Firstly, it needs to be explained that there is a difference between blogging for your business and being a Blogger.
Blogging for your business is a marketing tool, that if done well, can drive a tremendous amount of traffic to your website.
It is how you can build authority, reputation and a following. It is where you can showcase your expertise in your industry and really shine as an expert in your field.
A Blogger is someone who blogs to make a living, or in some cases, blogs part-time or as a hobby.
So, with that in mind, if you are blogging for business then you also need to have other marketing tools in place, like a website, social media strategy and an audience. There is no point spending time writing, editing, formatting and publishing a great blog post if there is no one to see it and nowhere to share it.
Don’t think that by posting a blog that people will miraculously come to your website and see it. This is not a case of “build it and they will come” because sadly they will not.
1. Setting up your blog
You need somewhere to host your blog.
We advise that it should be on a website. You can use free blogging sites like Blogspot, Blogger and Wordress.com (be aware there are WordPress.com and WordPress.org) but at the end of the day you have nowhere to drive your traffic to and the content is not yours.
You are using someone else’s platform and at any stage, they can shut you down (it does happen!) AND as a business owner, none of these platforms looks professional.
You can set up a WordPress site yourself, but you will also need to be self-hosted for the same reasons above. It is possible to set up a simple website for your blog and organise your own hosting for a reasonably cheap monthly fee, BUT you will have limitations.
You will also need to buy your domain name. Once you have done that and set up a self-hosted site, you will need to get onto WordPress.org (for self-hosting) and set up your account.
There are other things to consider as well like organising your SSL certificate, for a secure site, and then choosing a Theme (what your site will look like), customising your new website and installing plugins. Plugins are what gives your website functionality.
Obviously, this is a simplified, general overview. It can be a fun process for those that are tech savvy but frustrating for those that are not.
And for those of you who are not tech savvy (like me) then I suggest you have someone build a website for you.
I know that involves cost, but some web developers have no upfront fees and ongoing monthly fees instead AND provide great training and support.
There is only so far a business can go using free products. There is some great stuff out there but all free products and services are limited and they will only take you so far.
Look I’ll be honest. As a business, you probably should have a good website. It’s like your shopfront for those that actually can’t see your shopfront (or business). There are some businesses who can happily run without one, but then we cannot recommend blogging as an effective marketing tool.
Blogging is only one aspect of your marketing and to work well needs to be part of a larger marketing machine.
You need to ask yourself what you want to get out of blogging. If the reason is to get more business, then you really need to be directing your customers somewhere. Without it, it’s like finding customers who would love to eat at your restaurant and you not actually having a restaurant.
More about Setting up a Blog
Here are some great articles for setting up a Blog – The Biggest Mistakes New Bloggers Make and Revealed: 19 Things to Know Before Starting a Blog in 2017
Granted these are written by bloggers, but they are filled with relevant information that you should at least consider.
2. Writing, Formatting and Publishing your blog post
Once upon a time, a post of around 350 words would have been fine. Jam a photo at the top and you were good to go.
Well not really, but that’s what a lot of people were doing. But blogging has grown. Now a blog post less than 1000 words are not really going to cut it. Ideally, a blog post should be around the 2000-word mark.
There are other ways of blogging that would be more simplified than this – curating, round up posts and lists to name a few. But like any good blog there should be a variety of different posts to look at and if all you have to offer is curations of other people’s posts then your audience will move on pretty quickly and your expertise will not shine through.
Add Value to Your Blog Posts
Your posts need to be of value to your audience. You can’t talk about your product, service or shop all the time. To be frank with you, people don’t care. What they do care about is what your product, service or shop DOES for them. Does it solve a problem?
For example, if you are a café and specialise in organic food people would love to hear about your suppliers, or if you grow your own produce or how it is beneficial to their health by eating organic food. They most certainly don’t want to hear about how good you think your café is, or how many people you have coming through the doors. They want to know about customer experiences, from customers.
If you are a web developer people don’t want to hear about how you build websites. They want to know how the traffic to their website will be engaged. How they can market to their customers even better and get further reach online. They want to know how they can get people to sign up to their database or if it will be easy for customers to navigate around the website.
And in travel people don’t want to hear about travel tours. They want to be inspired to travel to destinations they haven’t heard about before and to learn how they can do this easily. These people are happy to hear what the destinations are really like. Like everybody else, they want to know whether their dream of travelling could actually come true.
Formatting Blog Posts
Once you have written your epic blog post it will need to be formatted on your site in a way that engages with your audience.
People’s interest is short and large blocks of text will turn them away. It looks dull and boring.
Break up your text with headings. People scan these to quickly gauge whether they are interested in the post. Use shorter sentences and more spacing than you usually would in a normal typed document.
And break up your text with images. The more the better. BUT please, please, please use clean, sharp images (edit them if you have to) that are relevant to your blog post. And make sure they are the correct size. If you use images that are large your site will be very slow to load. And as we have covered, people have no patience and will be gone in a flash.
We need to talk about images.
It has just been talked about the quality of your images. They need to be excellent.
And the size needs to be correct.
What you also need to know is about Copyright. You cannot just see an image on the internet, save it, and use it. YOU CANNOT DO THIS! Just because it is out there doesn’t mean you have the right to use it as you please.
Violating copyright is a biggy. If you want to use someone else’s image you need to get their permission and then give them credit. If you need an image and don’t have one of your own, there are sites like Pixabay (and you can use Canva too) where you can download them for free.
While we are talking about copying, you cannot copy someone else’s text either. You can certainly quote them using the appropriate format, and then link to their article, but never copy.
3. Adding a CTA (Call to Action) to Your Blog Posts
What happens after someone reads your blog? Is there somewhere at the end they can opt into a newsletter?
Are you giving away something for free (this is called a lead magnet) so they really want to enter their name and email onto your database. It only has to be something simple (but valuable to your client).
And please don’t think that a “Call me on blah, blah, blah” is going to cut it.
People have short attention spans and the more you make them do like call, leave a message, spend time searching for your business because you are hard to find, means they will not stick around.
Trust me they will move on very, very quickly to the next business that has everything set up.
Lead Magnets and Opt-Ins
What is the point of someone reading your blog if there is nowhere for them to go afterwards? Nothing to do. What if they want to read more?
You need to be building an email list and your blog is the perfect opportunity to do that.
Make sure that every blog post you do have some sort of opt-in where your customers can enter their details in return for something of value (free giveaway, amazing newsletter) and in turn be added to your email list.
If you think that getting them to call you is all you need, you also need to wonder, why would they call you? Because you wrote a blog post?
Can they see images of your products, services, shop in your blog post? Can they read customer reviews and recommendations? These are things you would have on a website or the very least, reviews on Facebook.
Ask yourself why would a customer call? If the roles were reversed, would you?
Being in business is hard. You need to develop a thick skin, but what you need to learn most of all is honesty. Honesty with yourself. You need to learn to look at your product, service or shop and see it through another person’s eyes.
It can be hard, and criticism or negative feedback can be difficult to deal with, but if you start to see it for what it is, a way to improve, then it can be the most valuable tool you have.
4. Marketing Your Blog
OK so now you have written your blog, uploaded it and formatted it on your website (or blogging platform). You have added great images that make it pop and added your call to action so your readers can opt-in to your database.
You can optimise it for SEO, but that’s a plugin you are going to have to upload, and maybe better to keep that for another post.
Social Media Marketing Strategy
Blogging should only be one part of your marketing strategy. In fact, you should have a number of things in place and they should all work and compliment each other.
All business owners should have some sort of Social Media strategy.
SOCIAL MEDIA IS WHERE YOUR AUDIENCE IS HANGING OUT! Now I don’t mean to shout, I just wanted to get my point across. It makes my hair curl when I hear people say, “I don’t need social media for my business”.
Why? Is it doing so well without it?
I mean you need to have been hiding under a rock to not notice the shift in how we all use technology. Over 75% of my traffic on my travel website come from Social Media. 75%!!!!
And over 50% of all people are viewing it from their mobile phone. So that should tell you something about social media and technology.
My target audience for my travel business is women aged between 40 – 65. So, in finding the right social media platform I finally turned to Pinterest after I stubbornly clung to Facebook for years.
80% of Pinterest users are female. And the age of my target audience accounts for 62%. Clearly, I need to be on Pinterest.
Not only should you share your blog posts on your social media accounts over and over again in a well-planned out schedule, but you can also gain comments and engagement regarding your post.
Add in platforms like Medium and Twitter and you can start to gain some reach.
At the very least you need a Facebook Business Page.
At the very least!
Don’t make people jump through hoops to find you. Don’t just have a location page on Facebook. It has absolutely no information. Use your Facebook Page like you would a shop front.
Social Media should be used in the same way as your blog, to share valuable information.
But using social media is another kettle of fish again.
To start, look at some of the businesses you follow or look them up (those businesses that are similar to yours). See what they are doing. What kind of information are they sharing? How are they engaging their audience?
A lot can be learned by watching those who are successful. Don’t think you are so unique you don’t need it. It would be a rare business that would not benefit from social media.
Building an Email List
Another part of your marketing strategy should be building your email list.
In fact, I would recommend you do this first.
These people will have opted-in to your database because you offered them something they liked.
Or they saw something on your website or social media platforms that they liked. And then you can market (email, send a newsletter) to these people, who you already have a relationship with, and tell them about your latest blog.
Creating Content for Your Blog
But remember if all you are doing is selling, selling, selling they will unsubscribe. You need to be sharing information that is of value.
For example, if you are a boutique hotel, talk about the area you are in, about the activities that are available, even the weather at different times of year and the benefits of visiting at those times.
I could go on forever with ideas, but then I am a bit of a freak when it comes to thinking up ideas for my blog.
You could, in fact, ask your audience. The people already on your email list. Ask them what they would like to hear more about. What would help them plan their stay with you? Maybe you could do a restaurant review of the area, or cafes, or picnic areas.
Are you starting to get my drift?
Create a marketing strategy. For example – Publish the blog post on the website. Share it across all social media platforms you use (at different times).
For platforms like Pinterest, to make it really work you will have to have a pretty clear strategy and use an app like Tailwind to help you. I couldn’t do what I do on Pinterest without it. And it has been worth every cent I pay for it.
At the end of the day, you may have thought I will blog and people will come. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that.
Small business is hard.
Like everything worthwhile it takes work. And consistent effort. And time.
I was publishing two blog posts per week (now only one) and using a good Pinterest strategy for six months before I even saw any results.
Oh, and if you didn’t read between the lines above, one blog post a month in this day and age is not going to cut it.
5. Create a Blogging Schedule
You will need to dedicate time to your blogging. Once a month or even less is not going to be of any use.
Even if people love your stuff, by the time you publish a new one they will be gone and onto someone else.
I would suggest twice a month to start with and build to at least one per week. And they need to be quality.
Keep Going and Be Consistent
Blogging is not for the faint-hearted. You are wasting your time unless you dedicate yourself to this.
But like any new task that can seem overwhelming eventually, it will become easier. And there is a lot of information out there to help educate you.
If you come up with something you just can’t work out, look it up.
There are a lot of good content marketers out there sharing their knowledge for free. You can learn a lot, you only need to look, and put in the time.