Like dieters, most business blog owners start with the best of intentions. They know that blogging is good for their business. They know that it’s going to take some time and effort, but the goal is worth it; people will find them online, learn about their advantage and make contact…and that leads to sales. Yet within weeks (months at best) most new bloggers eye the task before them with all the relish of a dieter faced with yet another meal of celery and rice crackers.
To overcome the apathy, you need a strategy if you want to win. Your strategy has two key components: you need to know what you’re going to blog about and you need to sit down and write something. Professional writers know that part of the trick is just writing on a regular basis, whether the work is printable or not, the habit of committing your words to a word processor file is more than half the battle. The other thing we can learn from writers is that you should write what you know. Our 10 steps to effective blogging are the things you need to keep in mind as you begin writing.
- Frequency—Publishing frequency is great as long as you have something interesting or valuable to share with your audience. The rule of thumb is to publish as frequently as you have good material.
- Assessment and Quality—It won’t help to publish someone else’s insights. Your content must be your own and it must be interesting or valuable for your audience. You need to assess your strengths–are you a good writer or do you present your ideas better on video? Would photos tell your story better than words? You must be realistic or your strategy will not succeed. The trick is that you need to incorporate some type of description even if you concentrate on showing images or video. Captions for photos along with descriptive alt text can go a long way. For videos, the best idea is to include a transcript of what is discussed.
- Access to assets—What do you need to create your post? Do you need a photo? Do you need a quote? Do you need recent sales figures? Gather your assets before you begin writing. Often times the assets are the article. This post began as a simple list of the 10 things I do.
- Set a regular time aside—This one may be the most important. Commit to a time and you’ll do something. Don’t commit and the task will be delayed over and over.
- Keyword-rich topics—Using keywords in your content is still an important part of search engine optimization. If you’re selling widgets in France it helps to use the terms “widgets” and “France” somewhere in your post.
- Include links—Link to related content on your site. For WordPress users, your tags and categories are one built-in way to do this. You can add hyperlinks in your content, as well.
- Reflect your expertise—Blog about what you know. Don’t blog about pruning roses if your business sells manifolds.
- Support your brand—What do customers say about your business? Whatever it is, that’s your brand message. If they love your customer service, share it online with helpful customer support blogs. If they love your specials deals, give them online specials.
- Build communities—Part of a successful blogging strategy is to broadcast your content via social media such as Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. Creating a big, active community is worth the effort of friending, following and pinning to reach people who share your interests. Keep in mind that your objective isn’t to sell to your communities; you want to share value with them so they go to your post. Their presence on your website is what will boost your Google search position.
- Market your content—Once you publish valuable content, let people know about it, primarily your online communities. Tweet, post, tag friends, send emails, join conversations, leave links.
Final thoughts on making a successful blogging strategy
Marketing used to be a big-budget, shotgun blast of promises and hype. No more. For small businesses, effective marketing today is engagement and sharing utilizing your strengths coupled with the steps listed above. Your blog is your most effective tool, so use it. We would love to hear how you create a blogging strategy or overcome the difficulties of regular content creation, so be sure to share your stories.