blog postsAs an MSP, there are so many things you can talk about on your company blog: new technology trends, recent cyber threats, regulation and compliance changes, or breaking down complex technology to make it easier for your customers to understand. The possibilities are endless, but blogging is an area where many MSPs struggle — usually due to lack of time, topic ideas, or traffic.

Blogging is a good way to differentiate your MSP from the competition and engage with prospects and partners, enabling you to grow your business. Recently, we attended Hubspot’s Inbound 2016 conference and listened to Tim Urban’s keynote presentation. Tim is the founder of the blog Wait but Why, and he shared some great advice on how to develop topics your audience will find interesting and why the structure of your post is essential.

Find a tempting topic

Picking a topic to write about can be tough, but looking for patterns in conversations with your customers and prospects is a good place to start. When you hear an interesting question or have an interesting conversation, jot it down. So many great blog posts come from everyday inspiration.

Tim Urban explained this point by saying that his name isn’t unique — in fact there are a million other Tims in the world. If you’re writing about a topic that you think is interesting, there’s a chance that a million ‘other Tims’ will think it’s interesting as well. Granted, you may not have a million blog subscribers, but one popular post can change everything.

tim urbanCreating good blog posts means listening to people’s needs. You should change your strategy to correspond to what your customers find interesting or to deliver information that they’re looking
for. For example, you could write a blog post about the new HIPAA regulations, but if the post is too dry and dense, it might not get as many views as you anticipated. Tim suggested that most people are looking for a short, dumbed-down version of a topic. People don’t want to be bored with all the specifics; they’re looking for something they can easily pick up and understand. If you write a HIPAA post, will you have to go into the nitty-gritty details? Yes, but it is all in the way you present it. Identify why your prospects and customers care about this and try to keep your posts on the lighter side so they can easily find the information they’re looking for.

Writing a blog post is like growing a tree

Believe it or not, writing a blog post is like growing a tree—well, at least according to Tim. Think of it this way, the tree trunk holds everything together and represents the foundation of your knowledge. The branches are various topic choices, and the leaves are your posts. Without the trunk or foundation for your post, your readers won’t be able to grasp what you’re talking about. So it’s essential to build a foundation for your readers.

The first step to writing a blog post is gathering information on something you think is interesting. You don’t necessarily need to know anything about the topic. It just needs to be spark an interest in you. Collect facts and build your personal knowledge on the subject. Sometimes certain topics can be ‘foggy,’ but that’s okay! According to Tim, a good way to remove some of the fog is by researching your topic on Wikipedia. Even though it isn’t always reputable, it’s a good resource for links to other sources. Your goal is to be able to build a tree trunk of knowledge in your readers’ heads.

Once you’ve gathered enough information, think about the most efficient way to share this information. It doesn’t necessarily have to follow the process you had to go through to arrive at your conclusion. Think about the format instead. What is the meaning behind this? Tim explained that you’re designing an experience for the reader, so design an experience you want to follow. A blog post is different than podcasts or YouTube videos, where the audience can be doing something else simultaneously. It’s a magical thing to know that for a couple of minutes you’re actually capturing your reader’s mind, even if it’s just for a fraction of time. So make your experience worth the time so they’ll want to come back.

If you’re talking about an event or time in history, don’t use chronology, Tim warned. Chronology is hard to follow and can be very boring. Instead, think about the meaning of the event and why others should care. Your blog post shouldn’t be a history lesson; it should be a way to open up new thinking.

pyramidIf all else fails, use visuals. Visuals is a great way to rope in your audience, and it can help remember symbols and terms — giving you a good way to illustrate your points. For example, one really interesting visual Tim shared was the 100 blocks a day. Each individual gets one hundred, 10 minute blocks a day to use however they please. Sure, most of that time might be designated to sleeping, but what about the rest of the blocks? Creating strong visuals can help illustrate hard-to-grasp points, such as Tim’s photo on how you could measure the world’s wealth in gold. For example, you could find an unexpected way to illustrate the effect of ransomware.

As an MSP

As you sit down to write your blog post, think about how you can spin your topic to give it a fresh feel. It could be an array of visuals or perhaps a new take on how cyber criminals are impacting online shopping. Find a way to not only teach your prospects and partners about new trends but to spark their interest as well.

Lauren Beliveau

Posted by Lauren Beliveau

Lauren is a Senior Content Marketing Specialist at Barracuda MSP. In this position, she creates and develops content that helps managed service providers grow their business. She also regularly writes The MSP’s Bookshelf and our Ask an MSP Expert column.

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