Ask just about anyone with sound marketing judgment about the importance of blogging and you’ll get a pretty universal response. Do it, and do it often. Why? Besides the fact that it’s free, it fulfills the desire every online-facing business craves — more traffic.
Every time you write a blog post, you’re creating a new path for a reader to stumble upon your site. This is the (highly simplified) principle behind a blog’s ability to generate organic traffic. But stumbling on your blog is half the battle. You also want readers to click in, and even more importantly, make it to the bottom of the page. You want them to read and engage. Which is why it’s crucial to find the right content mix for your blog that’s both informative and interesting.
Here are three things you should nail down before you start a business blog:
1. Start With What You Know. Remember, You’re the Expert!
Getting the blog train rolling can be a challenge, and this is where businesses often fall flat. Here’s a simple solution, don’t put too much pressure on it. This isn’t a college admissions essay, it’s a blog. And best of all, you’re the expert! For those of you who don’t see that white blank page as an empty canvas, let me help you pick up the brush.
As a former journalist, I received some simple advice from a news director that has really shaped how I write, and that is: “Just tell them what you know.” While that doesn’t sound all that impressive, it’s incredibly useful for any writer if you think about it.
Reporters spend a majority of their day gathering information and interviewing resources for their story of the day. So, putting it to pen and paper should be a piece of cake, right? Rather than stare at that blinking cursor, stewing over a catchy opening line, stop and ask yourself: “What do I know about the topic I’m writing?” And get to work. Thorough editing can clean things up once you’ve gotten your ideas on the table.
If you’re blogging about your industry, you're guaranteed to know a thing or two about the subject matter. When readers turn to your blog (or news story), they want to learn something from you. Maybe a unique perspective they may have never considered? You should have no problem with this. After all, it’s what you do!
2. Make It Interesting
While considerable research goes into blog topics and their ability to generate traffic, there’s still freedom for playful writing once you’ve laid the groundwork. While it’s essential a blog contains some thoughtful keywording along with valuable takeaways, it doesn’t need, nor should it be, overly technical. A boring, fact-spouting piece won’t go over well with readers and they certainly won’t share it on their social channels. This is something journalists have really mastered — how to make a headline people want to click and a story they want to read. And it’s all about finding the right blend of informative and interesting.
“What if our industry is too boring to write about?” you might ask. If that’s your mindset, you’re selling yourself short. Remember that blogs aren’t a sales pitch and don’t have to be ALL about you. That’s what your website already does, and readers will get there if you’re blogging correctly. Instead, try sharing some industry facts, or writing useful, helpful content about something that pairs well with your product.
Here’s an example: Let’s say you run a fitness center. Instead of bragging about all of the awesome amenities at your facility in your next blog, try blogging about: “10 Reasons Why Cycling Will Give You the Best Workout.” Readers interested in cycling will search for this, stumble upon your blog, see that it’s from your brand, and (in a perfect world) inquire about your cycling class offerings. And just like that, you’ve picked up a new customer!
3. Stay on Target
That being said, it’s critical to avoid leading your readers on a path to nowhere. You don’t want to leave potential customers feeling like they didn't get what they were looking for when they clicked your headline. Keep engagement high and get to the point.
It can also be helpful to include links to some credible sources in the industry. This gives your blog a boost of trustworthiness while upgrading your site’s authority online. (Note: If you’re relying too heavily on outside sources, though, and are struggling to fill the page, it’s probably not the best blog topic. Again, people are turning to your blog for your knowledge, not a book report.)
So when piecing together your next blog, first think about the topic you’re about to write — tell readers what you know, make it interesting and don’t leave them astray. A blog should never lead readers to a dead end, it should evoke a response that encourages them to become a lead, or better yet, become a customer.