In my latest blog for Connected Growth I’ve decided to write about one of the fundamental activities that a small business can do to grow their online presence.
Blogging has become an essential marketing tool for small businesses and is a brilliant way of helping you to grow visitors to your website or social pages and convert them into paying customers. In their 2017 article Kenshoo found that 85% of consumers use Google to know more about a company or product, so it’s really critical to ensure that you have interesting content on your website that helps answer the burning questions that your potential customers have, when searching for solutions to their problems.
Why do I need to write a blog for my business?
Blogs are a great way of holding attention, and with viewers spending between 8-12 minutes reading an interesting article, it's a great way of helping you to show your authority in your area of expertise and build credibility in the marketplace.
However, where do you start! The idea of writing content often fills most business owners with dread, but there are some great techniques that we will explore here that will help you to develop these skills and help you to start creating compelling and interesting blogs for your business.
What should I write about in a blog?
This is often the hardest hurdle to overcome when starting out. What on earth do you write about and where do you get inspiration? The first thing to say is relax! Once you start to write content you will start to automatically start to generate new ideas and I guarantee once you start, you will never run out of things to write about once you get going!
The first place to start is putting yourself in your customers shoes and understanding the challenges that your business helps them to solve. Marketing Donut have some great ideas on how to do that here. Once you are aware of your customers challenges you have the foundations of your content writing. I’m quite a visual person, so I like using mind maps (there’s a great free mind mapping tool here) to explore content areas, but list writing works just as well. I also keep a folder in the Notes app on my mobile to also quickly note down ideas for blogs when inspiration strikes, that I can then develop later.
Also, conduct some research on the internet and look at your competitors and customers. It’s also a good idea to look at your industry societies and organisations as well. What are they writing and discussing? These can be a great way of getting started and getting inspiration, just make sure that when you start writing you make sure your content differentiates yourself from your competitors, is authentic and personal.
Once you’ve identified the areas that you are going to write about, the next step is to then look at exploring the content to write about within your blog.
What content should I include in a blog?
There is a variety of things that you can include in a blog. You can write a piece of content that educates your audience on a particular issue your business can help with, or you can turn your expertise into 'best of' list, guides and tutorials for your readers. The most important thing is to make sure that you are providing value to the reader and showing your expertise.
When writing content make sure it has brevity and density, and make sure that you use statistics and external research from trusted sources to back up your points. Always make sure you credit the author of any research you use and provide a link to it, as this will also improve how Google Search ranks your website. Here’s a link to some useful blog templates that HubSpot provide for free.
Visuals and diagrams can bring your blog to life and back up your content, again always make sure you credit the owners or creators of the images if you’ve sourced them from a third party.
Include call to actions on your blog (also know as CTA’s), as banners within the content or at the end of the blog, depending on what you want the viewer to do when they’ve finished reading. Do you want them to check out a particular product or service on your website? Then make sure you include links to the relevant pages. It’s also really important to get viewer to like, follow and subscribe to your business social media pages too.
Making your blog personable is a great way of building your individual brand, so always make sure you include your name and attach your photo to your blog, so readers can build a connection to you.
How long should a blog be
Readers and search engines prefer meatier pieces of content, so I would suggest a minimum of 500 words to start with, with an ideal length of a blog should be around 1200 to 2000 words long. See the below research by Brian Dean and BuzzSumo that highlights this.
How often should I be blogging?
Quality over quantity is definitely the best advice for bloggers starting out. When starting out its better to produce one piece of quality content a month rather than a twice weekly blog that lacks any depth, quality or brevity.
The most important factor is frequency, and making sure you release quality content on a regular basis ensures that Google sees you as an expert in your field, which will help you build your search engine rankings.
Creating a basic marketing calendar is a good way of helping you to manage posts and plan content. You can do this using your existing calendar linked to your email, or alternatively there are some great free tools for sole traders like this on Monday.com
or for something more straightforward you can create a template using Excel like this one HubSpot have created here.
A calendar will help you to keep track of the content you need to release and also ensure you dedicate enough time each month for writing content.
When is the best time to release a blog?
Well, it depends on what you are looking to achieve from the content that you are creating. Experts have researched this extensively and found:
For social shares, research by Brian Dean and Buzz Studio (see image above) actually found that there is little difference between which day of the week you release your blog.
But, If you are looking for web views from your blog then research by Kissmetrics found that Monday morning at 1100am will maximise traffic from your blog.
However, if you are looking for more comments, then the same research found that Saturday mornings after 0900am is the best time to send out your blog.
Despite all of the analysis, I’d use the above as a guideline initially and then measure the results, be it social engagement (shares/likes and comments) and website traffic to work out when the optimum time and day is to release your content.
What not to do when blog writing
There are not too many dont's for blogging but here are some fundamentals things to avoid when getting started.
The biggest and most important no-no is selling in your blog post. Never use a blog for self promotion or advertising, there’s no quicker way to switch off a reader and this will directly impact your rankings on Google.
Mention your brand sparingly, only name drop where it really adds value and help you appear as an expert.
Never use profanities or unprofessional language, it’s a given but the reputational damage that can be caused through can be huge if you get this wrong.
Don’t try to cover too many topics in one blog, you can always break these down into separate pieces of content if needs be.
When should I expect to see results from blogging?
With blogging as well as other forms of social media marketing you have to play the long game. It will take a minimum of 90 days to start to see the results from posting a blog each week, so if you don’t see any results immediately, keep plugging away and use the feedback you get from your analytics to keep adapting what you do.
I hope that you find this article useful and it encourages you to start blogging and bringing your business to life, the benefits are vast and it’s a brilliant way of building the credibility and visibility of your business that will result in more visitors and in turn more paying customers.
However, if the about all sounds too daunting or you do not have the time to start social media marketing why not consider outsourcing this to a specialist to help you get started. Click here to speak to us and book a consultancy appointment so we can discuss your needs in more detail.