I can’t tell you how many times I tell people that they can use blog content to further all their business goals, and the number of times they tell me this: “I can’t blog because I am too busy.”“I can’t blog because I don’t know what to write about.” “I can’t blog because I am not an excellent writer.” “I can’t blog because I am an introvert. And well, I have heard that in order to be a successful blogger, you need to connect with the influencers and frankly, I am really bad at networking and making phone calls and …”
Whoa. Stop right there.
There’s a lot to unpack in the responses I get from small business owners and solopreneurs.
Firstly, you don’t need to blog every single day, or multiple times per week for that matter. You can choose to post once a week and you’ll be doing excellently. If you can’t do once a week, how about once a fortnight? Could you manage to publish a new blog post every other week? And who says you need to write ‘epic’ blog posts or ‘long form content’. You could create a piece of 750 words, make it count, and check that thing off your to-do list. Done! So that takes care of the busy part. If you batch your content, you could take care of your writing in a single afternoon.
Secondly, the reason why you are not clear on what to write about is because you probably don’t understand why you should be blogging in the first place. I’ll explain that in a bit.
Finally, no, you don’t need to be a world class writer to have a blog that works for you. Let me ask you question. Could you write an email response to a client enquiry that came in? Could you write a piece explaining why you feel a certain way on a subject? You can? Congratulations, you can write a blog. And this post will help you create a business blog in the shiny 2016 if you are so inclined (and you should be). Let’s discuss.
#1 Really understand why your blog exists
Okay. Firstly, you are not looking to create a popular blog or a news site. So in case you were thinking you are competing with Copyblogger, Social Media Examiner, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur or Mind Body Green, you are not. Well, not really.
What you are doing is creating a blog which will act like a marketing tool for your business. A blog that helps build authority, create credibility and help you get in front of people easily.
A blog creates the K-L-T (the Know, Like and Trust factor). Allow me to explain.
Let’s say I am looking to hire a life coach. I may ask friends for referrals and I may also Google life coaches. But ultimately, the person I am most likely to hire is someone who I have come to know, like and trust after consuming some of their free content.
It doesn’t have to take a long time. And it might even be the only differentiating factor. So I might choose between somebody whose blog I have been reading for months, and somebody I became aware of as a result of a referral just on the basis of how I feel about them because, well, I have been reading their blog posts.
Think about your own behavior. If you were to decide between different service providers, or coaching packages, or online training programs, who are you most likely to go with? The one who has taken the time to give you useful content and build a relationship with you.
#2 Publish the right content
So now that you understand how you can use a blog to achieve your business goals, you are in a much better place to come up with a content plan.
Your content is what allows you to create a relationship with your audience. And there are three types of content every business should publish.
- Content that builds credibility
- Content that creates a connection, and
- Content that precedes the sale
Content that builds credibility and authority is usually your straight how-to type content. This content also establishes you as an expert in your field and raise your authority.
You can also take people behind the scenes, share client stories and case studies, and talk about media coverage like positive reviews, testimonials, your guest posts and your appearances on podcasts as a guest.
As a result of reading this type of content, people will come to trust you and will start thinking of you as a credible expert. Here are a few examples of content that builds credibility:
- 5 Ways You’re Still Not Obeying Google’s Rules by Kerry Butters
- 5 Ways to Rock Your Personal Brand on Twitter by Sara-Ruth Wolkiewicz
Content that creates connection is more personal. Here you are telling heartfelt stories. You are sharing your journey and personal insights. Your aim is to inspire people and let them know that you are very much human, just like them. And the best thing is these posts can also be huge credibility builders as well.
Here are some examples:
- On Dying, Mothers, and Fighting for Your Ideas by Jon Morrow
- The Evolution of a Million Dollar Course (From Budget Beginnings) by Denise Duffield-Thomas
Finally, you also need content that lets people become aware of your products and services. This type of content directly or indirectly creates a need for your offerings. You don’t want to like those people who spent ages to create large followings only to be met with disapproval, rebellion and even hatred when they started selling.
You don’t want to be like them. You don’t want people to unsubscribe because all you did was give them free content and they forget that you run a business. You have to set the right expectations from the start. This type of content can be seasonal. So when you have a big launch coming up, you can create specific topic-based content leading up to the launch.
You can also create that content without an upcoming launch to remind people about your offerings by creating content that agitates a problem, presents a solution and then link to whatever you can on offer. Here are some examples:
- How to Get Started with Email Segmentation by Pam Neely
- How Good Really Are Your Email Campaigns? [Benchmark Report + Webinar] By Michael Leszczynski
#3 Learn to write like a pro
Have you ever seen any poorly-written books rise up to a best selling status (err – excluding a certain genre of books, you know what I’m talking about)? Any book worth reading is written with a compelling writing style, and hooks you right in from it’s title. The principle applies to a blog post.
It doesn’t matter how important your ideas are, unless you write in a way that resonates with your ideal audience and makes complete sense to them, you won’t be able to go far.
For some people, this actually means relaxing a bit. If you have a stuffy, corporate-sounding writing style, you will benefit from writing in a conversational manner. Try infusing your personality within your writing and pretend writing to a close friend.
If you tend to ramble on, practice brevity. Tighten up your writing and get rid of unnecessary information. Don’t go off on a tangent and stick to your main idea. Aim to make your writing clear, concise and compassionate and you can’t wrong.
However, that’s just one part of setting your post up for success. You need to get the attention of your ideal audience. In today’s super noisy word where everybody and everything is competing for their attention, you need to write compelling headlines that draw them in. And not only headlines, introductions and calls to action make a big difference to overall performance of your post so it is worth looking into improving your blog writing skills.
Last, don’t forget to make your posts screen friendly. Break up big chunks of text into smaller paragraphs. Use images and lots to white space to make it easy on the eyes. Use sub-headings to guide the reader and capture attention of the skimmers. Use bullets, bold and italic to further call attention to the important points you want to bring home.
#4 Follow the 80-20 rule
You may have heard of the Pareto’s Principle. He states that about 80% of your results come from focusing on 20% of your efforts. (If you want to explore this, use Google and you’ll be sure to find tons of information on it.)
How does this apply in real life? For example, from a closet full of clothes, you end up wearing about 20% of what you have got, 80% of the time. 20% of the rich people in this world own the 80% of the wealth. I want you to apply the same philosophy to your blogging.
According to this rule, of all the blog content you end up publishing, 20% of it will bring you the biggest rewards. Meaning, 20% of your content will get you the most social shares and word of mouth, most interaction and engagement and the best ROI.
So instead of worrying about why every single post of yours isn’t doing so well, I want you to focus on the top 20% posts and promote the heck out of those.
Instead of trying to create more content to attract new eyeballs to your website and hoping to go viral, focus on creating less. Just like you would focus on 20% of your wardrobe and making it work more, or adding a few classic pieces, you would create on quality rather than quantity.
This means, you are creating LESS and not more, to begin with. So, you are publishing only the best content.
Secondly, promote the heck out of this content. And this tip was popularized by Derek Halpern of Social Triggers, so full credit to him. What he recommends is that you publish a post and then focus on it getting seen everywhere, rather than creating another piece of content.
Whenever you publish a blog post, email it to your list (never assume that people are visiting your blog on a regular basis), schedule it multiple times on social media, and reach out to the influencers when it is relevant.
And no, you don’t have to stroke their egos, or follow them in real life events. Slowly build a relationship over time and ask for them to share your content when it’s appropriate.
#5 Turn your blog into a lead magnet
Going back to point#1, we look at why we should be blogging in the first place. To create K-L-T.
Now it’s time to take it up a notch and turn your blog into a lead generation machine. You don’t want to blog and rely on the number of views or visitors to a blog. The more useful metric to track is the number of sign-ups to your email list.
The first thing to do is to have a sign-up form displayed prominently in/under your header banner, especially if your blog is set up as your homepage. It should be impossible to miss in the sense that a visitor to your site should be able to see it without having to scroll down.
Secondly, another great place to ask blog readers to sign up to your newsletter or email list is on top of the sidebar. If you take a look around, you’ll see many popular bloggers following this practice.
Thirdly, ask for people to opt-in after every single blog post you publish. You may think it’s overkill but it’s not. Think about it for a second, many people find your website via the links your readers share. They click through to come to your blog. If they are brand new, they might not sign up instantly. They’ll be more interested in reading what they came for. Naturally it makes sense to give them an opportunity to sign up after they have reached the end. (These people are super hot leads!)
Lastly, there is another thing all the cool kids are doing that you may want to try. These are known as content upgrades. This is an advanced strategy that you may want to try after you get your feet wet. What it means is simply offering a blog-specific freebie after one blog post.
So if you are teaching people something, you may offer 5 extra tips to do it, or a checklist in a PDF form, and they can gain access after they sign up. This is a great way to capture leads but it does take additional work. Don’t try it when you are brand new.
In case you haven’t noticed, I have busted all the myths or the excuses that people come up with all the time as to why they can’t start a business blog.
- Don’t have the time? Follow the 80-20 rule.
- Don’t have ideas? Create a basic content plan based on three types of content you should be creating.
- Don’t have the confidence to hit publish? Learn to write like a pro.
And don’t feel like schmoozing with other bloggers and influencers? Then don’t. Let your content do the talking for you. Focus on the content and then get in with others (via social media or email – no need to make it hard) and let them know you have this great piece of content that will be really useful to their audience.
So. What do you think? Ready to give this blogging thing a try? Ready to add it to your marketing strategy in 2016? You should! There is simply no reason not to. All the best and share your progress or thoughts in the comments below!