You’ve probably heard that blogging is good for business.
But if you run a small, local business or you aren’t used to online marketing then I bet you’re wondering what on earth to blog about and how to get ideas to keep your blog moving along.
So in this post I’m going to explain some compelling reasons why you should start up a blog and some ideas to inspire you and keep you focused.
What Is A Blog?
A blog is just a section of your website that you can update on a regular basis. Think of your main pages as being like your ‘money’ pages – where you advertise your products and services.
But your blog is different. It is your opportunity to demonstrate your expertise in your field. You can create interesting content that people are searching on and use it to showcase your business and your skills in an informal, non salesy way. In a nutshell, your blog exists to inform, educate and invite new customers to look at your business.
Nowadays most people tend to use WordPress for their blog. WordPress is known as a Content Management System (CMS) which just means that it is a system where you login and you can create web pages through an intuitive interface and without the need for technical or coding skills.
Why A Blog Is Important
The number one reason that you should consider a blog is that it is good for business. We recently did some research on over 540 UK B2B Businesses and one of the main four factors that separated the top ranking websites from average websites was the amount of pages that they have.
The ‘average’ (lower ranking) websites had less than half the number of pages that the top ranked sites had (48 pages vs 104 pages for Best in Class).
The simple fact is that Google appears to favour websites that create more content. It’s not the only factor, but it’s an important one.
A blog is therefore an easy way for any business to create that important content on an ongoing basis so that over the weeks, months and years ahead their website just gets bigger and bigger and claims the top spot in the rankings.
Setting Up WordPress
You can set it up as a separate section of your website, e.g. www.domainname.com/blog
Identify Your Blog Audience
Once you’ve got the nuts and bolts of your blog set up the first thing that you need to think about is who is your audience. The reason this is important is that you need to think about them when you create content.
So if you are an accountant or a printer your prospective clients will be local businesses whereas if you are a vet your clients will be local pet owners. Of course there are some cases where there will be crossovers such as plumbers who may have business customers as well as homeowners.
All you need to do at this stage is think who they are and picture them in your mind.
Identify Your Blog’s Message
Now that you know who you are writing for you need to think of the message you want to deliver to your audience.
For an accountant, their audience of local businesses wants information on how to simplify their accounts. They need advice, hints, tips and generally help to de-mystify a subject that many small business owners don’t feel confident about.
For the printer it could be advice about the types of printing available like lithographic or digital. They can explain the advantages and disadvantages of each as well as show how print material can be used in effective marketing campaigns.
For the plumber who has two possible audiences they could provide money saving hints and tips for homeowners and expert advice to reduce business costs related to heating their business premises.
If you think about it you’ve actually probably got a lot of stuff on your PC’s hard drive or even in your outbox.
If you don’t have it then think back through the last week or so about all the work you have done. Think about all of the questions you have answered or all of the issues you have fixed for your clients.
These are perfect subjects and should be enough to keep you going for some time.
How Often Should I Blog?
Do whatever is comfortable for you. Creating content does take time and there’s no need to fire all of your arrows at once.
Create a list of subjects and commit to what you feel comfortable with. If you write just one post per week then over a year you will have added over 50 pages of useful content to your blog. If your competitors average 100 pages and you currently have 20 pages then you’ll need a year or so to beat them. If you feel you can commit to two blog posts a week then great, go for it.
Use this Content Marketing Workbook to guide you.
How Long Should My Blog Posts Be?
Try to write a minimum of 500 words per post. It isn’t that difficult once you get started. Use the old formula that your teachers drummed into you at school about writing essays: Say what you’re going to say. Say it. Say what you’ve said.
So basically an introduction, a full explanation followed by a conclusion.
If you find yourself writing too much then maybe consider writing it in two parts.
What If I Am In A Boring Industry – What Can I Blog About?
Your business is only as boring as you let it be. Let’s take say a company that makes ball bearings. Ball bearings might seem boring but think about the uses of ball bearings in everyday objects like cars and washing machines.
The audience of this company is concerned with making great products and they need to know that the ball bearings they are using are the best balance of cost and quality.
Or maybe you are a taxi firm. You might be scratching your head thinking what to write about. But what about all of the local attractions and events in your area. Create a ‘What’s On’ Blog and you’ll have a never ending source of content to write about.
You can also invite contributors and experts from complementary, non competing businesses or industries. This kind of expert insight means you can start to approach loads of different contributors who will be honoured to appear in your blog.
You just need to find the angle and work it.
Are There Any Blog Templates Or Content Frameworks I Can Use?
Absolutely. There’s no sense in reinventing the wheel. There are several proven content frameworks that you can use for your business blog. Here are some ideas:
- Definitive Guides – Someone needs to be the voice of the industry and it might as well be you. Create a Definitive Guide and you’ll find that becomes a little bit easier
- List Based Content – everyone loves a list – Top 10, Best 21 – we just can’t seem to get enough of them
- Expert RoundUp – Pull together a list of experts and ask them for their opinion or ideas on a defined question. They’ll be happy to share it for you on social media too
- Buyer’s Guide – People are busy. They don’t have the time to check out all of the alternatives. That’s why they appreciate the fact that you’ve taken the time to pull it all together in one handy place.
- Infographics – When done well an infographic can explain a complex issue in simple terms. Just choose one main argument and support it with 10 to 12 points
- Product Comparisons – What’s best iPhone or Android? Joomla or WordPress? You can act as an impartial judge and jury and present the points for and against each option
- Local Guides – If you run a local business then a local ‘what’s on’ guide gives you the chance to feature local events, local places, people and businesses. This type of content will get lots of local shares on social media
- What’s New – There’s always some new product or service coming along – here’s your chance to review it or explain it
- Industry News – Likewise there will always be some kind of news in your industry so you can create a periodic roundup of the news, the views and the who’s who
- Videos – Video offers huge opportunity for local businesses that take the plunge. It could be as simple as recording you making a repair or even a screenshot explaining something on screen
- Case Studies – Case Studies feature the people that matter – your happy customers and they are the social proof that you can deliver what you say you can deliver
How Do I Structure My Blog Posts?
When you create your blog posts it’s really important that you don’t just cut, paste and publish. You’ve take the time to create your content so you’re not finished until you’ve optimised them.
You need to choose a keyword for each blog post and include it in the metatags, the URL, and the Headings (H1 especially). Also make sure that you link from within the text to other blog posts and also to your money pages.
It sounds complex but after a little practice you’ll find it’s like second nature.
Use our handy blog post optimization checklist to keep you focused
Blogging is a good decision for your business. Research shows that websites with more content and which publish more regularly get more traffic.
You can set up a blog using WordPress. There is a one click installation in your hosting control panel.
First Identify your audience. Usually these will be your ideal customers – keep them in mind when you create your content. Next find the message – think of the kinds of questions that your audience wants answers to and let that guide you.
Create content as regularly as you can. Over time it will add up. Think around the subject and don’t think that your content needs to be boring. Use proven types of content to guide you and when you publish a new post don’t forget to optimise it.
So are you blogging yet or are you planning to set up a company blog? Let us have your comments and questions below.