You have great ideas, knowledge and insights about your business and industry. Why not share your perceptions and thoughts by starting a blog? Not only will it demonstrate your thought leadership, a conversational and informative blog has the potential to increase your company’s visibility and bottom line.
The number of bloggers in the U.S. this year is expected to reach 31.7 million. You could be one of them. To help you develop the “write stuff,” here are fundamental steps to starting a blog.
There are many positive reasons to start a blog, beginning with the fact that they build trust and credibility for your company. Over 60 percent of U.S. online consumers have made a purchase based on recommendations from a blog and more than 80 percent say they trust advice and information from blogs. In addition, small businesses that blog receive 126 percent more lead growth than small businesses that do not.
Blogs are also a good investment, in more ways than one. Marketers who prioritize blogging are 13 percent more likely to generate a positive return on investment and have 97 percent more inbound links.
A blog can also help you do more than just increase or generate sales – it’s an opportunity to provide customers with timely information, updates about your products and services and reinforce your value proposition.
When setting up your business blog, you have two options for determining its home. Ideally, your blog should live on your website and serve as a driver for attracting more visitors. If you do not have a website, Web.com has website packages that make it easy for you to get your business up and running online.
Web.com can also help you to create a WordPress blog that is separate from your website with easy-to-use tools and templates to get your blog started and organized. If you choose this option, be sure to update your website navigation to link your blog to your site. This will ensure that your blog is connected to your website and will help you gain more online visitors.
Once you have your blog section set up, you are ready to write.
To develop blog topics, begin by identifying your audience. The best blog topics are the ones that are best for your customers. At the same time, you will want to select a blog topic that interests you. If you are excited about the topic, chances are your readers will be, too. For blog ideas, reach out to your customers and prospects through email and social media to ask them what they need help with and how your business can solve their challenges.
Topics can also come from current events. Be aware of the issues of the day and the seasons coming up. For example, you may blog about how your business is handling the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, how you may be adapting your product and service delivery and what steps you are taking – such as sanitizing procedures and social distancing practices – to safely reopen. For more blog ideas, Explore content idea generators like Hubspot’s Blog Ideas Generator, Quora, Build Your Own Blog, Tweak Your Biz Content Generator, Moz Keyword Explorer, Portent’s Content Idea Generator and Buzzsumo.
A good outline is the foundation for a quality blog. It will kick-start the writing process, organize your thoughts, ensure you are not missing any key elements and ultimately make it easier for your readers to understand. With an outline, you will be able to weigh the real value of your blog post before writing it entirely. Most quality blogs require research, and a basic outline can be a storage spot to insert notes, statistics, reminders and links.
A simple, effective outline should include a headline, content or lead summary, key sections with supporting information and a conclusion. If you are committed to blogging on a regular basis, a blog outline is a fundamental tool of the writing trade. In addition to helping you create strong content and staying organized with your thoughts and ideas, it will also reduce time, worry and stress.
Jack Cappon, a veteran journalist and author of “The Word: An Associated Press Guide to Good News Writing,” called writing a newspaper story lead “the agony of square one.” The lead or opening paragraph provides the reader with the most important information upfront. It should be clear, concise and hook the reader into the story. In today’s online world where attention spans are short, a strong lead is everything.
From the lead, your audience will decide whether to continue reading your blog or clicking off it. There are two basic leads: the summary lead and the descriptive lead. The summary lead is usually found in straight news reports, using the inverted-pyramid structure that gives you the most important facts first. A descriptive lead starts with a funny story, quirky fact, observation or anecdote. Here’s an example of a descriptive lead from a Web.com blog.
Once you have created your lead, drill down into the next sections of your article and support your opening paragraph with information that adds value to the reader experience. For example, if you own a gardening store and you’re blogging about the importance of getting your petunia seeds planted on time in the spring, support that advice with things like what types of seeds work best, how deep you should plant, when you can expect to see plant emergence and how often the flowers should be watered.
Be informative and tell a story. Describe humorous situations where you have seen things go wrong and what has gone right. Let your personality shine through. This is an opportunity to connect with your customers and allow them to see who you are and what your business is all about. Write a strong conclusion by briefly summing up what is included in your article and a call to action of what you want the reader to do next. Something like “Now that you see the importance of planting your petunias on time, get started today by preparing your garden and stopping into our store for your seed and equipment needs – we’re always here to help.”
Now, write a strong headline. Wait, what - you write the headline last? In most cases, it is easier to write an attention-grabbing headline once you have completed the article. Think of it as a frame that succinctly describes what the article is about (in no more than five or six words) while enticing the reader to take that next step and read the article.
Finally, add visuals. Consumers remember 80 percent of visual content but only 20 percent of what they read, meaning adding visuals to your blogs can assist readers' retention of information and recall of your brand.
After crafting your blog, it is finally ready to be posted. Now you need to think about how you want to promote and distribute your blog. This is the key final step in building more awareness and loyalty for your business, brand and blog. Optimize your blog with search engine optimization (SEO) content to enable your readers to find, read and share your insightful and interesting post. Through keyword research, you will be able to pinpoint high-ranking terms and seamlessly incorporate those terms into your blog.
You will also want to send your blog post to your subscriber list letting them know a new blog has posted with a custom email campaign. Social media is a great way to push and share content across a variety of platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. Sharing messages is an effective way to draw attention to your blog and attract more website traffic.
Writing a blog is easier than you think and will be beneficial for your business. By following these steps, you’ll soon be blogging like a professional, powering up posts to showcase your thought leadership, enhancing your marketing efforts and attracting even more customers.