You are probably tired of people telling you that you need to have a business blog. That’s just so easy to say. And then comes the next piece of advice. You have to make it amazing because, if you don’t, it will just sit out there in cyberspace with no readers/followers. No pressure, right? Especially when you have a business to run, adding this big task to your already overloaded schedule is not your idea of leisure time fun.
Unfortunately, you do need a business blog, and, yes, you do need to make it amazing. But there is some help out there, including great tools to make it easier. This short guide will help provide the key things to consider as you develop your blog and where to go for help.
The first thing you need to wrap your head around is that a blog is not your advertising platform. Business owners who use their blogs for advertising will have no followers. Today’s consumer is a different breed. He wants good information; he wants to be educated; he wants to be inspired; and he wants to be entertained.
Your purpose for a blog should be to give your target audience what it wants. When you do that, you begin to build followers and relationships. And relationships translate to sales.
2. Topics – Determined by Your Target Customers
To find topics for your blog, you can do some easy research:
- Go to your competitors’ blog and social media pages. What content topics are getting the most conversation? Can you take those topics and write something better, adding something new?
- Use topic-generator tools – you can type in keywords that relate to your niche and find blog and article topics that are the most popular right now.
- Ask your current customers what topics interest them?
- Use your customer profile to study that demographic and learn what is important to them. For example, millennials (the largest buying group right now) prefer doing business with companies that are environmentally responsible and that support important causes; their family and social lives are as important as their work lives; they enjoy a good joke, and they want to be inspired. All of these things should provide ideas for topics.
3. Turning Topics into Engaging Content – the Delivery
Once you have topic ideas, you have to think about delivery. Even the most interesting or exciting topic will fall flat if not presented in an engaging way. Here are tips and tools that will make your content engaging.
- Titles for your blog posts will be what initially engages the reader. Think about this for a minute. When you come upon a news article, what makes you want to read the article? Of course, it’s the title. Your blog is like a news article in many ways, too. To engage the reader right away – get a great catchy title. And if you are not creative yourself, use some title generation tools to help.
- Open your post with an engaging sentence or few. Provide a shocking statistic; tell a short story; garner some real interest. Again, sort of like a news article. No matter how great your topic and points may be, you have to present it well – it’s a matter of style.
- Break your content up into short chunks – headings in bold, bullet points. This is knows as making your post “snackable.” People want to scan a post and settle in on pieces that really interest them. When you make it easy for them to do this, they are happier.
- You must have visuals – some of the most popular content has photos, charts, infographics and videos. The research has been done – content that has colored visuals is 80% more likely to be read. There are lots of free sources for photographs and plenty of tools to create great visuals, even videos.
- Be creative with text, and ensure that your style and grammar is perfect. Here’s the point. If your text is boring; if there are grammatical errors; if there is difficult vocabulary or complex sentence structures, you will irritate, frustrate, and lose your readers. Again, if you are unsure about your skills and ability, get some help. Here are some tools to assist you:
- Hemingway Editor: If you need to simplify your writing, and posts should be simple in style and language, this editing tool will help you do just that. It will identify complexities and give suggestions for simplification.
- Grammarly: this tool will find all grammar, spelling and punctuation errors and make suggestions for correction.
- Read-Able: You can paste in your content and get a reading level. This is important, because blog posts should be at around the 7th grade reading level. Targeting that reading level will make you content easily digestible.
- Smart Paper Help: This is a great writing service with an entire department of creative copywriters. They can do most everything from identify topics for your niche to write creative posts and add the visuals to make content compelling.
4. Sharing and Conversations
Good, popular blogs get shared by readers, and they stimulate a lot of conversation. You need to make it easy for readers to do this. You should have buttons, so that automatic sharing can be is accomplished with a single click, and have them throughout the post. You should also have a conversation thread at the end of each post, so that readers can comment and converse with one another and so that you can respond. The more conversation, the more likely readers will come back and recommend your blog to their friends.
5. Get Personal
Today’s consumers want to know who they are doing business with. They want to trust business owners; they want to see them as humans who care; they want to see a sense of humor and a concern for larger social issues. When you can show your personal side, people feel they have a relationship with you. Some posts should be humorous and entertain; some should be inspirational; some should highlight your team and your customers. And, of course, some should show you as an expert in your niche, giving great information and advice. One thing they should never be? Sales pitches.
Maintaining a blog should not be seen as a simple endeavor. It takes goals, planning, research, scheduling, creativity, and just plain time. If you can’t do it well, get someone who can.
About the author:
Rick Riddle is a marketing consultant and an up-and-coming blogger whose articles aim to help people with digital marketing, blogging, entrepreneurship, and career. Feel free to follow Rick on twitter and LinkedIn.