Blogs are excellent marketing tools for any business or blooming professional, whether you’re starting a band or selling custom jewelry. It’s important to promote your talents and services and form connections with your audience and other professionals in your field. Starting a blog is a great way to do those things, but people who have no experience with blogging may feel clueless about where to begin or how to make their blog stand out.
If you are interested in blogging as a marketing strategy, but feel overwhelmed about how to make the most of it, the following tips will help you get started:
1. Write what you know.
Stick to your specialties. If you’re a wedding planner, write about wedding planning. If you’re a musician, write about music. If you’re a web designer, write about web design. Make sure your blog content is in alignment with what you do. It doesn’t always have to be directly related to you and your business, but it needs to tie in somehow.
2. Be consistent.
Come up with a blogging schedule and stick to it. It’s okay to occasionally take blogging breaks when you need them, but otherwise, stay consistent about when you post. Do you want to blog Monday through Friday? Fridays only? Mondays and Fridays only? Decide on a posting schedule that works for you and stay consistent. That way, your readers will always know when to expect a new post.
3. Have creative brainstorming sessions regularly.
Pick at least one time each week to brainstorm new blog post ideas. Just sit down with a piece of paper and list as many ideas as you can within a pre-determined period of time. Some of your ideas will turn into blog posts, some will never materialise, and some will take a different direction than you originally intended. The beauty of creativity is that it is meant to evolve and surprise you.
4. Read content within your niche.
A great and fun way to research your market is to read other blogs within your niche. Allow these blogs to motivate you and inspire fresh ideas. You may be tempted to compare and compete at times, and while that is normal, don’t let someone else’s blog distract you from your own. You have your own unique vision to share, and no one can say what you want to say quite like you can.
5. Keep blog posts clear, concise, entertaining and informative.
Consider making bullet or numbered lists within your blog posts. Internet users eat these up because they are digestible and easy and fun to read. Make sure each post has an introduction, a body of information, and a well-rounded conclusion. The shorter your paragraphs, the better. Readers with a short attention span will click off your page faster than you can say "protracted" if they are immediately assaulted with giant blocks of unbroken text. Make your point, be personable and informative, and leave your readers with something to ponder.
6. Take notes.
Writers and bloggers can never take enough notes. Carry a notebook with you everywhere you go and jot down new ideas as they come. Take notes from reading other blogs. Take notes from market research findings. Take notes from readers. The more you take notes, the more ideas you’ll have to fall back on when it comes time to write your next post.
7. Learn to be tech-savvy or hire someone who already is.
Maintaining a blog requires a comfortable level of tech-savviness. You may or may not need knowledge of and experience with technicalities such as web design, HTML, RSS, SEO, and social media. If your eyes are glazing over, it’s time to either start studying or hire someone who is well-versed in technology and the Internet to give you a hand. There are also blogging platforms that make it easier for the technologically deficient to create and maintain their own blogs. You can try Wordpress or Blogger if you don’t have the time, patience or money to learn about some of the more technical aspects of blogging.
8. Don’t be afraid to share personal experiences.
As a blogger, one of your goals should be to connect with and move your audience. If they feel as if they can relate to you, they are more likely to stick around. Know the line between your personal life and your professional life, but don’t be afraid to share a personal or funny post every now and then. For example, you could write about the failures and setbacks you experienced while building your business and give your readers tips on how to overcome their own. Put some substance behind what you have to say.
9. Proofread your posts before you publish them.
Your readers will have a hard time taking you seriously if your writing is littered with spelling and grammatical errors. Always proofread your blog posts at least twice before you hit "publish."
10. Ask for help.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help and feedback throughout your blog building process. Consult with other bloggers in your niche, technical experts, and readers about how to get exposure and make your blog enjoyable. You can even hire writers to write it for you! It’s a writer’s job to make content engaging, even if your business involves selling LED lightbulbs or vintage silverware.
11. Get involved in social media.
Once your blog starts to take shape, create some social networking pages for it. If you’re not a fan of social networking, at least make a Twitter and Facebook page. Those tend to be expected from any blogger who wants to be taken seriously.
12. Network and form relationships with other bloggers.
Blogging is a great way to connect with like-minded, supportive people. If you discover a blog you like, shoot the writer of it an email and let them know. They will greatly appreciate the compliment and may even take a look at your blog. Instead of competing with your favourite bloggers, why not be friends with them?
13. Engage with your audience.
It’s important to acknowledge the feedback you get from readers. Reply to blog comments, emails, tweets, etc. Thank your audience for checking out your blog or business, and answer any questions they may have. Your readers may not want to revisit your blog if they feel ignored or unappreciated.
14. Focus on progress rather than perfection.
Blogging is not the easiest thing in the world. There is a lot to deal with, such as competition, marketing efforts, creative dry spells, technical issues, and much more. It’s okay if you don’t see the results you’re hoping for right away. Building a successful blog takes time, effort and patience. Instead of focusing on how far you have left to go, focus on how far you’ve come and celebrate every little blogging victory you have. There will always be room for growth.
If you discover that blogging isn’t for you, it’s okay. Not everyone will enjoy it or find value in it. But if you’re serious about using your blog as a marketing tool for your business, the above steps will help you get on the path to success and positive exposure. Happy blogging!