Today marks the start of National Novel Writing Month (more popularly known as #nanowrimo) and writers the world over will take to writing 50,000 words to start, complete or edit a novel. For those of us who run businesses, what are some ways we can employ the same writing discipline for creating our business content? Blogging for your business might be the answer.
While you don’t necessarily have to write 50,000 words, you might want to make a practice of writing regularly for your business. Blogging on your current business website will allow you to establish your expertise, keep your website active, and attract new and returning traffic to your website. If your website also features product and service pages and a lead capture, your blogging can drive leads and sales.
What Platform Should I Use For Blogging
To get started blogging for your business, your website should support blog publishing. Rather than updating static and standalone website pages, blogging allows you to add entries much like a diary. The content is organized for easy browsing, and employs tags, categories and timestamps. The entries are called posts so if you’re attempting to blog, don’t accidentally create a new page.
My favorite blogging platform is WordPress and my website is built using the platform. However, Blogger, Weebly, Wix, and Squarespace support blogging. After adding a blog to your current website, you want to outline topics that your audience may be curious about learning. Every month, outline some questions that you may have gotten the previous month. List questions you have seen asked in groups, social media updates, Quora or elsewhere. If you run across a controversial topic, something that is trending, or find a new way to attack an old problem, make a note to blog about it. The key is to ideate content for the blog in advance so you’re not scrambling to figure out what to write about when it’s time to create something new.
What Format Should I Use For My Blog
In what format should you publish your blog content? I suggest producing content in the format that you are most comfortable with so that you maintain a regular schedule and are not stressed about creating new content for your website. If you are a talker and don’t mind being on camera, record videos using Facebook Live or YouTube’s video capture tool. You could also prerecord video from your phone, camera or computer and edit out the parts you don’t like using apps like iMovie or Windows Movie Maker or a mobile app like InShot.
Publish the videos on YouTube or Facebook where you can grab special code to put in a new blog post on your site so that the videos also show on your website. This is called embedding.
If you are a natural talker but don’t like video, you could record audio and upload to SoundCloud, Podbean or Libsyn. You can embed audio from those players into a new blog post on your website so that people can listen to your recording there. The added benefit is this same audio can be used to create a formal podcast. Note: If you also like audio and wish to just do a screenshare tutorial, you can use Zoom, Loom or Screencast-o-matic and talk while you are recording your content. Publish the video to Facebook and/or YouTube and embedding the video in a new blog post.
If you love to write, create a text based blog. You can write directly into the blog editor or write in a word processor like Google Docs or Microsoft Word and paste your content in your blog editor. I like to write in Google Docs and paste my content into my blog so that I have easy access to what I wrote and can easily repurpose the same blog content as email newsletters or social media posts.
I am a content machine so I use all three methods for creating content. Choose the most comfortable way for you to produce content so that your efforts to blog aren’t met with resistance.
How Frequently Should I Blog
Your blogging schedule is up to you. I favor quantity over quality so I would suggest you create a blogging schedule that allows you to create detailed and authoritative posts rather than frequent ramblings. Some of my clients publish new articles every week. Others once a month or even less frequently. If I were more strategic, I would publish weekly by repurposing the content that I share to social.
The key here is to publish regularly. With weekly posting, you prioritize your marketing and website traffic strategy. It also allows you to build content on a schedule that your audience can anticipate. You also show website visitors that you are actively publishing and not neglecting your own business.
How Long Should My Blog Posts Be
Blog length would depend on both the format and the topic. A video blog (vlog), podcast or text post can vary in length. There’s no rules.
If you wish to conversation a topic by giving an overview, your post can be 300 words or a few minutes in length. For deep dives, answering all associated questions and sharing how-to’s in an authority post can be as much as 2, 5, 10 or 20 thousand words. These “skyscraper” posts are employed heavily by software companies and marketers because they are SEO-rich and can drive lots of traffic.
For a new, hesitant blogger, start around 200-300 words and build up to something lengthier once your comfort level is up.
How Should I Organize My Blog Content
You should organize your content for easy consumption. Each blog post should have a title, a category and tags. For long posts, subheadings or bulleted list are helpful.
Select a title that is reflective of the subject matter and write it in a How To or question form. If the topic is Short Hair Styles, the Jeopardy version would be “How To Style Short Hair”, “How Should I Style My Short Hair” or “What Are Good Hairstyles For Short Hair”. This is typically how someone would search for a topic in Google so you should write the content the way it is asked or in a way that reflects authority on the answer to the question.
Categories can be thought of as the select group of topics you typically cover. For example, I write about social media, content marketing, events, and email marketing. These are the high level segments that I cover. Create a handful of categories that you wish to cover and when you write, file your posts accordingly.
Tags are the detailed version identifiers of what the post is about. So if I have a category of social media and the post is about Instagram tactics, my tags might be social media, Instagram and digital marketing strategy. Also consider the multiple ways people talk about your topic and include variations in your tags.
If you are employing subheadings and lists, think of the individual heading and bullets like mini titles. The content underneath it can serve much like tiny articles and go into more detail on what the heading is about. By doing this, you could take shorter articles about a related topic and use headings and bulleted lists to compose a lengthier, skyscraper authority post.
How Can I Make Blog Header Images
In addition to choosing pictures to illustrate your blog topic, you might want to create blog header images. I choose most of my images from royalty-free (this doesn’t mean the pix are free, just that you won’t get sued for using copyrighted content) stock image sites like Deposit Photos, Pexels, Unsplash or Burst from Shopify. If these are to be included just to add a visual element to my post, I may include a caption.
For blog header images, I’ll upload the image to Canva and after choosing the appropriate blog header template, I will select the image, overlay with text and my logo or website URL and save as a png file. Canva has both a web-based and mobile app so I can create blog header images on the go.
Once saved, I add the blog header as a featured image in bottom right section of the WordPress blog editor. I typically do this before hitting publish so that I have a shiny, crispy completed blog post with text, video, a header image, categories and tags that is perfect before going public. Of course, if I make a mistake or forgot something, editing is a breeze because I just go back, edit and press update to publish changes.
How Should I Market My Blog
Now that you are publishing content, it’s time to market it. Many make the mistake of believing that all they have to do is publish posts. Real content marketing is a combination of documentation, publishing and distribution. To market or distribute your blog content, you can use social media, ads, email, speaking, and even guest posts and links from other people’s websites.
If you use WordPress for your blog, a handy publishing tool I use to distribute content from my blog is Jetpack. Once I publish a post, Jetpack with automatically share it to LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. The downfall is it will only share that one time. For continual sharing over a period of time, I can schedule social media updates that include my blog link using Buffer or Hootsuite and schedule daily posts over the course of a week or more. Or if I want regular updates, a premium tool like Meet Edgar will allow me to share that same blog out over and over automatically.
When you publish new content, you can use MailChimp’s RSS-to-email feature to syndicate new blog post as emails to your email subscribers. Or, I like to create an email manually with include some intro tips and include a email link to a full blog post on the subject. I do this for my video updates as well.
If you share your blog post to FB, try including an image with minimal or no text and include the blog link in the first comment, unless you’re running and ad. Your caption should peak interest in the position and include a call to action or interest stirring question to encourage people to continue on to the blog post. Want to do an ad? Click Boost, choose your ad budget and publish. (P.S. Please make sure the FB pixel is installed on the website where your blog lives before running ads to get the most of paid traffic.)
Blogging is valuable and one of the most beneficial ways to market your business. Once you find a format, topics, and frequency that works for you and your business, publish regularly and market each of your updates across various channels. When you do so, you attract new readers, potential clients and drive sales.
Start your business blog today during my National Content Creation Month campaign this November!