I was about to wrap up for the holiday break but then I received an email from Gary Dek who is a professional blogger, writer and SEO expert. He wanted to write a detailed informational guest post for mastermind bloggers. I liked the topic and his style is neat so I decided to post it. Please remember, I am going to close the guest post section and make several upgrades to this blog when re-launching in January 2015. There are several good reasons for that so expect the best soon. For now, I hope you take away some golden nuggets from this post.
Almost every business needs an online presence. It is probably the cheapest and most effective way to leverage access to millions of consumers, generate leads, and increase revenue. Simply put, business blogging doesn’t have to be difficult. It just requires thoughtful planning, consistency, and a focus on content that will get you traffic, links, and shares.
Here is a comprehensive guide on how to create a successful business blog.
- Determine the purpose and goals of starting a blog.
Purpose and goal may seem like the same thing, but there is a fine line. When determining your blog’s purpose, you are focusing on your readers. When identifying your blog’s goals, you are focusing on your business.
The purpose of most successful business blogs is to educate readers and potential customers. Unless you are providing something of value to your audience, why should anyone spend time visiting your blog? After all, there are hundreds of other blogs in the same industry vying for their attention. Ultimately, this becomes a competition between blogs to provide the most valuable, trustworthy, or entertaining content possible.
But why should a business bother investing time to giveaway something valuable for free? What’s the benefit to the business? This is where your blog’s goals become important.
Here are a few compelling reasons:
- A blog can help you build authority within your industry. People want to do business with or buy from organizations that are run by knowledgeable and competent entrepreneurs.
- A business blog can build a relationship and trust with potential customers.
- Blogging can increase your brand’s exposure by driving traffic to your main website.
- You can develop a subscription mailing list of loyal followers, and you can advertise new product or service launches to a pre-qualified demographic.
- Your blog can turn visitors into leads, who may eventually become customers.
- Depending on how you structure your blog, you can give your business a face or persona, therefore humanizing it. People relate to businesses easier that way.
- Blogging will help you attract other talented individuals.
Chances are, the goal of your blog is to achieve one of the above benefits. So, regardless of whether you are a manufacturing services company, psychologist, life coach, financial advisor, insurance agent, or freelance writer, it makes sense to build a blog.
- Research Your Audience
No matter what kind of blog you build, its success depends on accurately targeting your audience and addressing their needs and problems. Ideally, the profile of your target audience should be the same as your potential customers. Understanding this will be a critical element in crafting your content and promoting your blog.
Some things to consider include:
- Who would benefit from the content I’m producing?
- Who are my best prospects? Take a look at your existing customers and how they use your product/service.
- Where can you find these people, and how can you reach them online?
One of the best ways to think through this issue is to learn from your competitors. Read their blogs, and identify the types of content and keywords that are getting them the best traction. Pages with a high number of social shares should be an easy indicator.
- Who is going to write or manage your blog?
If your business blog is going to succeed, it needs to be someone’s responsibility and focus. Successful content marketing is no small feat, so a dedicated employee or highly qualified freelance writer is ideal. Experienced business bloggers or contributors can help you leverage yourself and free up time to focus on other priorities; otherwise, you may have to consider managing it yourself.
- Decide on how often you will be publishing.
While there are no hard and fast rules as to how often a business should publish content, there is one factor many professional bloggers profess is the cornerstone of their success: consistency.
For many businesses, it may not make sense to publish every day, nor can some lean companies maintain that schedule. However, it is essential to train your readers to expect content on certain days. Try a Monday, Wednesday, and Friday schedule, or maybe just the first 3 days out of the week. Fridays are generally low traffic days so something entertaining and light could add a little spice to your marketing approach.
Whatever the case, you should only be publishing content when you have something noteworthy to share.
- Create an editorial calendar.
Small organizations may be able to get away with not having an editorial calendar, but larger businesses need to establish expectations.
Simply put, an editorial calendar is a to-do list for your blog. It serves as a map for when posts are to be written and published. Whether the writing is done in-house or outsourced, an editorial calendar will make sure that you have a strategy and that it is followed.
When creating an editorial calendar, allow for some flexibility. Even though you may have set a topic for a certain day, if something more urgent and timely comes up, you can move the other topic to another day. Additionally, make it a habit to continuously brainstorm topics.
- Get writing.
Writing quality content is of the utmost importance. Ideally, you’ll have some amount of content before launching your blog and you can hit the ground running.
If content creation is going to be done in-house, here are some tips on how to create a great business blog post:
- Bear your target audience in mind.
- Write a working title to direct you. This can be rewritten if necessary, as titles need to be as catchy and effective as possible. One way to do this is offer a “promise” that will be delivered in the blog post. For example, “How To Make $567,000 In Revenue By Spending $25,000 on Designer Clothes”.
- Create an outline detailing main points, supporting evidence, links, statistics, etc.
- Pack a punch with your intro. The intro can make or break an article, encouraging people to read on enthusiastically or bounce.
- Deliver on your promise in the title.
- Close assertively, and yet encourage feedback from your readers. Include a call-to-action that may convert to a lead.
- Read and proofread your draft, and make the necessary changes – typos, grammatical errors, idea flow, etc.
If you ever run out of things to write about, there are tons of resources online to spark your creative juices and help you come up with interesting blog post ideas.
- Promote your blog.
While writing excellent content is primordial, blogging isn’t just all about writing. You can’t stop at writing and publishing. You need to let your target audience know that there is something that they should be reading – content they can’t afford to miss.
Blog promotion and effective link building strategies help your target audience “find” you. For starters, be active on the following relevant platforms:
Create profiles, and be active, sharing not only your content but other interesting industry info. Respond to comments/tweets/shares. But remember, you don’t have to be everywhere – just where your target audience is. If you own a luxury car dealership or a fashion e-commerce site, Instagram makes sense because it is very visual. If you are targeting female customers, Pinterest is a favorite.
Furthermore, a blogger outreach program can also help you extend your reach. Don’t be afraid to approach bloggers in your niche, especially the influencers, to see if they are interested in sharing your content. Before you do this, however, it is a good idea to interact with them (on whichever platform) first. This applies to guest post requests as well.
- Analysis, feedback, and adjustments.
Blogging is not a one-way street. On the contrary, there is you on one end, and there is the reader on the other. It’s a conversation. While you make think you are fulfilling or solving your audience’s needs or problems, it’s important to get their feedback. Learn how readers perceive your brand, and how they are responding. Maybe you are unintentionally doing something that seems distant, arrogant, or too self-promotional.
One way to do this is to ask them directly via a poll on your blog, but polling your readers isn’t always an accurate measurement.
Fortunately, numbers don’t lie. Review Google Analytics to find your most trafficked pages and how visitors are finding your site. If “how-to” tutorials and lists are particularly successful, keep producing more. If infographics perform well, increase your budget there.
You may be surprised to learn that what works for your blog may conflict with your pre-conceived notions and plans for the future, and this knowledge may be a game-changer in terms of revolutionizing your business model.
When starting a business blog, remember this quote by Orison Swett Marden “the golden rule for every business man is this: put yourself in your customer’s place”. If you can do that as a blogger and business owner, you will eventually build the go-to blog for your industry.
Author Bio: Gary Dek is a professional blogger, writer and SEO expert. He is the founder of StartABlog123.com as well as a dozen niche sites, and specializes in content marketing and link building strategies. The author’s views above are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of Mastermind Blogger.