As a small business or start-up you may be toying with the idea of creating a blog for your business. But perhaps you are not quite sure of how to get started or how to make certain your content is interesting and engaging. In this post we’ll give you some top tips to get you on your way and blogging like a pro.
The benefits a great blog can bring
As we’ve discussed in previous posts, quality content is central to the success of so much of the marketing you undertake as an online business. A blog is a genuinely effective way of creating engaging content for you site. Still not quite convinced? Then check out the statistics obtained an info-graphic from Ignite Spot :
- Small business with blogs generate 126% more leads
- Interesting content is one of the top 3 reasons people follow brands on social media
- Companies that blog have 97% more inbound links
Where should you start?
A sensible place to start is by looking at other blogs, including some within your own industry. This will give you a feel for typical formats, content and styles of writing that are out there, giving you a better idea of what works and what doesn’t. The next step is to get some blogging software. There are plenty of great blogging services that are quick to set up and straightforward to use. It is worth doing a bit of research to get the right software for your needs. Popular free services include Google’s Blogger (you will just need to set up a Google account) and WordPress. Equally, your current website platform probably also offers a blogging service. Don’t forget to make sure you customise a URL for your blog and host it off your website, otherwise you won’t get the SEO benefits.
Top tips for writing an engaging blog
- Content: I would argue that the most important tip to remember is that a successful blog is all about content. Your blog is not the place to be aggressively selling your products or services. It should be aimed at your customers and prospects – what kind of information would they would find useful and interesting? For example if you owned a florist shop you might choose to write about tips on how to arrange flowers in a vase or how to keep cut flowers fresh for longer. You are aiming to be seen as an expert in your relevant field through providing informative and engaging information that readers will hopefully share with others.
- Topics: So how do you come up with great topics and ideas to blog about? Taking a look other business blogs in your industry is a good way to generate ideas – then think about how you can approach the topic from a different angle. Popular blogs include problem solving posts like how to guides, breaking news, pro’s and con’s posts (for example, going back to our florist shop the pro’s and con’s of fresh versus dried flowers for table centrepieces) or list posts such as 10 top tips for better time management, or 20 tips to beat the Christmas rush.
- Headline: Spend time on your headline. As with most copy, your headline is a really important part of the blog. It is what often makes people decide if they want to read on. A good way to start a headline is to think about the keywords and keyphrases a customer or prospect might type into a search engine to find the kind of information you are writing about in your blog post.
- Conversational: You should try to make your tone friendly and conversational. Remember, you are trying to build a relationship with your audience so start by writing in first person using ‘I’ and ‘you’. It comes across as much more personable than writing in third person (this is not to say that there aren’t times when writing in third person is appropriate).
- Share information: Don’t be afraid to share relevant and informative links to sources of information you think your customers might find interesting or useful, such as statistics, infographics, publications or websites.
- Open links in new windows : If you are including outbound links in your blog make sure you open them in a new window so your reader isn’t taken away from your post permanently and are able to get back to your blog easily.
- Post regularly: You don’t have to blog everyday – unless the mood takes you that is! But it is important that once you start a blog you need to keep posting regularly. It doesn’t do much for your brand image if a visitor arrives on your blog page and sees that your last post was six months ago. If you are pressed for time why not see if you have some affiliates or contacts who might like to write a guest blog for you now and then?
- How long?: Don’t get too worked up about how long your blog should be, you will probably find the length will be dictated by the topic area you are writing about. It is the quality of the content that you should focus on rather than worrying about the quantity. If you do find your post getting too lengthy then maybe it’s an area that lends itself to a series of related posts. However, if you are just starting out and want a bit of a guideline then an average post is probably anywhere between 300-800 words.
- Quality: Check your grammar and spelling. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because blogs usually have a less formal tone than other types of content poor spelling, punctuation and grammar don’t matter – they do. A slapdash post will reflect badly on your brand.
- Feedback: Try and close your post by asking your readers to comment and if they do then reply back, as it is a good way to encourage engagement with your customers.
- Images: ‘A picture paints a thousand words’. Images are really important. A strong, relevant image can pull a reader in to your post. Plus, you get the added bonus of using these engaging images to help promote your post on sites like Pinterest.
- Tagging and Categorizing: Keyword and keyphrase tagging and categorising will help potential readers find your blog post more easily. So for example for this post I could categorise it under ‘marketing for small businesses’ and ‘digital marketing’ and my tags could include keywords and keyphrases like ‘how to write a blog’, ‘SEO’ and ‘online content’.
- Promote: Spread the word! You’ve just invested your time in writing a great blog post so make sure you tell customers and potential customers about it. Use your social media pages and email newsletters to promote your latest blog with a small paragraph about your blog’s content, a good visual and the link to the post.
Finally don’t forget, building up leads and links takes time. But is worth it – according to statistics from Traffic Generation Café when you’ve written over 52 posts on your blog, traffic increases by up to 77%.
“Once you write 24-51 posts, your blog traffic generation starts to grow. That’s probably how long it takes to build a blog with enough pages to get indexed by Google and attract links from other sites as well as visitors.”
So do persevere as evidence continues to show it really is well worth the effort!
We’d really love to hear your thoughts on this post, so please do leave a comment.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net