The best business blogs have several elements in common. Business owners of all types, from accountants to dentists, and store owners to personal trainers, are gaining clients, patients, members and customers thanks to their blogs. Blogging can be a valuable way to establish yourself as a thought leader. Each time you publish a post or article, people searching for any keywords it contains can be drawn to your blog – and your business website – where they can sign up for your email list and buy what you offer. And it’s easy for readers to pass along interesting posts to their own followers.
Mark Satterfield, CEO of Gentle Rain Marketing and author of a new book called “The One Week Marketing Plan” offers these tips on creating a successful blog for your business.
1. Know what your readers care about: Creating a successful blog is all about creating value for your readers – who are presumably your customers and prospects. If you provide useful information, readers will line up. They are not interested in self-promotion. What they want is tips and resources to enhance some aspect of their lives. Also think about the words and phrases your target audience would likely use to search for the information you are writing about. Be sure to include some of those – judiciously, not exhaustively – in your headlines and copy.
2. Tap into current trends: Google Trends (www.google.com/trends) is a handy tool that lets you know what the most popular online searches are at any given time. If you write a timely and valuable post centered on one of those trends you might generate some quick traffic to boost your blog.
3. Use an engaging style: Dense “business speak” or writing filled with lots of technical jargon is a turnoff to readers. Keep the tone of your writing more entertaining and approachable – even though you may be talking primarily about your business. Read your blog post aloud before you publish. If your words would turn an in-person meeting into a snooze fest, consider making some changes to make it more interesting.
4. Prepare a list of topics: Planning out a list of topics for your blog posts can be a tremendous help later on. Once you have a list of articles you want to write, you can work on them when inspiration strikes you. “Keep a constantly evolving list of new ideas that come to you,” says Satterfield. “I use a program called Evernote that helps me keep all of my ideas readily available.”
5. Get (somewhat) personal: Just because it’s a business blog doesn’t mean it needs to be all about business. Sharing select details about your personal life can get you mileage because it accelerates the “know, like, trust” factors that are critical to building relationships. The trick is to relate those details to your business through stories and anecdotes.
6. Keep it short: Blog posts are meant to be relatively short. About 400 to 500 words is great. On rare occasions you could go a bit longer, but only if the topic truly deserves it. “In a fast-paced world there are endless shiny objects that can steal a reader’s attention,” says Satterfield. “That’s why it’s important to hone your ability to say something of substance succinctly.” If you do use more than 500 words, break up your post into Part I and Part II, using the same headline.”
7. Give them something to look at: We live in a visual culture, so spicing up your posts with pictures will make them more interesting to readers. Stock photos are okay sometimes, but using original photos or graphics from time to time will help a lot. Caption them with SEO-friendly words to boost your blog’s search ranking. If you like, you can also embed videos into your blog posts. Whether you’re sharing a clip that showcases a product you just launched or have video of yourself talking directly to the viewer about a topic of interest, visitors will appreciate the “multimedia” approach and may share your videos with others.
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