Blogging basics

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Blogs started life as online diaries, in which individuals wrote, published and distributed their own opinions on any subject that took their fancy.

The term blog is a shortened form of  ‘web log’. Authoring a blog, maintaining a blog or adding an article to an existing blog is called ‘blogging’. Individual articles on a blog are called ‘blog posts’, ‘posts’ or ‘entries’. A person who posts these entries is called a ‘blogger’.

Blogs have now become a hugely effective marketing and communications tool for individuals and businesses.

Why blog?

A blog is a great way to share your ideas, demonstrate your expertise, and introduce the skills you can offer. It’s also a great way to explain your business and to use examples to manage expectations around what you do.

A blog is not a piece of corporate marketing collateral. It’s not there to overtly sell. A blog is a way to build awareness, create interest and build trust. That’s why it’s OK to be slightly informal and to show some character in your writing. You want your words to resonate with your reader. Selling can happen later.

Of course, a blog is not only for your existing customers, and potential customers; it’s also for search engines. Google (and others) love fresh content. And the more content you have online, the more entry points you will have to your business.

How long should a blog post be?

A blog should be as long as it needs to be to communicate your message clearly. 500-800 words work well. Any longer, then perhaps it’s time to consider breaking up the post into a series.

What makes a good blog post?

A number of factors make a blog post more read-able.

Headlines that focus on a question or ‘how to’ are popular. A headline of 55 characters tends to be best, both in terms of how Google will display your post in search results, and in getting click-throughs. CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer is a great tool for testing your headline.

Also, consider the following:

Finally, don’t forget to include a call to action. Avoid ‘buy now’-type calls to action. Instead, lead the post to a natural conclusion and leave them wanting more from you. Invite your audience to comment (so you can then respond), or contact you for a conversation.

Deciding what to write

A successful blog requires a plan. Blogging is a tactic that supports a marketing strategy and works to achieve business objectives. You must understand these before you begin.

You should always be writing for your target audience, so having a clear picture of them in your mind, and an understanding of  their journey to becoming your customer is essential.

A good place to start is to consider the FAQs in your business and write a blog post to answer each question.

Don’t forget that you want people to find your blog post, so do your keyword research and make sure you include them in your content.

Once you get some ideas down, the rest will flow.

Decide how often you want to blog, perhaps monthly to begin with, and don’t forget to schedule time in your calendar.

(I find that a blog post can take anything from 30 minutes to 3 hours. Once I’ve finished writing I read it aloud to ensure it makes sense, and sounds like me. I then wait, and re-read the next day before posting.)

If you don’t like writing… consider outsourcing to a copywriter. While I write all my own blogs, for clients I have successfully used online copywriting services such as Textbroker and Copify. For opinion pieces I find it best to work directly with a copywriter who can carry out interviews and do some background research. Whether you write yourself, delegate to a colleague or outsource, you cannot skip past the planning stage. You must have a plan in place before you start to write, and you must provide a clear brief to anyone else involved in writing.

What next?

‘Build it, and they will come’ only works in the movies.
Social Media is a build it, nurture it, engage them, and they may come and stay.
Seth Godin

Writing your blog is only the beginning. Thinking about how you will distribute your blog post needs to be part of your planning process and is highly likely to include one or more social media platforms. You can find a few ideas in this blog: 20 things to do after you have written a blog!

 

 

 

 

Some clients I've worked with...

 
 
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