Are you a solo mompreneur or small business owner without a blog? If so, you might be kicking yourself backwards. These days, a full-bodied web presence is the golden ticket to a successful business. Gone are the days that made up the late 1990s when you could rely on a stagnant web page to bring in business. Now more than ever your business needs a blog.
You may be reading this and thinking – “Well, my web page is awesome, so I don’t need to waste time blogging.” Wrong! Here are three no-nonsense reasons you need to integrate blogging as a part of your amazing web page.
Let’s face it – the world is inundated with businesses that are similar, if not the same as yours. You need to differentiate yourself from the crowd. You need to do so by positioning yourself as an expert. By leading the conversation in your industry and sharing your wealth of knowledge, you’ll gain new business and amplify existing business. You’ll also strengthen and enlarge your online network and build upon your reputation.
Aside from social media, blogging is another great option to engage your customers and communicate directly with them. It also provides a great opportunity from a customer service standpoint, as long as you remain transparent and appreciative regarding any issues with your business.
Did you know that a huge factor in your business’s page ranking is fresh, relevant and useful content? Let’s say you are a self-employed small business financial consultant and your blog focuses on tips and strategies to small business financial success. In this case, your blog is fresh, relevant and useful to your clients. There’s also a greater chance that with quality content, you’ll be able to build links, resulting in more traffic and a higher page ranking.
Okay, so now you know that you need a blog. According to SEOmoz, a company blog is so valuable because it provides fresh material on a consistent basis, allows the owner to participate in conversations across the web and it can earn listings and links from other blogs, including blogrolls and blog directories.
So, the question remains – what do I need to know to create a blog with a killer content strategy? Here’s a step-by-step guide:
1. Subscribe to Industry Media
The first step to starting a blog is having a pulse on the online conversation in your industry. Research what your customers are reading and read the same things.
2. Scan the Industry Headlines
You should be scanning headlines in your industry on a daily basis, even if it’s for a half hour per day. What topics are being written about? What articles are sparking the most engagement? Who is a leader in your industry? Awareness of the conversation will help you identify the appropriate content to write about.
3. Ask Your Customers
The best way to know what your customers are interested in is to ask them. Use whatever modes of communication you have in place (Facebook, Twitter, e-newsletters, etc.) to ask your customers what they want to hear more about. They’ll appreciate having a voice in your business and as a result, you’ll have on-target insights as to what your readers want to read about, which will result in higher subscription numbers, social sharing and link building.
4. Start a Monthly Editorial Calendar
Blogging requires planning. At the end of each month, your best bet is to plan for the month ahead. Start a spreadsheet and write down what topics to cover each month. Make sure you’re planning for at least 2-3 blog posts per week, at about 600 words or more. It also promotes efficiency to write down your key words for each post (see number 5 below). That way the leg work is done when you’re ready to write.
5. Identify your Key Phrases
Key phrases are the words your current and potential customers would use when searching for related content in a search engine. You should have a good grasp of key phrases from your website, but if not, check out this starter guide.
6. Create a Compelling, Clickable Headline
Once you’ve gotten to the point where you’re ready to write a post, you need to draft a headline that visitors can’t resist clicking on. Doing so takes practice, but if you’re struggling, just take a look at some high-authority web pages like Yahoo! and Forbes to see how they’ve mastered it.
7. Draft a Stimulating, Relevant and Useful Post
Using your customer insights, market research, key phrases and content strategy, draft a blog post that is, as we mentioned, fresh, useful and relevant. Try to keep it in between 600-800 words; don’t overload it with key phrases and hyperlink to other areas within your site as well as other information from the web.
8. Optimize for SEO
You’ve already optimized with your key phrases, but don’t forget to optimize by using the key phrases in post title, title tags, meta description tags and captions.
9. Enable Communication
If there is one thing clients don’t grasp – it’s the idea that social media doesn’t work without engagement. Yes – this means exposing yourself to potentially negative comments and reviews. It’s important, no it’s critical, to remain transparent when using social media. Enable comments and if you receive a negative remark, comment cordially. Think of it as a dialogue between your customers. What it is not is one-way communication.
10. Integrate Social Sharing Icons
This is probably a no-brainer but it’s worth saying just in case. Download a widget that allows users you to share your content on social media and social bookmarking sites. Here are some of the best widgets for WordPress.
11. Share on Your Own Social Media
You should make it a point to manually share each blog post on your social media channels. This provides yet another opportunity for users who aren’t necessarily visiting your website and/or blog to be directed there. If it’s good enough, it will likely get retweets and shares and boost your website traffic.
12. Engage with Users
The other worst thing you can do, besides disabling two-way engagement, is not responding to your customers who do leave comments. After all, this is the whole point of social media! It can be a simple “Thanks, Name” or an answer to a question or a response to criticism. The important thing is to maintain professionalism while maintaining a dialogue with your customers that care enough to engage with you.
13. Blog Consistently
Blogging takes time and effort, something many companies don’t want to allocate resources to. A good blog contains a few posts per week, around 3-5, but you might be alright starting slower at 2-3. It’s important to understand the time commitment blogging requires and if it’s something you can’t handle in-house, hire a freelance blogger to handle it for you. Doing so might save you money in the long run and allows you to focus on more important areas of revenue generation.
With these things in mind, are you ready to start blogging? Maybe you need some more inspiration. Check out some great examples of corporate blogs and some of the best noted small business blogs if you’re still struggling with your content strategy. Most importantly, remember to be fresh, relevant and useful.
Further Resources – What Successful Bloggers Have to Say
Tom Ewer – Beginners Blogging Guide
Sean Platt – The Ultimate Writers Guide to Blogging
Nick Thacker – 10 Reasons You Need a Blog