Not every business can benefit from a blog. The cost in time, resources and/or money can be more than the return. However, those businesses are few and far between. The fact is that we are in the era of Profersonal Business; your consumers are looking at you to connect with them in some non-basic, personal, touchy-feely way.
Are you selling tractors? No problem. Jared, from a mega farm in the Plains wants to know what you think about how low the blades should be to cut wheat. After all, if you sell tractors, you should know how they work best, right? And Jolene, the want-to-be next YouTube star wants to know the best way to remove those long acrylic nails she’s rethinking. In short, you’re expected to do more than run a business; you’re expected to help them use your product. You’re supposed to be an authority, and blogging helps build that ideal.
Blogging from scratch can either seem really easy or scary hard! Simply writing random thoughts isn’t enough to build an empire, but you don’t have to struggle through the darkness of trial and error, either. As an established blogger, I’ve made my share of mistakes with plenty of obstacles.
Here is a list of the top ten tips I learned the hard way:
1. Be specific about tone and topic.
Readers come to your site for information, but they stay for your authority and voice. Think about how you search; two links with the same information won’t attract your attention equally. Part of this is SEO, but a lot of it is the writer’s tone, or how specific the site is about the subject. Decide on a tone and topic and stick to it!
2. Use a REAL website.
Freebie sites don’t make the same impression as the www.yoursite.com does. If you don’t already have a domain name that speaks about your business, you need to. A domain name reflects the topic and tone of the site at a glance (or at least it should). Really brainstorm on your URL before you buy one, because it will factor into the immediate first impression of your brand.
3. Design a user-friendly experience.
Great content can only keep the interest of your audience if they can navigate your website. Traffic might be great per page, but to keep them on your site looking for more, you have to make it easy for them to use. Remember to re-evaluate your site once in awhile and keep improving the experience as you add more posts.
4. Plan for consistency.
Create a list of post topics and set deadlines for them to be published. It helps to plan out at least a month’s worth of articles to get started. A little forethought goes a long way to building the habit, and regularity lets readers know what to expect. Consistency wins out over unpredictable quantity for building an audience.
5. Focus on readers before profits or ranking.
While you want your blog to be profitable, too much focus on selling can drive away followers. Don’t be afraid to share ‘diy’ info, either. There are plenty of people that won’t want to do it themselves, and the ones that do will need supplies (which they can get through you).
6. Don’t obsess over stats.
It’s important not to fuss over traffic or increased sales for the first few weeks. Traffic will happen; just give it time. Checking traffic stats too soon can be disheartening, making it more difficult to keep writing. Hold off on looking until you’ve gained some momentum.
7. Get social.
Once you have a routine of posting consistently on the blog, it’s time to get into social media. Pick one, not all, to start with. Just one is a lot of work: making your posts easy to share and comment on, setting up a page on a social media channel, oh, and don’t forget to post links to your articles there, too!
8. Dedicate time to your readers.
Use your social media channel to understand and connect with the people following your blog. They have great ideas for new topics and improvements that will help increase traffic and loyalty.
9. Throw out “rules” and make your own.
Following a formula you picked up from someone else makes for a generic site. Things like word counts and site design aren’t an exact science. Learn what your readers want, and do that instead.
10. Most importantly: enjoy what you’re doing!
At the end of the day, you have to love what you’re writing about. People really respond to topics written with passion. So when you go back to start on #1, really think about what ignites your inner flame!
I could go on and on, but these are great starting points for the newbie blogger. Whether you’re an established company or freelancer branching out, blogging is an exciting way to connect with customers and attract new prospects. It’s fun and exciting work, but it is work. Get moving and keep moving, and you’ll learn what works best for your audience along the way!