If you’re running your own business, or looking after the marketing of a small company, then having a blog on your website can add a huge amount of value to your content marketing.
Blogs are nothing new, of course, they’ve been around for decades. And most of us know what personal blogs are in their most basic form – they’re opinion pieces on a topical theme, usually written by one person with something to get off their chest.
Business was a little slow to pick up on the blogging trend at first. But in 2016, if you go to any medium-sized, forward-thinking company’s website, it’s likely to have a ‘Blog’ tab lurking somewhere in those top-menu items.
Why? Well, in our modern, social-media-minded world, blog posts are a great way to share news, ideas and practical help with your customers. In short, your blog gives you an orange box to stand on, a platform from which you can talk about your industry, your customers, your business or the big challenges going on in your sector.
But if you’ve never sat down to write a blog post, where do you start?
If you’ve yet to pop your blogging cherry, or just want some handy tips on making your posts work a little harder for you, then read on.
Here are 10 simple ways to improve your business blogging…
1. Remember, blogs are not landing pages
Ok, this is a biggie. Your blog page is not like your other web content. This isn’t a landing page where you talk in general terms about your products and services, usually with a focus on selling either or both of these to your customers.
A blog is not a platform for selling. It’s there to raise your brand profile, make you personally seen as a trusted adviser in your industry, or to communicate interesting ideas with your core customer audience.
So, don’t try and push the ‘hard sell’ through your blog – consumers and business buyers will sniff that out in an instant and will see that there’s no real value in your blog post.
2. Blog about something you have a passion for
This may seem obvious, but if you’re going to write a series of blog posts around a particular theme, it really HAS to be something you have some genuine interest in and passion for.
If you’re running your own business, then you’re already going to have a passionate belief in what you do (at least I hope so!). But try to refine your blog topics down to titles and themes where you have a lot to say.
If you’re going through the motions, churning out a load of facts and figures on a topic you’re not engaged with, your readers will be similarly disengaged. Talk eloquently, and with a real sense of belief, and that passion will be evident in your writing.
3. Be honest and genuine
Closely related to the previous point is the need for you to be honest and genuine in what you write. For customers and buyers to engage with your blog posts, they’ll want to feel that they’re getting ‘the real you’ from the words you write.
Unlike your standard web page content, it’s absolutely fine to express a personal opinion in your blog posts. Share your perspective on the topic, explain why you feel that way and be as open and honest as possible.
Your language and your tone still has to stay professional, of course (no effing and jeffing on why your competitor’s CEO is an idiot!), but it’s 100% ok to give an opinion and to also remain resolutely professional and businesslike.
4. Steer clear of technical jargon
Every industry has its own jargon, abbreviations and phraseology. And it’s likely that people in your industry will understand that jargon – but don’t forget that the vast majority of your customers WON’T have a clue what those technical terms and abbreviations mean.
Where possible, use plain English and steer clear of the nerdy jargon. Sometimes you’ll *have* to use a technical term, so spell it out in full and include the abbreviation in brackets. Always assume that your reader needs the explanation, unless you’re talking to an audience who will definitely share your understanding of this jargon.
5. Give your readers something useful
What your customers and potential buyers want from your blog is value. If they’re going to invest their precious time in reading your content, you need to give them something useful.
Think about how you can share your knowledge and experience to make life easier for your customers. Open their minds to new ideas, share practical tips and point them towards sites, videos and books that may help them.
Give them a reason to want to come back, and make sure they leave a little wiser.
6. Post content as frequently as possible
This is another incredibly important one: if you’re going to start blogging, you’ve absolutely got to do it REGULARLY!
A blog with 10 posts from last April, but none in the past six months, isn’t going to be followed (I speak from experience here!). The key to building up an audience, raising your search engine optimisation (SEO) scores and becoming known in your sector is to post frequently.
Sit down and come up with a list of titles and topics and put dates next to when you’ll write them and post them – with those titles, summaries and dates in a spreadsheet, online calendar or project management solution, you’ve got yourself a content plan!
7. Comment on topical themes
Your blog should be talking about what’s happening NOW. A good blog is topical, current and at the cutting edge of what’s going on in your industry, market or sector.
When there’s a big news story that relates to your business, blog about it. Share your thoughts, outline the pros and cons and think about the useful tips you can share with your readers to help them overcome any new, topical challenges.
And update your content plan to reflect these topical themes – your plan is always a guide and never written in stone. It will change over time and needs that flexibility built into it.
8. Think about keywords and SEO
If people are going to find your blog posts when tapping away in Google, you’re going to have to think about keywords and SEO.
Search engines will look for the main search terms and keywords that link to any given topic, industry or product. And that means your blog titles, your opening paragraphs and your meta data (the text that’s embedded in your blog but is only seen by the search engine) must have the right words in there.
For example, the title of this post has the keywords ‘business’ and ‘blogging’ in the title, as well as ‘marketing’ and ‘content marketing’ in the introduction. Think about what your customers will be typing into their browsers and include as many of these search terms as possible.
Also, link back to previous posts when there’s a related topic or theme (like I did in tip 4) – that gets people visiting the rest of your blog and bumps up your traffic.
9. Use images in your blogs and social media promotion
Blog posts are all about text. But don’t discount the impact that images, photos and graphics can have to enhance and improve your blog content.
Find a royalty free image (please don’t just steal an image from Google), or take your own photos, and use an eye-catching image to head up your posts. Having a visual hook really does have an impact, especially when you’re using your social media channels to promote your blog content.
10. Consider vlogging or podcasts
We’re not all writers. Some people may have a head buzzing with business ideas and industry expertise, but just cannot get those ideas down in writing.
If that sounds like you, don’t worry – writing a blog is not your only option.
If talking and expressing your thoughts more visually are your bag, you can try making a video blog, or vlog, to engage with your customers. With sites like YouTube and Vimeo providing an easy way to host video content, and smartphones, tablets and laptops all having their own built-in cameras, it’s never been easier to make your own video.
And if you’d rather not be the star in front of the camera, there’s always the option to just talk and record the audio to make your own podcasts. Video and podcast are particularly useful if you’re looking to share a chat or two-conversation with a colleague, customer or industry expert.
Get stuck in and get blogging!
There you have it – 10 simple ways to improve your business blogging. This is in no way an exhaustive list and there will always be new and innovative ways to improve your posts, boost your SEO and raise your brand’s profile in the online space.
The best way to learn, is to do. So, give blogging or vlogging a try and see where it takes you. You never know, this might just be the opportunity your marketing has been waiting for!