9 Essential Tips for Starting a Business BlogPosted On April 22, 2019 |
Have you thought about starting a business blog?
Many small business owners do this as a way to help them achieve their goals. A small business blog that shares great content can help to attract potential customers and promote your personal brand.
The trick is knowing where to get started. When you look at the volume of content some companies are producing, it can seem daunting setting up your own! Here we’re tackling the basics – if starting a business blog is your goal, where should you start?
#1. Identify goals for your business blog
First thing’s first, what are your goals for starting a business blog? Content for content’s sake is never a great idea – it can lead to your blog content being misdirected and unsuccessful. The only real way to know if your blog is on target is to set clear goals to drive the content.
For example, a small business blog can be good for:
- Enhancing your personal brand
- Reaching potential customers
- Improving your website’s search engine results through search engine optimization
- Sharing your know-how and delivering value to a defined target audience.
- Transitioning a website or side-hustle from a hobby to a full-time business
- Giving your current business a wider audience
A business blog is an excellent marketing tool, but it must be done well to be successful. Your goals should define the types of content you need to post and the structure of your blog. Importantly, you need to have sufficient blog content ideas that will keep it going. Blogs work with consistency – otherwise you’re unlikely to see your goals met.
#2. Understand your target audience
A business blog isn’t written for you (as a personal blog may be), it’s written to attract a target audience. You’re hoping to attract potential customers and achieve any of those goals you defined at step #1.
Your blog topics need to be developed so that they entice the right people to stop by and read. This means you should know in detail who those people are.
One great strategy for defining your audience is to create customer or buyer personas. These are detailed descriptions of individual personas that make up your desired audience. Most businesses have more than one clear persona, although usually one or two are the most prominent. Defining any more than five starts to get messy when it comes to directing small business blog content.
A buyer persona contains details like:
- The age and gender of the person (where relevant)
- Where they are located
- Their “life stage” (e.g. single, married, divorced, college, empty nesters…)
- Their job role and level of responsibility
- Key problems they have that your business can solve
- Key goals
- Key areas of interest.
The image below shows an example of buyer persona, borrowed from HubSpot:
#3. Set up your new blog
Are your starting a business blog from scratch, or adding a blog to a current website? If it’s the latter, many website platforms allow you to easily add a blog to your site. For example, WordPress websites have a blog built in as a standard part of what they offer.
If you’re starting completely from scratch, for example when you’re starting a side-hustle or wanting to monetize a hobby, then there are a few things you need to get organized:
- Domain name – this is the web address for your blog or website. For example, our domain is oneweekwebsite.com. The simplest domain name is your own business name.
- Web hosting – your website requires a host in order to be found on the internet. (We offer fully-hosted packages, found here).
- A blogging platform. WordPress is one of the most common, but there are other options, such as Joomla or Weebly.
- A theme or “look” for your business blog. If you have a WordPress website, then you will look for a WordPress theme. This provides design elements for your website. (Try Themeforest for WordPress themes).
#4. Plan your blog topics
“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”Yogi Berra
Now that you understand your goals and who you are targeting, it’s time to plan your blog topics. Great content starts by being relevant and useful – even if you write very well, no one is going to read it if it’s not aimed at them.
Sometimes people struggle with post ideas, while other times they come in a flood. We recommend keeping an “ideas” sheet (or Trello board – however you like to do it), so that you can quickly note blog topics down as the idea strikes.
We also strongly recommend that you keep an editorial calendar, scheduling out regular blog posts. Many business blogs have started with good intentions, then petered out as busy business owners run out of time or ideas. An editorial calendar keeps you on the straight and narrow, and also helps with an important factor for blogging success – consistency.
Blogging on a consistent schedule trains your audience to look for your posts at certain times. It also helps with search engine optimization. If you need ideas to kick-off your blog topics, look at some of these:
- The key problems you identified among your target audience
- Keyword research – this will sometimes reveal related topics
- Competitors’ posts – can you write a similar topic but do a better job?
- How your audience can achieve key goals that they have
#5. Create policies for your blog content
There’s a good chance that you won’t be the only one who ever creates your business blog content. For the sake of consistency and keeping up the appearance you want to share with your audience, having a few policies that govern your blog can help. For example:
- Specific standards for your blog entries (grade level, grammar, spelling, keywords…)
- The voice or tone that you want to use
- Any style guidelines
- The rules for any links that are added to the post
- Whether you will accept guest posts and who from
- Core topic categories that should be addressed.
Even if you’re the only one writing the posts for now, it’s good to think about these things for your own guidance.
#6. Optimize your blog content
Search engine optimization helps to ensure that your blog gets found. These days, there is so much content already online, you can’t assume that people will simply find you. Optimization needs to be intentional.
To begin with, look at your target audience and the blog topics that will be of interest to them. Conduct keyword research to work out the best combinations of keywords to get your posts found.
Remember, keywords are no good to you without targeting and context. This means you have to think of the related words that provide context, to ensure that you get the right target audience showing up. For example, “football” means different things in different countries. In the U.S. it’s the NFL, in the UK and Europe, it’s soccer, in New Zealand, it’s rugby. Find keyword combinations that make sense and clearly denote what your blog content is about.
The idea is not to “stuff” blog posts with keywords (this can get you penalized by Google), or to use them unnaturally for the sake of adding keywords. Great content should read well, no matter what. Put your main keywords in a few strategic places, for example:
- Opening paragraph
- Image alt text
- The body of your content.
#7. Promote your business blog
Search engine optimization helps with organic traffic, but you also need to actively promote your business blog. Be prepared that it tends to take a while to get some momentum going and build an audience through content marketing – it’s a slow burn. This is why producing consistently great content is important.
There are several different paid or free methods for promoting your blog:
- Share on social media. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter tend to be the key platforms to share on, but again, know your audience. Perhaps your audience and business type are suited to Instagram.
- Share on sites like Medium or Reddit.
- Engage in some email marketing. Let your list know every time a new post goes up.
- Take out some paid advertising, such as through social media or Google Ads.
- Include links to your blog in social media profiles and email signatures.
- Re-share old content. Social media posts have a short lifecycle – schedule posts to re-share at a later date.
#8. Measure your results
Every successful business measures their results against their goals. The same should be done for your business blog. The key is knowing what you should be measuring – it needs to make sense for the goals that you have.
For example, if your goal was to improve search engine results against a certain set of keywords, then you need to measure how well you rank over time. If your goal was to drive more traffic to your business website, you need to look at how blogging has impacted traffic. Beyond that, you need to know whether that traffic is taking other actions that you’d like, such as signing up to your list or buying a product.
You might also want to track engagement on social media, especially if improving the visibility of your brand is a goal. Look at comments and shares of posts and whether or not you are growing your audience.
Importantly, are you attracting the right audience? There is no sense in driving a lot of traffic if most of it is not your target audience. One way of tracking this is looking at comments on your blog posts and looking at those further actions visitors have taken. Are you improving sales and can that be attributed to your blog?
Track results for individual blog topics too. When you begin a business blog, it’s often a case of trial and error to work out what the most popular content will be. Look at the blog posts getting the most traffic, shares and engagement – these are what you want to write more of.
#9. Get help with your blog entries
Lastly, we know that starting a business blog is a big commitment, and keeping it up is challenging for small business owners. If you’re at the point where even the editorial calendar isn’t keeping you on-track, it’s probably time to look for help.
Whether you have someone else internally or can find a writer externally, it’s important that great content continues to flow. If you’ve set the foundations, you can introduce a new writer to your content policies and what you need for your business blog.
It’s up to you whether you want to have someone “ghost write,” where they write on behalf of a credited author, whether the writer gets the byline, or whether you post as “admin” or some other anonymous poster. Consider your business goals – if improving your own personal brand is part of it, you probably want the byline and to have the posts ghost written.
The bottom line for starting a business blog? Make it relevant, interesting and consistent. Always write for your target audience and have some clear goals in mind. Great content doesn’t happen by accident.
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