These days, an effective and well-written blog is a staple of a good marketing campaign. Blogs can help companies connect with their customers and partners, reach new audiences, communicate important messages, and reinforce the brand’s image. But building a blog from scratch can be a daunting challenge. Read on for some strategic tips on how to get started and what to consider when crafting a new blog.
Get some setup help.
If you’re a small business owner or sole proprietor, it can be a good idea to hire someone to help you create and set up the platform you’ve chosen. After all, you never know how long the blog might last or how big it might get, so if you haven’t set things up in the most efficient way possible right from the beginning, that could lead to serious hassles later on. If you’re working with WordPress or another open-source platform, consider hiring a web developer to set up the back end, find the plugins that will be most useful to you, and design a welcoming and easy-to-navigate UI. Taking these steps at the beginning will ensure that you create a blog that can quickly and effectively do what you need it to do.
SEO is important for blogs, but you’ll generally want to keep things simple at the beginning. Stick to one keyword topic per post—include it once in the title, body, and meta description for the post—and limit yourself to one or two internal links to past posts. This helps keeps things focused and ensures that you are prioritizing the most important keywords, rather than spreading your SEO efforts too thin. A number of keyword analysis services, including Google Adwords’ keyword tool, can help you keep track of how your chosen keywords are performing.
Make it worth sharing.
The unique format of a blog provides a valuable opportunity to take content beyond the standard company and product news soundbites found in more traditional marketing. Rather than just providing information, a blog is a great way to offer readers an inside look at the company culture that surrounds the products or services they love. In working to plan content and strategy for the blog, think carefully about your audience, and what topics and issues they care most about. Then think about how to craft engaging content that will appeal to that audience: Q&A interviews with industry experts, posts from guest authors, company responses to and opinions on current news or other timely topics, educational how-to’s, and profiles of partners and customers are all great examples of content that truly adds value for readers. Above all, avoid hard-sells—your blog is not the place to ask people to buy something.
Use the blog as a newswire.
More and more companies are starting to use carefully written, information-rich blog posts, as well as traditional press releases, to announce important news. The major advantage of this is that, unlike the often impersonal tone of a press release, a blog post can share news in your brand’s voice. If the news is exciting, then that sense of excitement can come through and help readers connect with your brand on a more personal level. Releasing news on a blog also helps drive readers to that blog, rather than sending them to get details from an isolated newswire site.
Appeal to viewers as well as readers.
Video is a powerful medium for digital marketing, and that’s especially true when it comes to creating a blogging strategy. Videos can tell stories that text-only posts can’t, and when videos are used to supplement a blog’s written content, the combination is highly effective. Just make sure to keep things short and sweet: 30 to 60 seconds is the maximum recommended length for a video blog post.
Make sure you have a plan.
A truly effective blog works best when all the logistics are clearly and carefully planned; starting a blog without an editorial strategy can lead to inconsistencies and lots of extra work later on. Before launching the blog, create an editorial calendar that contains a plan for about two months’ worth of content at a time—identify both the types of posts you will create as well as the topics. Also develop a realistic posting schedule, and know who your writers are and when they are available.
Be shareable and mobile-friendly.
A blog post that only stays on your blog is a missed opportunity to increase your brand’s presence online. Make it easy for your readers to share and talk about your content on social media by adding social sharing buttons for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, or Instagram—whichever make the most sense for your brand. Similarly, don’t forget that many of your readers will be accessing your blog from a mobile device. Ensure your blog renders properly on mobile, and include sub-headings within the body of each post. Reading long, uninterrupted blocks of text can be difficult and tiresome on a small smartphone screen.