Most small businesses with an online presence have heard more than once; you need to have a blog for people to find you. While I whole-heartedly believe in that, as a blog is one of the best ways to showcase your expertise, products and offer valuable information to prospects and clients, I also know it’s not easy to start and maintain a blog. So today, I’m going to share some simple steps to help you launch your small business blog.
I’ve been blogging for more than a dozen years, and I will tell you that it’s no small thing to build a brand online using content. I wanted to be a writer since I was in 8th grade, and writing has always been my superpower. My blog has always been my secret weapon in my business. So many opportunities have come to me because someone read my blog. I was a columnist for Entrepreneur, Inc. and The New York Times because they read my blog first and invited me to write for them. I’ve also written several books, including my bestseller Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months. I have also developed blog content for nearly a dozen corporate blogs.
As SmallBizLady, my mission is to end small business failure, and all the content I develop is to support that mission.
Launching a blog can be exciting, but it’s a lot of work, especially if it’s something you are trying to do on the side. You’ll need to manage your time very carefully, as there are several tasks involved with blogging. First, you’ll be managing the blog’s editorial calendar and developing the content. You’ll also be monitoring SEO and keyword strategy to drive your organic search rankings and perhaps recruiting people to submit content as guest bloggers (if you decide to go that direction.) Next, you may need to find a freelance writer or content creator to assist you. Then you’ll need to use social media to boost the content. And later, it might make sense to use ads to promote your content to drive leads and sales.
This post is the first of a two-part series on Blogging for Business. The focus of this post is how to launch an effective blog. I want you to understand how to get clear about your target audience, set goals, and Feature for your blog.
Who Is Your Target Audience?
Blogging is a great way to market a service or product-based business and build thought leadership and brand awareness. You can also leverage a blog to build customer engagement.
Blog success starts with the plan before you launch your blog. The first step is to develop a complete customer profile of your ideal reader.
- Who are they? (race, gender, age)
- Where do they live? (urban, rural or suburban)
- Where do they hang out online? (LinkedIn, Twitter, TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest)
- What is their level of education? (high school, community college, 4 yr degree, advanced degree)
- How do they live? (Single, Divorced with kids, Married with kids) (Homeowner/Renter)
- What media sources do they trust? (Facebook, Twitter, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, NPR, Local News)
- How do they consume media (Cable TV, Tablet, Smartphone, YouTube, Streaming Services)
- Are they health conscious/ or a fast-food junkie?
- What do they need to learn?
- What do they struggling with?
- What are their aspirations?
- What are their political views?
- Are they religious/non-believer?
Create an exhaustive list of potential topics and customer pain points. You’ll want to start building an archive of content at least two months before launching the blog.
You’ll also want to launch your blog with ten articles already live so people can know the topics to expect from your blog. After you get clear on who your reader is, then you’ll need to think through your short and long-term goals for your blog. Do you want blog subscribers? Or build a social media following? Build an email list, engage prospects, drive sales, promote an upcoming book?
Develop Your Content Strategy
No matter what kind of business you have, you can benefit from blogging. It’s just about finding the right content strategy that feels natural to your brand.
There are so many forms of content you can produce:
- blog articles
- white board videos
- how to videos
- ask the expert videos
- product reviews
- product demonstrations
- book reviews
The most important thing is to pick content that you enjoy creating to dread doing it.
The best blogs educate and highlight their customers with their blog content. You might also want to create supplemental content that you can promote with your blog. Here are some content ideas.
- Blog Content. Blog posts are consistently a top performer for small business brands, especially if you develop something new and innovative.
- White Papers. White papers are effective for businesses wanting to prove industry expertise.
- Ebooks. Ebooks are powerful lead generators to grow your email subscriber list or boost engagement opportunities for your sales efforts. For example, you can develop an ebook with an ad and discount link in the back for your latest online course.
- Product Demonstration Videos. Videos convert more than any other type of content. If you can feature a video of your product or process in action, that is powerful content.
- Customer Success Stories. Highlight how real customers have benefited from a product or service in some of your blog content.
- Case Studies. It’s always good to showcase case studies that prove your solutions work with high-profile or corporate customers.
- Product Guides. This content addresses the specific concerns of bottom-of-the-funnel leads. (These are the leads ready to make a purchase decision) They will also feature keyword phrases with less competition, which is great for SEO.
- Resource Centers. These blogs are strictly designed to serve the customers with educational content and build brand awareness.
I suggest developing long-form and short-form content (500-1500 word post). Use video and infographics too. Have a visual strategy for the content page and social media.
You can also use a repurposing strategy too. For example, if you have a podcast, have it transcribed and use all, or a portion of it, as a blog. Try to develop content that can be reused in your newsletters too.
Professional blogs are updated at least three times a week. Most are daily. Develop a publishing schedule for your blog and stick to it to teach your audience when to expect content. For example, I’ve published content every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday at 5:30 am ET for over ten years. Building a consistent routine will help your readers know when to expect new content from your company blog. Updating content on your blog regularly will also help you build your organic search rankings of the blog in Google and Bing.
If you have some extra resources, you can use firms to develop content for your company. Or you might want to go to Upwork.com to hire a freelance writer to supplement your efforts. If you don’t have much budget, initially invest in a copyeditor to be a final set of eyes on all blog content before publication is scheduled.
Have a Unique Point of View
No one is looking for copycat content that is not unique or interesting. Don’t be afraid to be contrarian with your content. The key to success with a blog is to write content that is better than what’s out there. Focus on what will resonate with your target audience above all.
Developing Your Keywords
It would help if you found the seed keywords that your best target audience will use to find your content online. It doesn’t matter how much traffic another keyword phrase may receive. The wrong keywords will attract the wrong audience. Use a free SEO tool like Ubersuggest.com or Google Keyword Planner to find keywords
Here’s an example of how you can do that: Type “blogging” into the Ubersuggest keyword analyzer to get an idea of the monthly search for that term (246,000 searches). With that number of searches clearly, more content is required on this subject (I guess this post is needed.)
Promoting a Blog
If you publish a blog post and then wait around for people to find it online, you’ll not be happy with the results. Whatever your style of content, it’s only going to reach your target audience if it is good content and promoted well.
Focus Your Social Media Efforts
It’s important to know where your target audience spends time online so that you can focus on the right social platforms. It’s best to start heavily using only 1 or 2 platforms. It’s perfectly fine to publish only on LinkedIn or Instagram if that is where more of your target audience is active.
Share other people’s content regularly and say why you like it. Extend your reach by mentioning and linking to others on social media who are influential in your field, and once you build up a body of work, you can ask them to do the same for you.
Schedule Your Social Content
You can schedule shares of every new post on your blog through sharing tools like Sprout Social or Buffer to share your newest posts on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, TikTok, and Twitter.
Use Powerful Visuals to Drive Interest
Use pictures to draw people in. Be sure to vary the artwork and the wording with the share links from the blog to social to pique interest and maximize the number of people who click to read the post.
Participate in Key Social Conversations
Use hashtags to track and join conversations with other industry experts, customers, social media chats, and Live QAs to increase your audience.
Cross-Promote Previous Content
Mention relevant information from previous articles and link to them when creating new pieces. This is called internal linking, and it helps with your overall SEO efforts.
Send Email Newsletters
You can use your newsletter to highlight blog articles you know your customers will be interested in.
Exceptional Customer Service Must Follow Great Content
Build your brand with strong content, and be ready to follow through with top-quality service.
Use Live Chat and/or Chatbots to answers FAQs
Add a live chat or chatbot function to your website to help answer any questions your target audience might have. This can be a great lead generation tool to capture those already coming to your website.
Write a Roundup Post
One of my favorite ways to generate content is to ask for feedback from my readers or other experts. Put a question out on social media, ask people to respond, feature their comments, post their pictures, and link to their website.
Make Your Content Searchable
Offer a search bar to help visitors quickly find content on a particular topic on your blog. Category links can direct them to multiple posts on a given topic. And having just a handful of posts appear (on your blog’s home page) will keep them from scrolling and scrolling to reach the bottom.
Hopefully, this advice will set you on the right path to building a blog with content that will educate, uplift, and encourage your target audience and position you as an expert in your field. In addition, the more content you develop, the more social proof you will have online. That will give you credibility in selling your products and services.
Keep an eye out for Part II of this series coming next week, where we’ll talk about how to monetize a blog.
The post Blogging For Business Part I: How To Launch A Blog appeared first on Succeed As Your Own Boss.