5 indispensable tips small businesses can implement to create a successful blog post

blogging tips for small businessWhen executed well blogging can be a great asset to small online businesses. But what is it that makes a blog successful? We take a look at how to create an effective blog post for your e-commerce site with some indispensable best practice advice and helpful tips on how to generate content (great for when you are a bit short on ideas).

“Small businesses that embrace blogging see 126% more growth in terms of leads than those that don’t blog.”

Setting up a blog for your online business can initially be a bit daunting and you will need to invest time and resources in its ongoing management. However the many benefits blogging can bring makes it well worth the effort.

So what turns an ‘all-right’ post to an excellent blog post? Take a look at our tips below to find out how you can improve your blog offerings.

1. Create engaging content

Just blogging away isn’t enough. You need to think about how to create engaging content – content that your target market will be interested in reading. Whatever you do don’t just churn out reams of posts about your products. Your blog is not the environment to aggressively promote your businesses products or services. It should be about creating sharable content that is relevant to your industry and of value to your target audience. Take a look at notonthehighstreet.com’s blog. They provide interesting and lively posts relevant to their customers.

Variety is important so try an assortment of themes such as;

  • How to guides
  • Best practice tips
  • Top ten lists
  • Infographics
  • Industry news, facts and statistics
  • Forthcoming trends
  • Reader / client case studies

A blog is a great way to build your brand personality so a good tip is to write as you would talk. Remember you are trying to build a relationship with your readers so be natural and personable.

email newsletter content ideas2. How to generate fresh content and new ideas

Engaging content is all well and good but what happens when you feel you’ve run out of ideas or have writers block? There are lots of ways you can keep generating great content. For example;

  • Competitors: Check out the topics your competitors are writing about. See how you can improve on it or approach the topic from a different angle.
  • Scribble down ideas: Often your best ideas come to you when you least expect. I try to jot ideas down as and when they come to me so I have some topic ideas up my sleeve when needed.
  • Turn one post into a series: Rather than writing a long blog on one topic see if it lends itself to be turned into a series. Breakdown a large area into several bite-sized posts.
  • Guest blogs: Accepting guest blogs can be a good way to get some additional content on your site. But do just make sure that any guest blogs you accept are from legitimate sources delivering high quality content and value to your audience. It’s a good idea to have content guidelines in place such as not allowing any unrelated links (for example sales links) in the body of the text.
  • Hubspot’s blog topic generator: If you’re really stuck then try using a tool like Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator. It takes just seconds, simply fill in a couple of broad terms and it will come up with a list of relevant topic titles.
  • Ask your customers. Find out from your customers the kind of topics they would be interested in reading.

research blog content3. Use research to create credible blog posts

It is really important that you take the time to research your topic.  A well researched blog post will stand out and give you and your business more credibility. Use evidence such as facts, quotes and statistics to support your content. Do credit your references and include links back to the source – just make sure you open them in a new window.  I recently came across a great article that gives you some excellent tips on how to approach researching your blog – How to Research Blog Topics: A Step-by-Step process. Definitely worth a look if you’re writing regular blog articles.

Spend some time thinking about the keywords and phrases you want to target in your article. Consider what search terms your target audience might use to find information about your topic area and include them in the post. I don’t mean overstuffing your article with keywords or phrases as this will just reflect badly on your article but adding a couple of well-chosen key phrases in the body of your text will help keep you focused and your article honed-in on the topic in hand.

4. Include visuals – they make a big difference 

visual content The majority of us are visual learners. Indeed visual content makes up 93% of all human communication.  Including images in your blog article makes a significant difference to the effectiveness of your post. A good visual will capture your audience’s attention and make your article far more visually appealing.

Articles with images get 94% more total views 

Of course not just any old image will do.  Your image should be relevant to the topic being discussed or used to support a point you are making. Try to be creative and don’t  just churn out the same old stock photo everyone has seen before. There are lot a great sites you can source interesting images such as: Shutterstock, Dreamtimes, istockphoto.

There are also free image sites such as freedigitalphotos.  You don’t need to pay for these images but you will need to include an attribution to the author and website when you use the image. Alternatively sites like Pixabay offer interesting images that are in the public domain and fine to use for commercial purposes with no attribution required.

5. Presentation is essential

How your post looks is important . No matter how great the content, if the presentation looks poor then people simply won’t take the time to stop and read your article. Long reams of text are uninviting. So break your post up into scannable, bite-sized chunks. Don’t be afraid of segmenting text with:

  • Sub headings
  • bullet points
  • Lists
  • Bolded text
  • Quotes
  • Statistics
  • Images

Headline. Your headline is important so take the time to craft it. It needs to be attention grabbing so incorporate keywords and compelling adjectives. Keep it to the point and ensure your headline accurately reflects the content of the post.  If you’re a bit stuck, I came across a great post suggesting the ultimate headline formula as:

Numbers + Adjective + Target Keyword + Rational + Promise

Finally, before you publish take the time to check your post for spelling and grammatical errors.

Hopefully we’ve give you a few tips on how to optimise your posts to engage your audience and stand out from the crowd. Of course there are plenty more things you can do to make the most out of your blogging so if you’ve got some more tips then we’d love you to share them below. Happy blogging! 

 

We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this post, so do please leave a comment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How to start a successful blog for your online business

Blog definition imageAs 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.

Be patient!

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