Blogging – build relationships and form a community
A blog is a way of expanding your audience and showcasing your knowledge. It’s a time to connect to your readers.
Engage with your customers and show that you are interested in writing about matters that they care about.
It’s not the right time for a hard sell.
The customer is always thinking what’s in it for me (WIIFM) and writing a blog helps build your brand and shows you as an authority on your particular topic.
You might be concerned that you are giving away information for free but it shows your expertise and expands your on-line presence.
Over time, you will be seen as a person to go to for information and advice in your field.
You don’t need to put yourself out of a job by giving step-by-step instructions of a service you provide for a living. You can write a high level summary and give general advice. Enough to form interest and a following.
Content is crucial
Content needs to be interesting, newsworthy, informative and useful. Think about who you are writing to and what they would like to know. Do your research, understand your subject and write honestly.
Do not plagiarise. Use your own words and be original.
If you are genuinely interested and excited about what you are writing about, this will come across and set the tone of the post.
Tone of voice
Write for humans – not search engines.
When setting a tone, you need to write as if you are having a conversation with a friend. Don’t start putting in jargon or long words that you would never say to your family or friends. People want to get to know your personality.
You want the reader to be captivated enough to read to the bottom of the article and come back for more. You also want them to tell others about you.
Stuck for ideas?
When thinking about how to write a blog, look around forums for questions that people are asking. Choose questions that you can answer or are able to find the answer to.
Give a considered answer where you have weighed up the pros and cons which helps people to make a decision.
Keep abreast of what is happening in your industry and be the first to let your readers know. This shows that you have a real interest in your business.
Also, don’t be afraid of asking someone else from within the company to write a post or invite a guest blogger that you know and respect.
You could ask another member of staff or an external supplier to write about a latest product or technology. This can be refreshing for the reader and gives a different perspective but …
… this is very different than being approached by a person offering to be a guest blogger for a return favour, i.e. a link back to their website or own personal blog.
This is not seen as professional behaviour and the genuine quality and authenticity of your blog will be lost.
Word Count and ideas
It’s important that the content be regular, useful, informative and of interest so the reader comes back for more and better still wants to share your article.
Try to stick to short paragraphs which are easy to read and the reader doesn’t feel overwhelmed by too much information in each block of text.
Sometimes you may have time and enough resources to write long detailed posts, while other times you could put together a short post with bullet items of newsworthy information.
People like pictures, so a relevant, interesting video or image works well. So do graphics.
What you don’t want to do is try to increase your word count by waffling and repeating yourself. Write precisely and stay to the point. Cut out words that don’t need to be there.
If you are on a roll and find lots to talk about, fine but keep the sentences short. Use only a couple of sentences per paragraph and keep it to the point. Try using bullets if your paragraph is reading like a list.
Once you have a good following, ask your readers what they would like you to write about. Do they have any questions for you? If you don’t know the answer, do your research.
Frequency of posts
If you write just the one post and a customer comes back looking for more, what do you think will happen?
If there is nothing new to read, you will lose their interest and respect for your business. They’re unlikely to come back.
Post on a regular basis, weekly, monthly, whatever fits in with your schedule. Plan ahead and diarise so that you have no excuses time wise.
Be consistent. Decide on how many blogs you can realistically write per week/per month and stick to it. When bloggers change regularity of their posts, visitors have been shown to drop off.
When will I see results?
Don’t expect instant results. It could take months to establish yourself as an authority on your topic and attract a following.
To grow your network collect an email list of your contacts so that you can update them whenever you write a new post or have any news. Ask people to subscribe to your mailing list wherever possible. You could use a call to action button on your website.
Blog exposure can include all of your social media sites such as Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. Use your social media following to share your articles to.
Google – some people believe writing a regular blog will help them rank higher with Google.
Google do like regular, genuine content activity. That said, Google’s algorithms are forever changing and can’t be relied upon for exposure. They also take a long time to recognise your work.
Blog software – make sure you research and understand pricing and ownership before deciding on which software to go with.
Keyword research – some bloggers will do their ‘keyword’ research before writing an article. If you know particular search words or terms people are searching for, you can include them in your headers and body. This can help your article come up in search results.
Don’t get too technical to begin with. Just start writing and get involved with your following.
Remember to thank your readers for their support and promptly reply to their comments when it’s appropriate. It’s a two-way process.
If you have put in the hard work it will be worth it. And you will begin to enjoy it!