According to Hubspot, blogging for your business will increase your website traffic by at least 55%. Every time you post on your blog, you’re creating another opportunity to be found by potential clients for your business.
1. What Will You Blog About?
The first step in starting a successful blog is choosing a topic of interest. Does your company deal in entertainment? Travel? Food? If there’s something you’ve already got a strong opinion on, or just something you’d like to learn more about and share your journey with others, maybe that would be a good blog topic for you. Or, how about an area of knowledge you already possess? Blogging is a great way to position yourself as an expert in your field. The options are really limitless, so have fun choosing your topic, and get to know your audience. Understanding your buyer personas can go a long way toward creating a connection with your potential customers. The more your readers can relate to the “voice” of your posts, the more likely they are to return to your blog in the future, and even recommend it to friends.
2. Choosing a Blog Title
This may seem like the easiest step in the blogging venture, but rest assured, it’s most certainly its own special kind of labor. In fact, many people believe this to be the “make it or break it” point, as a blog title will essentially become your personal brand. It’s something that will be permanently connected with your business and the image you wish to create. This will be your readers’ first impression of your blog, so choose wisely.
Short and simple are best when coming up with a title. You’re going to want something your readers will easily remember, but something that also expounds the purpose of the blog. Be creative and original, but keep in mind that the easier it is to spell and remember, the more likely your readers will be to find their way back to you.
Be sure to secure your name across any social media platforms you may plan using in the future, even if it isn’t an immediate necessity. Little is more frustrating than taking the time to come up with the perfect title for your new blog only to find that the name is already being used on Twitter or Facebook by another business.
This information also pertains to header titles within your blog. For each new post, you’ll need a new title. While you want it to be relevant to the subject matter within, it’s also a good idea to make it catchy. Try forming the post title into a question, either by blatantly asking, or being a bit more indirect. If the post title is something that makes your readers form their own questions in their minds, it builds just enough curiosity to drive them forward into reading until they find their answers.
3. Blog Domain
Choosing a host can be a daunting task. Blog hosting websites are competitive and about as easy to find as a Starbucks, but sometimes, too many options can be overwhelming. I suggest checking the blogs you frequent yourself. Are they hosted on Wordpress, or Blogger with convenient ease of navigation, or are they hosted on their own private domain and a bit more customized? Can you connect that blog to your company’s website so the posts contribute to your SEO?
There’s really no need to allow this step to take up too much of your planning time. Most of the more common sites you’ll find yourself considering offer free hosting, comprehensive layout templates, and step-by-step set-up so that you can get to the fun of actual blogging sooner.
4. Generating Traffic to Your Site
The reason you’re going to want to blog in the first place is simple: You’re attempting to attract an audience to a certain subject or product, “audience” being the optimum word. You can blog until your fingers bleed, but if you haven’t got any readers, what good is it doing your business?
Use keywords to make your blog more search engine friendly and user accessible. Studies show that more than 3 billion searches are performed on Google every day. While keywords will still help, you must also be sure you’re including information that users will find helpful. Blogs that use too many keywords and not enough quality information will have reduced chances of popping up in searches via SEO and which means less attention directed toward your page.
Incorporate other social media networking tactics into your blogging. Most blog hosts offer a convenient and simple one-click option to allow you to automatically tweet from your business’ Twitter account when a new post is added. Sharing new content on your existing social networking sites, such as Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and even Facebook, will help to drive up traffic to your blog.
A lot of blog hosts make your reader statistics available to you in your user settings, but even if they don’t, Google Analytics provides a free service for tracking these statistics for you. This will allow you to actually see where your blog visitors are coming from, and adjust accordingly for the purpose of driving up traffic.
5. Size Matters
The more information your blog posts contain, the more likely it is to pop up in a reader or potential client’s search engine results (SEO).
Information overload can be a factor, though, so be sure you’re sticking to the topic at hand, keeping the post interesting, and not going off on a 1500 word tangent about the origin of bubble gum. Because keywords aren’t as helpful since the introduction of Google’s Hummingbird algorithm, be sure you’re actively working to provide useful information rather than simply stuffing those keywords into useless blogs.
6. Stay Consistent
It may not seem like it to the blogger layman, but successful blogging requires a certain amount of organizational skills.
It’s imperative to the success of your site to track your blog’s agenda, plan out future posts, and stick to it. Readers will come to rely on a certain posting schedule, and you’ll see your traffic stats dropping drastically if you allow too much time between posts. There are tons of resources available to help you track your planning, from spreadsheets, to downloadable diary pages. One of our personal favorites is this editorial template from HubSpot.
7. Keep it Legal
Yeah, that may sound like a somewhat silly tip. I mean, it’s a blog. What could you possibly do to upset the balance of the law?
There are more, of course, but unless you plan on starting a gossip blog, which could potentially earn you a lawsuit for defamation of character, copyright is the main thing to remember.
Be original. This goes along with the tips about knowing your audience and their interests and not diverting too far off topic, but it’s also important to remember that research, even on the Internet, should be cited. In this day and age, there’s a limitless availability of knowledge at our fingertips. It’s there for the taking, for anyone who wishes to reach out and grab it. There’s certainly no shame in gathering information and statistics from various websites, or even other blogs, but be sure to let your readers know where it’s coming from.
Photos, for example. This is something fewer people actually see as an infringement of copyright. A good blogger would never copy another person’s opinion word-for-word without properly citing the quote. They’d write their own opinion. This is rarely the case with photographs used on blogs. How many people do you know who are going to put the time and energy into researching their topic, writing out an interesting post, and then going out to take their own photograph to display along with their words? Realistically, it doesn’t happen that way. But let’s not forget that photographers are artists who put their own amount of time and energy (not to mention know-how) into capturing these images that people tend to swipe and use at their disposal.
There are plenty of sites that offer free use of stock photos. Stock.xchng and Stockvault are just a couple of the many websites available to you that offer free use of images for bloggers. Just be sure to read their terms of service first.
People love to see links. (See what I did there?)
A blog post can be jam-packed with useful information, but your readers may get bored with constantly having to open new tabs in their browser to try things out or look up information on something that wasn’t quite clear. By adding links for them to click, you’re making their lives that much easier, and they’ll most definitely appreciate that.
Another fantastic way to gain more traffic on your blog is by referencing your own previous posts that are relevant to the current topic, but don’t underestimate to power of linking to outside blogs as well. Not only will you show your readers that your opinion isn’t entirely biased, but you’ll also be building a relationship with other bloggers and inviting them to be interactive on your page, and possibly even link to you in the future.
So, now you know the good, the bad, and perhaps the ugly about starting a business blog. Have you encountered any other roadblocks that might interest others planning to start a blog? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!