If you’re like me, then writing a blog for your website is probably the last thing on your mind. But content creation doesn't have to be a chore. In fact, it can be downright simple.
If you have never heard of the Focal brand, they are essentially an all-in-one platform that offers website building, hosting, galleries, CRM (client resource management), as well as a host of other features and offerings. They even have a tool that, with the help of AI, will build you a website in just a couple of minutes. But the latest and greatest from this company is rooted in the word of blogging.
Like most blog-centric offerings, you get the things that you are most likely to expect. Things like easy customization, quick and fluid integration of images and galleries, as well as some other SEO-related tools on the backend. But where this tool aims to differentiate itself is that you don't actually have to write your own content.
Now, before I get any deeper: when I say that you don't have to write any of your own content, the tool will still use you and your input to write the content. So, you give it an inch and the AI takes you out on a mile run. But even then, you should never be willy-nilly with your content and simply share the AI-generated content in its rawest form (although you totally could because the end results are surprisingly good). Instead, I think you should use the tool to get you 90% of the way there, and then, you can use your own thoughts and insights to fine-tune and authenticate the results (authenticate in both accuracy and brand voice). For example, add in a little joke or inspired story that keeps the content true to you and offers a bit of personalization.
With that said, let's dive into the tool and how it works. When you first open the blogging section of Focal and add a blog, you’ll have three different options. There is “New” which simply gives you a fresh blank canvas to write a blog as you normally would. Nothing really to dive into for this option. It's the tried and true form of blogging.
The next option you’ll see is “Prompted” and the great thing here is that you will get two different options to start a prompted blog. If you know what you want to write about, you can simply use the bottom section of the window to start writing text that includes key details you want to include, and then, you let AI do its magic. For example, you can see this post in my test account. In it, at the top, I have what text I used as input followed by the AI-generated content.
But where this tool really becomes useful is when you don't know what you want to write about. Maybe you have every other Monday set aside for blogging and you haven't made the time to come up with ideas. So, you open Focal, hit the “prompted” option, and you will be met with a set of prompts to get you started. And even better, if you don't like any of the given prompts, you can click “generate new prompts,” and you will get an entirely new set to get you started. However, one thing I’d love to see changed is the addition of more prompts. If you click the “generate new prompts” over and over, you will quickly get the same prompts over again. Although I am testing this in its beta form, so Focal very well could be adding more before the official release.
Now, the good thing about these prompts is that it's not simply an idea that you then have to organize your thoughts around. Instead, if you click the prompt “get to know me” you will be met with a set of questions. These questions help guide you to fill the post with pertinent information as well as give the AI enough details to work from. If you view this post, you’ll see the three questions I was asked, my answers, as well as the resulting content.
As for the third option of generating content, you also have the option to connect the tool to your Instagram account. Because if you are like most photographers, then you probably make time to post to social media while not making time for your own website. What this tool aims to do is convert the time and energy you spend on Instagram posts and spin those into blog content. So, once you have your Instagram account connected, all you would need to do is click the “Insta-Blog” option, and then, you’ll be presented with your Instagram grid. From here, you simply choose a post you want to generate content from. You’ll then see a pop-up showing you your caption, and you will have the option to add any useful information. The best part here is that the tool will automatically load the image or images from the Instagram post into the blog. Then, once you are in the editor, you can obviously add or remove any images you’d like and fine-tune the contents to your liking.
As this tool grows out of beta, one thing I hope is added is the ability to produce longer-form content that is also broken down into sections. As you can tell from the examples, the content is well-written and includes all the important details, but it’s presented in one large text block with no subheadings. While it’s easy enough to break this block of text up and add headings manually, I think this would be a fairly easy thing to incorporate into the AI. Also, it would be nice to see the ability to add more generated content from within an already populated post. For example, maybe I have a venue post I generated and then after reading it, decided I’d like to add a section. It would be nice to be able to open a prompt box and generate a section on demand from within the post editor.
Last up, we need to talk about pricing. While Focal offers a few different options for website building, hosting, contracts, and a ton of other tools, this blogging feature will be an additional add-on feature. And while the release price will be $20/month, I do know that if you sign up for any of their packages before Cyber Monday, you get the blogging feature free for the life of your account.
What I Liked
- Easy to use
- Minimal work with lots of rewards
- Free if you sign up before Cyber Monday
What I Didn't Like
- I wish there were more prompts
- It would be nice for the generated content to have headings and smaller text blocks.
As I mentioned above, I don't think this tool is designed or should be used as a cut-and-paste content creator. Instead, it gets you 90% of the way there with minimal effort. Even better, it can take the effort you spend on Instagram and use that to create your blog posts. Add to this that it's currently free for current and new members before Cyber Monday, and that's a pretty big win. And while the tool isn't perfect yet, I do think it's absolutely close enough for a first release and more than helpful with creating blog content. I also think there is massive potential as the tool is grown and refined.