Blogging is nothing new; it’s been around for years. Some folks make a living at it. Should you? Maybe, maybe not. Could blogging help you grow your business? Yes!
Chances are good that you or someone in your organization is an expert – someone who has a great deal of knowledge on a specific topic or discipline. You may have even done some seminars, written for trade journals or simply been asked for your expert opinion.
Your clients and potential clients want to learn from you. They want to gain from your years of expertise. They look to you as a resource, a trusted adviser in your field.
Blogging is one more way to give them what they want. They will appreciate it, do more business with you and recommend you to people they know.
We talk to businesses all the time about blogging. We get the same questions from all types of businesses, and the answers we give prove to be very valuable to our clients. So, in the spirit of the theme of this blog post, I will share some of those answers with you here.
First, the questions… Who will write your blog posts? How often should you post? What should you write about? Who will read it? Let’s begin…
Who will write your blog posts?
Some posts are produced by one person and some are produced by many but credited to a select few or even just one person. None of this matters as much as getting the content out there effectively.
But first, you have to know your business before you can even think about blogging. Who has what role? How does each person in the business work with your clients? If you have one sales person out there dealing with clients every day, then does it make sense for the face associated with your blog to be your intern? Probably not.
You might have a team of experts who travel the country attending trade shows, conferences and seminars. These people need to be on your blog. Of course busy people make for potential blogging logjams. Schedules and priorities will interrupt the flow of your blog.
In either case you need to establish an internal “Blog Manager”. Whether it is the same person that handles the majority of the writing, or someone who never even contributes a word to the blog but is good at organization, one person or team needs to be in charge.
You know who your experts are. They are the resources your clients seek out regularly. But who can keep them writing? If they can manage themselves, fantastic. But if you know they will get distracted, get a manager. This should be someone with those same skills you would see in an executive assistant or receptionist you could not live without. The person that keeps the ship afloat – organized, type A.
Of course, you might not have the resources internally. Don’t worry; there are plenty of great marketing firms and copywriting specialists out there that can develop a content marketing management plan for you and your budget. Sometimes a well-organized freelance writer that you trust will work well.
Once this person or team has been established, their list should look something like this:
- Editorial calendar
- Topics (are they related to events or times of the year?)
- Authors (if you have multiple – maybe stagger their posts)
- Management, editing and submittal guidelines
- Establish guidelines for all aspects of your blogging
- Set up a way to enforce these guidelines so it isn’t a hodgepodge of efforts
- Live Posting – who will handle it and how?
- I recommend getting something like WordPress (an Open Source Blogging Platform)
- Train the manager so they can manage the posts
- Tracking and reporting
- The manager should be telling the company how the posts are doing
- Keep the team excited, informed and engaged
- Use something like Google Analytics to track post stats
How often should you post?
I hear this question all the time. The answer is always the same… it depends. How many contributors do you have? What frequency can you honestly commit to? What is your audience going to respond best to?
Some businesses should post daily and some could be fine with once a month. Your editorial calendar (if developed with realistic goals in mind) will help to determine frequency.
Just make sure you can deliver what you set out to do. If you blast out 6 posts in 6 weeks and then nothing for the next 6, you will lose momentum and confuse your audience.
Of course, you may be conservative in your initial estimate and then find out that you really have a knack for this. You can crank out good popular posts every week. You can adjust. Nothing is etched in stone here.
You want to establish an effective and manageable rhythm that you can stick to. The worst thing you want to have happen is for people to get discouraged. You want your blogging experience to be positive for all involved. You need the stakeholders to be excited about this process.
What should you write about?
This is my favorite question because the answers I give always get the light bulbs to turn on. There are content sources and post inspirations all over the place.
Let’s start with some of the standard blog resources I use:
- Google Alerts are great. You can set up alerts based on specific keywords in your Google account. Let’s say you are a financial firm: You can get alerts on bond ratings, financial indicators, etc. These are emailed to you as a list of links to blogs, articles, news items, etc. Great resources for blog posts.
- Subscribe to industry newsletters and blogs – I belong to a bunch of them. As you get your Google Alerts you will notice that some of the same blogs and websites are your favorites. Subscribe to their email newsletter or RSS Feed.
- Trade journals and magazines – read these daily, even if it just an article a day or scanning the headlines. You need to stay on top of what’s happening in your industry anyway.
- Your seminars and presentations are great sources for blog posts. You may even want to post a video of the presentation or the presentation slides and then write brief synopses of it.
Some other sources of inspiration for blog topics that might surprise you…
- Emails – you get questions from clients and colleagues all the time in your inbox. And the answers you give them could easily be transformed into blog posts. Also, the questions they ask could spark an idea for a new Blog post. Just be sure to keep this in mind when working on your email.
- Your sales pitch – no, I am not talking about writing a post called “Today, for You Only!” But, when you are in meetings with clients, pay attention messages they respond to. Think about restructuring those messages into a blog post, like this one.
- Your environment – there is inspiration everywhere; you just need to look for it. The news, radio talk shows, songs, kids, ads. Watch things happen around you and try to relate it to what you do. If you are serious about this blogging thing, you might want to keep a notebook or voice recorder with you for noting ideas.
The main thing is that you want to duplicate your content, not your efforts. Try to look for ways to repurpose content for your Blog instead of always having to write something from scratch for every post.
Who will read it?
A blog post is only as good as the quality of the attention it gets. Notice I said quality and not quantity. The numbers will come in time but numbers alone do not equal success.
Think about your target audience. What is important to THEM? Write posts that they want to read, things they need to know about or are always asking you about. Of course, you will learn more about your readers the more you write. You will see which posts get lots of comments and which posts get nothing.
Remember, we are talking about quality. For business blogging the important thing is not that thousands of people click every day, it is that the right people click. You want the right demographic looking at your content and hopefully digging deeper – contacting you, subscribing, forwarding the post to a colleague, etc. Only the right content will do this.
To get the readers engaged the content needs to be important to them. It has to be about something they need to know. Good content brings good readers.
Another important reader is the search engine bot – those little programs that go out and sniff through web sites for valuable content. Search engines love blogs. These are generally well-organized, frequently updated, keyword rich pages of content and that’s what these bots are looking for.
Even if your Blog doesn’t get hundreds of enthusiastic fans right away, check your stats, I will bet that if you are doing it right, you will be getting lots of visits from search engines. This will help the overall rankings of your web site.
Remember, you want to add value to the reader’s experience. Are they getting something new from you, some sort of useful takeaway? Or is this just another boring piece of sales copy?
Be different, be useful, be a resource. If you are good at what you do and provide value to your clients every day, this should be an easy way to extend that reach to more clients to get more referrals online.
Questions, comments, let me know in the comments area below…