I just posted the 200th business blog post on my website. The first post, written six years ago, entitled “Marketing On The Run,” was an interview with a local realtor who hands out branded water bottles along a popular running trail. She said she was trying to find a good spot with a lot of traffic. For her, this marketing initiative proved much more effective than sitting at an Open House. From my first post to this one, I’ve been on a mission to write about and share helpful branding and marketing advice with small- to medium-size companies.
199 posts later, I’ve learned a lot about how to create, publish and promote a business blog and execute an effective content marketing strategy. It works for my business and it works for my clients.
Here are 25+ key takeaways about creating a business blog, posts for clients and guest blog posts for numerous publications:
1. A blog is an excellent way get more business by offering content that a company’s audience finds helpful to their business.
2. The “return” on writing a blog post and doing content marketing can be quick — I’ve posted in the morning and had a new client that same afternoon.
3. Incorporating blog content into an email marketing campaign, social media updates and other “repurposing” opportunities, adds “marketing mileage” to each post.
4. Google rewards fresh content in their search results — consistent blogging is crucial to SEO and pushes your website to the top.
5. I’ve learned that blogging takes a lot of time — much longer than one might assume. There’s coming up with the idea, doing research, writing, editing (and editing again), researching a visual, and posting on the site (along with all the optimization that entails).
6. From a dollar (vs. time) perspective, blogging for business is extremely cost-effective, especially if owners or staff can participate in the process.
7. Blogging is only effective if it’s done on a consistent basis, at least once a week if possible. Once you’ve connected with your audience, they’ll expect to hear from you. Plus, consistent publishing on your site is Google-friendly.
8. Only start a blog if you can keep up with a rigorous publishing schedule. Don’t start, post two or three times, and stop. That just makes you look like you don’t finish things. If you think continuity may be an issue but see the value in blogging, try to outsource your content marketing or find an in-house resource.
9. Writing a blog post builds trust, credibility and “go-to expert” status for your business.
10. Your blog is an introduction to your business — and may accelerate the relationship with a prospective client.
11. Unlike your website content and design, your blog is much better at conveying the “personality” of your business, of giving prospective clients insight into your opinions and views, how you conduct your business and a more in-depth knowledge of the products and services you offer.
12. Writing a blog helps frame your thoughts about issues in your industry and builds thought leadership recognition for you; creating content around these issues can be excellent fodder for speaking presentations, white papers, ebooks, guest posts, articles and public relations opportunities.
13. I find it helpful to keep a running list of potential blog topics and have a pipeline of multiple posts ready to go or at least in progress. This avoids Monday-night writer’s block in advance of a post due to publish Tuesday morning.
14. Writing, publishing and promoting a blog post is marketing you can do anytime and it’s out there working when you’re not.
15. Your blog post should provide information that’s helpful, valuable and relevant to your audience. It shouldn’t be a pitch. Write content that helps, not sells.
16. Writing a blog that viewers can subscribe to builds your email list — giving you additional opportunities to reach out and stay top-of-mind with new and existing customers.
17. Personal stories and experiences have a lot of appeal.
18. Write in a way that utilizes your “voice” — how you would speak or conduct yourself in a conversation. Your posts should sound like the real you.
19. Structure is paramount — make a promise (tell your viewer what you’re going to tell them) and deliver. Each post should have a beginning, a middle and an end.
20. Make your posts scannable and easy-to-read — short sentences and paragraphs, bulleted or numbered lists, some bold lines or italicized words.
21. Include inbound links back to your site and outbound links to referenced sources.
22. Content can be drawn from your everyday business experiences. Ever answer the same business question over and over? Writing posts addressing those issues creates a knowledge base to which you can direct customers.
23. Headlines are HUGE — their “catchiness” may determine whether your post is read or not. Same goes for email subject lines.
24. Images are important — they grab attention and explain the content visually. A study by MDG Advertising says visuals increase views by 94%. Stay away from images that are too “stock-y” — consider using shots you take or images you manipulate.
25. SEO is constantly changing but it’s important to understand and incorporate the basics like keywords, meta descriptions, tags, anchor text, H1 and H2 headings, image alt text and inbound and outbound links.
26. Promotion of your posts across a variety of social media platforms including LinkedIn Pulse, your company Facebook and LinkedIn pages, Twitter, Google Plus, and Medium, among others, gets your content in front of a huge audience. Certain types of companies will benefit from posting on visual sites like Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube.
As you can see, I’ve learned a lot and both my company and my clients have benefitted from business blog efforts. Six years ago, content marketing was a new buzzword. Now, it’s one of the most accepted (and expected) branding and marketing that companies large and small use to promote their business and engage customers.
Here’s more information about a business blog:
Please share your business blog and content marketing tips and results in the comments below.
Let’s talk about a business blog for your business! Contact Martha. Martha Spelman is a Los Angeles-based branding, marketing, content marketing and social media expert. Using traditional and online marketing strategies to start, grow and promote businesses, she works with startups, entrepreneurs and small- to medium-size companies. Martha is the author of the content marketing ebook: The Cure for Blogophobia: How to Easily Create, Publish & Promote Your Business Blog.