So your company wants to start a blog – that’s great news! Blogging for businesses is a great way to generate new visitors to your website. Not only will blogging help increase your website traffic but it will help you target as well as educate the right audience for your company. By providing valuable, informative content targeted towards your ideal audience you will showcase your expertise and set yourself apart from your competitors. Online blogs, especially business blogs, have become one of the most popular and trusted sources to educate consumers about products and services. Before you even start writing, there are a few important steps in order to prepare for a successful business blog.
Your Business Blogging Plan
Before putting all the time and effort into writing and formatting your articles, you should set up a plan to ensure your blog is the best it can be. It’s important to understand that your business won’t begin seeing instant results from just a few blogs. You will have to build a foundation, analyze results and blog consistently in order to truly see the value of a business blog.
Before you start writing…..
Review your competitors and industry influencers blogging approach. You can even look at blogs outside of your industry that are popular with your target audience. Find at least 3-5 blogs to analyze. Take note of what you like about the blogs. What topics do they focus on? What is their writing style? Do they have any special features on the blog that are attractive or useful? What are they doing that you can use within your own strategy?
Identify Your Goals
You want to start with the why before the what. Why do you want to blog? Who are you blogging for? What exactly will be delivered to your target audience (tips, guides, industry updates, trends..etc)? The biggest mistake companies make when blogging is they write self-serving articles. Do not create a blog that just focuses on your company and it’s news and accomplishments. Sure, this can be a small part of your blog – if it’s important to your ideal readership. Your blog should be written for your target persona and their needs and challenges. How can you best serve them? How can you educate them? What tools do they need? In order to keep your audience coming back to your blog you need to make it clear that you are writing to help them and not yourself.
The second part of goal setting is identifying how to utilize your blog articles. Where will you promote your blogs? What purpose will they serve on your website? For example, many businesses use their blogs to fill up their social media posts and help engage their social media followers. Others focus more on the call to action within their article, meaning what they want the reader to do after reading. Your blog can help you achieve many common business marketing goals including:
- Showcase thought leadership and expertise in your industry
- Educate your audience on a specific solution for a challenge they are having
- Motivate your audience to solve a problem, make a change, or make a decision
- Gain exposure for your business and it’s differentiators
- Build relationships with current customers, influencers and your business community
Identify the goals that are most important for your business and how blogging can help you achieve those goals. This will even help you start planning and brainstorming topics for your articles!
Prepare Your Blog Categories
Now that you know why your blog exists, what it will do for your company and who will read it, you are ready to start brainstorming what you will write about. Choose 7-10 categories that are relevant topics within the discussion of what your business provides. Your content should focus on solving your target audience’s biggest challenges and pain points. Make sure that you choose category topics that your team has experience and expertise in! You may be tempted as you begin blogging to add more categories to the list but don’t do it quite yet! Try and stick to the first 7-10 you’ve chosen for at least 6 months to 1 year. This will build up your expertise and provide a foundation for your blog that will help readers understand what you can help them with. If you are all over the place, writing about many different topics, readers may not return because they don’t believe there is anything else to help them on something specific. Before choosing any additional categories, make sure you will have enough fresh and up to date information to keep it going.
Create Your Blogging Schedule
Take a look at the blogs you’ve chosen as inspiration at the start of this process. How often are they posting? What type of engagement are they receiving on their posts generally? If you notice a blog is posting twice per week and getting between 3-5 comments on most of their articles, that might be a good place to start. Comparing industry blogs will give you an idea of what your ideal audience responds to. There is no right answer when it comes to blogging frequency, it will be different for every industry and for every company. The good news is that when you choose a frequency, you can always decrease or increase based on data. Once you have chosen the frequency you’d like to begin with, you can now create a blog editorial calendar.
Start by setting up your blogging calendar 3-6 months in advance. At the beginning of each month you will go in and review that month’s content and make any changes or additions. It’ll become easier and easier as you begin writing and reviewing what articles are getting traffic, comments and shares.
After you’ve posted your first 4 – 8 articles, it’s time to analyze results!
Monitoring your article’s engagements such as shares, comments and overall traffic should be an ongoing process as soon as you start blogging. However, once you’ve published and promoted 4-8 articles you can start to get an idea of what’s working. In your report, take a look at the following:
- Blog subscribers
- Traffic to the overall blog
- Traffic to specific posts (what are the top posts)
- Click throughs on calls to actions within your blog
- Blog article shares
- Blog article comments
- Popular articles on social media (likes, shares, comments)
By analyzing your blog articles regularly (weekly or bi-weekly), you should be able to get an understanding of how your blog can help you achieve your goals. At first you may want to focus on thought leadership and building an audience, so set a goal for generating more subscribers and traffic. After a couple of months of regular blogging you will gain information on when the best time to schedule a post, what channels bring in the most traffic to your blog and what topics are more popular. Play around with titles, promotional images, and calls to actions. You will be surprised how much you can learn from your business blog!
Starting a blog can feel overwhelming but the benefits can definitely outweigh the challenges! While many businesses are able to keep up with their business blog on their own, many small businesses depend on experts outside of their company to help with writing, formatting, scheduling and analyzing results for their blog. If you’d like to get started with business blogging but need help – let’s talk!