Three years ago, your blog was great. You found a slick WordPress theme and a clever title, and you hit the ground running with some relevant and engaging content. But that was three years ago. Business exploded, and so did your responsibilities. Eventually, blogging started to fall from your priority list.
What good is a blog if prospective customers only see a few posts from years past (with no social media shares, to boot)? Answer: It’s actually doing more harm than good.
It looks like you need some blog inspiration and strategy. Read on to find out how you can get out of the blogging rut and make your blog work for you.
1. Become a problem-solving machine
You can't maximize the potential of your blog if you only create hollow content just so you can say that you have an active blog. Entice your audience. Do more than just think about your audience; you need to think about fulfilling their needs.
So here’s your blog challenge: Solve people’s problems. Don’t think about the importance of telling the world about your latest product or development. People care about themselves, not you. If you focus on improving people’s lives, readers are more likely to think about you when they actually need solutions. And that means more sales.
2. Create a long-term blogging strategy
Treat your blog like a perpetual chess game. While there is an opening move, you also need an end game each visitor. Obviously you want your potential customer to turn into a current customer. But your work doesn’t stop there! (Because really, when does it ever stop?) You want your readers to continue to come back and help drive traffic (which means you'll gain more future customers) to their network through social media.
On that note, you can’t expect your blog to succeed without serious social media strategy behind it. Pssst: Check out our recent conversation with social media powerhouse Stacey Harris on Ignition to gain insight into how to build a solid plan.
3. Post about two times per week
Unless you have a steady stream of incredible news that people need to know—along with adequate resources and time to dedicate to it—don’t post every day. Most small businesses don’t have that much constant groundbreaking information.
Your readers will quickly realize if you’re just posting fluff. If you have to ask yourself if the blog is really worth posting, chances are it’s not. Hit delete. Two quality posts are better than four empty posts per week.
4. Come up with great ideas
We already talked about how your blog needs to solve your readers’ problems. So how do you figure out what those problems are? Get researching. Head to social media to lurk (and actually join) the conversation. What do people like? What are they griping about? It shouldn’t be too hard to figure this one out.
Looking for small business blog ideas? Check out your competitor’s blogs and see what they cover. Take what they are writing about — and make it better with your own insights and experience.
Set a Google alert to keep abreast of anything interesting that is coming down the pipeline. Your blog should highlight industry trends, and discuss changes and breakthroughs. Even a touch of industry gossip is fair game.
Timely developments are also good for blogs. This could include announcing a contest with a deadline or a limited-time deal on a product. Just remember that your blog should not be one huge promotion. Sure, customers love a good deal, but a self-promotional blog is a huge turn off.
5. Hire talented writers
You want to communicate your ideas. That means you need some stellar wordsmiths. The more skilled your writers, the more effectively you can convey what your site visitors want to know.
If you don’t have an internal staff person to write your blog, check out Upwork and Elance to find qualified freelancer writers. But that doesn’t mean you should just find the cheapest writer out there. Cheap writers usually mean cheap content. In a bad way. Referrals are usually a more sure-fire way to obtain quality content if writing ain’t your thing.
And if you’re hiring out help (or dividing and conquering between staff members), be sure to establish editorial guidelines. This can include your keyword strategy, what you will be covering, proper punctuation and capitalization of your products/services, etc. Pass along your expectations to your writers so everyone’s on the same page.
6. Measure your results
So you’re spending hours every week working on your blog. How can you be sure it's helping your business? You gotta measure! This is where a high-quality web analytics tool comes in. You can’t go wrong with Google Analytics. Some common analytics include:
- Bounce rate (How frequently and quickly readers leave a page. You want a low bounce rate.)
- Unique visitors (the more the merrier)
- Conversion rate (did they do what you asked them to do?)
You should know where your views are coming from, and which blog posts perform best. The success of your blog should tie in to your overall marketing strategy, so look for metrics that help link blog activity to your overall marketing goals. Once you have this data, adjust your approach and improve.
When it comes down to it, your blog can be an expensive time sap if done incorrectly. Or, it can be a worthwhile investment that rakes in more cash than it costs. Your best move is to consistently offer useful content and information that attracts the kind of visitors you hope to turn to customers.
A good blog will boost SEO results, establish credibility and drive more visitors to your site. So start writing. We’ll be waiting.