In a recent post, I talked about content marketing for small businesses and how a blog was a crucial tool in your content marketing mix.
why is blogging important for your business?
Increase visibility: By having a blog, the visibility and awareness of your brand and business will grow with every post that you create and share, provided that the post contains quality content that adds value to the reader, and it is delivered to the right audience through the different digital media tools and outlets available to that audience (e.g. newsletters or social media platforms).
Increase leads: By increasing the traffic to your blog and website, you will be reaching larger audiences and hence have a chance to increase the number of leads by having visitors access additional content on your site. Make sure that you have clear 'calls to action' that are geared towards enticing visitors to share their details with you. This can be done by having a subscription to your newsletter or by giving away a piece of premium information (e.g. downloadable asset), in return for their details.
Build credibility: By sharing stories and information through your blog, readers will become familiar with yourself, your business and they will feel that personal connection even if they have not interacted in person with you or your business before.
Apart from the points raised above, a blog serves as your proprietary platform to host the content that you have created.
By launching the content through your blog instead of using a third party platform (e.g. social media outlets), you are reducing the risk of compromising the property rights of your content.
Having a blog also lets you distribute each new piece of content directly and firstly with your primary audience (e.g. contacts in your database) giving them ‘priority access’ to the content.
How to get started with a blog
The first thing that may come to mind is to start a blog straight away.
However, before taking this step, it is important to invest the necessary time to determine key aspects of your blog such as:
The mission of your blog
What content to create and share
How that content will add value to your audience
What other platforms or outlets you will use to share your content to reach a larger audience.
Below, I have included a printable and fillable blog plan template for small businesses, which will give you direction as well as serving as a framework later on to review if you are being successful or not.
Once you have completed your plan, it is time to get started by creating a blog (if you still don’t have one) or if you do, move to the ‘content scheduling’ phase: this step involves deciding and scheduling what content you will write about and when and how it will be distributed.
Below, you can download a printable and fillable blog editorial calendar to help you with the task of planning your posts in the months ahead. I have made this editorial calendar timeless so that it can be customised to any month and year.
Important aspects to consider when BLOGGING:
Focus on creating quality content: There are currently millions of existing active blogs worldwide. By creating quality content consistently, you will start building a loyal readership and, as a result, that will increase the engagement with your brand and business resulting in leads and conversions.
Quality content is created by having your audience in mind first and foremost. Write content that you know they are interested in, that will be of value and will make a difference to them.
Be consistent: Consistency is key and it has to show in everything you do. From which content is created, to the style in which it is written and put together, to the way in which it is delivered.
To help you being consistent, plan a series of topics or ‘blog series’, develop a schedule and implement it following your own schedule. It doesn’t reflect well on your brand if you post something today, and nothing else is posted for another three months. This type of scenarios show lack of commitment, which can reflect in a negative way on your brand.
Use eye-catching visual content: Content marketing reports released at the beginning of 2015 have revealed for a second year in a row, a growing trend in visual content marketing. These reports show that marketers who are leveraging visual content are seeing significant increases in their blog traffic, social media engagement, visitor-to-lead conversion rates and inbound customer acquisition results (1).
Jeff Bullas, a prominent blogger in Australia estimates that articles with images get 94% more total views than articles without images.
That is a pretty outstanding figure! 94%. However, it is not as simple as it sounds. When it comes to adding photos to your posts, you have to be strategic about it and think about what photos you wish to share, what style they will show and how they will fit and enhance the content that you are sharing.
The style can vary from minimalistic and clean to something more edgy, colorful and daring. Here, there is no one rule that will fit all. It really depends on the essence of your business and the image that you wish to give.
The only one thing that does apply here is consistency. Be consistent with the types and style of the images that you share. Make sure that they are useful in a way or another to the viewer.
I will be writing in more detail about this important topic in a separate post, so stay tuned for more insights on this important topic coming up.
Create SEO rich content: Create SEO content by including keyphrases or long tail keywords in your blog titles and throughout the copy of your post. This means that you will be using those words that someone would be typing in google search if they were to look for the type of content that you are writing about.
Of course, this needs to be done in the right context. The keywords must have meaning within the text of your post. It is not a matter of adding large amounts of keywords in a blog post to rank higher.
In fact, by doing this, you may be damaging your blog as Google is penalising websites that follow this practice.
Reflect your personality and be authentic. Above all, be yourself when you write content and share information and opinions with your readers. When you are authentic, it comes through in everything you do. People notice it and appreciate it.
The same happens when you get too influenced by the work of others and you start losing your own personality and style.
When I feel like I may be tempted to follow someone else's style, I always refer to these two quotes:
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” – Oscar Wilde
“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart… Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.” – Carl Jung
GETTING starteD WITH YOUR BLOG!
If you don’t have a blog yet and wish to create one by yourself, I'd recommend Wordpress to start a blog.
If you already have an existing website, you can create a new ‘blog page’ if you manage your website yourself, or you can ask your website developer to create a blog page for you.
Once your blog is up and running, adding content to it typically involves very few steps such as adding the content (title and body of the post), adding images, videos, files or any other additional content that will accompany the text and making the post live or scheduling it to be shared later on.
To help you create topics for your blog, I am sharing with you
30 BLOG POST IDEAS THAT WORK
Share what happens behind the scenes of your business. Share with your readers a day at your office or a sneak peek of a project you are working on.
Talk about a topic that is trending in your industry by providing your own point of view on the topic. You can engage your readers by asking them to share their opinions.
Create a ‘blog series’ based on a topic that is related to what you do and which you believe will add value to your audience.
Share information on what has helped you in your business and what has not.
Interview others in your industry or others who can motivate your readers.
Share an initiative that you are implementing in your company and which is having a positive impact in your team and your business.
Share top tips on a specific subject, such as improving your writing skills or another topic that relates to your business.
Share a project you have worked from the first stage to delivery of the final job.
Feature people working with you, for instance, you can feature the story, working experience and strengths of a team member.
Talk about yourself before starting your job and what aspects from your personality and previous experience are being most beneficial to your business nd how others can learn from them.
Share client stories that will resonate with your readers provided that the client has granted permission to be featured.
Use one or some of your FAQ's to convert them into a topic for a blog post.
Share a giveaway, what it involves and how to participate.
Talk about an experience that you had outside the workplace and how it did have a beneficial impact on your business.
Share which channels are helping your business. For instance, if Facebook is working well for you, share why. Don’t be afraid to be copied. Remember that people can share and sell the same product but they will never be able to become you and your brand.
Talk about how your workplace inspires you to come up with better work.
Talk about an event you have attended to recently and which were the key takeaways that will be of interest to your readers.
Talk about a speaker that has inspired you and deeply motivated you and why.
Ask your readers what they would like to see more of in your blog. You can simply ask them to leave comments on your blog post so that everyone can see them and take part in an open conversation.
Talk about what tools do you use in your business to do your job.
Talk about what digital applications are helping you in a specific way (e.g. being more productive) and where readers can find them.
Share what you have learned about blogging and how it can help others
Share what helps you get inspired before starting a new blog post.
Share a tutorial, demonstrations or 'how-to', if possible in video format. Alternatively, a step-by-step how-to in photos also works really well.
Write a case study on a job you have worked on or a business scenario that can help your readers make better business decisions
Share where you get inspiration for a particular area of your job or blogging
Talk about books you are reading and what content you found in them that can be inspirational or add value to your readers.
Create an 'Ask me' series
Create a poll on a topic that is trending at the moment in your industry
Share useful links, which you believe your audience will appreciate.
1 - 17 Stats You Should Know About Visual Content Marketing in 2015
22 January 2015, http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/visual-content-marketing-strategy