To blog or not to blog for business. As a small business owner myself, I understand all too well the demands of making a million decisions daily. So it is hard to focus on building and maintaining an online presence. Few businesses survive without strong branding and one of the ways of building brand and loyal customers is blogging. Essentially blogging is sharing the latest news, tips, and details about your products and services. Keep reading for tips to write business blogs, no matter your personal or business style. The investment in blogging will pay off by increasing your website traffic, providing content to share in social media, and building trust with prospects and loyalty with customers. Blogging sets you up to be an expert in your field.
How to Start to Blog for Business
Decide if you will write the blog yourself or if you have employees better suited for the task. You can hire professional bloggers to do the writing for you, but remember that a blog is the cornerstone of your brand. It is the voice of your business, so even if you hire it out, the content and tone must be yours so you must stay involved.
Especially if you are new to blogging, read well-written blogs of business similar to yours. Here are a few suggestions:
- Air Conditioning Contractors: www.acca.org
- Economics and Finance: www.calculatedriskblog.com
- Farming: www.farmgateblog.com
- Food and Drug: www.pharmalot.com
- Human Resources: www.hrbartender.com
- Painting Contractors: www.bloggingpainters.com
Look at competitor blogs and seek out the best blogs in your industries to figure out how you want to format your own blog.
If you are considering moving your website to a more blog-friendly platform like WordPress, check out these template tips.
How to find Great Blog Content
One of the toughest challenges is to know what to write about. Business owners sometimes are eager to get started and just write about what they know or what they are excited about. This rarely works as you must consider what your customers want to read about. Other owners despise writing and don’t have a clue or don’t want to think about blogging, so they just ignore the whole concept. Here are some insider tips on how to find great content to write a blog:
- Write about your insight to topics reported in your industry’s trade magazines. These publications spend a lot of money researching what is going on in the industry…so jump on board!
- Keep a topic list and keep it handy like in a memo file on your phone or in a nifty app like Evernote. This great app keeps your “notes” synched across your phone, computer, and tablet so it is accessible to jot new ideas anytime. Make it easy to capture an idea when it comes to you.
- Use Google alerts to find out what others are writing about your industry, geographic market, products, or services. You can set up searches that send the results to your email. It is an easy way to gain insight into what is being published online related to your business. This is also a great way to find interesting content to share on your social media communities.
- Use Google Trends’ hot trends section to find interesting topics to write about to help your customers understand how your business fits into what they are talking about.
- Use Twitter, Facebook, or other social media that you use for business to identify trends. The location of trend info is different for each network, so poke around in your account or search in their support sections for “trends”. Hootsuite is a great tool to set up streams to monitor keywords and phrases.
- Read your customer reviews or the reviews of your competitors to see the topics of importance to customers and the language they use to talk about the benefits and problems.
- Check out some question and answer forums like Quora or ask.com. You may even find forums related to your industry. Find topics where people need answers to problems related to your business. Not only blog about how your business can solve those problems, but also offer an answer in the forums to increase exposure and expert status.
How to Keep Your Readers Engaged
Share everything. This is a particularly hard approach for those in the service industry. But giving away your advice and knowledge for free will build your brand. And it will build trust in your expert status. Sure, a few will take your tips and go do it themselves, but most will see your value and hire you. Or if you sell products, they will know you can provide the purchasing and maintenance advice they need.
Write blogs that give actionable advice. Go into great detail using bullet points, numbered steps, and subheadings. Also, use plenty of illustrations, tabular data, and images to ensure your points are well-understood. These days search engines reward longer posts. Moz.com and other key researchers indicate that 2,000 words or more are optimal. When visitors know your website is the place to come when they want to know exactly what to do to solve their problems, they will keep returning.
With permission, mention customers and use testimonials that will help others. If your business is B2B, then refer to company names of businesses you are interested in working with. Frequently businesses keep tabs (remember Google alerts?) on who is using their name. So if you use their names, you have a chance to get their attention.
Blog at least once every couple of weeks on useful topics. Regular posting builds a loyal audience and a wealth of content that search engines love to reward with higher authority. That higher authority puts your website and blog posts in more search results so more customers see your business.
Traps to Avoid When You Blog for Business
Avoid being sale-sy. A pitch at the end of your blog about where to find more information on how you can help is a great way to sell your business. Selling continually throughout the blog is NOT the way to go.
Avoid rambling on. Edit, edit, edit…or have someone you trust do so. If you end up with a necessarily long post, decide if it can be broken into two topics. While posts of 2,000 words or more are often favored by search engines, a post that is unnecessarily long will not hold interest.
Remember to include images as they draw the reader in and help explain concepts. If you have professional photography, it is best. Stock photography purchased online is acceptable. If you go with amateur photography, be careful of pixel sizes and how the image looks online.
Use your own voice. Even if you have someone else write for you, be sure you read, edit, and approve it.
Bonus: Claim authorship for your blog content to increase the benefits of blogging!
Have you found challenges with blogging for business? Successes? Let us know by commenting below. If you need help getting started or need a better understanding of how to perform keyword research for a blog, please contact our SEO Buzz for a free consultation.