We know that a good blog with unique, engaging content leads to brand awareness, better signals to search engines, and numerous networking opportunities. But most business owners are then saddled with figuring out how to start a blog that gets their brand noticed. Our blogging tips will help you stop being overwhelmed and start creating overwhelmingly great content.
1. Develop a Content Marketing Strategy
If you’re an average Joe or Jane, there’s no set formula for how to write a blog; you can just start typing. But when you’re blogging for your business and have a brand to consider, that freeform approach isn’t enough; you need a plan, a content marketing strategy. A good content strategy will keep your blog focused and relevant, and engage the right people. To create this strategy, do some exploratory research:
- Explore Your Keyword Space: Start with keyword research. Find which keywords people search for, and create tailored content addressing informational queries. For instance, if you’re a woodworker, a query like “how to carve wood” would be a good, related query to answer through a blog. The keywords you ID during this phrase should be applied naturally within the blog post; don’t go overboard, but include a few topically relevant words.
- Visualize a Target Audience: Find a target audience.Imagine your ideal consumer demographic and their interests, then use your blog to engage their interests and meet their needs.
- Complete a Competitor Analysis: Find out what your competitors are doing. You don’t have to mimic them, but look for inspiration.
- Study Influencer Content: Observe industry influencers through social media. Consider how they’re engaging with people and what they’re talking about; leverage successful topics.
- Crowdsource Content Ideas: One of the simplest ways to find out what your customers want is to ask. Ask them using surveys or social media what they’d like to see from your blog.
2. Create an Editorial Calendar
Once you’ve got the “what,” you need to decide the “when.” When is the best time to publish which post? Well, that depends on several different things:
- Scheduling by Keyword Space: Don’t exhaust one topic over and over; it gets repetitious.
- Scheduling by Writing Style: If you have multiple authors, alternate and give them all time to shine.
- Scheduling by Type: Shake up that formatting with a variety of text, image based, infographic, and video posts.
- Timeliness: Keep it current by addressing timely topics. Don’t lag and pick up a topic that’s months old; your audience has already moved on.
- Seasonality: Most businesses have a certain seasonality to them. This can help guide which topics are most helpful when.
Scheduling out posts and planning ahead helps maintain focus and keep things organized when you’re creating content in a team setting.
3. Set Realistic Goals
Define the purpose of your blog and how you will measure success. Key performance indicators (KPIs) are set, measurable goals that can be monitored. Once you know what your KPIs are, you can figure out whether or not your blog is working and make any adjustments.
- Zero in on KPIs: For most blogs, gaining organic traffic is the goal. That can be tracked with Google Analytics. Several different KPIs related to organic traffic can be monitored for free through GA.
- Get into a Routine: Commit to posting blogs on a regular, routine basis. Usually weekly posts are an effective frequency, but it really depends on your bandwidth, the time and attention you can give to blogging. If it’s more frequent, great! If it’s less so, consider hiring someone to maintain the blog for you.
4. Keep it Clean & Designed with Mobile in Mind
We do judge books and blogs by their covers; and nobody wants to read an ugly blog, no matter how well written. Take the same level of pride in your blog as you have in designing your website. Apply a clean layout featuring your logo and an attractive color scheme.
It is also important to design with mobile in mind. It’s been estimated that more than half of online traffic is mobile and mobile usability is now a differentiating factor in the SERPs, with mobile-specific results pages on the horizon.
5. Write Well and with Feeling
Your blog post represents your brand, your business. Don’t do yourself or your brand a disservice by producing sloppy copy. Proofread after you’ve had time to separate yourself from the content – go grab a coffee, take a walk, heck, go home! – Whatever you need to do to approach it with fresh eyes.
Writing well also includes using the right “voice.” Your brand’s voice should remain consistent and adopt a tone familiar to your audience. Your unique voice is an amalgam of tone, rhetoric, style, and other nuances, all working together. Keep in mind as you write that excitement and passion are part of the formula; write with feeling and your audience is more likely to engage.
6. Build Up Your Author
Behind every blog there is an author, whether real or a persona. To provide a sense of authority, all authors should have an about page linked to each of their posts. Besides the SEO benefits of having an author, there are also social benefits of having an author: Authors (read: people) tend to be more approachable and accessible than brands on social media and may receive more likes, shares, and engagement.
7. Make it Shareable
Social media and blogging go hand-in-hand, there’s really no way around it. So, how does one make a blog post “shareable”? Without getting too caught up in general marketing theory and terms, there are several simple things that can help eke out more like, shares, retweets, and the like.
- Extra, Extra Focus on Headlines: Take time to create exciting, clickable headlines that pique your audiences’ interest.
- A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words: Visual content (like videos, images, graphics, and other design elements) is the new king – having overthrown content when people stopped reading and started watching.
- Nobody can Share if the Buttons Aren’t There: Feature social sharing buttons prominently to provide readers a clear opportunity to share it.
8. Test, Learn, and Test Some More
Yes; blogging can sometimes feel like throwing paint at the wall. Test out different voices, different approaches, and closely monitor KPIs to figure out what works best. Don’t be afraid to try new things in an effort to make your blog better!