5 Steps to a Business Blog
One of the best ways to make your business stand out online is by blogging regularly. It helps establish you as a thought leader in your industry, gives you a way to share things relevant to your audience or client base, provides valuable SEO content, and gives you tons of information to add to a newsletter (if you don't have one, see why you should here.)
However, for someone who has never blogged before it can be a daunting task to tackle head-on, which is why I've broken things down into five easy steps. Let's get started!
1. Define your blogging goals
Ask yourself: what do I expect to get out of blogging for my business? If you can't answer that question, take a look at a few common blogging goals below:
- Establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry. Ideally people will read your blog and see that you know what you're talking about, which in turn makes them trust your business.
- Create unique share-able content for social media. If all you do is share information about sales and products then people will stop paying attention pretty quickly, because people want to feel like you're doing more than just selling a product or service at them.
- Improve your Search Engine Optimization rankings. Instead of ranking for keywords relevant to your business. products or services, you can rank for the topics that your audience or customers are interested in as well.
The biggest thing to keep in mind when setting your blogging goals is how they align with the kind of content your audience and customers want to read. By posting interesting, relevant content you'll guarantee a growing group of dedicated readers.
2. Do your research
Before you hit 'publish' on your first post, take some time to see what your competitors are blogging about. The topics they discuss, their tone (formal or informal), and the style of posts (video, text-based, infographic, etc) give you a better understanding of what your audience expects, and if you should be blogging at all.
Once you've identified a few competitor'd blogs, spend some time looking into things like post frequency, which topics they discuss, who writes them, and how much engagement they receive.
3. Choose a blogging platform
The software you choose will depend on a variety of factors, such as how much time you want to spend setting up your blog, how customized you want it to be, how much functionality you want, and whether you want to integrate it into your existing website (spoiler alert: you do. Don't drive traffic away from your main website if you can help it!)
The best thing to do is to have your entire site hosted on a blogging platform such as WordPress, Tumblr, Medium, SquareSpace, or Blogger. With the exception of Medium you can change the design (or theme) for your blog to any of the offered themed, or you can tweak the existing templates, if you're savvy like that. This allows you to have all of your business' info in one place.
I would also recommend using your own domain name instead of the free URL generated by the platforms (eg: the WordPress site will read "www.yoursitehere.com" instead of "www.yoursitehere.wordpress.com." Paying for a domain is cheap (mine is $7/mth) and is incredibly more pforessional-looking, so if you're serious about your website and your blog, make sure that you buy a domain and point it to the hosted site.
The upside to hosted solutions is that you don't have to maintain the website itself, though it does limit your customization.
4. Decide which topics to cover
If you've spent some time defining your goals and doing your research, then you should have a pretty good idea as to what kinds of topics to cover for your business blog.
Still stuck? Follow these steps for some additional inspiration:
- Think broadly about your topics. Don't worry about specific post titles - think about the kinds of topics that would interest people involved in your industry. Eg: if you work in content marketing, write about topics like social media.
- Break these larger, broader ideas down into subcategories. For social media this could look like: link building, SEO tips, making the most of different social platforms, etc.
- Once you have these subcategories you can start doing research into keywords and popular topics. One of the best ways to do this is to use GoogleAdwords Keyword Planner, which will give you up to 800 related keyword phrases for each of your subcategories.
A word of warning: don't blog about things that you don't understand! If you think you want to blog about a particular topic, do your research first. Read extensively about your desired topics and then start writing.
5. Plan, plan, plan!
One of the most important steps is to plan out a posting schedule. An abandoned, empty blog is worse than no blog at all, so based on your competitor's blogs, figure out how often you should be posting new content (daily, weekly, etc) and if this is something that you can manage on your own. If not, consider getting an employee to handle researching and publishing your content for you, or hiring a ghostwriter who will write on your behalf.
Once you know who will be writing and how often, outline your blogging goals in a specific manner so you know what milestones you want to achieve and when. Some examples include 10,000 visitors per month, a 6% conversation rate from readers to customers, or to increase search visibility from 15 keywords to 75 keywords. Ultimately, these goals are up to you.
Make sure to also outline a process for coming up with topic ideas and turning those topics into written, edited and published content. You don't need to include exact dates and times per-se, but something like "publish a blog post every Friday" can be sufficient.
The process of creating this sort of content plan is called creating an Event Calendar, which is a key factor in making sure that you always have fresh, interesting content to post on your blog and share across social media.
By this point you've thought about what sort of blog you need to have, how you're going to host it, what sorts of topics you're going to discuss, and who will be writing your content for you.
While these aren't always easy steps to implement, they are crucial to make sure to you start blogging the right way, and that your blog doesn't fizzle up and die after a few posts. By planning in advance and doing your research, and can make sure that your blog will bring you the results that you want for years to come.
Do you have any tips for starting a business blog? I'd love to hear them!