A blog? I thought those were for foodies and socialites. I run a serious business…
There’s something I’ve learned working closely with small business owners— there is a misconception on what it means to “have a blog”. A blog is a fairly standard part of any website proposal I write. Why? Because it’s a fantastic avenue to publish meaningful and relevant content. Not only is that great for the users of your website who might want more information about your products or services, but it’s fantastic for search engine optimization. Successful online businesses are pouring resources into developing effective content strategies that entice readers and help inform, entertain and encourage dialogue. This strategy is often referred to as “content marketing”. Millions of internet users turn to Google and other search engines every day trying to find answers to questions, find solutions to problems and to educate themselves on any number of topics. Your business, regardless of what you offer, could benefit from driving more qualified and targeted leads— and that’s exactly what a blog can do.
Content marketing can be extremely effective.
Google Loves Content.
Your website is competing with thousands of others for traffic. In order for your site to stand out from the crowd and rank highly in search engines the content on your site must be relevant. This is one of the many factors that determine how people find you through search engines.
Building a blog with detailed and specific information about your industry builds credibility with your audience and with Google. The more quality content your website has, the easier it is for Google to recommend your site to more users.
Content is shareable.
Social media continues to evolve, and what was once a place to hang out with friends in cyberspace is now a serious industry worth billions of dollars.
With millions of users, platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn are filled with your target audience.
All of these platforms make sharing content extremely easy. One piece of content can pick up steam and a few shares can turn into hundreds in no time. Content is what goes viral.
Content can be created by anyone.
You don’t have to have a special talent to create content. You most likely carry all the tools you need in your pocket.
Your smarphone is a camera for photos on Instagram. It’s a video camera for YouTube content.
It’s instant access to tweet anyone around the globe.
A blog is a great host for your content that lives on your website. Any content you can create can be hosted on your website where you can implement sales funnels, lead generation and much more to turn visitors into customers.
Don’t just take it from me, let’s ask an expert.
While content can be created by anyone, there many factors that can speed up the process of writing valuable and meaningful posts. Lucially for you (and me) one of the leading experts on content creation and blogging has agreed to answer a few questions I often get from customers on this subject.
Todd and I have been in circles together for quite a while— he is a wealth of knowledge and am extremely grateful to have him as part of my professional network.
I threw a few questions his way and was so thankful he took the time to help us better understand why content marketing is so powerful and some great tips on how you can get started.
Todd E. Jones – Copy Flight
Along with being the resident writer for MainWP and content hacker at Copyflight, I specialize in writing about startups, entrepreneurs, social media, WordPress and inbound marketing topics.
Q: What are some of the benefits of having a blog on your website?
If you write good content, you will begin to establish authority and earn credibility. You will giving your audience answers to pressing questions which will put you in a place of authority.
Q: What should I even blog about?
I wrote the book on that! Start with topics of interest to your target audience. If you have customers, round up the most frequently asked questions and write good articles answering those questions.
Q: How can I promote my blog and get more readers?
There are probably hundreds of ways to promote blogs and blog posts. One of the first things is to take advantage of social media if you have a good following. The way social media works now is different, so everyone may not see your postings. Add some good introductory copy to the social media post to get followers to click.
Sharing your resources with users in various forums helps. You have to be careful not to be spammy. In most Facebook groups, the owner will provide a time and place to share.
Finally, get interviewed. Volunteer to be on a Facebook Live, a podcast, in an article (like this one!). Be open and ready for such opportunities.
Q: How can I turn readers into customers?
Conversion focused copywriting. Offer an incentive, a lead magnet, quiz, or video to get them on to your email list. Once there, nurture them with regular emails.
Content upgrades have proven really effective for many recently. Giving a reader a worksheet or template to help them implement what they learned from your article can really be helpful.
Most blogs offer some kind of lead magnet these days so it might be difficult when you start. I think the e-book has become saturated, so be careful about depending on those.
Q: What are some tips for when you are ‘stuck’ coming up with ideas?
One of the things I do when I’m stuck is go to forums, Facebook Groups, Quora, or Reddit to look at one kinds of topics and questions are being asked. From there you can start taking notes. Another thing to do is to plan your topic ahead of time and begin building out a list of ideas that goes with the topic.
Q: Are there any good free or low-cost resources to help me start blogging?
Other blogs. Most of that content is free. I spent hours reading Copyblogger and other blogs to learn. I like Enchanted Marketing because Henneke gives good practical advice about writing and copywriting.
Learn about conversion focused copywriting from Copyhackers and ConversionXL. If you can write posts half as good as they do at Copyhackers, you can really turn out some good content. Copyhackers also has Airstory which is free for individual bloggers. Any Tutorial Tuesday that Joanna Wiebe (of Airstory/Copyhackers) has done over time is worth watching. Admittedly, these are great for advanced writers, but beginners will really learn and level up consuming their content.
Obviously, using WordPress is the way to go for your blog. It is free, but you need a domain and hosting account to get started.
Some of the best blogging content you can find will be on Smartblogger ran by Jon Morrow. He is a blogging genius. He served as the chief editor for Copyblogger for a while before starting his own blog.
Observation of other blogs is free and you can learn a lot.
Here’s a game plan for getting your blog off the ground…
There will never be a perfect time to start. The most important thing is that you go for it. Your first few blogs will teach you a lot about what it takes and help you find ways you are comfortable producing content. The only way to get better is to practice— the only way you’ll practice is to get started!
Look to your inbox for inspiration. Your inbox is a great source of content ideas. What kinds of questions are you answering for customers? Not only will those topics make for great blog posts, you can use them as reference the next time you’re asked. This can save you a ton of time writing out a new response every time.
As Todd mentioned, start reading blogs. Blogs can take on all forms of personality. Some are serious instructional types, some are more lighthearted and story based. There is no right or wrong tone of voice, just be authentic. Let your personality shine through.
Don’t expect an immediate return on investment. You’re not going to receive a flood of requests after your first blog post. It’s a strategy that takes time, but it can also set you up for long-term success. Your blog posts can live for years, gaining recognition and rankings in search engines. Keep in mind this is a marathon, not a sprint.
Don’t forget, you can ask for help. I’d love to talk about your content strategy, and there are a lot of fantastic resources Todd pointed out. In fact, Todd runs a fantastic business that helps people create a compelling and lasting message.
A BIG THANKS
I owe a big thank you to Todd for taking time to provide his insight. I knew he’d be able to bring a load of experience and expertise to this subject. Having this network of experts is the key for OGAL Web Design being able to easily scale our team up in size and specialized expertise for projects of any size.