If you’re reading this post, you probably understand the importance of adding blog content to your company’s website. A blog can help you establish yourself as the one-and-only wizard of whatever it is you do, help you get found online, and give you an excuse to keep in touch with your customers (whom you’ve magically turned into subscribers).
So here you are, fingers poised over the keyboard, ready to write your first blog. And…nothing happens. You wonder, “What should I write?”, “Will people want to read what I write if I write it?” and maybe, “Should I even write anything? I suck at writing.”
What to write
This blog won’t help you with that last statement (unless you’d like one of Ad4!’s word ninjas to help you out, which would be totally ok), but I can help you with everything else with these four simple words: Write what you know.
You’re in business because you’re awesome at what you do, whether that’s fixing leaky pipes, selling prom dresses or professional pencil sharpening (what? It could be a thing! Have you ever watched HGTV’s House Hunters?).
So write about that (your profession, not House Hunters). You know this stuff. Talk about how to prevent kitchen sinks from dripping, or what length of sequined gown looks best on a petite frame, or even which end of the pencil should be sharpened. Anything you write will help your intended audience find you, get to know you and start to trust you as someone who knows what they’re talking about. That, in turn, will bring you new business and repeat customers.
To get a better idea about what bloggers blog about, let’s take a look at the top 50 blogs in the world as ranked by Detailed.com in late October 2018. Detailed’s ranking algorithm is based upon each blog’s social media engagement, or how many times a blog post is liked, retweeted, shared, or commented upon (we’ll get to where to post your blogs a little later–you can’t wait, right?). The “write what you know (and they will come)” theory is blatantly evident in these 50 blogs. For example, health blogs WebMD (#19) and Harvard Health (#36) are written by physicians and other medical professionals. Hubspot (#30 overall but #1 in the business blog realm) is written about all things inbound marketing by team members of the original inbound marketing software. GQ (#9), Elle (#12), and Vogue (#24) are written by folks who are immersed in the world of fashion and beauty. And let’s don’t even start talking about the technology and cryptocurrency blogs that thoroughly dominate the list–only someone who knows those areas inside and out could write about them in a way that curious and knowledgeable readers could understand and appreciate.
As you produce content for your blog, be sure that you keep it within or at least complementary to the scope of your business. If you own a prom dress boutique, but some of your dresses could be used as wedding dresses or worn for special occasions, it makes sense for you to write about what to wear to special events or how to select the right bridesmaids dresses. But going too far outside your area of expertise–say, writing about what to look for when buying your first house as a married couple–will be confusing to your readers and probably won’t be your best work. Try to stick to what you know and the topics your readers want to learn about from you because you’re the go-to person on the subject.
Bottom line: write what you know, even if you’re a part-time snail trainer and your partner is a leaf-counter for an Icelandic conservancy. Hey, I can promise you there’s someone out there who will want to learn more!
How to write
Unless your business is a writing service, creating exceptional content isn’t your full-time occupation. You may think you shouldn’t produce a blog simply because there’s no one to write it…and write it well.
If you feel strongly that you’re not a great writer, you can definitely secure someone with those skills through an agency (ahem…Ad4!) or a freelance/independent contractor site. However, you–the subject matter expert–need to provide the topic and the content, and just let the writer make it readable. There are a couple of ways to do this: you can write a rough draft or outline in your own words and submit it for heavy editing, or you can ask the writer to interview you about the topic you’d like to share. An experienced writer may not know everything (or anything) about gate diverters and slip joints, but they do know how to ask you the right questions about those terms (related to plumbing, by the way) to get enough content to write a great article.
When partnering with a ghostwriter, be sure to find someone who can write in YOUR voice so the finished product will sound authentic and reliable to your readers, and feel free to send feedback and/or corrections until you’re comfortable that the article is ready to be shared.
You also might want to reach out to your team members for input, ideas, or article writing. They might have hidden writing skills that you’ve never learned of, or they might just be interested in sharing their knowledge in your company’s blog. Give them a chance, and be sure to let them have the byline. A blog with more than one contributing author is much more fun to read than one that is composed of content in the same voice, article after article. Turning to your own team members actually multiplies the amount of content you can offer your readers. Although you, as the business owner or manager, have a lot of insight and education into all of your products and services, your employees have honed their skills in one particular aspect of your offering, whether that’s standpipes or sequined gowns, and they can add a deeper dimension of proficiency to your business’ reputation.
Besides lessening your personal writing obligations and adding layers of knowledge to your blog, another benefit of sharing writing responsibilities with your team is that those probably are the folks that your customers know and recognize–and will want to hear and learn from. The other side of that benefit is that your front-line employees have a terrific understanding of what problems your customers typically have and why they sought out your business in the first place. An unfortunate side effect of becoming an upper-level manager is that sometimes you lose that type of one-on-one engagement with your customers; if that’s your current situation, that’s all the more reason to let your employees contribute to your business content.
Bottom line: no matter how your words make it to your website, be sure that they do, and that they are indeed your thoughts or those of your expert team members.
How much to write
The first recognized blogs were written in the late 1990s, and blogs became increasingly popular throughout the first decade of the 2000s. Today, posting content or articles to your website’s blog is a must. In fact, search engines like Google will promote your website in search results if they consider you to be an authentic expert on your given subject.
The way search engine algorithms measure your site’s level of expertise and reliability is based upon a lot of factors, but includes how often you’re posting new content, the consistency of subject-related terms within that content, how many people visit your page when they search for those terms, and how long they stay on your page. If your current website includes only a picture of your office, your address, and your phone number, and hasn’t been updated since 2007, your business probably won’t be included on the first page of results when someone searches for “plumbers near me” or “prom dresses in Huntsville.”
Don’t confuse quantity of content with quality, though. Writing just for the sake of filling your blog with words every week won’t cut it. Google is smarter than that. These days, long-form website content (posts with 1000 to 2000 words) is consistently ranking higher in search results than shorter posts. However, short-form content performs better on social media. So how do you know how long your blog posts should be?
Honestly, there’s no magic formula. Sure, you should avoid blog posts of less than 200 words or more than 2500, but anything in between really is fine, as long as your writing is of great quality. If you’re composing an article sharing everything you know about gravity-operated toilets, and you’ve covered the history, usage, potential problems, and recommended repairs in 850 words, then just stop writing. Anything you write after that will be garbage; your heart won’t be in it, your readers will stop reading, and you’ll lose credibility.
Bottom line: write to produce a quality blog–never just to produce a large quantity of content. Be sure your writing includes keywords that your potential customers might be searching for and that those words fit naturally into what you’re writing. Write for a purpose, and write something that will help someone learn about something you already know.
When and where to post your writing
If you’ve read this far (thank you!), you understand that blogging is important, and that by writing quality blogs your followers/readers/customers/prospects will come to understand and recognize you as the subject matter expert on whatever product or service you offer. However, you still may have some nagging questions: “Where do I put this blog of which you speak?” or “How do I make my writing accessible to others?” and “Just how often do I have to do this?”
As I mentioned earlier, your original blog posts should be located on your company’s website. Most website content management systems include a module for a blog; however, if yours doesn’t, you can create a blog on an auxiliary site like WordPress or HubSpot and link the blog back to your site. If done properly, your readers won’t recognize that your blog isn’t part of your core site. However, because your blog site will be recognized by Google as a subdomain, or basically a separate website, you may lose ranking points when it comes to your website’s overall search engine optimization (SEO).
For more information on how your blog is integrated with your company’s website, I recommend that you talk to your webmaster, IT guru, or a knowledgeable consultant–especially if the words “SEO” and “subdomain” are foreign to you (which is perfectly ok–you’re awesome at what you do and don’t have to know everything about what they do, too!).
Once you’ve worked out what your blog will look like and where it will be on your website, it’s time to get to writing. Although you write and save as many posts as you’d like using the above guidelines, you don’t want to publish them all at once–or really, very frequently at all. Gone are the days of daily blog posts or even four or five per week. Unless your company is a HubSpot or Business Insider that has hundreds of writers and millions of followers who hang on their every word, one high-quality blog every few weeks will certainly suffice.
Posting on a weekly basis is still acceptable as well, but if you’re writing longer pieces that take several minutes to read (like this one), your readers probably won’t open every blog you publish. The best practice is to post on a consistent, yet comfortable frequency for your business. Again, don’t post just for the sake of posting. Be sure you’re only posting when you have something worthwhile for your followers to read, but try not to go several months without adding something new.
When you publish a blog to your website, be sure to post it to all of your social media channels as well. It’s a given these days that your customers and potential clients will check out your social media profiles and posts before (or instead of) going to your website. In our mobile-centric world, social channels are much easier to access and interact with.
Bottom line: Only post a blog or article to your company website when you have something valuable to share with your followers or potential customers. Typical businesses shouldn’t worry about assigning deadlines and adhering to strict publishing schedules for company blogs.
We’re here to help
If you’re not sure if blogging is right for you, or if you need assistance in starting a blog or even building a website, Ad4! Group is here for you. We’ll not only get you going, but we’ll be there for you along the way as your business grows!