Your blog can work really hard for your brand:
- It will help drive traffic to your site
- It will help to convert that traffic
- It will give you authority and reputation
- It might get quoted in some useful places
- It is great long-term thinking
So what’s stopping you?
1. Write for your audience, not for you
You have great products, an amazing restaurant or a fabulous new bar, and you want to tell people. But do they want to know? People read blogs in their spare time, so they want to read something that interests them, something funny, something that challenges their thinking, something they can learn from.
If your blog becomes chock full of marketing-style announcements, you’re going to lose your readers. You need to think about what your audience is going to be interested in reading, ahead of what you want to tell them. Ideally you’ll be able to find a mutually beneficial middle ground.
Do some research; find out what the people you’re trying to reach want to know about. The obvious place to start is some traditional keyword research. What people are searching for will give you a fair idea of what they want to read.
Keeping track of what people are saying on social channels is helpful too. Set up some searches around relevant topics – for example, if you’re a coffee roaster set up searches for (e.g.) #coffeeroasting on Twitter and see what people are talking about.
2. Keep it personal
Blogs were originally created as online diaries. And, OK, things have moved on quite a lot since then, but they’re still seen as a place where you can have a more conversational relationship with your customers.
Put your own personality and opinions into your posts. Readers like to feel they’re hearing from a person, rather than an organisation.
3. Show don’t tell
You want your readers to know how fantastic your products, restaurant or café is and how creative your staff are, but – harking back to the first tip – if you simply write exactly that in a blog, your readers are likely to lose interest. You need to show people you’re good at what you do, rather than tell them.
For example, say your a sustainable food brand launching a new product. You could simply write an announcement (wait, I said could, did you not see the italics?!), but I’m pretty sure you know that’s a bit dull.
Instead, think about all the content you could create around this new product launch. A variety of recipes which, it just so happens, use the new product, advice about how to produce sustainable food creations at home, an infographic explaining the sustainability credentials… you get the idea, basically just don’t write a boring announcement!
4. Keep an eye on the competition
Looking at what your competitors are doing is a great way to get ideas about what works well (and what doesn’t).
If they have a blog, sign up to the mailing list. See how their posts are performing on social media. Watching what does well will give you some great ideas to emulate and seeing what bombs will tell you what to avoid without wasting the effort.
5. Write about things people are already talking about
Look out for hot topics in your subject area and in the wider news agenda. There could well be events or awareness days that you could link your work to as well.
If you can tie what you do into something people are already talking about, then half the battle is won – they will be interested – and all you’ll need to do is make sure you get your content out there.
6. Get other people to write for you
Guest bloggers (both regular and one-off) can be a brilliant way to diversify your blog. And they’re often able to talk you up in a way that you can’t do yourself (or at least, you could, but you’d sound pretty big headed).
To come back to the idea of our coffee roaster – they could try getting popular coffee bloggers to feature on their site (this may require an incentive, depending on their popularity). They could also approach engaged customers to write or contribute to a compilation blog such as ‘the best coffee I ever had’.
Guest bloggers are great because they will usually spread the word to their contacts, who are almost always the people you’re trying to reach.
7. Formatting does matter
Writing for online platforms is different to writing a press release or an article for print. People skim the content, so you need to format your writing in a way that makes it easy for them to look at and enjoy.
Keep paragraphs short, use engaging images, insert hyperlinks to helpful articles or sites and use sub-headings to help them find the information they want.
8. Quality is key, but quantity is also important
If you publish lots of content, but it’s all bad content, that’s not going to help your case. That said, quantity does matter. To keep people engaged with a blog, you need to publish content regularly. The more you publish, the more opportunities you have to engage people with what you’re doing.
It’s always handy to have some posts ‘in reserve’ that can be published whenever there’s a quiet stretch.
9. Promote, promote, promote
Always be on the lookout for ways to promote your content. Traditional social media posts are the obvious choice, but look out for other avenues. Why not consider republishing your post on LinkedIn for example.
Or developing a relationship with an industry publication to find your content an external home; building your audience reach and profile at the same time.
It goes without saying that you tie your blog posts in with the rest of your marketing and communications work – have a ‘latest posts’ feed on your homepage, include blog posts in your email marketing and so on.
10. Measure your success
My biggest tip of all is to keep testing what works. Make sure you’re monitoring how your content performs – what’s most popular on what channels, which posts are gaining the most engagement, whether traffic is on the up. If something’s working well, do it more and if it isn’t, stop doing it. Simple.