How To Blog: A Primer For Non-Bloggers
Some people love numbers. They can crunch numbers all day and tell you stories about the data. While there are some people out there that like both words AND numbers, this post is really for the number lovers.
Those people usually see writing like I used to see algebra homework. It was painful. Finding “X” used to bring me physical pain.
By now, most business owners understand that they need some form of content marketing as part of their digital marketing strategy. Or, at the very least, they understand the need for good content on their website.
But, who’s going to write this wonderful stuff? Who will blog for your business?
Sure, there are plenty of very good writers out there. Some can even write well for your business and your industry, but precious few probably know as much as you do about what you do.
For those brave souls who decide to blog for themselves, we have a process that has worked quite well for us for the past year.
What you’ll find below won’t make you fall in love with writing, but it will make the process less painful. The love story comes at the end.
Why Start A Blog?
You could always do a pros/cons list around the question of “Why blog at all?”, but the reality is that the number one reason to blog is to put more keyword-rich content on your site for A) Your customers B)Google.
Google loves content, so each new blog post helps Google understand that your website is a living, breathing, growing representation of your business. You’re providing content for your visitors that they may just find useful.
In fact, the more useful visitors find it, the more likely they are to return to your website, and maybe, just maybe, they’ll do business with you. That’s the theory anyway.
The other huge plus to blogging is that it gives you content to email to your customers periodically. This helps keep your business in their minds and helps to build a community.
The main con against blogging is that you have to do it consistently. No one wants to go to the blog page and see the last entry was October 2004. Most people won’t find that too relevant or helpful.
Where To Start With Blogging
Before you start blogging, first decide what type of blog you want to create. This is about your strategy and frankly, there are a ton of them that might be good for your company.
At Make It Loud, our blogging strategy falls in line with when we used to teach digital marketing skills to the Gwinnett Chamber Of Commerce. Our blogs are meant to be educational resources.
Naturally, our posts fall in line with the services we offer as well.
The first step of blogging is to decide what categories you intend to write about. Choose categories that make sense for your target audience and match what your business does.
For example, we provide web design, SEO, Google Adwords Campaigns, and Social Media Marketing along with other digital marketing services.
Yep, you guessed it. Those are the 5 categories that we write about.
Clearly, you want categories that are general enough to write about repeatedly. Digital marketing is so general that there are always topics that fall under that like Google Business Profile changes, AI developments, Chatbots, various strategies in digital marketing, on and on.
There are also changes, trends, updates, new techniques, tips, changes, advances, and many other topics that fall under the other categories. But, it’s good to have a few general and a few specific categories to write about. You can always add more categories as you go along.
Helpful Categories To Consider
When thinking about your blog strategy, you might be at a loss of where to start. For people in this spot, I always recommend using these two questions as a starting place:
- What are the top 5 questions your customers always ask you?
- What are the top 5 questions they SHOULD ask you but don’t
These questions often get people thinking about what their customer’s needs are. Your blog strategy should always consider what your target audience might be interested in.
Other categories to consider are:
- Success stories
- Case studies
- Customer questions
- Secrets Your Customers Need To Know
- Product Comparisons (yours vs theirs)
- Survey Results
- Updated Data In Your Industry (that would help customers hire you)
- New Trends In Your Industry
The list of possible categories depends upon what you do and what you offer.
We recently spoke to a local co-op whose main goal is to “eradicate hunger in our local community”. She cheerfully outlined that her blog strategy was to write volunteer and customer success stories to reach people ages 20-40.
We suggested to her that she may want to tweak her strategy slightly to write about topics that are more emotionally charged in order to motivate people. We reminded her that “doing good feels good” and this needs to be the underlying message in every post. When you reach people emotionally, you motivate them- ideally to be part of the goodness. Given what they do, this seems to be something that just makes sense for their content strategy.
Her two categories can still make sense as long as she tells the stories about how the volunteers and customers are either achieving or receiving the greater good of the co-op.
You Have Your Categories. Now What?
Once you have your basic categories in place, now it’s time to start brainstorming ideas. The goal is to start with 5-10 ideas under each category. If you can’t come up with that many for a category, then it’s quite possible that your category sucks, so rethink it and start again.
Set the clock for an hour and come up with simple titles for blog posts for your categories. Put yourself in the mind of your target market or ideal customer. Think “what would he or she need to know or want to read?” This usually helps people come up with ideas.
After you have your ideas, take your mind back to English composition class where you learned how to do outlines. Finally, something you learned in grade school has a use!
Take each blog post idea and outline 3-5 points under each one. As you jot down your points, you’ll find that you come up with other points that are relevant. Make sure to include those.
Once you have your points under each post title, the only thing you’re missing is an intro and some connecting sentences. Some of this stuff nearly writes itself. (Ok, not always, but there are definitely times!)
My suggestion is to spend about a half-hour a month coming up with ideas and another hour or two knocking out your actual posts depending upon how many you want to have a month. For some businesses, you may only spend an hour total. Others may spend up to 4 hours a month. That’s not a huge investment for the possible returns.
Keywords? We Don’t Know Nothing About No Stinking Keywords
Yeah, ya kinda do. You’re an expert in your field. You have an excellent sense of what people might search to find your business. Just stop and think about it for a minute.
While you know a lot of the relevant keywords, what you don’t know much about is the search volume of your most relevant keywords. There are free tools that can help you discover how often people search for certain keywords. To really get the data on keywords, check out our favorite keyword tools.
Once you have a good list of keywords (don’t kill yourself on all this!), what we recommend is to aim for a primary keyword (PKW) for your post. Here’s my formula:
- Use your PKW in your title
- Use your PKW somewhere in the first 100 words
- Use related keywords throughout the post
- Use Subheadings with related keywords or variances of your PKW (refer to this blog post and all our others- Main heading followed by a bunch of subheadings)
- Use your PKW somewhere toward the end of the post
That’s really it. Don’t hammer the same keyword over and over again.
You DON’T want to write sentences like this: If you want the best garage door company in Buford, we are the best garage door company around Buford, so call the best garage door company in Buford for outstanding garage door service in Buford because we offer the best garage door service…in Buford.
Google will appropriately beat your blog post to death and may quite possibly penalize your website, sit you out of the search results and make you think about what you’ve done.
Seriously, write for normal people, and you’ll be fine.
How Long Should My Blog Posts Be?
It’s the question we always get asked. The short answer is….it depends.
It depends upon the purpose of the post. A few months ago, we would’ve said to write 1000-3000 word posts (I know, you’d rather take out your appendix with a spork.) Recently, John Mueller who is the Google spokesman for SEO-related topics said the word count doesn’t really matter as long as you cover the topic. He all but said you need to focus less on the word count (like English Comp 101) and simply write about your topic until you feel done.
I would tell you that this seems like sound advice. Think about what your reader really needs to know and give them that.
For those of you who reminded the teacher, she forgot to give out homework, once you have your blog post titles, points under each, and some finished posts, you can actually take out a calendar and look at when you want to put each of your posts on your site.
In WordPress, you can schedule your posts to go live on a certain date. Ideally, you want to post at least once a week, but monthly at a minimum.
Extra Extra Credit
For those who brought an apple or other gifts to the teacher, you may even want to go sign up for a Mailchimp account, collect a bunch of email addresses and start sending your blog out to a list of potential or current clients.
It’s a common strategy to use your blog posts as part of the content to email out periodically to help keep your business not only top of mind but the top of your client’s inbox as well. It’s not a bad idea to offer some kind of deal in this email to help the receiver feel special. This is all about building a tribe of customers that come back repeatedly.
Doing this builds on the premise that it’s easier to resell a happy previous customer than go out and find new ones.
Amplify Your Blog Posts
Now that you have all these great blog posts….now what?
It’s a fair question.
The answer is simple. Put in front of as many people as possible. Pick the social media channels where your customers swim around and post it there. It’s even ok to post it several times on there to get more exposure. If LinkedIn makes sense, join relevant groups and post it there. The same goes for Facebook and Instagram (be sure to include an image that matches your post content).
Post up to 300 words of it on your Google Business Profile (used to be called Google My Business) and set a link to have people go back to it on your site to read the rest.
The point here is don’t take a “Field Of Dreams” approach to any aspect of your marketing (“If I post it, they will come.” Um, no they won’t. Well, Google will, which definitely counts), but the goal here is to get live people to see it, actually read it, comment on it, share it and generally love it like a small child.
Don’t worry if they don’t. Keep at it.
The Love Story Part
While you may have hated English composition 101 in high school, it’s important to think about blogging as another way of reaching your future customers. It gives you a way to directly speak to them and have some of the conversations you have during the sales cycle- before the sales process even begins. Think of it as the pre-sales conversation for some.
When you spend a year consistently blogging (Hey, the time was going to go by anyway. Might as well spend some of it blogging), you will most likely find results like:
- Better domain authority
- Higher rankings in the search engine
- More visitors to your website
- More engagement on your social media channels
- Better metrics on your email marketing
- More sales?
The list of benefits as a result of blogging could be even larger than this. Obviously, results will vary, but one thing is certain, you are getting nothing by NOT blogging.
So, consider this a wake-up call, a motivational speech, or a shove out the door. Your choice is simple. Hire someone to blog (Yes, we do that too) or start doing it yourself. A year from now, you’ll be glad you did, and you may even wish you’d started sooner.