The Small Business Guide to Blogging

The Small Business Guide to Blogging

In this guide:

Get started with blogging >
10 tips to better blogging >
How to come up with ideas for your business blog >
Conclusion >

Why Blog?

According to Hubspot, blogs are no longer a ‘nice to have’ for your business but are a key marketing tool. 2015 statistics suggest businesses that prioritise blogging are 13 times more likely to see a positive ROI than those that do not. Plus, companies who blog regularly receive 97% more links to their website.

This makes blogging a valuable tool in your SEO arsenal as it can increase your search engine rankings, help with link building and drive traffic to your site.

In this guide, we will show you how to start and maintain a successful blog for your business.

Getting Started With Blogging

So, you’ve already decided you want to start a blog. Great! But where to begin?

Well, the best way to start is researching your market and your ideal customer. What do they do? Where do they spend their time online? What do they enjoy reading? These are things you need to consider before even beginning to type.

Work out what problems your customers face and what questions they have that are relevant to your business.

From this, you can figure out how your blog and its content can make their lives easier and more enjoyable. For instance, if your business produces wedding stationery, your customers will likely have lots of questions surrounding planning their big day and will want to see inspirational images and ideas — this is something your blog could provide them with.

How to come up with blog content ideas

To find out what’s relevant, take a look at your competitors’ sites as well as more general blogs and sites in your sector. You could even look on Twitter and Facebook to find out the sort of questions your potential customers are asking. Draw on your own experience as well – what are the primary concerns and questions your previous customers have had?

Next, make a plan. Create a ‘content calendar’ to help you plan your content in advance and ensure it ties in with other marketing activities and seasonal events. At this point, you could also create editorial guidelines that outline key factors such as tone of voice, branding etc.

Once your blog is live, remember to use analytics to see what works. Noticing readers consuming more content on a specific topic? Use that information to direct and improve readership on your blog.

10 Tips to Better Blogging

#1 Blog regularly

To garner a regular readership, you need to make sure you are blogging regularly. Around once a week is a good starting point for a small business as it keeps your site fresh and up to date. You could produce a few blogs in advance and schedule them to publish weekly.

#2 Write content that YOU want to read

This is a simple tip; if you don’t find your content interesting, what makes you think others are going to? Make your content readable and engaging. You want readers to hopefully be engaged enough to explore your site further.

#3 Don’t copy and paste

It’s perfectly OK to reference content from other sources or build on what others have written as long as you’re crediting appropriately. It can even help you build relationships with influencers in your field. However, you should never copy and paste. It’s plagiarism for a start and Google penalises sites with duplicate content.

Want to read more about Google Algorithms? Click here.

#4 Your headline is king

Ensure your headline is as catchy and as interesting as it can possibly be. If viewers aren’t caught by your headline, they will almost certainly leave. Do some research to figure out what kind of headlines work best in your market/business, and try to emulate that style.

#5 Keep the formatting attractive

If people come to your blog and see huge blocks of text, with no sub-headings to space out content, and ugly dis-jointed font choices, they’ll leave very quickly. Make it attractive to look at and easy to read.

#6 Include engaging visuals

Relevant photos and graphics can really accentuate your content. Blog posts with engaging images are also far more likely to be seen and shared on social media too.

#7 Remember a Call-to-Action

If the goal of your blog is to get readers to take an action of some sort, don’t forget to tell them what it is you want from them. This could be directing people to a product or service you offer, asking them to follow one of your social media accounts or even asking them to comment about their own experiences.

#8 Promote your blog content!

If no one knows your blog is there then no one will read it. At the very least you should be announcing new posts on your social media channels, but you could also contact influencers in your sector to see if they will link to, comment on or tweet about your blog.

#9 Be responsive

Try to respond to comments on your blog. It gives you the opportunity to build relationships and lets your customers know there’s an actual person on the other side of the screen who cares about their opinion.

#10 Consider guest bloggers

One way to promote your blog and lift some of the burden of writing it from your shoulders is guest bloggers. This involves asking relevant bloggers in your market to write content that would be hosted on your blog with a link back to their site. In turn, they would promote their guest blog on their own channels. You may need budget to pay for the blogger’s time.

How to Produce Ideas for Blogging

There’s nothing worse than staring at a blank page with no idea what to write. Here are some tips on producing ideas for your blog.

Keep an ideas file

You will have great ideas at the most inopportune times, so keep a notebook or other recording method handy, so that you can note down ideas whenever inspiration strikes.

Link ideas in the file to your content calendar to ensure you’re posting at the right times.

Just ask!

Don’t be afraid to ask your readers what they’d like to see on your blog, such as answers to a particular question or discussion on a particular product. With your readers’ permission, you could even use their comments and questions as the structure for a blog post.

Keep on top of current affairs

If there’s a big news story or event happening that your customers are interested in, you should be blogging about it. For example, if you run a cake shop and you know The Great British Bake Off is coming up, plan a series of blogs around the show.

Read this article for more great tips on where to find blog content inspiration >

Conclusion

So you now have a framework for beginning your own blog – make use of the information contained in this guide but remember it’s your blog so do what works for you, your business and your readers. Blogging can be a huge part of your marketing efforts, so don’t neglect it!