Blogging is one of the most powerful forms of Content Marketing. It’s also one of the hardest to get right.
I’m often approached by small- to medium-sized businesses who need a blog writer or advice on how to blog better.
These are some of the issues I see most often.
1. Don’t call it ‘Blog’
I often see websites with top-level navigation something like:
- About us
- What we do
- Client reviews
- Contact us
Using the word Blog in navigation is like trying to sell the cereal box instead of the cereal.
Choose a blog name that describes your content and will appeal to your audience. Here are some good examples.
Tui Garden Products calls their blog Ideas and Inspiration:
Discover Wellington has two blogs with different content, different audiences and different names:
2. Post regularly
If visitors see you haven’t posted in months, your business will look disorganised, lacking in ideas or even defunct.
Between three times a week and once every six weeks works well for nearly all people and brands.
When setting your schedule, think about:
- How much time do you have for writing posts (or budget, if you plan to hire someone to write blog posts)?
- How long will your posts be?
- How big is your potential audience?
Tip: It takes time to get the benefits of blogging. If you start by blogging slightly more often than you think you need to, you may see benefits faster.
3. Write for your reader, not for your brand
Unless you’ve already made them into a superfan (in which case, you don’t need to market to them), people don’t care about your brand. They want to learn something useful for themselves.
A blog post should give to your reader, but what do they want? If you can picture them clearly, your empathy and life experience will tell you. Give them a name, an age, gender, career, family life, education, likes / dislikes and so on. Find a photograph or draw a picture of them.
When I’ve written for the most successful content marketing brands, I always find their office has some of these up on the wall:
It’s cheesy, but it’s a huge help in working out what your audience really wants to hear.
4. Take risks
We all need to stand out from the crowd, but the smaller your business, the more challenging that is. One thing businesses of any size can do with their blog to stand out, is to tackle controversial topics. It’s a risk, and so it should be: risks are how businesses get ahead.
Make a list of topics you might cover. If nothing on the list makes you slightly uncomfortable, you need to start pushing the edges of your comfort zone more.
5. Be concise, not necessarily short
There’s no ideal length for a blog post. They can be one sentence or a thesis.
Length doesn’t matter; being concise matters. If you can get the same point over in fewer words, do.
Tip: The TICTOC method helps structure long posts for easier navigation and better SEO.
6. Capture the reader’s eye
Most readers scan, rather than read word-by-word. Grab them with:
- subheadings, and
- pull quotes (also known as block quotes).
Don’t include images just for decoration. Think about how you can use photos, diagrams, charts, cartoons or infographics to give more impact to what you’re saying.
7. Use well-organised tags and categories
These help readers find related posts, and so stay on your blog longer. Use them sparingly (I’d say 5 or fewer per post) and keep them consistent: if you have two recipes, and one is tagged recipe, the other recipes, the tags won’t link together.
Tip: Tags shouldn’t be used like the old ‘meta tags’ field, once used by Google to index pages. Learn how to use tags and categories.
8. Spend time on your titles and excerpts
Think of your title and excerpt as an ad for your blog. Potential readers use these to decide if they’ll read. It’s worth spending time getting them right.
When it comes to SEO, there’s also meta titles and meta descriptions. These are like titles and excerpts that show in search results. It’s worth learning how to use them. There are tons of cowboys out there when it comes to SEO advice — always check Google’s SEO advice before believing anything you hear about SEO.
9. Clean your house
When someone enters your blog, you want them to see a range of great topics. There is no point including blog posts that aren’t working for your readers.
Review all your posts regularly. Unpublish or revise less popular posts.
10. Measure your success
Comments and likes can easily become a false measure for success. They don’t necessarily translate to meeting your business goals.
Set goals for what you want your blog to do for your business (for example, increased sales or new clients), and use Google Analytics to see how people who read your blog posts are behaving. Improve performance by experimenting with, for example:
- number of links to sales-related content
- how detailed your topics are
- how often you post
- how you market posts.
Need blog posts written?
If you need a blog writer on any subject, please get in touch.