I had a bit of a lightbulb moment this morning.
There are a number of questions about blogging I’m asked regularly and – although I tell other people to do it – I’ve never written about them in a blog.
You may have come across my answers to some of these questions before, but hopefully there’ll be something new here to help you when it comes to writing your own business blog.
What Do You Need to Know About Business Blogging?
1. What is it?
A blog was originally a web-log, in the early days of the internet people would keep a log or diary of things they wanted to keep or share – travel diaries, art diaries whatever interested them. Weblog became shortened to blog but they’re still essentially a record of someone’s thoughts. (Vlogs are video logs, so similar content but video rather than written.)
Business blogging is a series of articles which – rather than ‘log’ your business activity – is informative and interesting for your particular audience. As a business you are expert in a certain field and your blog is the space for you to share your information and keep your audience updated.
Your business blog comes under the heading of content marketing – it’s a way of showing people how great you are in a space where people have come to you – it isn’t you shouting your value at people who aren’t interested.
2. Where does your blog go?
For those original bloggers who were writing their diary, there are platforms designed just to hold simple blogs.
For businesses, you want should already have an effective website which can include these insightful articles of yours. Your website will clearly show your new and prospective customers what a great business you are, and your blog posts will contain useful information they never knew they wanted.
But, it doesn’t stop there. Once safely published on your website, you should also share your posts on social media – giving followers and connections on all your favourite platforms an opportunity to benefit from your expertise and generosity while sending them to your website (it’s a win-win).
3. How will a blog help my business?
You’ll be finding new people – and they’re the right people. People who are looking for what you’re offering.
Particularly if you are skilled in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), or know someone who is. You should identify the keywords your ideal customer is searching for and write your posts for them.
Understanding what people are looking for is key. If you’re a bookkeeper who is often asked which software you’d recommend, write a blog post; if you’re a florist asked about seasonal flowers, write a blog post; if you’re a copywriter asked about blogging…
Think about it – for anything a contact is asking you, how many other people are asking Google?
Then, by using social media to share your posts, and therefore your expertise, you’re allowing your network to engage and pass it on. That’s the best way to widen your network, being recognised as someone who is knowledgeable and helpful – who wouldn’t want that!?
You’ll raise your profile, offering useful information without asking anything in return, you become the helpful expert. And when you become the helpful expert, people will start looking out for you.
4. Who would want to read my blog?
For a start, all those people who are asking you questions about your business, who need help or advice about the information at your fingertips.
These may be customers already or they may not be yet, in fact they may never be customers but they might become advocates who value what you offer and will recommend you when someone needs your help.
I, for example, follow other copywriters. I’m not looking for copywriting services myself (funnily enough) but I know I can learn from other people and if I’m asked for particular services I don’t offer or which I’m too busy to fulfil, I can make recommendations.
5. How often should I blog?
I’ve written a whole post about this before How often should I blog? Really.
My advice is always, aim for timescales which are achievable and with which you can be consistent.
Many experts would suggest you post at least once a week. If you feel you can blog weekly, go for it. But if you can only blog weekly at the moment because business is quiet, I’d suggest you write as many posts as you can but don’t publish immediately – keep some available for when you have less time to write.
To me, weekly blogging sounds great but I couldn’t possibly manage it with everything else I do in my business.
For me, monthly is fine… I feel it’s achievable without putting too much pressure on me, I could probably aim for more (often I do) but it rarely happens so why set myself unrealistic expectations.
So, you should aim to blog regularly, in timescales which work for you in your business.
And, more importantly than how often you blog, you must make sure when you post it’s something of value. Which will take us to our next question…
6. What should I write about?
Well, as I’ve just said – something of value.
But don’t get too scared, that value could be making someone smile – I’ve found that some of my posts which got greatest engagement were the ones which made me happy such as my Wonderful Words posts (e.g. 4 Wonderful Words Which Work – About Spring).
Having said that, it’s important to remember that your blog isn’t something to be written for you. Your aim is to provide value to those who are reading it, so think about your audience and want they want to know. (I’ve written a post about this too… The truth about why it’s important to focus on your reader.)
Think about what your contacts, customers and potential clients want to know. As I’ve already said – you could answer their questions, you could also tell them your story, show them how you work or give feedback on your tools. If you struggle to come up with things to talk about, there are numerous blog posts out there on the subject (you can see a theme here can’t you) and I’d be more than happy to help.
7. How long should a blog post be?
You’re not the only one who’s wondered this, and maybe been put off by it.
Particularly if you’re someone who enjoys reading deep long-form posts which go deep into the heart of a question, the idea of replicating such an article might be quite terrifying. But you don’t have to.
In my very scientific way I’m going to give you my definitive answer – your post should be as long as it needs to be. Helpful right!?
Number 1… whatever you’ve promised your reader you will do, make sure you do it. That’s where you stop.
Number 2… search engines will potentially take more notice of posts which are over 300 words, but be aware that if you haven’t got 300 words to say about a subject then there’s no point in the search engine finding it because no-one will read it.
Number 3… if it’s long enough to be a dissertation you’ll need a table of contents.
Focus on what your reader is looking for and consider how they will be reading it. Write for your reader not for search engines.
8. Can I sell my services in a blog?
Blogs are articles not sales pages; you should already have one of those on your website.
If you’ve promised to tell your reader ‘How to Choose the Right Business Coach’ and then just tell them to ring you, you’ve lost credibility.
If you give them a series of considerations which point them in your direction, you’d be silly not to encourage them to follow up with you – and for those who read the article and choose someone else, you’ve not lost anything because they’re probably not your ideal client.
Blogs are not a place to sell but they are a place to inform and advise and if you provide services which your reader is looking for, you need to tell them that.
9. What should my blog include?
There are many different formats that work for a blog, they don’t all need to look the same – in fact it would be a bit boring if they did.
Your post might be a list, maybe of top tips, you could write an interview (with a client or expert), a story (maybe your business story), a diary (a day in the life), your thoughts on a subject or a round up of other people’s posts on a topic. How you structure your blog will depend on what you’re going to include.
But, there are some things every post needs…
– Images: try and be consistent with the style and number of images you’ll use
– Headline: this is going to make people choose to read it
– Introduction: needs to be compelling, tell people what they’ll be missing if they don’t read it all
– Conclusion: don’t just leave people in the middle of your thoughts, pull things together for them
– Call to Action: tell people what to do next, do you want them to comment, share or get in touch?
10. How do I write a blog?
This is the hardest bit, I know… For me, the most important step in any business communication is getting down to do it.
Planning helps me, so does making sure I’m somewhere I can focus. Again (I’m sorry to keep doing this), I have written a blog which might help you with tips on writing Top Tips for Better Business Writing.
The most important part is to start, and don’t give up.
What do you think? Did I miss any of your questions or are there things here you’d like to find out more about?
Leave me a comment or get in touch, I’d love to know your thoughts on my post.
And, of course, if you find you need some support with your business blogging, I can help with that too. Get in touch