The reality is that business blogging is not easy, nor is it a magic way to get reams of prospects and leads flowing into and out of your website. It involves a lot of hard work, but if you follow some of the tips below, you’ll be set up better for success.
Strive for “good enough”
Blogging and writing is a skill and you get better and faster at it the more you do it. But there’s one aspect that I see holding back a lot of people: striving for perfection. It’s important to keep things in context—how many visitors are actually going to read your blog post? Not that many? Good, then don’t worry about creating a master thesis. You’ll need a combination of practice and good luck before you build that blog post that provides a high point of reference for your industry or goes viral or whatever.
I’ve written 44 blog posts for Top Draw, 50 on my personal blog, and over 80 on other websites. The experience from writing those posts has not enabled me to create much higher quality posts, but has helped me identify a topic as a good blog post and cut the time I need to actually write the post. I’d be at a fraction of that number of blog posts had I strove for perfection.
Provide a bit of research or insight where none exists
My favourite blog posts—and the ones that usually get the most traffic—provide insight or research on a topic where it didn’t exist online before. It can be as simple as aggregating information from a number of online sources to make one “master” post that does a better or more complete job.
Your post could be a great answer to a common question that prospects or customers ask. It can also involve personal data or testing in order to create new data and research where it didn’t previously exist. Or you could take new/better photos or videos to help better portray or illuminate items in your post. And unlike opinion pieces, original research or insight articles stand a damn good chance of showing up in Google searches and getting you traffic and potential customers for years to come. Which begs the question, how do you SEO a blog?
Optimize your post
Know what I hate? When I search for the answer to something and the first page is chock full of those junky “experts” pages or disjointed forum posts, all while there’s a perfect jem of a website on the second page of Google. Don’t let that happen to your jem of a post: optimize it!
For the short story, use Google’s Adwords Keyword tool to help you understand what title and content people are looking for and build or modify your post accordingly. For the long story, check out my “Get the Most Out of Your Posts” presentation. Also, make sure to link to your other blog posts that are related to it.
Understand what’s sticking and what isn’t
There’s an old axiom that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is a sign of insanity. I stick with that axiom. If you try posting on a topic a few times, and it goes absolutely nowhere, STOP. . . and try something else.
Build a quick dashboard starting with my dashboard template, (instructions in my get the most out of your posts presentation) to track your topics and see how much traction you’re getting with them. If you take a few really good stabs at a topic, don’t torture yourself any more—aim for something else. There are countless different pieces of content that your prospects need in relation to your industry, so there’s no sense working on something that isn’t getting used.
Forum posts are often goldmines for information on the internet, but they’re generally disliked because of one big reason: poor organization. Long, rambling diatribes, conflicting information, and awful layouts are what keep forum posts from really helping a new visitor answer their questions. Blog posts can be so much more.
Organize your blog post using simple, but usable formatting. Personally, I like using one type of heading followed by an information block on that topic. It makes it easy to skim through any of my articles and find the spot you’re most interested in. Captions on images can be useful if it’s not immediately apparent why they should be there or what you’re showing with them. Ending with a conclusion helps visitors who are short on time and just want your immediate recommendation. Keep with that convention so that they can use that shortcut on your website too.
Block off writing time
Good blog posts are not really possible to write 15 minutes at a time. For myself, I need an hour or two straight to come up with the concept, research, write, and include images. The best way to get that done is to block off two hours of time where I’m not checking email or taking calls. It’s important that you can fully complete the post in that time too. Try not to leave items out or defer until a later time. The longer a post takes from inception to completion, the worse off and more time you’ll waste on it.
If you need editing, use a single editor. Sending your posts to a committee for review is a sure-fire way to die by a thousand cuts. Finally, blog about things that you enjoy. I couldn’t have written 100+ posts about topics I wasn’t passionate about, so find your passion and get busy blogging!