If your business doesn't yet have a blog - or has one that might benefit from a reset - here are 10 tips for starting that business blog.
For perspective, I originally published this article in March 2012 a day after a #KBTribeChat about Blogging for Business that Todd Vendituoli hosted. I met him in person a few months later at Coverings 2012.
The Twitter Chat reminded me that I had wanted to address this topic. As I revisit this article six years later, I'm reminded how critical it is to not just have a blog for business, but also to put it in the right perspective. These top tips should help.
Starting a Business Blog? Here are 10 Tips!
1. What's the big picture for your blog?
Before you start blogging, step back and think in big picture terms about the blog you’re about to launch. You’re starting an exciting journey that requires that you write and publish articles [content] regularly, consistently and over the long haul.
A business blog is a strategic tool. The more time you spend preparing and planning, the easier it will be to maintain your focus and commitment long term. That includes staying focused on the purpose of your blog.
At the same time, don’t agonize for years since you are embarking on a journey of constant experimentation and exploration. Your articles will get better over time as you develop a groove. Those articles that truly resonate, you'll be able to revisit, update and improve over time.
2. Don't stress about immediate success.
Realize that you are starting from scratch with no one but yourself [and maybe your mom] subscribed and reading your blog from day one.
You will be building your audience one subscriber at a time. The same goes for your organic traffic. Generally, you'll start to see results once you've published 24 to 50 articles.
Monitor, analyze your results, learn from each article and stay focused.
3. Assemble your brainstorming tools.
Get yourself a notebook and maybe even a really fun pen. This is where you will capture ideas for your blog. It’s also a low tech and private version of your blog that you can carry anywhere.
Includes sketches or image ideas.
Map out how your articles support your business topics.
Keep track of industry happenings or quiet moments that inspire you.
4. Why do you want to blog?
Figure out why you want to blog.
- It is personal and about thought-leadership?
- Is it for business to generate leads?
- What’s your vision?
- What about your audience? Who might be interested?
- What matters to them?
- How can you offer them value?
Understanding why you want to blog will help you describe the purpose of your blog and develop a credible, compelling Welcome blog post. That's the first article to write.
5. What will you be writing about?
What is your blog about? Pick a subject you are passionate about for your blog. Make it broad enough so you don’t run out of things to say, but narrow enough that readers will want to subscribe and come back for more.
If you think of your blog as a publication, the subject you decide to write about makes your publication unique.
Spend time thinking about what interests your audience. Although you don't need to stress short-term about who reads your content, you do want to generate interest. An engaged audience will subscribe, possibly comment on and even download other materials.
You'll find ideas in 31 Benefits of Blogging for Business.
6. How frequently will you publish articles?
How often are you willing to publish?
A good rule of thumb is once per week. You’ll see faster results from search engines if you publish more frequently, but it’s also easier to burn out.
Remember that a blog for your business is a lot like running a marathon; you're in it for the long haul.
You're also committing to the quality of content. This means that you'll want to fully develop your ideas in posts that can easily be 1000 words or longer.
Consider involving others in your organization to bring in other voices, share the content burden and expand the breadth of your publishing platform.
7. Learn from business blogs you admire.
Become familiar with other blogs in your industry and/or area of interest. What do you like about them? What don’t you like?
From those other blogs, you can learn about the mechanics of blogging.
- Which blogging platform will you use? Some options are integrated into website content management systems such as HubSpot. Others are standalone platforms such as WordPress or Blogger.
- What subscription mechanism will you use so that subscribers automatically receive updates with new articles published?
- What about photos? Every article should include at least one. You need to have the rights to use any images included in your content.
- How will you get the word out about new articles? Will you share on social platforms, include articles in newsletters or email signatures?
8. Identify thought-leaders in your industry.
Business blogging adds credibility and depth to your own content especially when you broaden the conversation around your topic. That means including other voices and perspectives.
By identifying and getting to know thought-leaders, you not only broaden that perspective, but you also expand your network. You open yourself to opportunities to invite them to guest blog, interview them on your blog and/or offer them guest posts.
Think how you might develop a community around the topics relevant to your blog.
9. Identify your content topic clusters and pillars.
Identify buckets or categories of content that you can write about regularly. Think in terms of clusters of related topics with a pillar that you can fully develop. Ideally, these are evergreen topics that you will update regularly, rather than repeatedly address in separate articles.
Plan ahead so you have articles already written that you can publish per a content calendar. There's nothing worse than staring at a blank screen when something is due.
10. Prioritize keywords to focus on.
What are the keywords that are relevant to your topic clusters? Search engines and people searching like keywords! At the same time, traditional keywords are evolving from distinct terms to semantically related topics.
Listen to the words people use to describe your topics. Single word terms tend to be intensely competitive and not fully relevant. For example, the broad term 'books' has little to do with 'Jane Austen' unless you use both together.
You'll discover a balancing act between high volume, competitive single-word terms (e.g., books), and multiple-word, less competitive lower volume terms (e.g., books by Jane Austen).
What would you add to this list of tips?
Blogs are definitely a written medium. That said, images matter to provide context and visual interest to the words. So does white space since chances are high that your blog content will get consumed on a mobile device.
I'd love to hear what you would add to this list about starting a blog.
Thanks for reading!