Lots of businesses today are blogging, and with good reason. B2B marketers that use blogging get 67 per cent more leads than those that don’t, and marketers who make blogging a priority are 13 times more likely to see positive ROI. The numbers don’t lie, and if you’re not already getting a piece of the action, here’s how to start.
Identify your purpose
As tempting as it may be to just start writing and posted, it’s critical to stop and think before you act. Your business blog needs a purpose to guide the rest of your efforts if you want it to be effective in helping you reach your goals.
Think about what you want to accomplish with your blog. This will help you along the way. It’s helpful to keep a record of this to refer to periodically, to make sure you’re staying on track, or to help you re-center should you stray from the plan.
- Why do I want to start a blog for my business? This question could have several answers, such as: To generate leads for the company, to educate new customers, to showcase new products and services, to establish yourself as a thought leader in the industry, etc.
- Do I want to use the blog to foster employee engagement? Often, business blogs are a collaborative effort. You may find several employees are interested in contributing content. Encourage them to get involved, as this will help build a sense of comradery, and also give readers multiple perspectives.
With the answers to these questions in mind, you will have a clear reason why you want to blog. Then, you can set to work on building the blog and attaching it to your existing website.
Speak to your target audience
Your customer base, new and existing, is your target audience. You should already know who these people are based on research you’ve already done, or are doing in the process of starting your new business.
Get inside their heads and think about what they want to know. Then, focus on crafting content in a style that really speaks to them. Some audiences will expect a more formal tone, while others won’t mind some lighthearted humour here or there.
No matter what you do, keep it in line with your company mission, vision, and image. The blog is an extension of your company – part of its online image – and needs to truly reflect who you are.
Create an editorial calendar
Now that you know what you want to accomplish with your blog, and the style you’re going to accomplish it in, it’s time to create an editorial calendar. This will keep you on track with topics you want to discuss and when, and gives you a chance to assign topics to other contributors.
During this process, think about how the timing of your blog posts can coincide with your marketing campaigns, so you can use your blog as a marketing vehicle. Also, take time to establish:
- Posting frequency: Decide how often you’ll post, and who will be responsible for what content and when. Whether you post once a week, once a month, or five days a week, set a realistic schedule you can stick to. Your readers need, and will come to expect consistency. WordPress scheduling allows you to prepare content as far ahead in advance as you want, so you never have to scramble to get a post live. Prepare a few weeks or months worth or content in advance.
- Style guide: To further the consistency, create a style guide that features how to format the content, and policies surrounding what’s okay and what’s not for everyone who writes on the blog.
- Types of content you’ll use: Written content like this is great, but to keep the audience interested, consider sharing other types of content such as: videos, podcasts, and infographics.
If you ever get stuck for ideas, look for industry news and see what kind of perspective you can offer. Look at what your competition is doing, too, and see what you can do to produce different and better content.
Regardless of what you decide to do in terms of content, nothing matters if you don’t provide value to your audience.
Monetise beyond lead generation
Of course you want the blog to bring in leads to increase your profit margin, but as your content library and readership grows, you can also monetise your blog with other tactics.
Sell ad space. Look to those who offer relevant and complementary products and services to increase the chances readers will click on the ads. You can use an ad network, but you won’t have control over the ads that are served. Selling them on your own may take time, and will be priced based on readership and views.
Sell eBooks/online courses. If you can blog, you can write an eBook. Use the eBook to provide more information to help your customers. Use online courses or live webinars to teach your readers something – or to expand on a topic you cover on your blog.
Share your posts
Once your post goes live, share it on your social media networks, and ask employees to do the same. Mix those posts in with other relevant content your audience will enjoy, so you don’t sound like a constant pitch.
Then, when someone takes the initiative to comment, take a moment to reply. It shows your readers you’re paying attention and you care enough to engage with them.
You can get started blogging for your small business in no time, but to be successful, focus on planning, creativity, and providing value. The rest will fall in line.