Blogging can be an extremely effective marketing tactic for small businesses, but it requires investment. If you’re a solo-entrepreneur, time will likely be your main investment. If you operate a small team, then you will invest your human resources. And if you decide to enlist the help of a third party, whether that be a consultant or a practical service (writing, publishing, promotion), you will invest money.
So it’s important to get it right. Like any project, you should take the time to plan it properly to give it the best chance of success. The worst thing would be for you to invest your time, resources and money in a fruitless effort!
Here are 6 things to consider before you start blogging for your business.
Why are you blogging?
Any good marketing plan starts with the purpose and objectives. Why do you want to blog for your business? What are your objectives? In my recent post, I covered the main benefits of blogging, but for these to form the basis of a strategy they should be converted to SMART goals; Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound.
- To increase our Google ranking for “[best letting agent Edinburgh]” from 5 to 1 within 12 months
- To increase traffic to our website by 50% within 12 months
- To grow our mailing list from 400 to 1000 by June 2017
- To reduce FAQ enquiries to our customer support team by 25% by December
By all means, adapt these goals for your own business. But more importantly, think about the unique reasons that YOU are prioritising blogging and what you hope to get out of it.
Who are you blogging for?
Your next question should be: who are you targeting with your blog posts? Of course, the answer will align closely with who your target customers are in general. But you might also ask yourself “who can I help through my blog?”. Whilst there will be an overlap between these two groups – your target customers and who you can help – they are not necessarily one and the same.
For instance, if you provide a business service, you may be targeting established, high-end clients who prioritise value over price. But through your free content, you can also help the start-ups who are bootstrapping right now but who may develop into your ideal clients further down the track, when they are in a position to afford your services. And if during that time, they have been consuming your content every week without fail, can you imagine how loyal and engaged they will be at the moment they are ready to buy?
Once you have identified the different groups that you are targeting with your blog, distill these into profiles for individual people that represent them. Think about what they do, their demographics and characteristics, their goals and challenges – you can even give them a name! These fictional profiles are called Buyer Personas or Client Avatars. By envisaging a “real person” when you’re planning and writing, your blog posts will be much more focused and will resonate more strongly with your readers. Here’s a handy article from Hubspot which explains how to create your buyer personas.
Who is going to be involved in the process?
Next, we have another “who” – who will be involved in the production of the blog? The author might be yourself, or a member of your team, but you also need to consider:
- Who will proofread and edit the articles?
- Who will source and design the images?
- Who needs to approve them before they go live?
- Who will take care of the publishing?
- Who will promote them through social media?
To start with, you might fulfill all of these roles yourself, but it’s worth thinking about who you could delegate these individual tasks to in due course; the more you can delegate, the more sustainable and consistent your blog will be.
Where are you going to blog?
The obvious answer is on your website. But what if you don’t have your website up and running? Or what if you want to reach people who haven’t discovered you yet?
There are alternatives – platforms such as Medium.com, LinkedIn Pulse, Facebook Notes and Apple News. The advantage of publishing on these platforms is that they allow readers to discover your content as they are browsing for articles on that topic. One of the disadvantages is that they will be less likely to drive traffic to your website through Google. Another is that these platforms do not belong to you; your amazing archive of content could disappear on the whim of a LinkedIn exec.
But you can have the best of both worlds – publish first on your own blog, then wait for a day or two to allow Google to identify you as the original source, before syndicating your content onto these other websites.
When are you going to blog?
How frequently will you publish your blog posts and what day of the week will you publish? These decisions will have a direct bearing on your production process; the timeline from planning to writing, to going live.
Think about when you will set aside time to write – perhaps you do your best creative work first thing in the morning, or the last thing at night. And remember that you will also need to factor in the availability of your team members and contributors.
What are you going to blog about?
With all of these things considered, you can now move on to the exciting bit – coming up with ideas and creating a content plan and editorial calendar! We’ve already discussed what you should blog about in a previous article; now you need to apply these suggestions to your own product, service, niche or industry and generate topics for individual blog posts.
Your plan doesn’t need to be complicated – no fancy software required – a simple spreadsheet will do the trick. For a basic plan, create columns for the article title, creation and publishing dates and author.
Related content: What To Write About On Your Business Blog
Check back later this week for a more detailed explanation of how to create a blog content plan, including a free template!
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