Starting a business blog for your company website?
Want your brand to become well-known through it?
Prominent American entrepreneur, angel investor and blogger Mark Suster once shared in a post on Mashable that before the advent of blogging, his industry––the venture capital industry––had been sheltered in secrecy for about 30 years. That’s really a lot of years, isn’t it?
Many years later, he began to find blogs by other investors like Fred Wilson, Brad Feld, etc. And that was how the once covered venture capital industry became what people started talking about online today. So Mark decided to launch his own blog––Both Sides of the Table.
Speaking about his results from blogging, he says…
“In less than a year I’ve attracted a large monthly following of readers…and though it was an unintended consequence, my deal flow has gone up dramatically. In other words, blogging can be a valuable networking tool and help the bottom line.”
And Mark is not the only person getting these goodies from blogging. Companies like Zapier, Buffer, Squirrly, Hootsuite, HubSpot, OkDork and many more have become popular mostly because of the insights they provide freely via their blogs.
However, these successful company blogs have common practices that help them remain as thought leaders in their respective industries.
Here are 6 of those practices and you can utilize them to launch a successful business blog:
1. Map out a simple blogging strategy and document it
The concept of blogging is simple. You write blog posts and people looking for information find you through them.
However, if you really want to be consistently reaching your target audience and get them converted when they visit your blog––you need a strategy to follow, and you need to document it. If it’s not documented, it means you have it somewhere at the back of your mind, so it simply doesn’t exist.
“If content is king, then content strategy is the king-maker.”––says, UX Booth’s editorial team.
You need a content strategy and it’s not hard to design.
Nick Westergaard––Chief Brand Strategist at Brand Driven Digital––mentioned in a post on Harvard Business Review, your content, or in this case, blogging strategy doesn’t have to be complex. Nick recommended that it can be simply mapped out by following Rudyard Kipling’s 1902 poem:
“I keep six honest serving-men (They taught me all I knew); their names are What and Why and When and How and Where and Who.”
However, while you can use these 5 W’s and one H to establish a solid foundation for a content strategy that really works, the first and last W’s (What and Who) can just be enough to build a simple and solid blogging strategy.
- Why: When you create content, what do you want to achieve with it? Do you want people to sign up for your newsletter, demo, etc.? Want to use it for PR? There are several business objectives that blogging can help you achieve. Once you know why you’re creating content, you wouldn’t just be creating it. You’ll be doing it for a tangible business benefit. This ‘benefit’ then becomes the reason for (or the anchor that guides) everything you do with your content. It tells you what topics you should write, which channel of distribution you should use and so on.
- Who: Your content needs to solve problems for the people you’re trying to attract. Who are they? Once you’re able to answer this question, you’ll know what problems they usually try to solve and you’ll be able to provide content that helps them out.
For example, as a freelance writer, I know Content Managers and Marketing Directors are my target customers. So when I write blog posts, e-books or share content on social media, I make sure my topics and tone are targeted at marketing and content marketing experts.
2. Include Call to actions (CTAs) in your blogging strategy
I’m sure you’ve heard this countless times, but trust me—it’s worth echoing again. People don’t convert just because you write great content. They don’t read your articles and then email you to send them your upcoming updates.
They won’t head over to twitter to search and follow you, just because you wrote something epic.
You get my point, right? You need to use CTAs to ask readers to take a next step after or while reading your posts.
“I screwed up for years. I’d blog and blog. Some of my posts were doing very well on places like Hacker News, but I had such hard time getting return visitors. And very few people bothered to follow me on Twitter… Finish your blog post with some kind of call to action to sign-up for an email list or follow you on Twitter. When I started doing this, I immediately increased my Twitter followers by 335% in the first 7 days.”
3. Start measuring your results from day one
You want to know how much your blogging method is impacting your business so you can know what works for your business.
Which CTAs, sign up forms, etc. converts best on your blog? How many words work best for your posts? What type of articles––listicles, guides, case studies, how-to’s, etc.––do your readers prefer to see on your blog? And so forth.
When you keep an eye out for what works best for you, you’ll be able to know what to keep investing your resources on. This leads to my next point.
4. Find what works best for you and prioritize it above other tactics
Once you start to measure your results, you’ll begin to see the methods and tools that work best for you. You need to prioritize those working tactics above others.
For example, I find that topics about content marketing and the sign up forms under my posts work far better than anything else on this blog. So I prioritize these two elements above other things that I do to grow this blog.
This is not to say that you can’t learn from what works for other blogs and use them; definitely not. But you need to pick from all those things you learned and focus on what works for you and your business.
There’s no one size fits everybody. I’ve seen business blogs get popular for different reasons.
For some companies or bloggers it’s guest posting. For some others like Ryan Bilddulph, Founder of Blogging From Paradise, it’s commenting on other sites:
Most of my readers come through social sites or through other blogs, as I’ve engaged in an aggressive outreach strategy focused on blog commenting. I’ve seen nice traffic through guest posting but nothing compares to blog commenting. –– says Ryan, in an interview on SuccessfulBlogging.com
Everyone has different stories of what works best for them. You need to find yours and stick to it.
5. Create author profiles: don’t post articles with “admin” as their author
Take a look at every popular blog you know and you’d find that every article they put out is authored buy a real person that people can relate with.
A blog is meant to give people a feeling that you’re actually communicating with them in person. People want to deal with real people, not computers. When they make decisions to buy things, they buy from people, not things or bots or “admin”.
6. Get unique and research-backed posts
Last but not least, you need unique and research-backed articles on your blog.
Whether you need to look for an experienced writer to help you with this or you’ll do it yourself, you need unique and research backed posts.
No one wants to read something they’ve read before or content that lack research. A blog post that lacks uniqueness and research backing addresses a topic that’s been addressed several times before and comes across as a weightless piece of advice. Nobody wants to read that.
Starting a blog can be a really exciting and enthusiastic experience because you’re going to have a medium to share your ideas, gain leads and even customers. So it’s pretty much easy for you to feel just anything can work.
But in reality, you need a few tips like the ones I just shared above to put things in order and achieve results.
P.S. Have any tips to add on starting a business blog? Drop your comments below. If you like this content and need a freelance writer to help you write content of the same calibre, let’s discuss.