"Businesses that blog are 13 times more likely to see a positive ROI than those that don’t.” - HubSpot, State of Inbound 2014
Looking back on my first few blog posts I cringe with embarrassment.
What on earth was I thinking?
I was a small business blogging about ... Guy Fawkes night?!
Not a great start.
So, if you’re new to blogging or if you’ve already started writing a blog for your business, this article will hopefully get you started and running in the right direction from the word go!
Why do Businesses need a Blog?
"Small businesses with blogs generate 126% more leads" - Social Media Today
Unfortunately novices often mistakenly use their blog as a sales platform. It’s an understandable mistake to make.
One of the main purposes of writing a business blog is to set yourself up as the go-to expert that your ideal customer or client turns to if they’re looking for information. How can you be so useful to them that they bookmark your website, buy your product or service and tell their friends about you?
Who is the ‘ideal’ client or customer that you want to attract? It’s vital you consider this question so that you can tailor your content accordingly and write relevant articles.
Put yourself in their shoes for a moment and consider the sorts of difficulties and dilemmas your target audience might encounter on a daily basis in business and think of ways you could solve them or make their life easier via your blog.
Before you even put pen to paper, you need to research what keywords you’ll be using in your blog post.
The subject might make you roll your eyes or give you a sudden urge to abandon your desk for yet another coffee, but it's not as tricky as you imagine.
When you’ve decided on your blog subject, for example “How to Photograph Bridal Jewellery”, consider what words and phrases people might type into Google when searching for help. Type them into the keyword search tool to find out which words and phrases are most often used in searches related to this topic.
Once you’ve discovered the most regularly used keywords make sure you use them at strategic places in your blog. Be careful, though, not to go overboard and cram your article with keywords - that's spamming and you'll be penalised for it.
This is a great example of keyword stuffing or spamming from Search Engine People, just so that you know what I’m talking about.
Where to USE Keywords
1. Your blog URL and blog post title
Here’s a great example from Social Media Examiner which illustrates how they've used their keywords (Facebook, Video, More, Engagement) into their URL and their blog title.
As well as the URL -
If you’re using images in your blog, you first want to save your image file locally with an appropriate name. For instance, instead of saving it as a series of numbers and letters, e.g. “HX2501-azyb267.jpg”, consider saving it with a keyword, e.g. “Bridal-romance-necklace.jpg".
Similarly, when you upload an image into your blog you’ll see a box where you can type in the “Alt Text”. Use up to 120 characters to describe your image but keep the text normal and conversational as far as possible, so don’t just write a list of your keywords. Since Google cannot read images (yet) this is an ideal chance to write a concise description telling Google what your image is about.
Use your Own Blogging Voice
I used to work for law firms before I started my business and, because old habits die hard, I wrote articles and emails in a very legalistic, formal and ‘stodgy’ way!
One of the best pieces of advice that was given to me when I started blogging was to imagine I was writing with one particular friend in mind. Keep it conversational and let your personality shine through; it will give your blog ‘colour’ and you’ll stand out from the crowd.
Make your Business Blog Easy on the Eye
We’re a busy bunch today; we rush about so much trying to meet deadlines. We cram as much as possible into our day that we have very little time to sit and relax.
When I’m going through my emails and I come across an article from a blog I’ve subscribed to, I rarely read the article thoroughly from start to finish in the first instance. I scan it initially to find out whether it’s worth diving into. I pick out the important points and select paragraphs I’m interested in and ignore the rest. I just don’t have time to do anything else.
This is why it’s important to set each blog post out in a way that’s easy on the eye and easy to skim read initially.
You want to use:-
- Sub-headings - break your blog down into bite-sized chunks. Readers don’t want to be confronted with paragraphs and paragraphs of text.
- Lists and bullet points - write your blog as succinctly as possible using lists and bullet points where appropriate.
- Images - break chunks of text up with an image, relevant quotations, or tweetable links.
- White space - don’t be afraid of it. Blogs with a lot of white space look clean, fresh and are easier to read.
- Text size - even font size helps to make your blog attractive. It stands to reason folks don’t want to squint at teeny-tiny text so aim to use 14 - 16 pixels text size.
Make sure you use one fully optimised image to upload into your blog and make sure it’s relevant to the topic you’re writing about.
Since Pinterest and Instagram hit the social media scene, images have become incredibly important as I set out in an article last year, “One Image is worth 1,000 words”. If you use one beautiful image in each post your readers will hopefully want to share it with their friends or colleagues on social media platforms. This is a great way to increase your reach!
Posts with visuals receive 94% more page visits and engagement than those without - Wishpond
Each social media platform requires a slightly different sized image but a good rule of thumb would be to use one which is 800px wide by 1200px high. I’d highly recommend using the templates provided by Canva as they’re already optimised for each platform.
Don’t forget to think about your keywords when you save your image locally and when you upload it into your blog.
Stick to a Schedule
Ideally you should be aiming to write about three articles a week, depending on how much time you have. DO NOT, however, post any old content for the sake of sticking to a schedule. I understand how tight time is for a small business owner. There will also be times when you sit down with good intentions to write but nothing seems to flow. Your mind has apparently taken a day’s leave! Some would disagree with me when I say this but I’d recommend that, if that’s the case, don’t push it. Leave it, get on with something else and try again the next day.
Include a Clear Call-to-Action
At the end of each article include a clear CTA.
What would you like your readers to do next before leaving your blog?
Invite them to download some free content to thank them for their time and interest. Think good customer service.
By doing so, however, you have the ideal opportunity to capture a name and email address so you can start building your email list.
Optimise your Business Blog for Social Media
When you’ve finished your blog and you've hit the "Publish" button, don’t sit back and think your work is done. Personally, this is the step I look forward to the most after blogging.
You need to share your article far and wide on social media. Make sure you use a link shortener such as Bitly; short links look neater, take up less space in a tweet and you have the advantage of being able to use Bitly’s analytics afterwards.
Ensure that your blog has social media sharing buttons set up to encourage readers to share your articles on Twitter or Facebook, for example, or email them to a friend.
You need to get your articles in front of as many eyeballs as possible to increase your reach!
Set up a new email campaign for each new blog post you write and send it to your subscribers.
I hope this information has been useful to you. If you have any questions at all just write them in the comments box below and I’ll do my best to answer them.
If there are any topics you’d like help with in the future please do let me know.
To finish off I’m going practise what I preach by thanking you for your interest and inviting you download set of Call to Action and Social Media buttons that you can use on your blog or website.
Next I’ll be blogging about a subject I just touched on earlier; email marketing and list building. I have a fabulous email marketing expert to introduce to you and she’ll tell you everything you need to know about how to transform your email marketing and build your lists.