You might hear the phrases "funnel" or "map" a lot as a new blogger. It can be confusing and most of the time, you might just skip over it and move on. However, as a new blogger, you'll need to understand "funnels" or "mapping" right away so that you start out on the right foot.
What the heck is a content map?
Imagine that you're sending someone on a scavenger hunt. You have to give them a map, right? You want them to reach one particular end-goal, and you want to guide them there with a series of steps. Sometimes you want to make sure that they have all the pieces they need for their end-goal prize, or potentially you want them to experience some fun places.
Just like scavenger hunts, you want the readers that visit your blog to know where to go and exactly what to do. You want them to be enticed to take the next step. A typical journey can possibly look like this:
- Reader visits blog
- Reader likes content so much that...
- Reader bookmarks you.
- Reader comes back later & shares some of your content to social media
- Reader loves your content over & over
- You offer great free content & eventually uplevel to paid content
- Reader loves your free content so much that they become loyal customer
That last part is important: they become a loyal customer. Not only are they loving your free content, but because your free content is so valuable, they KNOW they'll love your paid content too!
When you're first starting out on your blogging journey, you may not have a product to offer. That's okay; the things I'm going to teach you today are merely to equip you with tools to PRIME your audience for the release of your product.
Let's start with a pseudo-template. Style your posts after this model, and your readers will feel that they know exactly what to do and where to go next.
At the beginning of your content should be the problem. What problem are you having or have you had that you now see others having? You should use this opportunity to hook people and draw them in. For example, if you were to write a post about how you first started getting repins on Pinterest for your beauty blog, you could start it this way:
When I first started blogging, nobody ever re-pinned my Pinterest pins.
This is basically a "head's up!" to your new bloggers visiting your blog, or perhaps those who have just connected their Pinterest to their blog.
I felt defeated, like I must be doing everything wrong or writing really boring content.
This is relatable because almost everyone has felt like they were doing the wrong thing for their blog at one point or another. At this point, your reader is aware of two things: a) initially, you were having the same problem as they are now and b) you ALSO felt like your content must not be what people wanted to read! They get excited because this TOTALLY relates to them.
Now that your audience is aware of the problem, bring awareness to how this is affecting THEM. You're essentially communicating to them WHY they need to read this article. You officially have them hooked if they read beyond this. Here is a great way to phrase your awareness stage:
When I realized my pins weren't getting re-pinned, I knew I had to change that right away. Pinterest is one of the most effective blogging platforms for traffic-building and I wasn't correctly utilizing it, and I was letting potential new readers scroll right past my awesome content! Plus, it was causing negative emotions from ME because I was resentful that nobody was pinning my stuff.
This is affirmation to the reader that they NEED to know how you proceeded because you've just told them how VERY important Pinterest is! You effectively convinced them that there are tons of new readers on Pinterest and, without straight up saying, "Hey dummy, put calls to action ON YOUR PIN!" you let them know that there are better ways to go about labeling your pins and increasing your strategic game.
Now that you've covered the problem + awareness stages, you can move on to the solution part of your post. This is the most crucial part of the post. Honestly, I often-times go from the hook (the problem stage) straight to the solution. That is where the value is for me, and when I'm in a hurry, I just need to know how to solve the problem and I already understand how important it is.
Here are some of the best ways to present the solution part of your blog posts:
- Include case studies.
- Insert screen shots.
- Attach freebies (things they can download)
- Link to other helpful blog posts of yours (and maybe related content from others)
- Include an opt-in after your solution
Case studies and screen shots are for the super visual readers who come to your blog hoping to get some examples of what they're doing wrong or what they can do to fix their issue. Freebies and links to other blog posts are for the freebie-loving readers. Including an opt-in at the bottom of your solution is for everyone, which is why it's important.
There is nothing more frustrating than visiting a blog I fall in love with and having to SEARCH for their opt-in form. It should be at the bottom of every blog post and potentially even in the sidebar or somewhere very obvious.
After your solution, make your opt-in appealing. Tell them a little about it, why it's important to your content and their problem, why they need it, and include a graphic that is appealing and click-worthy. Everyone uses Melyssa Griffin's blog as an example, so I won't screenshot it, but you can go to her blog to check out a great sample of what an effective opt-in looks like at the bottom of a post. This is an imperative part of your content mapping. You don't want them to just stay readers - you want them to be action-takers!
PROBLEM > AWARENESS > SOLUTION > ACTION
Tell them to share, pin, tag someone, comment, opt-in; something! Part of the point of blogging (especially for a business) is gaining commitment from people that might've just hopped online for a moment or two and just happened across your blog post. Letting them go would be a shame, right? That's what content mapping is for! Create a map that puts your OWN mind at ease, as well as theirs! Most readers click off without doing anything unless you tell them to do something.