The decision to start a business blog is a no-brainer once you’ve allocated the resources to do so.
The more challenging task is figuring out how to create a successful blog that people actually read and how to make an existing blog more efficient in terms of converting leads into sales.
This week, we answer all of your most pressing questions pertaining to the art of business blogging.
From there, you can choose to implement what you’ve learned in-house or request assistance from our team of digital marketing experts.
7 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Starting a Blog
1. What Should My Blog Goals Be?
A business blog sucks up time, effort, energy, and capital. Before you start throwing money at the monster, you’d better have it on a leash and grounded with a sane strategy. Think of blogging as a journey; before embarking, you’ll need a map, an itinerary, and a schedule. Market and topic research is the proverbial equivalent of “packing your bags.” Before you leave the driveway, set realistic expectations for what you hope to achieve with this trip.
Keep in mind blogs are not about direct selling. Huffington Post’s Danny Wong suggests the following goals:
– Tell visual stories worth sharing
– Express brand identity
– Build an email list through great content
– Attract top industry talent
– Give partners a behind-the-scenes look
– Become an industry thought leader
– Connect personally with fans
– Capture media attention
– Analyze your own data
– Facilitate word-of-mouth marketing
– Distinguish yourself from the competition
Of course, you also want to set more tangible, S.M.A.R.T. goals for yourself, whether it’s to hit an email click-through rate of 10% or get 10 new customers from your blog this month. Mod Girl Marketing has experience working with businesses to improve results. We’ll dig into analytical data to measure where you are now and conduct market research to determine what results you can expect given your particular industry. Together, we’ll put together measurable metrics for charting the progress and efficiency of your blog in ways that matter to your bottom line!
2. How Can I Find Out Who Wants To Read My Blog?
There are many tools to help you identify who is reading blogs similar to yours, but we like to use Sprout Social and Raven Tools Using these interfaces, we can monitor what people are buzzing about on social media, conduct surveys, keep a pulse on the competition, search for online mentions of your brand, and gather demographic data on readers and buyers. Buffer Social has a fantastic post on how to use other tools like Mention and Riffle to build and cultivate a healthy blog audience. If you’re interested in ways to connect with more readers, you’ll definitely want to check out my Arsenal of Online Resources as well.
3. How Often Do I Need To Post?
We can’t all be like Mashable’s Pete Cashmore who would post one to five new articles each day, but the good news is: we don’t have to be! In a survey, ProBlogger found that the top reason people unsubscribed from their blog was that they were “posting too frequently.” The keys to building a successful business blog have less to do with frequency and routine, and more to do with value, persistence and consistency.
NY Times best-selling author Michael Hyatt suggests the sweet spot is about twice per week (one blog on Monday and one blog on Friday.) His readers explained they just didn’t have the time to keep up with much more than that. They wanted more time to digest each blog and believed the blog post quality would be better if published less frequently.
To stay fresh and relevant, you can supplement longer blog entries with daily social media interactions and media like quotes, links, videos, photos, or podcasts — which brings us to the question of post length.
4. How Long Does It Have To Be?
If you’re Seth Godin or David Vandagriff — and your audience demands it — you can get away with 66-word posts. However, for the rest of the world, longer is usually better. When we say “longer,” we mean about 1,500 words or more. Here’s why:
– Longer posts hit the Top 10 ratings of search engines.
– Longer posts encourage people to spend more time on your site and develops more trust.
Entrepreneur Magazine noted that people stayed on the page 40% longer and looked at 25% more pages on the site when they were introduced to a longer page of copy.
– Longer posts get more backlinks.
– Longer posts get more shares.
For instance, Quick Sprout writer Neil Patel notes that all his posts with more than 1,500 words receive 68% more tweets and 22% more Facebook likes than his shorter articles. He shares this graphic from an online journal that shows the correlation between word count and social shares:
Naturally, quality trumps quantity every time. Not every post needs to be a massive tomb of information. Mod Girl Marketing doesn’t support a one-size-fits-all approach to blogging. We say it really all depends on your industry, your audience, and your topic. That said, our bloggers’ word counts do tend to air on the heavy side for the most part.
A word to the wise: If you’re not a trained writer or comfortable with writing, you don’t want to attempt the feat of a 2,000+ word post. Bloated, repetitive pieces aren’t going to hit your goals or engage your readers. It may also take you more time than it’s worth. You want to make the best use of your talents — and, in some cases, this means outsourcing your blog writing to someone who can crank out quality copy much faster and better.
5. What Should I Post?
Ah, the million-dollar question! If you’ve ever found yourself staring at a blank WordPress entry, you are not alone! It happens to the best of us. That’s why spending a few hours brainstorming and devising an organized posting schedule for the month is essential to the success of your business blog. When working with clients, Mod Girl Marketing networks closely with a point person within each company to ensure the blog topics are on-point. We have some clients who like to jot down notes for us to incorporate — in more poetic and expanded ways, of course!
Everyone wants that one big viral sensation, but in the long run, useful content always outperforms. As Entrepreneur Magazine notes, the most linked-to article on ProBlogger is “What is RSS?” and the most linked-to article on GetRichSlowly is on high-yield savings accounts. There are many ways to determine which type of content is most useful to your target audience, but the best way is to conduct market research — one of our specialties at Mod Girl Marketing.
Using digital marketing tools , we examine what keywords people are typing into the search engines to find businesses like yours and make online purchases. If you have an existing blog, we look at which topics have performed the best for you. We look at which topics are performing particularly well among your competition and what’s trending in your industry right now. We examine your website, your products and your services to identify areas where consumers may want or need more information before conducting business with you. To develop a solid blogging strategy, we usually devise core categories to focus upon, create a blog calendar of specific posts, write according to schedule, and track your progress.
To get to thinking, check out Amanda Gallucci at iAcquire’s great rundown of 31 blog post starters – From “How To” guides and product reviews, to imaginative stories and beginner tips. Get hundreds more ideas from StartBloggingOnline.com and BrainZooming.com . We find that brainstorming topics is one of the most exhilarating aspects of business blogging!
6. How Do I Promote My Content?
There are tons of tools you can use to get word out to the masses. We like to rely on good old-fashioned channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and press release distribution wires. Yet, there are also hot social bookmarking sites like Reddit and StumbleUpon that may benefit your business, depending on the industry. New sites for sharing content like Scoop.it are coming out all the time, so it’s good to work with a consultant who is in-the-know. Quality link exchange networking with industry bloggers and reporters still holds water for many types of business as well. Mod Girl Marketing can help you re-purpose blog content in dozens of different ways to get enough eyes in front of your blog posts to justify their expense.
7. Where Can I Find Writers For My Business Blog?
There are tons of marketplaces churning out freelance writers, from Outsource.com to Odesk . Yet, how do you find a writer who truly “gets” your business? How do you find someone who is dependable, resourceful, and easy to work with? In the early years, we vetted many, many writers before finding our current team that has been with us for the better part of a decade. Mod Girl Marketing writers have university degrees in journalism, real-world business experience, and advanced training in all aspects of digital marketing. You’re getting more than well-written, researched content for your business blog: you’re getting content that is poised to be seen by tons of viewers online — and content that SELLS!