We have a pretty good thing going on with our blog. We’ve been inspired by lots of people who are doing it the right way. My personal favourite right now is the Groove team who has one of the most fascinating blogs on growing a small business.

Step One – Create a Content Strategy

This is the most important thing you can do for your blog. A content strategy is a map of things you will write about on your blog. This strategy will help guide you and ensure that you’re creating things that the audience you are targeting will get some value about.

Know your audience. Once you know what your audience looks like, you can suddenly write about anything…so long as it ties into your audience’s needs. For example, let’s say I want to talk about how I painted my house last weekend. In order to write about that on the BalanceDo blog, our content strategy says that it needs to be related to small business. So in order to write my blog post on painting my house, I might write about the phases that I went through to get the quote, contract, and eventual invoice from the painter.

Write good headlines. Headlines are hard. In a past career I wrote sports stories, and there are only so many ways you can say “Team A beats Team B”, only so many puns you can use on a Team name. Your headlines should be short, descriptive, memorable, and provocative. Try to get keywords for your business into your headlines. Your headlines are the thing that will grab your reader and make them decide whether they want to invest a few minutes into reading your content.

Be consistent. Commit to posting at least once a week. There are a lot of blogs out there that got a good start an then died. This has to be a priority for your group. Good content has magnetic effects and will draw traffic towards your blog long after you created it.

Get more than one person writing. It’s a slog to write everything all of the time if you’re a team of one. Having a couple of other people write gives you a bit of a break and can inspire you. When someone else writes something and gets more page views than me, it inspires me to write better the next time.

Write with one voice. Have one person who edits all of the posts and makes them look and feel like “Your Brand”. Decide what you want your voice to sound like, for example: conversational, not too stuffy, but still professional. You may want to come off as that smart friend you go to when you need a second opinion on something who always leaves you thinking “That’s a great idea”.

Step Two – Make it look good

Nobody wants to look at an ugly website. We’re conditioned to respond to attractive things. If your font is too small, if your pictures are ugly, if your formatting is off people will walk away and do something else.

Pictures in the post. Pictures will make your post more engaging, but those pictures need to be related to what you’re talking about. Totally out of context pictures will just confuse your audience.

Give it some style. Our blog uses a font that is about 25% bigger than the rest of our site. We’ve made a lot of tiny tweaks over the last few weeks, and we are constantly evolving the look and feel of our blog to make it more readable.

Step Three – Get people talking about it

Once you know what you are writing about, and are able to make it look good, your final challenge is to get others talking about it.

Spread it to social media. We have Twitter and Facebook presence, and every time we post to either place we get a nice little bump in traffic.

Have an email strategy. Email is still the most effective communication tool you can use, and having a solid email list is gold. You should always be building your email list. Having a social media strategy is good, but remember, you have no control over who will get your message and when they will get it. Facebook and LinkedIn have algorithms that decide when your message will get to your recipients. Twitter is dependant on your viewers seeing your content in the river of updates. Most people check their email multiple times a day, so your message will likely at least get seen by them.

Add comments to the posts. Comments allow the discussion to happen after the post. Remember, a blog is not a monologue, it’s a discussion. We use Discus to allow comments on our blog. It’s a great service, and it ties your posts back to you across the entire service. When people respond to your blog, make sure you take the time to reply to them. Ask follow-up questions, and really get that dialogue moving.

The Big Takeaway

A blog is the single most effective form of marketing you can do. Making a blog successful is as easy as 1-2-3.

  1. Know who your audience is and what kind of things they want to read about.
  2. Present the content they want to read in a format that will make them want to read it.
  3. Get the content out there in front of the right eyeballs and make sure that you’re encouraging a conversation.