Comprehensive guide to creating content as an engineer or technical expert
Updated: Feb 8, 2020
If you’ve ever seen the movie Field of Dreams, you’ll remember the line “if you build it, he will come.” In business, unfortunately, this is not the case. Simply because you build or invent something innovative, does not mean customers will suddenly appear out of thin air and line up at your physical or digital doorstep to buy in.
You must devise a strategy to attract your target customer. As an independent engineer or data-based technical expert, this may sound like a challenging (or even fruitless!) endeavor. After all, you probably view marketing as the stuff of fluff! Putting aside the nuances, marketing is how you let the right people know that you or your business exist; how you capture their attention and create a demand for your product or service. Without marketing, your amazing product or service will never leave your desk or door.
There are so many people banging on keyboards trying to get ‘hits’ and ‘views’ these days, that every little “kitschy” marketing tactic is heralded as a ‘game-changer.’ Even after research tells you the highest priority, it is still easy to be overwhelmed by the onslaught of flashy and ‘cute’ tactics that you know won’t work for you. This guide is meant to help you implement a straightforward (not cute!) plan that doesn’t rely on the latest glittering trend, but helps you establish a long-term, maintainable strategy that works.
If you’re an individual or budding company with limited resources, figuring out what will work for you can be a daunting, mysterious process. Not just that, but simply finding the time to focus on your marketing efforts can sound overwhelming. Our to-do lists are constantly overflowing and seemingly never-ending. When you are one of the brains behind your company’s technology or innovation, or have the job title of running the company itself, it can be a tall order to find the time (or mental space!) to take a break and focus on marketing.
Starting a blog is a great place for technical-based individuals and small businesses to begin their content marketing program. It only costs a small chunk of time and requires limited personnel, but the reward can be great.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, small businesses with blogs get 126% more lead growth than small businesses without. While a lot of money can be spent on social media advertisements, Google AdWords, a one-time ad in a trade publication, direct mailers and other kinds of outreach, the value of starting a blog, and properly leveraging its potential can reap unparalleled rewards with little investment.
The long-term positive impacts of blogging (compared to other types of outreach):
Positions you as an expert and further establishes your credibility in your field.
Educates your customer about your product, service or area of expertise.
Not a one-time thing as blogging is not a ‘flash in the pan’ advertisement. It always lives on your site, forever providing interesting resources for your customer base.
Provides customer conversation starters. Each blog post gives you a reason to reach out to your customers! Posts can be sent directly to top customers, distributed via your email list, or be a “did you see our latest feature on…” opener. This frequent communication with your customer will serve as a continual reminder of you and your customer.
Social media content. Blogging provides consistent flow of things to post on social media (more on this below!)
Makes search engines happy and your website shine! Search engines LOVE fresh content. They can smell it a mile away and they keep coming back for more. Fresh content is one of the key ways search engines determine how relevant your site is, and how high to rank it when people are searching for relevant topics. When a search engine perceives that your site that hasn’t been updated recently, they stop coming by to check in, and your site relevancy can decrease. Unless you’re adding new products or services, most businesses don’t have a reason to add new pages to their websites. Blogging gives you the reason to update more frequently and makes search engines happy.
I can hear you now. “What ever will I come up with to blog about?”
Well, what if I told you that you are at a significant advantage?
As someone who is an expert in their field, or working in a company focused on a particular area of technical expertise, you already have the topics and subject matter at your fingertips. You are surrounded by potential blog posts right now! As a matter of fact, you’re likely inundated with them! The only thing stopping most small businesses from getting started is getting started.
"You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great." - Zig Ziglar
Many business leaders share their anxiety about hopping into the blogging ring. Maybe you aren’t confident in your writing, or don’t think you have anything interesting to share.
To that I have to say two things: 1) You will never get better at it if you do not start, and 2) I’ve got a list of TEN easy-grab ideas that will prove to you that you DO have interesting things to share!
10 Easy Ideas to get Your Blog Started Today
Behind-the-scenes look at your company: You could highlight a special process in your production, an introduction to your engineering team or an in-depth explanation of an aspect of your design, development or organizational process that makes you unique. Take a key fun aspect of your expertise and give readers a fun exercise where they can learn to do it themselves.
Answer a common customer FAQ.
Share pictures and your experience at a recent conference or expo you attended. You can also share or details an upcoming event and what customers can expect to see there.
Pull a key product feature and give a more “inside look” at why it is oh-so important.
Give customers advice on how to deal with a general problem afflicting your business’s area of focus. Don’t always focus specifically on your business or product.
Share a look at your company culture. Be it recent volunteer work, a core value you cherish or a recent celebration you hosted for employees.
Have a top customer who wouldn’t mind taking a few minutes out of their day to answer a few questions on the importance of your given technology? A short-form interview demonstrates how your offering positively impacts their business.
Highlight a partnership or collaboration to demonstrate contributions to the industry as a whole.
Share a brief walkthrough on the most optimal ways to use or setup your product.
Now, it doesn’t just end with one post!
As mentioned above, one of the great things about writing a blog is that each post becomes its own miniature content factory. With a little finesse, you can take a single blog post and break it down into infinite chunks of content to share on social media, in email newsletters, and more. If you’re someone who stares blankly at the “Write a post…” blinking cursor on your social media, starting a blog will provide you with an almost endless amount of future content.
From a single blog post, you can:
Break out key points into individual tips or insightful bites to share on social media
Distribute the blog post to your email list as a newsletter
Use images from the blog post as a standalone social media share
Record a video of you further explaining a particular aspect of the blog post
Take a minor point and expand it into another blog post
Create a graphic showcasing an important statistic of quote (and you don’t have to be a graphic designer - fun drag-and-drop tools like Canva basically do the work for you)
Compile a guide once you have a few posts on a given topic
Share older posts to capture attention from new customers as not everyone will see your posts the first time
STILL feeling resistant? Here’s some final tips to get you up-and-running:
Don’t worry about finding the perfect words right away. When drafting a post, start out by writing a stream of consciousness. It sounds strange, but even with a draft we can experience writers’ block just because we get nervous about our capability to do it. Move beyond this obstacle and just write. Personally, I don’t even use fancy software - I start typing in the archaic TextEdit. Somehow using this less-polished application makes the ideas flow smoothly since they don’t seem so “official.” Only once I have my idea formed do I transfer it over to a more robust app.
Setup a schedule. Get your first blog post finished and assess how long it took. Schedule this block of time into your weekly calendar so it doesn’t sneak up on a Friday afternoon when you realize you hadn’t written anything that week.
Do what works for you! It can be tempting to plan your agenda around suggestions from a productivity podcast, but take a moment to really identify what time-of-day, day of the week, and what conditions help you write best. If you write best in the ambient clatter of your local coffee shop, then schedule your blog writing for the day you are able to spend some time there.
Jot down ideas whenever you have them! Some people think best during a workout, in the shower, or even when fussing around during their morning routine. Whenever the ideas strike, write them down and worry about making sense of them later.
Identify what your challenges are. Do you freak out at the thought of finding images to go with your post? Not the best proofreader? Small elements like those may be the ones precluding you from the big picture of getting started. Figure out what specific roadblocks are holding you back, then find a friend or co-worker to help with that task.
And finally...stick to it! Blogging doesn’t (usually) provide immediate results. It’s consistency that will make or break your efforts. There’s a saying that most great strategy fails because it’s abandoned too early. Let your competition abandon ship, while you reap the rewards of making blogging part of your business routine.
To get started, check out the bonus below. It’ll show you just how easy it is to schedule out a week’s worth of content from just one blog post!