How to start blogging
Thinking about adding a blog to your website? Want to know how to get started? Then read on…
We were asked to write a guest blog recently. It was for The Clothing Startup, a business-support service for people wanting to launch their own clothing brands and looking for a bit of guidance from someone who’s been there, done that, and made the t-shirt. And the trousers.
They wanted us to write a blog explaining the importance of blogging for small businesses (we know, right? Blogs about blogs. So meta.) and to impart our wisdom in a way that made the idea seem less terrifying.
We did our best, and doled out loads of handy tidbits of information, pointers on where and how to get started, and some guidance on brand voice and all that sort of stuff.
And then, because start-ups and small businesses are the kind of folk we like to work with, we thought we should share the knowledge on the Comma Chameleon blog, too…
If you’re just getting ready to launch your business, or you’re already in business but want to get more feet through the door/leads in your inbox, read on. This is going to be invaluable.
If you’ve got a website up and running, a blog is the perfect platform for having in-depth and meaningful conversations with the people who matter to your business.
Talking to your customers
One of the biggest things to remember before you start defining your brand voice is that unless you know who you’re talking to, you’re wasting your time. So before you do anything else, you need to define your ideal customer. Unless you know who they are and why they might seek you out, how are you possibly going to know how to talk to them? Or what you need to say to turn them from readers into customers?
Why a blog?
If you’ve got a website up and running, a blog is the perfect platform for having in-depth and meaningful conversations with the people who matter to your business. More than that, if you’re selling a service rather than a range of products that gets updated regularly, a blog is a great way to let the search engines know your website is still breathing. You need to remind them you’re still there and still interested in winning eyeballs. In this respect, a blog serves up a delicious triple-whammy – it keeps your website visible, it allows you to build and solidify brand awareness and, most importantly, it helps you build those all-important relationships with your customers.
So how do you go about blogging effectively?
Build a blog personality
Having an identifiable blog personality is going to be invaluable when it comes to solidifying brand recognition and building meaningful relationships with your readers. It’s what’s going to show people who you are and why you’re worth knowing.
Your blog personality needn’t be the same as your brand personality, but it will help if there’s some overlap in values and tone. Make a list of your brand’s core values and think about how you can get them across in your blog posts. What values can be articulated in what way? If your key brand value is honesty, how will your ideal customer want to see that? Will they be OK with slang and mild profanities? Or do you need to keep it professional and direct? Knowing your customer will give you a massive leg-up when it comes to nailing your blog personality.
What to say?
The kind of content you create will depend on your audience’s needs at the various stages in their customer journey. In the crudest sense, you need to know what their problems are in relation to your business, and you need to solve them. Are your customers likely to be shopping around before committing to a purchase? Then tell them why they will be better off coming to you rather than going to one of your competitors. Do you provide a service or a product that fills a specific niche? Shout about it from the rooftops of the world wide web. Just be sure to do it in a way your audience will ‘get’ and in a way that helps them see their challenges, and tells them how you can help them overcome them.
Are your customers likely to be shopping around before committing to a purchase? Then tell them why they will be better off coming to you rather than going to one of your competitors.
What makes a good blog?
1. Consistency is key
This is important not just in terms of how you post – your topics, your personality – but also in terms of when you post. You’re only ever going to start building those all-important relationships if your audience knows where and when they can find you. Keep to a schedule your readers can get used to, and they’ll seek you out.
2. Keep it simple
Don’t get caught up on the length of your posts – nobody says you have to rewrite War and Peace every time you have something to say. Common practice has it that a blog post should be between 600 and 2,000 words, so there’s a lot of scope for mixing it up. Short and sweet will be just as effective as lengthy and educational, as long as you keep your audience in mind.
3. Make your posts relatable
You’re a professional. The people reading your posts aren’t, necessarily. So when you’re writing about your area of expertise, it’s generally a good idea to include real-world examples that your audience can relate to. Talk about your products or services in a way that solves a real problem you know your audience are facing, and they’ll come to see the value in coming to you first.
Common practice has it that a blog post should be between 600 and 2,000 words, so there’s a lot of scope for mixing it up. Short and sweet will be just as effective as lengthy and educational, as long as you keep your audience in mind.
4. Give out freebies
Everyone loves to get free stuff. Have a think about your products or services and every so often, give something away. Mix up the format of your giveaways and tie them in to what you’re doing over on Facebook or Instagram, and you’ll be driving two-way traffic between your social media platforms and your website.
Don’t forget your knowledge and experience are tradable assets, too, so share help sheets or short training videos, too. Most times, what you’re saying in your blog will be enough to keep people coming back, but a little sweetener every once in a while will work wonders.
5. Mix up your format
Not all blogs have to be text-based ones. In fact, research by Contently suggests it’s sometimes better to step away from long-form copy and think more creatively about how you can say whatever it is you want to say. Their research found that not only did infographics reach 54% more people than written posts, they were also significantly cheaper to produce. Double win! Maybe you could make a behind-the-scenes video showing how you do what you do. Maybe you could commission an illustration to get your point across. Just have fun with it, and test the water with your audience to see what works best for them.
6. Encourage engagement
You’re never going to know if you’re blogging successfully unless you’ve got some way of gathering reader reactions. One of the best ways to gauge how your content is going down with your audience is to open up comments on your blog posts. Now, comments do take a little time to monitor, but the payoff will be an
environment of user engagement, where you can connect with your audience and, more importantly, they can connect with you. This is going to foster increased brand awareness, as well as allowing you to gain valuable insight to what is and isn’t working for your readers – you’ll get a better understanding of what interests them, how they prefer you to handle certain subjects, and what topics get their debate juices flowing.
7. Be willing to go off-topic
Too much of anything can become a bore – for you as a writer as well as for your readers. So you should be open to, every once in a while, throwing in a random post that’s designed to entertain and engage, rather than educate. This will be particularly fruitful if you’re planning on opening up your post for comments, as it’ll help you tailor your future posts depending on what people are saying. Curate a playlist of the music you’ve been listening to in the week. Review a new local restaurant. Do a listicle of your favourite TV shows of the month. Whatever. Have fun with it. Chances are, your readers will lap it up.
So, there we have it – the key to creating great blog content that will consistently engage your audience. If you’ve got the flutterings of inspiration for the direction you want to take your blog, we’ve put together a Perfect Blog template to make you really focus on the individual elements you should be including. You can download that here.
In the meantime… Go. Have fun. Get creative. Start building the relationships that are going to power your business on to bigger and brighter things.
Leave it to the pros…
If you don’t have the time to create your own blog posts, why not outsource them? We’ve got bags of experience writing on all topics, for all audiences. Check out our blog packages, and email firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know how we can help.