Blogging for Businesses 101

  • Do you need more convincing? On this website, two of the three most visited pages are blog entries (the third being our home page). The reason for this is that blogs allow you to talk about specifics, which normally means that you’re using a lot of searchable phrases.

    How do you get started? It’s easy enough for me to tell you what you should be doing, but I hope that the following list will inspire you with some ideas on how to execute.

    1. You’re an expert in your field, share your knowledge

    Bear with me on this analogy; let’s say that you manufacture screws. It would be a great idea to output a list of wood screws with dimensions, materials, and other specifications. If you have enough of these pages, you’ll probably eventually get found at random. The problem is that all of your competitors have the same exact page, and it’s been up longer, and it has more links than yours.

    If you decide to write the article “The advantage of silicon bronze wood screws over brass wood screws”, now you’re getting very specific. This might be a pretty typical inquiry, and now you’re answering the question to give value to your visitors. You’re bringing in qualified leads, and establishing yourself as an expert.

    Not all of your customers know as much as you about your field. Maybe they’ve been in the industry for a while, but they stick to products that they’re familiar with because they don’t know that there are better solutions. Give them this information; they might even thank you for it.

    I think that we often forget that there is a group of people out there that would actually like to know what we know, which brings me to my next point.

    2. Common knowledge is not as common as you would think

    You live in a bubble. That’s not a bad thing; I live in a bubble as well. We’re all surrounded by colleagues that know what we’re talking about, so often we forget that something that seems very basic to us is actually completely new information to someone else.

    I read a lot of design and tech blogs. If you follow some of these leading industry blogs you’ll notice that they’re quite cyclical. They’ll often follow a yearly publishing schedule where they’ll basically write the same article once per year. If you’ve read the prior ones, the information seems really basic. However, if you look at the comments you will see that a lot of people thank the author for this information.

    People walk into the middle of the story all of the time. I’m sure that you’ve forgotten more information on certain topics than some people will ever know.

    In short, if the topic seems basic to you, write about it anyway. Not everyone knows what you know.

    3. Keep a list of writing ideas

    This is pretty self-explanatory. Keep a list that’s readily available, and easy to update. I keep a folder on my desktop that’s full of half-completed articles, and a word document containing a list of ideas. It’s not high-tech, but it works for me.

    I’m on my computer for 9+ hours per day, so when I get an idea for an article I can just go to my desktop. You might want to try a pad of paper, a note in your cell phone, or email it to yourself. Whatever method works for you is the right method. If you find that you never update the list, try something else.

    Above all, record the idea as soon as it comes to you. The whole idea is to build a repository of topics so that when you get the chance to write, you’ll have something to write about.

    4. Tell me about your product, and what it will do for me

    There’s a saying in the web industry that goes something like this:

    “No one cares about your website.”

    Basically this is a shock tactic. It means that in order for your website to be successful you should put all of your focus on your users. Let’s translate this to a more concrete example.

    Let’s say that you supply concrete to contractors. You developed a new blend of minerals that’s pretty revolutionary. You post a page on your website with all of the specifications for the new product, but it’s just the facts. Now would be a great time to post a new blog article announcing the product.

    Think of this article as a sales pitch. If you go on and on about how great the product is and how great you are for coming up with it, people’s eyes are going to start glazing over. The key is to tell them how this is going to help them.

    “Do you remember how the old stuff would crack if you spread it on an incline? This new product is going to help you complete the job faster, and you won’t have to go back for maintenance.”
    The beauty of the blog format is that it can be informal, so you’re almost telling them as a concerned friend. Sincerity is the key.

    5. Set a schedule, and stick to it

    You won’t get returning visitors if you don’t write updates, so schedule when you’re going to write updates and stick to it. This is easier said than done, but it might be helpful if you schedule a day and time to sit down and write. It’s your blog; you can choose the frequency at which it gets updated. You can update it daily, weekly, or monthly. It doesn’t matter, as long as you do it.

    Never apologize to your readers for not posting. You should only apologize to yourself because the longer that you go without posting, the more opportunities you’re missing for possible incoming leads.

    You have that great article on how your product is superior for preserving tuna fish salad sandwiches that you’ve been meaning to post and haven’t had the time to do so. Meanwhile, all of your customers are Googling ways to keep their sandwiches fresh, and they’re not finding your site. I’m sure that they’ll find what they’re looking for, but they’re not going to find it on your site. You have just missed that opportunity.

    6. Promote your content constantly, even if it’s old

    This is one that I’m guilty of negating. Being in the tech industry, everything moves so fast that I feel that some things that I write about are old news 2 days after I post them. This simply is not true. As we discussed before, you’re the expert. You’re going to find out about things way before your customers will. It might be old news to you, but it might be new to someone else.

    After all, you put all of that hard work into writing that article. Don’t assume that everyone has read it. Go into your back logs and post some of those links to Facebook and Twitter. I guarantee that 90% of your audience did not catch that post the first time around. I’m sure that it’s new to someone out there.

    For example, I started a new hobby. I go to an online store for buying supplies. This company is extremely helpful, and they have a really good blog with a lot of information. Because I’m new to the hobby, I can get a lot of useful information from their old blog articles. They do a really good job of promoting their previous articles to help get the basics across to new customers like myself. If they didn’t promote the old articles, I would not have known that they covered it. They are now my go to for information regarding this hobby.

    7. This is not homework, try to enjoy it

    I’m helping a friend build their website. I built out a sitemap and asked them to start writing content. They have officially reverted to high school. I feel like I’m a teacher who assigned an 800 word essay on thermodynamics. They have writer’s block, they’re really stressed out, and they’re getting nowhere.

    The key is to get out of the mindset that this is an assignment; it’s not. Try to think of it as talking to your customers. Like I said earlier, blogs are beautiful because you’re allowed to be a little informal. It doesn’t have to be a specific length, you can give as much information that you feel is appropriate, and you can use your own voice. Blogs are known to be opinion pieces, so don’t worry about a bibliography or citing your sources (though it doesn’t hurt, and you should never steal others’ work). Try to have a conversation with your readers, and just tell them something useful and interesting.

    In Conclusion

    Now that I have revealed all of my little secrets, here’s my pitch…If you’re ready to start a blog for your business, request a quote. We can get you set up with a beautiful blog that’s easy to update, and seamlessly integrates into your current website.

    Keep in mind that you don’t have to be the only one writing for your blog. Get your employees involved. You hired them because they’re talented and knowledgeable individuals; use that resource in your marketing efforts.

    If you have any questions leave them in the comments below, or ask us on twitter or facebook.

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