It’s no secret that content marketing is one of the most effective ways to get your business or organization noticed online. A good content marketing strategy helps your business’ website rank higher in search engines and increases opportunities for customers to interact with your brand.
If you don’t have the money or bandwidth to hire a marketing team, the idea of building a content marketing strategy can be daunting, to say the least. Fortunately, there is one way to get yourself off to a great start without much of a financial investment: start blogging.
Starting a regular blog on your business’ website gives you a built-in way to promote your products or services, engage with customers, and generate leads. If you’re thinking “this sounds great! but I have no idea where to begin”, here are a few easy tips to help you hit the ground running.
1) Start With A Plan
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when starting your blog is to dive in headfirst without taking any time to plan. Ask yourself a few key questions to get started:
Who are you writing for?
The very very first step you need to take is figuring out who you’re producing content for. Take a minute to write out a detailed description of your ideal customer. Are you marketing to young, broke college students in a liberal town? How about to senior citizens looking to take proactive steps to protect their health? The content you produce will be different depending on your target audience.
What do they want to read?
Figuring this out will save you SO MUCH TIME later on when you’re struggling to come up with topics for blog posts. Once you’ve decided who you’re writing for, figure out what kind of relevant topics they’re interested in reading about. Visit sites like Quora and take to social media to figure out your ideal customer’s needs, wants, interests, and pain points, and then write posts addressing these topics.
What type of content will you post?
Your business may generally stick to one or two content formats, or you may mix it up to keep things fresh.
Examples of formats include “listicles,” helpful tutorials, product promos, case studies and interviews, and updates or sneak peeks into your business’ development. Experiment with different types of blog posts and see which ones get the best responses.
Who on your team is responsible for what?
If you’re a one-human show, this question is pretty easy to answer. However, if multiple team members will be involved, it pays to decide this ahead of time. Who is going to be responsible for research? Writing? Proofreading and editing? Publishing the content online? Are you going to take care of all of these steps in-house, or outsource some (or all) of them? Taking time to map these things out at the beginning keeps you from missing anything later on.
2) Create Readable Content
When you start writing your blog posts, make sure they’re easy to read. Remember that blogging isn’t generally formal, so maintain a positive, conversational tone in your writing.
People reading your content online are more likely to skim than to read it thoroughly. Because of this, it’s important to provide bolded, descriptive subheadings, break up long paragraphs, and keep the reading level around grade 9 (in the U.S. school system). Steer clear of using industry-standard acronyms and jargon without providing an explanation.
A good rule of thumb is to stay between 300 and 600 words most of the time while including the occasional long-form post (1,000–2,000 words) about especially interesting or helpful subjects. Whatever the length, your content should be free of any grammar and spelling errors and provide real value to your readers. Running your posts through a program like Grammarly or the Hemingway App can help you ensure they’re in tip-top shape before publishing.
3) A Picture Really Is Worth 1000 Words
Featuring images on your blog posts will make people more likely to read them, but using pictures you found on Google can cause problems with copyright infringement. Instead, purchase stock photos, take your own photos, or use sites like Pexels, Pixabay, and Unsplash to download free images for commercial use.
4) Post Regularly
Posting at least once a week gives your blog the best shot at success. Search engine bots are constantly crawling the web for new content, and the more new content you produce, the more they will crawl your website. When combined with good SEO practices, this helps your website to climb the ranks of Google and be more easily found in search results.
However, if you’re running a business, you’re probably too busy to write and upload a new blog post every day. Content management systems like WordPress let you write and upload posts whenever you have time and schedule them to go live on your website later. As an added bonus, many content management systems provide you with analytics that can tell you how well your content is performing, allowing you to adjust your plan accordingly.
5) Re-Purpose Everything
The best part about blogging is that the content can be used in so many different ways! One blog post can be modified into an email broadcast, social media updates for all of your channels, and a video snippet or infographic. Re-purposing blog posts means you only have to produce original content once, so you can spend less time writing and more time building your brand.
Pro-tip: Don’t just slap a link to your blog post on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Modify the content to fit the platform. For example, post a product photo with a blog snippet on Instagram and a quick, one sentence tip on Twitter.
6) Call Your Readers To Action
Most importantly, include a call-to-action at the end of every post! This can be an invitation for your readers to buy your product or service, interact with the post, or share it with their friends on social media. A call-to-action keeps your audience engaged even after they’ve finished reading the post and can help convert leads into sales. Keep it short, vibrant, and relevant to the post. Bonus points if you include a button or graphic that takes the reader to a landing page for your product when they click it.
Now that you’ve got a handle on the blogging basics, go forth and create your own! If you would love to start a blog but don’t have the time or resources to do so by yourself, contact me! I’d love to talk with you about how I can provide your business or organization with quality content.