The Ultimate Guide to Blogging for Small Businesses

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Blogging offers an easy way for businesses to share informative content with subscribers, fans and followers. Blogs are often considered at the heart of social media as they present the opportunity for you share better, more engaging content than a typical update on social media meaning you provide more value in every piece of content you create, helping you to connect with your audience more and become a valued source of information.

What’s Good About Blogging?

  • A great tool for improving search engine rankings
  • Adds personality to your website, showing a ‘human’ side to your business
  • Helps boost industry perception and can place you as an authority in your sector
  • It’s inexpensive, there are many blog platforms such as WordPress that allow you to set up a Blog for free

What’s Not so Good About Blogging?

  • Not useful for companies that cannot be open with information
  • A successful blog takes a lot of thought and time so is not suitable for businesses without the time, talent or expertise

Need to Know Facts, Stats and Tips About Blogging

  • 77% of Internet users read blogs (The West Program, 2014)
  • On WordPress, over 409 million people view more than 17.6 billion pages each month. With users producing about 61.6 million new posts and 56.5 million new comments each month (WordPress, 2015)
  • 57% of companies with a blog have acquired a customer from their blog (HubSpot, 2014)
  • B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads per month than those who do not blog (HubSpot)
  • The ideal length of a headline is 6 words (KISSmetrics, 2014)
  • The ideal length of a blog post is 7 minutes, 1,600 words (Medium, 2014)

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Blogging: What, and How Often?

Before you jump in and start blogging there are seven key strategic questions you must answer in order to ensure your blog is going to be in line with your business objectives and ultimately be a successful addition to your social media marketing strategy.

Have You Determined Your Blog’s Business Objectives?
One of the first things you must do is determine what you want your blog to achieve for your business. Whether you want to use it to support sales by giving potential customers useful information in the form of how-to videos, or use it as an outlet to build your brand by providing content that supports your offering, having clear objectives for your blog helps optimise its reach and impact and when you later come to measure your success, you will have a clearer idea of what metrics to track.

Common Blogging Goals

  • Build Brand Awareness
  • Attract new Customers or Generate Leads
  • Provide Post-Sales Support
  • Inform, Educate and Entertain your Audience
  • Demonstrate your Expertise and Become and Authority in Your Sector
  • Drive Direct Income
  • Build Long-Term Relationships with your Community

Where Will You Host Your Blog?
One of the initial hurdles when forming a blog is picking a service that will be right for your business. Many businesses choose free providers in the beginning such as WordPress and switch to self-hosted sites once they are more comfortable with blogging. Much like when you choose what other social media platforms to be on, you need to choose a platform that is relevant for your business and that offers you the services you are looking for.

Have You Defined Your Target Readers?
In addition to determining your objectives, having a clear idea of your target readers is paramount as your posts can then be tailored around content that maximises interest and engagement from your readers. It is also important to consider how your demographic behaves on social media for example how they like to receive their information and whether they are people who actively comment or not, as blog posts can then be tailored accordingly in order to maximise your potential for impact and engagement.

Have You Developed Your Blog’s Voice?
Blogs are a great way for business to show a ‘human’ side to your business that customers appreciate and prefer to interact with. From this, it is important to have an idea of what voice you want for your blog that can be consistently applied across all your posts, especially if your business blog is going to be managed by several different contributors. Put simply, avoid generic corporate speak and replace it with your own unique voice and customers will be more drawn to and engage with your blog.

Have you Listed Features to be Regularly Included in Your Posts?
Deciding on what major content categories you want to include regularly helps you to stay focused and maintains a clear direction for your posts to go in order to ensure your content is in line with your business goals and is targeting reader’s needs. Part of this process is to also determine how often you will post new content on your blog as having a clear schedule of when you will be posting is paramount in order to ensure it supports and is in line with your wider social media strategy.

Have You Outlined Your Creative Elements?
Consistency should also be applied to the creative aspects of your blog that is the overall presentation including the colour scheme and typography. By setting consistent guidelines over the presentation and integration of your branding into your blog it ensures that all these factors support and are in line with your overall branding and help reinforce your message and brand across all social media platforms.

How Will Your Blog Align With Other Marketing Efforts?
Maintaining a blog should fuel and enhance your content marketing efforts. So similarly when you create a clear posting schedule for your blog be sure to consider how each post is going to fit in with and enhance your other marketing efforts. Consider questions such as how am I going to use my other platforms to promote my blog posts when they are published? And how can each blog post supplement this week’s promotional strategy?


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Now it’s time to write your Blog, there are several fundamental basics to follow to ensure you create a powerful and engaging Blog post.

Say Something Interesting and Useful
Write your blog with your target audience in mind so rather than trying to appeal to a generic wider audience, your content contains specialised information and analysis that those interested in your services or in your sector would read. By openly giving out advice and information you will become an online repository of specialist knowledge and this will attract the attention of your target audience.

Be Creative
People always respond better to something that is new, fresh and clever so always brainstorm ideas in the mind-set of producing something that is creative and breaks the mould of other generic blog posts. You are competing in the fast-paced and growing industry of social media marketing so you need to make yourself stand out and give potential customers a compelling reason to choose you over your competitors.

Keep it Short and Sweet
In general, an ideal blog post is between 400- 1,000 words in order to be easy enough to digest quickly. It is widely accepted that online readers are becoming lazy and it becomes difficult and unappealing to read something crowded with text and heavy paragraphs so keep paragraphs succinct and sentences short and snappy. Keep in mind that readers will often read less and less the further down an article or post they read so may sure the important point or link you want to make is made early on.

Never go for the Direct Sell
When you first start blogging it may be tempting to go with the direct sale approach posting information about how wonderful your business is and all of the things you sell or offer. This however is not a successful approach and in most cases will see you viewed as a spammer and will quickly lead to people losing interest in your blog. To avoid making this mistake you must strike a balance between subtle business blog posts and ones centred on customer engagement, with a favourable emphasis on the latter.

Have a Compelling Title and Leading Paragraph
It is paramount to draw the attention to your post by making your headline and introduction exciting. Choose the major point of your post and outline it clearly in the beginning, this is essential if you are going to encourage your readers to click through to the full post.

Balance SEO with Good Content
Whilst it is important to include keywords in your blog, especially within titles, you need to strike a balance between catchiness and SEO. Don’t flood readers with keywords, but do pay attention to the basics such as clean URLs and Meta descriptions.

Include a Call to Action (CTA)
Blog posts should end with something that moves the reader onto a next step be it a call to comment or to connect on another social media platform, this should not be an opportunity to directly hard sell a product however, as this often loses your readers trust.


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How to Write an Effective Blog Post

Headline
The headline represents one of the most important parts of your blog post. It is the deciding factor on whether a reader is compelled enough to click on and read your blog post or not and for this reason it needs to grab attention and be concise in stating to the reader the benefit of clicking the link and reading the content. Whilst there is no definitive perfect headline template, there are several key characteristics of a powerful headline that compels the reader to click on. Powerful headlines are very concise and specific, they focus on the reader and what interests them and also are keyword-optimised ensuring the right type of reader is going to find them.

Example Headline Templates That Grab Attention

  • How to Get The ______ you Want Using ______
  • 5 Secrets your ______ Won’t Tell you About ______
  • 10 Things ______ Can Teach You About ______
  • 5 Little Known Ways to ______
  • The Ultimate Step by Step Guide to ______
  • Best Practises for ______
  • 100 Shocking Statistics About ______
  • Now You Too Can Have ______ with These 5 Easy Steps
  • How to be a World-Class ______ Like ______
  • How to ______ a ______ You Can Be Proud Of
  • 10 Things you Must Know About ______ But Don’t
  • 15 Things you Never Knew about ______
  • 5 Unexpected ways to be Successful at ______
  • Why Your Business Needs to Know About ______
  • 3 Things You Must Do After ______
  • How to ______ in ______Days
  • 20 ______ Every ______ Should Include
  • 10 ______ Mistakes that I Should Have Done Differently
  • Why I Don’t Do ______
  • 11 ______ Tips I Wish I Had Known

Opening Paragraph
The opening paragraph or introduction is meant to provide the setup for the main content and put the subject matter into context. This section of the blog post needs to clearly explain to the reader what your blog post is going to address and compel them to feel as though they will achieve a significant benefit from reading on and taking in what you have to say. As a general guide there are several key characteristics of a successful opening paragraph that you need to include.

  • Be Direct – Online readers prefer to be clearly told what they are about to read and why they should do so. So avoid over complicated, artsy style writing and make it clear to the reader what you are talking about and why they should listen and take note.
  • Be Concise and Compelling – The success of getting readers to read your whole post lies in how well you convince them at the start of your blog post that they simply have to read on. So whether you are offering exclusive content, a competition or some highly valuable advice, make it clear to the reader and in doing so give them a compelling reason to want to read on.
  • Be Bold and Creative – Ensure you set yourself apart from other generic blog posts by being creative. Don’t stick to generic writing styles, layouts and subject matter as being bold but still informative and valuable can attract a lot of attention and encourage a reader to carry on and read the whole post.

The Main Body
The main section of your blog will provide the substance to what you have outlined in your title and opening paragraph. It is important within this section you adhere to several characteristics that constitute a well written blog post;

  • Logical Structure – You need to ensure that your blog follows a clear and logical structure that flows coherently, making the topic easy for your reader to understand.
  • Short and Succinct Sentences – Short and succinct sentences ensure readers keep interest as it makes your content easily scannable and digestible, an important aspect for skim readers.
  • Examples and Evidence – Providing evidence and examples that back up your points helps you appear more of an authority with your writing as well as helping your readers to grasp concepts by offering clear and obvious examples that clearly support what you are discussing.
  • Images – Having a variety of images helps the visual appeal of your post as they break up the blocks of text and help to visually illustrate specific points.

Conclusion
The conclusion should be a short statement that clearly summarises and wraps up your post. This is the area when you should also include a clear call to action in which you direct the reader onto a next step after they have finished reading your post. Whether it is a link to an external site or encourages them to subscribe, you need to ensure the connection with you doesn’t end when your blog post does.

Proof Reading and Optimisation
Once you have finished writing your blog you need to consider the important factors of proof reading and optimisation before you publish your post. This process includes a thorough read through of your blog looking into areas such as formatting, grammar, spelling, keyword placement and other optimisation opportunities. Look to analyse these several key areas;

  • Strategically Placed Keywords – By including relevant keywords and phrases that your target readers are using and strategically placing them throughout your blog post you tailor your content in a way that is going to ensure you are targeting reader’s needs and the chance for maximum search engine visibility. Look to strategically place these keywords across your post from your URL, to your blog title and subheadings.
  • General Formatting – Ensure your blog post is readable and visually appealing by thoroughly checking your formatting and paying attention to key areas such as including sub-headings to help break up text, breaking large blocks of text with images, being consistent with font choice and text size and generally ensuring ease of read with succinct sentence structure and clearly made points.
  • Correct Links and Visuals – If you have included links ensure that they point to the correct location. If you have included visuals such as pictures and videos also ensure you reference and credit where you got them from.

8 Quick Content Ideas for Blog Posts

  • Tips and How-To’s
    Providing informative tips, advice and how-to posts can be very useful to your customers and has the added benefit of promoting your product and its uses.
  • Behind the Scenes/ A Day in the Life of
    People love to see behind the scenes as it shows them an aspect of your business that they wouldn’t normally see. ‘Day in the life’ posts are a popular example.
  • Contests and Other Exclusive Content
    Running a contest and sharing exclusive content always generate engagement and interest. Just make sure the content and/or prize you offer is relevant and valuable to your audience.
  • Relevant Industry News and Updates
    If you know any relevant news/ events that are going to interest or affect your customers then share it with them and you will become a trusted industry news source.
  • Compile a Useful Resource List
    If you come across any valuable and informative resources such as links, websites, books and products related to your business and industry, then share it with your customers. This can go some way towards establishing your blog as a trusted source of information.
  • Customer Testimonials / Success Stories
    A customer testimonial goes a long way in terms of establishing credibility and interest in your product or service. So if you have received a good recommendation or someone has found another useful use for your product then share it on your blog.
  • Interviews with Industry Leaders/ Key Figures
    If you have an industry expert that is of interest to your customers or have celebrity contacts then conducting an interview and sharing it on your blog is a sure fire way to attract attention, even more so if they share exclusive content.
  • Content that Helps Humanise Your Brand
    Sharing stories from your business founders, staff members, charity work to your business morals and values and your business highs and lows helps your audience get to know and care about you as it shows there exists a real human behind your real business.

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8 Point Checklist Before You Publish Your Blog Post

Have I met my Goal for This Blog Post?
Whatever you set out to achieve with your blog post, whether it’s getting people to take part in research, purchase a product or sign up to your newsletter make sure that the material and links fully support your aim and you have clear and relevant call to actions. Having clear goals also makes it easier to measure your success later down the line and assess whether the blog post achieved what it set out to do.

Is my Post Easy to Read, Well- Developed and Presented?
Having a well- formatted blog post is crucial for both ease of read and keeping the attention of readers. Blog posts even when the tone is causal are ultimately still professional papers and when writing them you are representing your business as much as you do when at meetings and in general. From this, it is vital that you generate a structured blog template and form a routine before you publish around proofreading your post paying particular attention to several key areas;
– Is your information bulleted and has numbered lists for easy consumption?
– Are the links you use relevant and pointed to the correct webpage?
– Have you used short and succinct sentences to get your point across successfully?
– Are your section headings clear and specific to their individual points?
– Is your post well concluded with good evidence?
– Does the tone of voice/language fit the overall tone of your blog, and your brand’s editorial guidelines?
– Did you use custom-made images and screenshots instead of stock photos whenever possible?
– Have you given proper credit to the images/content you used in your blog post?
– Have you taken to time to proofread and made sure your format is consistent with spacing between paragraphs as well as font styles and sizes?

Have I Directly Targeted my Audience in This Post?
You need to ensure that your blog post has been directly written with your target audience in mind. This involves you knowing and learning aspects about them from what content resonates best with them to what needs, interest, problems and questions they have as customers. So ensure your content contains specialised information that your customers will want to read. In doing so will not only will you be maximising interest and engagement from your readers, you will be proving your expertise in your industry.

Does my Post Contain Relevant Keywords?
In order to increase the potential for your blogs reach, every blog post you write should focus on and reiterate certain relevant keywords for your business. Ideally, when you are writing keep in mind 5-10 keywords and weave them into your content from the title through to the main sections of you post, taking care to not over flood your content making it unreadable and incoherent. As you become more comfortable with writing your posts you will soon find that you develop this skill to fully optimise your posts confidently.

Does the Title Grab my Attention and Make me Want to Click on it?
The main section of your blog post may be full of brilliant and valuable content, but if you don’t invest the time into creating an optimised your title that makes readers want to click on it, you are making a mistake. When forming a title consider whether you yourself would click on it, is it going to solve a common problem? Improve and aspect of your life or is it exciting exclusive content? Whatever you decide make sure it is compelling enough to click on and is optimised with keywords. You should also pay attention to the length of your title, bearing in mind that the optimal length is between 40 – 69 characters long. A shorter title may not be as descriptive and specific enough to capture attention, and a longer title will be cut off at 69 characters in search results, making your click-through rates likely to decrease.

Have I Backed up my Points with Good Evidence?
One of the key ways to become a trusted source of information is to provide content that is reliable and backed up with solid evidence to support what you are claiming. So before you publish your post make sure all the points you make are coherent and evidence is there that supports and justifies what you are claiming. Remember people may be making business decisions based on what you write so you must appear informed and reliable and give them clear reasons why what your saying is true and accurate.

Have I Included a Clear CTA?
By ensuring you include a clear call to action in every post you are making sure that each post is purposeful for your business. Whether you direct the reader to an external site or ask them to leave a comment for example you need to consistently encourage the reader to continue the interaction with you.
How am I Going to Promote this Post?
To ensure maximum reach and impact you need to consider how you are going to promote your post once it’s published. There are many tips later on in this section, but also consider the means of promotion you personally have at your disposal that can help get your blog post seen more.


Although it takes some experimentation to find the best publishing schedule for you, there are two things that should always be considered and will dictate your blogging schedule; your business goals and what your audience wants.

In general, publishing at least one new blog post a week is optimal because it helps maintain good relationships with customers, attract natural search traffic, and avoids burnout from writing too often. This however may vary depending on what works best for your company, goals and readers so it is important to experiment to find a blogging schedule that works for you. For example, if your goal is to become a cutting edge information resource, you might want to post shorter articles more often or if your main audience is mostly interested in technical or behind-the-scenes details, you’ll probably publish longer articles less often. So the first step to determining your ideal blogging frequency is to find the perfect balance of what you want and what your audience wants.

To maximise the benefits of having a blog you need to ultimately ask yourself, Can you keep this schedule consistently?, Can you always publish high-quality content at this rate? And will you have enough content for this schedule? Once you’ve discovered the best times to blog, being consistent with your publishing schedule has the benefit of increasing SEO value and encourages readers to come back regularly for more.


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How to Build a Following and Amplify Your Impact

Writing your blog post is only the beginning. The next challenge is to promote your blog in order to get maximum exposure and attract attention. Rather than relying solely on search engines, there are several other key techniques you can employ to help get your content noticed.

Syndication
One of the most powerful mechanisms of a Blog is its RSS feed that allows you to automatically feed your Blog’s content to many different places, including many social networking sites. This can significantly expand your reach and saves you hours of time where you would otherwise have to post your content manually. There are also many other social sites that allow you to plug in your blog’s RSS feed, make sure to link it to all of your available platforms and the potential reach of your blog becomes significantly increased.

Seek Out and Comment on Other Blogs with Similar Topics
Providing helpful, valuable comments on other blogs can be a great way to generate traffic, develop relationships and build a following. Once you have finished a blog post on a topic it is worthwhile to do a quick search to find other blogs covering the same topic, you can then add your viewpoint in a genuine, non-self-promotional way. Showing yourself to be insightful and willing to provide advice is always welcomed and appreciated and is often rewarded in the form of new relationships with other bloggers who are more likely to mention and promote your blog.

Promote your Blog
Anywhere your customers interact with your brand is an opportunity to encourage them to look at and interact with your blog. There are several key areas in which you can promote your blog, from mentioning it on your e-newsletter, your email signature, to your business card and product packaging and of course promoting it across all your other social media platforms.

  • Email Marketing – highlight your blog post by including a clear link to and/or a section of your blog post to help drive traffic to your blog and your website.
  • Twitter– Tweet a summary of your post, a quote pulled from the post, or share a link to and encourage others to comment on the post itself. You can also include your blog’s URL within your Twitter bio to help drive traffic.
  • LinkedIn – Share your post with your groups and others that you know may be interested in it, this can start discussions, encourage engagement and debate that can fuel new content for future blog posts.
  • Pinterest – Create a board that is purely for your blog posts remembering to use an interesting and relevant image to be pinned along with it and keep the boards location high so it is clear and one of the first boards that is seen when on your profile.
  • Guest Post Opportunities – Be proactive in looking for other bigger websites and blogs that have opportunities for guest posters. This is a great opportunity for more attention from a potentially new audience and linking back to your own blog can help with traffic. Similarly you yourself can encourage others to guest post that can bring with it a new audience and following.
  • Meetings, Events and Giving Presentations– Remember that whenever and wherever you meet people this presents an opportunity for you to promote and refer the audience to your blog. Similarly for the very savvy marketer, you can also utilise digital technologies such as QR codes on your packaging that can allow people to quickly and easily subscribe to your blog.

Utilise Website Banners
A website banner provides the perfect opportunity and space to create a clear call to action for driving traffic to your blog. Consider placing calls-to-action banners on different pages of your website and use language that encourages people to want to go forward and view your blog. One of the most popular website banner CTA’s for blogs is to emphasise the number of people who are already subscribed to your blog and encourage the person that is reading to join them.

Encourage and Ask for Participation
Blogging is a great way to build an engaged community. By writing your posts in a way that fosters interaction and discussions from your readers you benefit from an active and interested community that will respond to what you write. By listening to what your readers have to say you will gather important information about them from their opinions, interests and ideas to suggestions about your business, all of which are greatly beneficial as they will help guide future content creation and inform business decisions.

Host a Contest
Hosting contests are a popular and successful way of attracting attention from an audience. From asking people to pick their favourite blog posts of yours and why to having other bloggers publish a post on their blog about you, any relevant and engaging contest will help to expand your blog’s reach and attract new visitors.


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Tips for Success

Write for People
With all the technical aspects of blogging to consider when you are writing it is easy to forget that you are ultimately writing for people. Whilst it is important to consider aspects such as keywords, the most successful bloggers are those that never stop listening to their audience and strive to better understand their needs and interests and as such this passion and genuine intention of getting to know their customers is reflected their content that is always valuable and engaging.

Show Your Personality
To stand out from the crowd you need to humanise your blog by sharing your personality, interests and stories that helps people to get to know you and really connect and care about your brand. Consumers want to know the real people behind a business and by showcasing your personality and what makes you unique you will ultimately grow a collection of loyal followers.

Keep Going
Maintaining a successful blog is a process involving a lot of effort, time and thought and as time progresses often gets neglected or becomes lower down in a business list of priorities. The key is to keep going and keep it one of your top priorities as search engines and readers want regular, fresh content that will keep them coming to your blog otherwise they will both soon lose interest.

Deal with Negativity in a Positive Way
Rather than simply deleting any negative comments you receive, as even the most universally loved businesses receive negative comments, view them as an opportunity to win over a customer offering help, guidance or even acknowledging where something went wrong. By dealing with negativity in an open and authentic way you can help build rapport and trust with your customers.

Include Your Key Contact Information
You need to remember to include your key contact information clearly within your blog as you want to make it as easy as possible for a potential engagement or business opportunity to get in touch with you.

Make Sure you Include Social Media Sharing Buttons
To help give your blog content extended reach ensure that you include social media sharing buttons on every post. This encourages readers who have enjoyed your post to share it within their own personal networks and this will expand your posts reach beyond your own connections, opening your content out to a whole new audience.

Include Visuals
Typically, blogs that include visuals such as a photograph, infographic or video tend to perform better than posts that are purely text based. So be sure to include some type of visual within your post that is relevant and position it so it makes the format more visually appealing to readers and breaks up blocks of text.

Make Your Post Easily Digestible for Skim Readers
In order to keep readers attention it is important to format your post in such a way that it is easily digestible for skim readers. This involves using sub headings, bullet points and short, succinct paragraphs that ensure there are no heavy paragraphs and your post is clear and easily readable.

Don’t Forget Your Sidebar CTA’S
The homepage for your blog is a great area in which to utilise and help generate leads and interest. Make sure you place prominent and interesting CTA banners and buttons at the top of and on the sidebar of your blog. These are great areas to encourage others to connect with you on your other social media platforms to promoting your latest offers and more.

Don’t Forget to Ask For Feedback
Remember as you grow your blog and develop and gain new audiences it is vital that every so often you conduct a survey on your audience to gain feedback and ensure that the information you are posting is still resonating with them and they are finding it useful and interesting. Questions should address topics such as what formats they prefer to receive their content (text, video or audio etc.) and remember to give readers the opportunity to make their own suggestions that will ultimately benefit your efforts and provide future content ideas for you.

Invite Guest Bloggers
Inviting guest bloggers has several benefits, from giving your audience a fresh perspective to driving new audiences and helps you if you do not have the time to post a blog yourself that week/month.

Read and Learn
Reading and learning from other blogs in your industry is a great way to better your own posts. Not only will you boost your own knowledge in your field and become a better writer, you can learn other important aspects of other business blogs, from what they write and how their audience responds and what they say as well as giving yourself the opportunity to voice your opinion and add your thoughts to the conversations of others. Reading lots of other blogs will also help guide future content creation for you as you can share any valuable blogs or articles you come across and of course you can be inspired to create your own posts based on ideas/debates/topics you have seen or read.


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Common Mistakes to Avoid

Not Enabling Conversation
Your blog is an on-going social conversation, and not allowing conversation to occur on your blog is a mistake. Whilst allowing blog comments can open you up to criticism and negativity, it also provides an invaluable opportunity to connect with your audience. Your audience is vital to the success of your blog and likes to know that they are being heard so you need to open yourself to the conversation and enable and encourage your audience to respond to what you write. Beyond enabling commenting on your blog, you also need to remember the conversation is two-way, so respond to the comments readers leave and you are likely to develop a community around your writing that can help turn your customers into fans who will promote your products and services and provide you with quality feedback.

Posting Inconsistently
Over time blogs often become neglected and not updated regularly as businesses let it slip down their list of priorities. An inactive and forgotten blog can have negative impact on your online image so is not going to benefit your business or be a successful addition to your marketing strategy. It is therefore vital that you continually assess your time and resources and if you find yourself unable to maintain your writing routine comfortably then edit and change it in order to maintain consistency and maximise your impact.

No Diversity Among Post Types
When businesses struggle to generate fresh and interesting ideas for their blogs this often leads to posts sounding generic and similar. When this is teamed with another common mistake in not including media content such as relevant videos and pictures, blog posts can look uninviting and will not capture a reader’s attention. To avoid making this mistake make sure to post insightful and valuable content that your readers will want to read and looks visually appealing also.

Only Talking About Your Business, Products and Services
It is very common to see businesses using their blog purely as a place to hard sell their products and services. This is one of the worst mistakes a business can make as to truly benefit from using a blog and social media in general you need to be social and develop relationships and connect with your audience. This involves getting to know them and build a rapport in order that you can directly address their needs and share informative and valuable content that is going to build trust and create a community of loyal brand advocates.

Publishing Without Promoting
Your blog could be full of ground breaking ideas and brilliantly valuable information but that is no good if no one can find or see it. Once you have published your post, remember to promote it across all your platforms and that includes tweeting it, mentioning it on Facebook, emailing it to someone you know would find it useful and putting it into your e-newsletter etc.

Neglecting to Optimise for SEO
Whilst you are ultimately writing for people, you still need to consciously act on the various ways you can optimise your blog for search. This means utilising your blog post titles with key words and strategically placing them throughout your content. Part of this process also involves a consideration of your blogs tags and using SEO friendly Text.

Ignoring the Design Aspects of Your Blog
Remember to consider the design aspects of your blog and ensure that they are optimised to boost and generate leads and traffic for your business. From ensuring you have social media sharing buttons, a search box, a subscription CTA, clear website links and contact information to a clear, organised content filing system. All of these need to be taken into account and optimised in order to make it easier for visitors to find and view content and ultimately connect with you and take actions.

Not Really Thinking About Your Post Title
Your blog post title represents one of the most important aspects in the success of your blog as it is from seeing it that a viewer will ultimately decide whether to click on it and view your post. This means you need to take the time to understand the importance of optimising it and making sure it grabs attention, is clear and concise and directly targets and will be of interest to your audience.

Ignoring Blog Analytics
If you fail to analyse your blogs analytics you are missing out on the opportunity to gain valuable insight as to whether your blog is successful and is reaching your business goals. It also helps you to determine which types of posts are most successful and which aren’t, which will help guide future content creation and ensure you make informed decisions that will ensure your blogs future impact and effectiveness.

Trying to Write for the Generic Masses
Remember when writing your posts you need to do so with your target audience in mind as this will ensure that your content is focused, interesting and informative to those who are interested in you and your industry. Writing to please a generic mass of people will not help your goal of becoming a source of valued information and expertise in your industry, so always consciously aim to directly target and address the needs and wants of your audience within your posts.

Neglecting to Check Your Post for Typos
Neglecting to read through your work to check for typos and other errors not only makes a post difficult to read and a point harder to get across, it also negatively impacts on your corporate persona leaving the reader with a less-than-professional opinion of you and your blog. So take the time to go through and address easily fixed errors such as spelling mistakes, typos and bad links as they can cost your business greatly in terms of readership and general opinion.

You Don’t Read and do Enough Research
Doing your research on your blog topic before you write it is an important aspect of blogging. Reading allows you to be exposed to and learn from different types of literatures, writing styles, opinions and thoughts all of which will inform your own posts and help you develop a solid writing style. By gathering information and educating yourself on the debates surrounding your blog topic you also ensure that you can write a balanced article filled with accurate and relevant debates which will go a long way towards establishing your blog as a trusted and valued source of information for your audience.

You See Other Bloggers as Nothing More Than Competition
A common mistake bloggers make is to see others like themselves as competition and not utilise the great opportunities for your business that comes with collaboration. Rather than ignoring other bloggers, take the opportunity to build relationships with them and encourage interaction by joining their conversations and contributing to their sites by adding your voice with valuable and positive commentary. This goes a long way towards establishing yourself as a thought leader in your industry. By collaborating with other bloggers and sharing their articles you will also benefit from increased reach and will be opened to a whole new audience as they will likely reciprocate by sharing your content also.

You Expect Overnight Success
Having a successful and popular blog takes a lot of time, patience and consistency as it takes a while to grow an audience, find a comfortable writing style as well as posting schedule. Don’t make the mistake of expecting to become an overnight success as in most cases it doesn’t happen. Rather it is the result of a lot of hard work, patience and continually listening to feedback, checking your analytics to see what works and what doesn’t for your blog and its audience.


checklist

Measuring Success

Like any other marketing strategy, the success of your blog must be measured against your business objectives. Analysing your blog’s metrics will show you a wealth of information and insights and help determine whether your blog is having a measurable impact and whether the data is reflective of the overall goals and what you wanted to achieve by having a business blog.

Measuring Visitors
One of the most basic metrics you can track is the count of people who actually read your blog content. You can look to them to assess whether your blog is successfully growing over a period of time and importantly you can to look at this data to view visits by individual blog articles. This important metric can then help you better understand what content resonates best with your audience and help you determine what the similar factors of your most successful blog posts are and use this to create content in the future that will maximise effectiveness.

Measuring Leads
Measuring what blog posts generate leads for your business is as true measure of a successful business blog as leads are what ultimately fuel the growth and success of your business. Look to examine what leads you generate from your blog posts and the rate at which those leads then convert into customers.

Subscriber Count
Your subscribers are the base readership of your content and you want to ultimately see that readership grow. Looking at how many people subscribe to your blog provides a solid indicator of the quality and consistency of your content.

Engagement
Engagement is about gauging how much people interact with you and the comments on your blog are a good way to measure engagement qualitatively. Your aim should be to create conversation and if your readers are interacting with and responding to your blog posts then it is a good indication that you are engaging your readers making them more likely to respond to and keep coming back to your blog.

Authority
A key validating factor for a blog is when others are discussing and referencing what you say. So look to measure the rates at which your blog posts are getting cited or referenced as this will give you a good measure of your authority. If you are consistently providing valuable information to your readers that they cite and share with others, not only do you generate a conversation you also become an authority within your sector.


Blogging Maintenance Checklist

  • Post 1 or 2 blog posts weekly complete with relevant keywords and share it across all other social platforms
  • Look through blog posts others have posted (ones you follow, blogs of industry insiders and others that you come across) and if relevant respond by adding your thoughts and/ or sharing it
  • Look to see if any new connections from other social media platforms have a blog and subscribe to it
  • During the week gather information and sources for the following weeks blog post(s)
  • Respond to any interaction and comments from others on your blog post(s) daily
  • During the week check how your post(s) performed and use the information gathered to help guide your following weeks post(s)

There you have it a guide to blogging for small businesses! What are your thoughts?

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