Business Blogging 101
by Kathryn Good
Ok, some of you already have a little bit of an attitude about this article. Maybe you hear about blogging all the time but roll your eyes and insist that you won’t or can’t do it. Maybe you think a blog is something for “creative people” or for “people with nothing else to do but write.” Perhaps you have already decided that you have no time in your day to blog or maybe you think you can’t write.
Put all those maybes aside for a minute and discover a little bit more about blogging for business. We hope you’ll understand that blogging can help bring new clients and encourage interaction with current clients. Let’s start with the most important – the why:
Easy – there are lots of reasons; we’ll give you four.
- More Website Traffic. The more content you put out there, the more likely you are to attract an interested reader, and every blog post means one more web page for search engines to index. Also, search engines like for your website content to be regularly updated with fresh, helpful content.
- Be the Expert. Writing valuable and relevant content demonstrates that you are an expert in your field. Write blog posts about the business problems that keep your customers up at night. Help them solve their problems and show that you care. The blog is a way for you to directly display your know-how, new products, specials, and more.
- Encourage More Interaction. Allow comments on your blog posts. Comment boxes give customers the opportunity to further discussion and ask questions. And don’t be surprised when your blog article comes up at a meeting or luncheon, giving you another chance to talk to your customer.
- Show Your Personality. Blogging gives you a platform to spotlight employees, highlight various fundraisers and organizations your company supports, share opinions, unsolicited advice, and more.
Who Should Blog?
You, you and yes, you too. If you are reading this and you are not blogging for your business, you should be. See the whys above. Worried about writing? Don’t be. Remember that blogging as a business is just talking to your clients. It can be casual and fun. You should still use basic grammar skills, but this is not writing a proper British novel. Take your business personality, whatever it may be, and use it on the web. Your customers will appreciate the help and the interaction.
When Should You Blog?
In this case, more is better. For every blog post you write, you are giving customers valuable information and search engines more ways to find you. If you are limited on time, you should still start somewhere. Make it a goal to blog at least once a week. It doesn’t have to be long; even just 350 words can make a good post if you are giving your customers valuable information. The important thing is to post regularly and consistently; you can decide the frequency.
How Do You Start a Blog?
Technically speaking, you’ll need to add one if you don’t already have one on your website. Talk to your website company and get them to add one. If at all possible, structure the URL as www.yourcompany.com/blog and not a subdomain like blog.yourcompany.com. You want to direct your customers (and search engine traffic) to one central location.
Who Are You Writing to in Your Blog?
Think about Who will read your posts? Make sure you’re writing to one of your target audiences and that the topics will interest your readers. Consider the age group and whether most readers are male or female.
Audience tip: There are several ways to find out who your audience is. If you have social accounts, go into the analytics. Facebook and Twitter will give you a rundown of your followers, and this will be a good indication of who will be reading your blog.
What Should I Blog About?
Anything that your audience might want to read. Blogging is about helping your customers. Think of the questions you get asked over and over. Check with customer service or your receptionist to see how they are helping customers. Pick out a few of those questions and write out their answers. Also, think about how your business excels. How are you an expert in your field? Give tips and resources around that subject to help your customer and define you as a thought leader. Think about trends in your industry, new products, promotions, or perhaps highlight a satisfied customer. Once you have a list, start making titles.
What Should a Blog Include?
Writing a blog requires a lot more than just putting words into sentences and paragraphs. There are a lot of elements to consider with every single post you add to your blog. This checklist will help you make sure you don’t miss something important.
- Attention-Grabbing Headline: The first item on our blog checklist is the first thing your readers will see: the headline or you may call it the title. Just like an email subject line, you want to grab your readers and entice them to read more. Your headline should accurately identify the topic of your blog post while also making it seem exciting and relevant. Don’t be afraid to spend extra time making the headline intriguing. A fun title is, well, fun. But think about search engine optimization. Title Tips: “How to” posts and numbered posts (5 Ways to Get Your Blog Seen) do well. Think about how you would search for an article related the topic. Think about questions you would ask and keywords you want to incorporate. A keyword in the title is worth more than keywords in the body of your post to search engines.
- Intriguing Introduction: Like in grade school, you’ll want to introduce a problem or difficulty up front. Incorporating a little humor never hurt anyone. Sometimes this part is short and sweet, and other times may require a bit more explaining. That’s ok.
- Body of the Blog: Offer a solution to the problem you have introduced. Incorporate subheaders to break up your posts so that your readers can scan easy and see if they want to read more. Readers are much more relaxed in the “digital age” and don’t always require journalistic writing you’d see in TIME magazine. Write like you speak. If you catch yourself using industry jargon, try and use other terms that someone who is not as familiar with your industry will understand.
- Conclusion with a Call-to-Action: Give a quick recap if necessary. Be sure to include a CTA (call-to-action) to encourage the reader to DO SOMETHING. It can be to contact you, download a helpful PDF, or to go to another blog post to read even more great things. Whatever it is, include a CTA on every post. You can make it simple—a simple sentence or question will do, or add it as a clickable image or button.
- Savvy SEO: Writing a blog post can be difficult, and adding keywords and other search engine optimization (SEO) descriptors can be even more challenging if you aren’t familiar with SEO. Use targeted keywords throughout your post to optimize your blog for search engines. Don’t forget to add them to the meta data, image alt tags, and the headline as well. Once you write and optimize your blog post for search engines, you need to upload it to your website.
- Images that Explain and Relate: Use pictures and graphics to engage the reader. This will help to break up the content on the page making it more pleasing to the eye. If you need some places to get free images, check out this past blog post.
Take the items above and form them into your blog checklist. If you run each post through this list before publishing, you’ll make sure each one has all of your necessary elements.
What Happens After You Publish the Blog?
Now that you have established your expertise and enthusiasm (don’t forget to be excited!) put the blog out there for the world to see. Your website should be the hub of all you do on the web. You should use email marketing and social platforms like Facebook and Twitter, but they should be used to distribute the information that is on your website. Once your blog post is complete and published, pull 5-10 quotes or tidbits of information and schedule them out over a couple of months. You never know when the article will reach a user who will share it or learn from it or better yet, become a customer!
Still, have a bad attitude about blogging?
If you still have a little bit of a bad attitude about blogging, don’t think of it as a blog. Call it news or frequently asked questions or helpful hints. Just put something out there and realize that releasing regular content to your customers (also known as blogging) is a valuable business tool.
So what’s next?
Start writing. The easiest way to start is to answer the number one question you get from customers. Then move on to other questions. As you get used to blogging, maybe you’ll start giving your opinion on industry topics. Or perhaps you’ll write about something completely unrelated to business but is entertaining to your customer base. It is easier than it sounds, but you have to get started.
No more maybes. It’s time for your business to blog. If it turns out you need more guidance about blogging, we’re happy to help.