Work backwards. Bullet points, stories, things like that, that support that particular transformation, step-by-step. Then you can sort of figure out what that sort of post title might be.
That's it! Patrick, thank you so much for your question. An AskPat t-shirt is going to be headed your way, and so look out for an email from my assistant very soon about that. For those of you listening, if you have a question you'd like potentially featured here on the show, just head on over to AskPat.com. Thank you all so much for your attention today; please leave a rating and review on iTunes. That's it. You rock! Thanks so much. Love ya, and I'll see you the next episode of AskPat.