Blogging is one of those things that seems easy on the surface but is difficult to do in practice. People who don't write think writing is easy until they try it for themselves.
The majority of bloggers quit after just a few months of blogging. In the beginning, it's a lot of effort for very little gain. It can take a blog several months, even years to get the kind of traction that turns a blog into something worthwhile. With a good social media and online advertising strategy, you have the potential to get results much faster.
When I first started blogging in 2007, I don't think I saw any increase in traffic until about the 8-month mark, and that was after about 35 blog posts under my belt. I basically just posted articles and waited for Google to send me traffic, which is a long and slow way to grow your blog. Social media was just starting to catch on so I had limited channels to share my content, which I did none of anyway, I just posted and moved onto the next article. Online content is more competitive today but you also have more channels where you can share and promote your content.
One major benefit I had from my blog is that over the years I met so many wonderful people from all over the world as a result of my blogging, those connections alone was worth the effort.
So why blog at all?
First off, blogging isn't for everyone. Just like social media isn't for everyone. You shouldn't do it just because someone said that you should. Just like any marketing channel, you have to make sure it is a good fit for you and your business and that you have the resources and determination to make it work.
47% of buyers viewed 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep. (Demand Gen Report, 2016)
A successful blog can attract thousands of targeted, potential customers to your website each month. If your content ranks high in the search engines, people will find it when they do a search and will visit your website. If you have engaging content, you can drive lots of people to your website through social media. A great blog can also position you and your business as a thought leader in your industry, helping to make your business stand out from your competitors.
Setting up a blog is a long term marketing play for your business. It's something that you have to put a lot of resources into up front with little gain, for a bigger payout later on down the road. Kind of like SEO, where there is no immediate payout for your efforts but has great long term ROI potential.
You don't need to be a writer in order to blog. I've been blogging since 2008, I've written over 500 blog posts, and I still don't consider myself a writer. Writing is always a constant struggle, even professional writers struggle with their writing.
But what you do need is a clear understanding of what blogging is and how it will benefit your business. You need a strategy for your blog so you can turn your content into leads and customers for your business. This is where most business blogs go off the rails. They start blogging without a clear goal or strategy in place and end up writing about random nonsense that nobody cares about. Usually, after a few months of no direction and strategy, they see poor results and quit.
Don't let that be you.
If you are serious about blogging then read on. Adding a blog as part of your marketing strategy can pay huge dividends for your business down the road. The most important thing is that you have a strategy in place and you're not just blogging for the sake of blogging. You also need to understand that blogging is a long-term marketing strategy, so don't expect immediate payouts like you would with advertising.
Marketers who prioritize blogging are 13x more likely to achieve a positive ROI on their efforts. Hubspot, State of Inbound
Here are a few basic tips for your blog.
- Content should be at least 500+ words in length. Shorter than that and you probably didn't explain the topic fully enough and the search engines tend not to rank flimsy content. 600-1200 words is a nice sweet spot to aim for
- Add images and embed video when you can. People like multi-media and adding these can enhance your content
- Use quotes, facts, and statistics when you can
- Use headers,sub-headers, bullets and bolding. Just like a book, a blog post, especially a longer one, is easier to read when it is broken down into sections
- Set a steady posting schedule for your blog. It can be daily, weekly or monthly. The more quality content you produce, the faster you will grow
- Aim for quality over quantity, the internet is already littered enough with sub-standard content
You should also take a look at popular blogs in your niche and look at how they structure their blog posts.
So if you are ready to start blogging, the next step is to form a content strategy. What will you blog about? I've listed some blog topic ideas for you below, along with why they are good topics for your business.
Question & Answer Blog Posts
This should be at the core of your blogging strategy and can be the biggest driver of traffic to your website over time. Q&A blog posts are the most likely to rank in the search engines because people are always online searching for answers to their questions. Your goal is to provide full and complete answers for people interested in your product or service.
It's easy to get started. Make a list of the top 20 questions you get from potential customers and turn each one of them into a detailed blog post. Sure you can create an FAQ page on your site and give 2 sentence answer for each question like most people do, but FAQ pages never rank high in the search engines and rarely get found. Do the opposite, and provide the best answer to that question out of anyone in your industry and you will get rewarded with a higher place in the search engine results when people search for it.
If you need some ideas and examples, simply ask a question about a product or service you are interested in and read the top 5 results. Then go read the results on page 3-5 of the search engine results and note the differences in quality and structure.
Case studies & Customer Success Stories
Potential customers love reading case studies and success stories, especially if they can relate to the challenge you solved for the case study subject. These types of blog posts are great for converting potential customers into paying customers as it provides real-life examples of how your business solves people's problems.
These types of blog posts are great for social media, advertising, and email marketing. You can also showcase them on your website and use them as a conversion tool. Case studies and customer success stories also work great for Facebook Advertising, where you create a case study for a specific demographic, then target that demographic on Facebook with your case study.
If you are a local business then local is what you should be talking about most of the time on your blog. Instead of writing about general industry topics, write about those topics through a local lens. Writing about industry topics but making them local in nature can greatly help with your local search engine rankings and make your content more relevant for you audience. Localizing your content makes it easy for the search engines to determine that you're a business in a specific area and is much more topical for your local audience.
Make your case studies about a local business people know. Talk about industry topics and use examples from your city. Your city may have unique challenges when it comes to whatever industry you are in, point these out and let people know these differences from the generic content they read online from other blogs.
So if you are a real estate agent, don't write about generic real estate tips like every other agent, make your content local and specific. Write about the 5 best neighborhoods in your city for young families, or do a profile on a new housing development in your area. Interview other local businesses and community leaders and do writeups about local events. This kind of content is much more interesting to your readers than another, “5 Best Tips To Sell Your Home Fast” nonsense.
Whatever industry you are in, take popular topics and turn them into local blog posts for your readers.
Write about what's happening in your industry. Talk about new products and services, trends happening and how your industry is evolving. These types of blog posts help to educate your customers and potential customers about the latest in your industry. It also helps to spread awareness to your customers and potential customers to create new buying opportunities. Just be sure to use common language and not industry speak, which will confuse and bore your audience.
These types of blog posts are great for emailing to your existing customer base and for sharing on social media to existing and potential customers. This type of content positions your business as a thought leading for your industry and helps you to stand out from your competitors.
The easy way to execute this is to stay on top of industry news, trades journals and other professional publications, then write a consumer friendly version of it for your readers. You can include this content in your newsletter as well as on social media.
Behind the Scenes & Your People
Look at many popular TV shows like Undercover Boss or How It's Made, people love to see the inner workings of the businesses and products they know. Take your customers behind the scenes and show them what life is like behind the counter.
If you sell products, show your audience how your product is made and the people who make them. Most people will likely be surprised at all of the work and moving parts that are involved in bringing a product to market. People may better appreciate your product or service if they can see all of the hard work that goes on behind the scenes.
Showcase yourself and your employees. People love to know the faces behind the business. If you have consumer-facing employees, do a profile on them so people can better relate to them. If you have behind the scene employees, bring them front and center and show your customers how they make things work behind the scenes.
Social media is a perfect platform for this. Post pictures and stories on Instagram about your business. Same with Facebook. Make videos you can post to Youtube and on your website. Most social platforms let you embed your social feeds, so put them on your website so customers can stay up to date on what you are doing to better serve them. These are perfect times to relax and show your customers the lighter, more fun side of your business. People love being a fly on the wall, let them see your business how you see it.
Start your business blog today
Starting a blog for your business isn't a quick way to generate leads or gain popularity. It's a long-term strategy that can pay off in spades if you do it right and stay with it for the long haul. Business websites are littered with blogs that started half-hazard and stopped almost as fast as they started. Don't let that be you.
Before you start blogging, make sure you have a strategy in place and you are committed to making your blog an important part of your overall marketing strategy. If you do this, a year from now you will be a very happy person as you watch all of the wonderful things a great blog can do your business.