A Beginner's Guide to Blogging for Your Business
Blogging has been promoted as a powerful tool for increasing your search engine optimization, establishing your expertise, and generating leads for your business.
But blogging takes time and resources away from other things your small business can be doing to generate more leads and sales. Is blogging good for your business?
In this article we'll look at why blogging can benefit your business, how to get started, and ultimately how to grow your business through blogging.
Why should I blog?
There are many reasons why blogging can be a great tool for your business. Here are three of my favorites:
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization): Simply put, every blog post you create generates another web page. Every web page is another opportunity to rank well at the search engines for a specific term your ideal customer is searching for. By creating blog posts that answer your prospects' questions, you can position yourself at the top of their search results. (Your mileage may vary, depending on a number of factors.)
- Establishing credibility & expertise: By creating valuable content and educating your prospects and customers, you can establish yourself as a thought leader. This can lead to reporters reaching out to you for your “expert” opinion for news stories that affect your industry…increasing your authority.
- Building your list: The most valuable asset of almost any small business is “the list.” A list of people who want to hear from you. Whether you provide a piece of email bait (such as a free report or discounts in your online store) or just offer to deliver your posts into your visitor's email box, you can quickly turn prospects into subscribers.
How do I get started?
To start blogging you'll need a blogging platform. While there are many out there, most bloggers prefer WordPress. This powerful CMS (content management system) is flexible and simple to learn. It's insanely easy to add powerful plugins that enhance the functionality of WordPress, including tools for adding galleries, social sharing buttons, editorial calendars and more.
I also recommend making your blog part of your current website, or barring that, getting a domain that you own for your new blog. You never want to be blogging on a site you don't control, like mybusiness.wordpress.org. That's like working someone else's land.
If you don't want to configure WordPress yourself, there are plenty of WordPress developers who can help you out.
What do I blog about?
Assuming this is a business blog and not a personal one, you ned to create content that's insanely valuable to your ideal customers. What do they suffer from? What keeps them up at night? What is keeping them from happiness or success?
Once you know this and how you, your company, or your product or service can help them, you can create content that answers those questions.
Blog (write) in the way that your ideal customer is asking:
- How do I keep track of my calories when eating out?
- How do I match paint colors to find the right trim?
- How do I beat level 65 in Candy Crush?
How often should I blog?
I used to suggest two to three times a week. That would often put people off their lunch.
These days, I recommend once a week, or even once every other week if that's too much. The reason I've changed my opinion is the sheer volume of content that's already available on the web, and the deluge of new content being created every day, every hour, every nanosecond.
You can't be the Internet on volume, but you can beat it on quality, clarity and perspective.
This doesn't mean you can just get away with producing less content. Rather, you'll need to spend more time researching, polishing and promoting the content you are producing.
The goal is to create something so valuable that people want to read it, share it, and act on it.
How will people find my blog?
The same way they find your website: through the search engines. Remember: every blog post creates another web page that can answer someone's question at the search engines.
By understanding your ideal customer's needs, choosing the right keywords and phrases to focus on, and then using them in the titles, body copy and links, you'll greatly improve your search engine rankings and traffic.
They'll also find your blog through your social media activity when you share your post on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. Or when a friend of theirs posts it to Pinterest or shares it on Google Plus.
Once they've found your blog, it's your objective to get them to subscribe to it via email. That way you can deliver all your bloggy goodness into their email inbox and not worry about them having to find you again.
How do I generate leads from my blog?
I look at my blog as a space where I can educate, entertain and empower my audience. (Hat tip to Amy Porterfield for that.) Contrast that with my website where I'm trying to convince visitors to hire my company, and I'm a lot more sales-oriented.
Although I may include some promotional blog posts talking up an upcoming webinar or recent website launch, most of our blog posts are about sharing valuable content that will help our ideal customers better market themselves.
However, as I'm educating, I may include calls to action…keyword-rich links that go to specific pages on our website that are more “sales-y.” Pages about web design or SEO services.
I also include “lead magnet” items in the sidebar, like webinar announcements and downloadable reports.
And of course, by creating my own opt-in email list, I can directly market to people who have already signaled that they're interested in what flyte has to offer.
Done right, blogging is a powerful tool that generates online leads. A blog can help increase your online visibility, drive more qualified traffic to your site, and turn visitors into subscribers and customers.
- Start by creating valuable content that addresses your ideal customers' biggest needs.
- Use the language they use at the search engines so that you can be found.
- Spend time polishing and promoting each blog post for maximum results.
- Actively try and turn readers into subscribers so that you increase the leads and sales you generate from your blog.
- Rinse and repeat.