Blogs came a long way from being personal digital diaries of foodies, moms, and photographers. Today, they’re a crucial piece in the digital marketing pie. And it’s predicted to grow quite large.
Experts say between 2020 and 2024, content marketing will grow to an astounding $269 billion.
This is excellent news for businesses because millions are consuming content daily. In fact, most turn to Google when making a buying decision. They devour company blogs, looking for answers to their problems. And solutions to eliminate them.
So if you’re not blogging for your business, then it’s time to start. Those that refuse risk falling behind the competition.
But how do you start and manage a blog for your small business? It all begins with a solid plan. We’ll show you how in this guide.
Find What You’re Looking For
Why Should You Start a Blog for Your Business?
A blog is a marketing channel that supports business growth. It does this by increasing your online visibility and traffic.
If you’ve recently started a business and your wondering whether blogging is worth the time and effort? Here’s a look at how a blog can help.
A Blog Drives Traffic to Your Website
Web traffic gauges the success of your content marketing strategy. Each time you create and publish a blog post, it cues search engines to crawl and rank your site. Plus, it presents an opportunity to drive traffic to your site organically.
A Blog Increases Your Social Reach
Blogging provides content to repurpose for social media to boost views and traffic. Transform blogs into infographics, eBooks, and checklists for easier shareability.
You Can Convert Traffic Into Leads
As your blog grows, use it to capture leads to convert into sales later. For instance, add a lead-generating call-to-action (CTA) to each blog post. And include a free download to a guide, whitepaper, or webinar to entice more people to convert.
Blogs Establish Your Business As An Expert or Industry Leader
A successful business blog answers your readers’ most pressing questions. When you consistently create valuable content for your audience, they’ll see you as an authority. When that happens, prospects are more likely to trust and buy your product or service.
Your salespeople can also pull documented answers or in-depth explanations from your blog and build trust in their prospects. This is called sales enablement.
Highlighting the happenings in your company keeps your audience connected. And if you can build stories around them, even better.
It humanizes your brand and shows you’re not all about selling. For instance, publish an editorial about a trending topic. Or share a Q&A with an expert your audience follows.
You Can Gain Relevant Inbound Links From Other Authoritative Sites With Your Blog
Google’s algorithm considers 200 factors when ranking websites. This includes inbound links from other sites (aka backlinks). Getting backlinks to your blog posts is easier when you publish high-value content.
The more backlinks you get from reputable sites, the higher your domain authority rises. This makes it easier to rank on page one in the future.
You Have a Reason to Email Your Customers
Email marketing connects you with customers and increases sales. You can grow your email list using the CTAs and free downloads we mentioned above. Use your list to promote products, share insights, and drive subscribers back to your site.
An easy way to do this is to create a newsletter like Hootsuite’s:
How to Start a Blog
You’ve seen the benefits a blog offers businesses – more traffic, authority, and leads.
Now, you’re itching to start one. But how?
We’ll take you through all the essential steps.
Know the Purpose and Intention of the Blog
How will the blog help your business reach its goals? Without clarifying this, it’s impossible to build a blog that generates results.
Set Goals for Your Blog
What expectations or outcomes do you want from your blog?
Some want to rank on page one of Google, have 1,000 readers within 12 months, or attribute a target number of sales per month to the blog by the end of the year.
Identify your expectations for the blog, so there’s a north star for each post you write.
Identify Your Ideal Reader/Target Persona
Why and for whom are you writing content? When you know your audience, it’s easier to understand their needs and address their challenges.
Start with a buyer persona — a fictional but accurate representation of your ideal customer. Then tailor content to the specific behaviors, needs, and concerns of different groups of each persona.
Here are several tools for building customer personas:
- Customer surveys
- Your contacts database
- Interviews (phone or email) with customers and sales teams
- Research external forums related to your product or service
Build a Content Bank
You have your target persona — the question now is:
How do you build and sustain your blog with content for your audience?
Building a bank of evergreen (timeless) content is an excellent start.
Top evergreen content is high-value, timeless, and relevant to your readers regardless of when they interact with it. Plus, it ranks for keywords and builds traffic.
To begin, look at your target persona’s pain points, come up with a topic or keyword, and brainstorm different angles around that topic.
Tools like Sprout Social and Sparktoro tap into social media and forums to see what folks are talking about in your niche. Use this to research timely yet evergreen content ideas for your posts.
Choose a Content Management System (CMS)
However, it’s not the only one. There are many others to pick from. But, when looking for a suitable CMS for your needs, consider:
- Ease of use: Starting out and don’t have technical support? Pick a CMS that’s easy to use and works for the skills of your team.
- Tracking metrics: Check whether the CMS lets you track page views, conversion rates, traffic sources, and other key metrics for your blog. Analyze these metrics to track the success of your efforts.
- Responsiveness: 64% of organic search visits come from mobile devices (phones and tablets). So a CMS optimized for any device is a must.
Design Your Blog
You’ve chosen a CMS. The next step is to bring your blog to life.
Optimize it to generate leads and turn website visitors into prospects and, ultimately, customers.
But how do you design a great blog that’ll delight your prospects and customers?
It starts with getting the right elements:
- Main blog page: Tells visitors about your blog and include links to your recent posts.
- Color scheme: Gives your blog a coherent feel. Use your brand’s colors here and across all your pages.
- Branding: Your blog’s design should be consistent with your site’s branding so that your visitors feel they’re on a related page.
- Blog post templates: Keep a general layout on each blog post and maintain a consistent experience across each page.
- Calls-to-action: Link to pieces of content that will nurture visitors down the sales funnel.
Have little design experience? Don’t worry. Most CMSs offer free, editable templates you can customize.
What to Do Next
You’re ready to post engaging and valuable content for your target audience now that you have a blog. But before you write, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Identify who’s responsible for the content and SEO strategy
- Consider hiring writers to help publish content
- Decide who’s responsible for editing and publishing content
- Build a content promotion plan to get the most out of each post
With this figured out, you’ll have higher odds of creating consistent content your audience will enjoy long-term.