Blogging for business has become quite popular and many small business owners aren’t sure whether or not it’s worth it for them to put time and resources into producing a blog. Although it may not be for everyone, there are a number of reasons why blogging makes sense. Here are some brief points on why you should blog and how to make it happen:
– Establish yourself as an expert in your field – there may be other blogs on your area of expertise, but no one offers the same insight and experience that you do. Your stories are unique.
– Improve SEO – regular updates to your website are viewed favourably by search engines (because it indicates that the site is ‘alive’).
– Increase your audience – with each new blog post you create a new web page – each page contains specific sets of keywords that appeal to specific target audiences (also good for your SEO) – the more pages you have, the broader your audience
– Improve engagement – each post is an opportunity for readers to comment and engage or to share with their networks
– Become a better writer – in the online world, content is everything – the more skilled you are at conveying a message clearly and with an interesting perspective, the more you will see that skill spill over into other aspects of your business
TYPES OF BLOGS
– Information – provide details on a topic or step-by-step how to instructions – save people the need to research if they can find the answer in a well thought out post
– Opinion – share your viewpoint on a hot topic within your industry – be provocative and see the controversy emerge in the comments
– Share / Curate – pull together a number of links on a similar topic and offer as a collection to your audience – you’ve done the heavy lifting of finding this cool info, they just go to your blog and find recommendations on what to check out online
– Sell / Promote – very rarely do this – rule of thumb is that about 20% of the time is okay for doing a selling type of blog post – discuss a topic for which you are selling a subscription, ebook, or training – provide some info of value (the what and why) but if they want to know everything (the how) they need to sign up
– Personal – some bloggers create posts simply to share what they are doing (e.g. biking across the country) – gives a personality to the blogger to connect on a deeper level
HOW TO BLOG
1) Identify your audience – who are you writing to? Be specific.
2) Identify key topic areas – stay focused on 3 or 4 at the most – you can always do subtopics but you can’t be all things to all people
3) Plan – create an editorial calendar to outline what topics will be covered and how frequently you will post
4) Set Goals – what do you want to achieve with your blog? Determine what your expectations are (e.g. a certain number of visitors, a certain number of shares via social media etc.) and figure out how you will measure for success.
5) Create content – write blog posts using calendar as guideline – think through the topics and don’t do them last minute – ideally try and get a couple under your belt before you start posting and try to stay ahead of the game by a couple posts
WRITING A BLOG POST
1) Research the topic – find info online, mine your personal experience, visit library etc. – write several key points – stay focussed
2) Map out format – typical format might be an introduction, 2-3 key paragraphs, conclusion, call to action (or for a how-to post it might be a bullet list of steps, for a curation post it might be an intro sentence followed by a link to another site)
3) Write the post – just start writing – I usually start in the middle, then go back and write the intro and finally the conclusion – the call to action is what I want the reader to do (e.g. comment, sign up for my newsletter, call me for a free consultation)
4) Find a visual – get a picture to go with the post e.g. istockphoto, freedigitalphotos, etc. – don’t just take anything you see online as images are generally copyrighted – keep your blog in mind when you are out and snap pictures on a multitude of subjects
5) Post to your site – your blog should be a user-friendly content management system that you can easily update yourself (if not, figure out how much it costs you to get a blog post added to your site)
TELL THE WORLD
– If your blog is new, you will need to let people know about it. Share a link to your latest post via your social networks, mention it in your newsletter (with links back to different posts), talk about it at events, mention it via other blog comments or forums.
– Google Analytics – this is a free tool that provides a great deal of detail regarding visitor behaviour – you can find out which pages people are spending the most time on, where they enter and exit your site, how long they spend on your site, where they were referred from or if they found you via a search engine
– If you regularly get increased traffic when you post in a specific topic, obviously you’ve hit on something of value to your visitors
– Social Shares – how often is a link to your blog post getting retweeted or shared?
Tips from Social Media Examiner: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/16-blogging-resources-improve-blog/
MarnieHughes is an SEO copywriter, author and online marketer. She works with small and medium-sized businesses to develop their marketing and communications and expand their customer base.
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