3 Tips To Make Your Business Blog Work

Is your business blog making your company look bad? I’ve been working with a content marketing client, who asked me to look at business blogs across a range of industries, and create a report.

Yesterday, we looked at content marketing mistakes and how to fix them in a slide deck. Today, let’s look at some easy tips to make your blog work for your business.

Some companies do a fantastic job of integrating their blog with their overall marketing. They get it. A blog isn’t an obligation, or something “for the search engines”. It’s a publication. Consider blogging to be instant publishing, and think about your most recent blog post. Is that post something you’re proud to publish? Would it work as a brochure?

If publishing a blog post were as expensive as publishing a brochure, business blogs would get a lot more respect. Many companies blithely push blogging and social media onto their least experienced employee. Not a good idea.

Each and every blog post is a gateway to your website. It represents you, and every post, no matter how short, can work for you.

Let’s look at some tips.

1. Publish real content: forget junk content for “SEO”

If someone says to you: “a blog is good for SEO”, ignore them. The days when shoveling junk onto the Web in the hope of getting search engine rankings have LONG gone. In fact, those days never existed.

A lot of great companies have woeful blogs. They’re updated infrequently, with content which looks like placeholder text.

On the other hand, many companies have good blogs. Here’s one.

I enjoy shopping at The Good Guys, and their blog does them proud.

To repeat, your business blog is a publication. Integrate it with your website; The Good Guys’ blog does product reviews. You can too.

2. Get personality: blog for real people

Consider magazines. Next time you browse a magazine rack, pick several magazines devoted to the same topic — any topic you choose. Each of those magazines is slightly different. It has a vision — a personality, if you like.

Your blog should have a personality too. Consider this blog.

Rhodia Drive is a blog published by the Rhodia paper company, and promotes its products. The blog is for people who love paper, and buy and use paper notebooks. It’s got personality, and the blog appeals to people all over the world who love paper.

What could you do to give your blog a personality? Start by considering the people who buy your products. The Good Guys do this: they’ve got recipes and videos for people who love food and cooking — and those people are a part of The Good Guys’ market.

Years ago, Microsoft had major PR problems. Robert Scoble’s blogging went a long way towards showing that Microsoft, big as it was and is, is a company made up of real people.

You’re human. Your company’s made up of people. Relate to your customers as people via your blog, and you’ll reap the benefits.

3. Know what you want your blog to do

Again: your blog is a publication. You can publish anything you like instantly. Your blog’s a huge opportunity to humanize your company, and differentiate you from your competition.

If you’re not happy with your blog, start your blog’s makeover by checking out what your competitors are doing. Then check out the blogs of big companies. Check out the magazine rack too.

Consider your customers. Create customer personas, if you haven’t done so already. What magazines do your customers read? What movies and TV shows do they watch?

Your blog is a huge marketing opportunity. You can be one of those companies which does blogging, and content marketing, well.

Want some blogging inspiration? Contact me.

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Get coaching, and build your skills at Angela’s online store.

Business Blogging: Avoid These Sins

Neil Patel’s Eight Pet Peeves About Most Blogs

Happy with your business blog? If you’re not, check to see whether you’re committing any of Neil’s eight sins.

Here’s the most common “sin” I see, a lack of blog updates:

Unfortunately, an updated blog is an anomaly in today’s blogging world. When I see a blog that hasn’t been updated since Gerald Ford left office, I immediately wonder if the business is 1) legitimate, 2) competent, 3) successful, or 4) even in existence.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

60 Minute Blogger Fast-Start

Clients tell me: “I don’t have time to blog!” But what if you spent just ten minutes a day on your blog? 50 to 60 minutes a week is doable for most of us.

60 Minute Blogger Fast-Start

I wrote a series of blog posts on business blogging in 60 minutes a week a year ago. Let’s review ways in which you can become a blogger — even if you have no time to blog.

This process takes just ten minutes a day.

1. Ten minutes: how will you promote your blog?

Start by working out how you’ll promote your blog. You’ll go through this preparation each week, as you work out how to promote your blog post once you’ve written it.

Flip through the slide deck. Although it’s for people creating a new business blog, it gives you a quick overview of how to make a blog work harder for you.

2. Ten minutes: how many blog posts will you create this week?

Consider formats. In the original “60 minutes” article, I said:

Usually when I mention blog posts to a client, he thinks in terms of articles. That’s fine. However, if you’ve only got 60 minutes a week, you don’t need to spend that time writing just one article — or half an article, if you’re a slow writer.

Consider: photos, other images, short videos, MP3 interviews… If you’re posting MP3s, post transcriptions too. You can get transcriptions from providers at fiverr.com at a reasonable rate.

3. Twenty Minutes: outline and collect — batch-create

Here’s the original article: Schedule 20 minutes each week, to outline your blog posts, and collect resources for them.

Your resources might include:

* Images;

* Facts and figures;

* Quotes from customers;

* Marketing materials for inspiration.

Once you’ve collected your resources, make a list of topics you want to cover on the blog. Keep the list somewhere you’ll find it easy, so you can add to it when you get an idea. I keep my blogs’ topics lists in Simplenote.

Next, explore keywords.

Keyword Eye is still my favorite  free keyword tool.

free keyword tool

Keyword Eye is ideal for brainstorming quick blog post titles.

Create the posts after you’ve decided on the titles, and save the posts as drafts.  Add some quick notes to each blog post so that you won’t be staring at a blank editing screen when it’s time to write.

 4. Twenty minutes: write!

You’ve done your preparation, so the writing should go quickly.

Tip: focus on images. Images give you many ways in which to promote a blog post. If you have two images in a blog post, you can post at least twice on Pinterest (space out your postings.) You can also post a blog’s images to Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, with a short commentary, and a link to the post.  

Over the past 12 months, I’ve discovered that images rule. I started posting about “image marketing” way back in 2012. In 2014, images are vital to draw attention.

So, there you have it. Your 60 minute blogger fast-start. Still think that you don’t have time to blog? :-)

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

 

3 Blogging Tips for Startup Businesses

3 Blogging Tips for Startup Businesses

You’ve started a business, or you want to. Consider creating a blog. Your blog can help draw attention to you and your new business. Your blog also builds credibility; this is valuable as a long-term strategy.

The longer you’ve been blogging, the more people can learn about you and the way your business operates: it’s all there on your blog. And it’s your choice how transparent you’ll be. Buffer is completely transparent:

When we announced it, Joel, our co-founder, emailed everyone and said, “I truly believe that transparency breeds trust, that’s one of the key reasons for this adjustment.”

Consider the “pull” factor of your blog too. It’s inbound marketing, and helps to you to inform your customers:

A blog is the single best way to attract new visitors to your website. In order to get found by the right prospective customers, you must create educational content that speaks to them and answers their questions.

Before the Web came along, I ran a business. The customers had questions. Many, many questions. I spent my days on the phone. Of course, I couldn’t have imagined a blog in those days, but a blog would have cut my phone-time by 95 per cent.

I’ve been working with several entrepreneurs. Since I love blogging, the advice to “start a blog” comes naturally. Many kinds of businesses can benefit from blogs, especially small businesses. Your blog, combined with your social media presence, helps you to network.

These blogging tips work for start-ups, especially if you’re a one or two person operation at the moment, or if you’re working with a far-flung global team. Blogging is instant publishing. Potentially, your audience numbers in the millions. Your startup’s first customers may be in that audience.

1. Create Your Business Plan First.

Got a business plan? Create an informal one, if you haven’t done so already. The more you know about your goals, the better. Your plan will not only reveal what kind of image you want to project, but also who your customers will be. Create a SWOT analysis too. It will surprise you.

If you’ve never created a business plan, just answer the “Typical questions addressed by a business plan for a start up venture” in the Wikipedia article. If you decide you need funding, and want to create a formal plan at any stage, this rough plan will be a big help.

2. Decide on Your Blogging Persona, and a Choose a Couple of Audience Personas.

You need to decide who you’ll be as a blogger. What image will you project? Be yourself of course, but decide how much personal information you’ll share. If your blog’s all-business, you won’t be talking about your partner, or the movie you saw last night.

Choose a couple of audience personas too. These are the people for whom you’ll be creating content. Build a brief profile of your typical customer. If you want investors, build an investor profile too.

Here’s Hubspot on buyer personas:

Buyer personas are holistic ideals of what your customers are really like, inside and out. Personas encompass the goals, challenges, pain points, common objections to products and services, as well as personal and demographic information shared among all members of that particular customer type. Your personas are the people around whom your whole business is built.

Give each persona a name. I like to start persona profiles as if I’m talking about a real person: “Bill is 45 years old. He’s been married for 16 years. He has two teenage children…” etc.

When you’re crating content, you’re speaking directly to Bill, or to another persona you’ve created.

3. Your Blog Is Your Social Media Hub: Keep Content (Mainly) on Your Own Website.

Look on your blog as your startup’s marketing launchpad. Add your blog’s URL to your social media profiles. To repeat: add your blog’s URL to your social media profiles. This is vital. Before someone decides to follow you on Twitter, or circle you on Google+, they’ll check out your profile.

And speaking of Google+, join Google+, and visit your Google Dashboard occasionally, to keep track of your activities.

End of digression…. :-)

You’ll network on social media, but keep the bulk of your content on your website. When someone visits your website, they can read your content, and once your business has launched, they can do business with you. It makes sense to keep your good stuff where it will do you good, rather than sprinkled across the Web.

So there you have it.Three blogging tips for your new business. Good luck with your launch. :-)

3 Blogging Tips for Startup Businesses

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.