So, your business has decided to take the leap into the blogosphere. Great! There’s no shortage of reasons why blogging can benefit your business. However, the world of business blogging may still feel like uncharted territory. What should your blog discuss? How many posts should get published, and how often? Just who the heck is going to read this stuff, anyway? This blog about blogging (a meta-blog?) is intended to help you hit the ground running with tips on creating timely and fresh blogs that meet the needs and engage the minds of your readership.
Lay the foundation
A great blog starts with a great plan, and the planning stage is where you first answer the big questions that will determine what you write about, who you write for, and why you’re writing in the first place. Before you fire up your typewriter, be sure to nail down answers to the following questions:
Start with buyer personas—who is going to be interested in what your business has to say? What are their pain points, and how do your products or services address and resolve them? Targeting your content to a specific readership makes it more likely to be seen (and shared).
Develop a list of keywords relevant to your buyer personas. What kinds of search terms will they use when they’re looking for solutions? Knowing your keywords and putting them into use can optimize your blog to be found, guide your writing process and keep your copy consistent.
How often will you write? The fresher and more frequent your content, the more you’ll have to offer to your readership, and the more Google’s page rankings will look favorably on your website.
Set measurable goals in both the short and the long term. Are you looking to grow your email list and cultivate new leads, or are you focused on making your brand’s voice trusted and authoritative in your field? Whatever your goals, ensure that you have reliable metrics for measuring your progress.
Pick your topics
Are you drawing a blank every time you sit down to write? It may be easy to simply write a product feature or fluff up a sales pitch, but it’s important to remember that the point of your blogs is to provide value to your audience, not to sell to them. Take a look at your buyer personas and their pain points or problems, and assemble them into categories. These categories and their relevant personas will focus your writing and guide your use of keywords to optimize the SEO boost that the post provides. From here, you can begin to address some general topics.
Another great source of blogging inspiration is your existing customer base. Think about the kinds of questions from customers that you answer on a regular basis. Many of these represent common pain points, and can easily turn into full blog posts. For every one customer who comes in or sends and email with a common question, just imagine how many there are tapping their query into Google in search of an answer!
For example, a furniture store might write a blog on the difference in durability between leather, vinyl, and fabric upholsteries, or the different types of mattresses and their levels of support. An informative post that answers common questions and gives your readers information that they can act on is going to rank higher on search engines and position your business as a source of information that readers can trust.
Content (not copy) is king
Getting the copy down is one thing, but your blog will be as dry as a bone without engaging content to supplement that copy. The content that your copy supports, more than anything, is what sets your blog apart from your competitors and drives the solution to your readership’s problem.
It’s best to make your own, but there are plenty of resources out there for those who don’t collect data or employ a design team.
Provide relevant and substantiated statistics in the form of graphs and infographics—these add credibility to your posts, and can provide shock value when used properly.
Header and Sub-header Images
Use visuals to break up the text. The text of headers and sub-headers can often be incorporated into a relevant image that draws the reader’s attention and invites them to read further. A well-chosen graphic or photograph can serve to break up the monotony of plain text as well as add a visual frame to the information the audience receives.
Screenshots/photos Finally, use screenshots or photos to demonstrate your solution in action. Remember that you’re here to provide value, not to sell.Getting to the end of a blog and feeling like you just read a really long ad means that you’re not going to come back for anything informative or authoritative. The more your readers can learn from your post, the more likely they are to return to your blog when they have another question that needs an answer.
What’s your Story?
Tell compelling stories (and write snappy titles). Narrative is a powerful tool, and we’ve known how to use it in sales and marketing for a long time. The same goes for your blogs. Framing the movement from conflict to resolution as a journey makes your audience more receptive to the information you have to share and puts it within a familiar and memorable framework.
Start with choosing a narrative voice. Anecdotes and stories about your business can use a first-person voice to draw readers in and demonstrate your unique way of overcoming challenges in ways that others can learn from and put into practice. A second-person voice (like the one used in this blog) allows readers to visualize themselves acting out your solutions as your offer them, while a third-person voice is suited to communicating stories about how your business has been part of another customer’s success.
Leverage your buyer personas and their challenges to tell stories that will engage your audience and show how your business fits into their lives. Your posts don’t have to read like a novel, but putting your info in action will help transform your blog from a lecture into a success story.
Sharing is Caring
You’ve written something you’re proud of, so be sure to put it out there! Share your new blog on your business’ other marketing channels, and put the work in to gain readers other than Googlers and regular visitors to your site. Leveraging your business’ social media following to widen your blog’s audience has the added benefit that a new post that a follower finds useful or interesting is always easy to share with their own network. The more readers that come to see your business as a trusted source of information, the better!
Your blogs can (and should) also link to one another. Where there’s an overlap in information or your blog posts address similar issues, have them link to each other! An engaged reader will always be ready to find out more, and demonstrating that you have more information to offer is never a bad thing.
Finally, and importantly, bring things home with a with a call to action. Have you ever gotten to the end of an interesting article, how-to or blog post and been filled with the inspiration to immediately test what you’ve learned? While the point of your blog isn’t to sell, it’s important to give your readers something to engage with that allows them to take action and apply their new knowledge. Whether it’s more content, a link to a product or promotion or a contact form, your readers will have a way to act on their inspiration, and you will have a way to track engagement and turn readers into leads.
Here’s hoping this blog has inspired you to start writing your own! By following these tips, you should be well on your way to inspiring your own readers with engaging stories, compelling content, and valuable information that will position your business as a reliable source of information. Write well, help others and have fun!