Business owners who are just starting out are often confronted with this question. In reality, they have bigger things to worry about , namely their day-to-day affairs, growing sales, or just breaking even. Blogging may come as an afterthought and understandably so. However, when you consider the importance of content marketing for businesses trying to reach and attract their target audiences, blogging turns out to be the most effective tool.
Benefits of blogging for a small business
Gain organic traffic
Your business website is not enough to get you the visibility it needs on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), especially when, as a small business, you don’t have enough money for paid search engine marketing (SEM). Through a blog, however, you can provide answers that people are seeking on search engines. With the right topics and keywords, you can gain quality organic traffic for your website through search engine traffic.
Establish subject matter expertise
Establishing credibility is crucial if you want to survive in today’s ultra-competitive business environment. Writing informative and authoritative blogs can help you demonstrate your subject matter expertise and get people to see you as a trusted source so that when they are ready to buy, you’re there at the top of their minds.
Build a following
By providing value consistently through your blog, you can build a loyal following for your business, even if it’s just the content that people are coming back for. Eventually, higher levels of activity on your website will boost your SERP ranking, gaining you more visitors, while your followers help spread the good word about your business.
Find out what your customers want
Your blog also opens up a channel of communication with your new and existing customers. Through comments, measiuring the performances of posts based on data analytics, and other channels of feedback, you will get valuable insight into what people think about your business and what they’re looking for.
How to start a successful blog for your business
A common mistake that people make is underestimating how much work goes into blogging. A blog with a few dusty months-old posts or a blog with hundreds of sub-par 500-word posts isn’t going to achieve your goals. What a blog really should be is a well-designed publication that shares high-quality posts consistently on relevant topics, attracting interested readers that fit your buyer persona. If this sounds like something your business needs, read on to learn more about what goes into setting up a successful blog.
#1 – Think of the name and domain name
As a small business, consistency in your branding is of utmost importance. If your blog name is Company Name Diaries, your domain name should ideally be the same. You don’t want to pick the name and then find out that the domain name for it is already taken. It is recommended that, once you have thought of your blog’s name, you check whether it’s available as a domain name.
When you’re brainstorming for names, keep these points in mind:
Pick a meaningful name – As mentioned, the best practice would be to choose a name that is similar to your business’s name. You can also use that name in combination with other words that relate to your industry, such as www.travelwithabc.online or www.abcphotography.site. The idea is to let people know what your blog is about, especially those who are not too familiar with your business.
Keep it short and simple – The shorter the name, the easier it will be to remember and type. You should also avoid using numbers and special characters that make your domain name complicated. For instance, www.name.space is clean and snappy, while www.mi-cre8v-space.com seems spammy.
Choose a relevant domain extension – Picking a new domain extension not only makes availability easier but also helps you establish your blog’s purpose more clearly. For instance, .tech or .press are great to build a meaningful online brand if your business involves technology, publishing, or media.
#2 – Find the right hosting platform
As a small business owner, you may not have the coding skills to create a website or the money to hire a professional web designer. You may be considering setting up your blog using a platform like WordPress, a great option as it is easy to use and gives you enough room to customize your website as per your needs.
However, you still need a server on the Internet where your website will exist. Whether you’re using WordPress or another Content Management System (CMS) such as something like Wix, you will need a host that is compatible with that CMS. Apart from that, there are other things you must keep in mind while choosing the right hosting platform and plan in order to maintain the optimum performance of your blog.
Price – There are lots of different options out there as far as price points are concerned and you can opt for a cheaper starter package while you’re still testing out different servers.
Uptime – Uptime refers to the time for which your website is active on the Internet. Naturally, you’ll want your website to be live all the time, so you’ll need a host with uptime as high as 99.95%.
Space – Your server must provide enough space for you to upload all the files you need to run your blog now and in the future.
Customization – Space and freedom to customize are important while choosing your host as migrating to another service later on when you want to revamp or upgrade your blog can be quite cumbersome.
#3 – Focus on topic research
Don’t waste your time on blog posts that are just meant for putting something out there. Treat every post like a marketing campaign. It must have a purpose, solid execution, widespread promotion, and then a measurable impact.
As long as you’re blogging for growing your business, every post you publish must tie in with your business goals, whether it’s to attract more traffic to your website or increase sales.
The best thing you can do for yourself and your blog is to create a content calendar for an entire year that comprises at least a few well-researched ideas for every month.
This should take into account business events (such as sales or new product launches) as well as high-volume search topics within a particular period. This saves you from the “what should I write about” conundrum but also ensures that you don’t miss out on the important stuff.
Where can you find the best ideas for your blog?
- Look for popular search keywords using tools such as Google Ads or SEMRush.
- Don’t ignore long-tail keywords that have lower search volumes but also lesser competition. They can help you attract a niche crowd that has a higher chance to convert. For instance, best healthy food is a short keyword, while best healthy food for joint support is a long-tail keyword.
- Check out your competitor’s blogs to search for ideas that received high engagement, but make sure that you find a way to make the content original.
- Turn to your customer support queries and social media to learn about specific questions that people are asking about your business and its products and turn them into blog posts.
#4 – Set up a workflow
Blogging doesn’t just end at writing something down. There are several behind-the-scenes steps involved before a post becomes publish-ready followed by others for promoting it and tracking its success.
It’s important to take all of them into account when you’re putting together your editorial calendar in order to have realistic and manageable timelines. While your workflow depends upon the kind of posts you are publishing, here are a few steps that you must typically account for.
- Selecting topics with the headline, talking points, and keywords
- Researching and writing
- Collating supporting materials such as images, videos, charts, etc.
- Editing and final rounds of quality check
- Preparing material for social promotion complete with post copy and creative
- Tracking success using site analytics tools (such as Google Analytics)
Using project management tools such as Asana and Trello can help you better manage your production process. They are especially useful if you have multiple teams working on the blog, which you most likely would, comprising writers, editors, graphic designers, and social media managers.
#5 – Publish quality, consistently
Everything that you put out in the universe needs to have value, and blogs are no different. From topic selection to research to writing to imagery, everything needs to be top-notch, every time you do it.
If you’re strapped for time, it’s better to do one or two awesome posts in a month rather than one mediocre post a week, especially in the initial months when you’re still figuring things out and honing your skills. Give yourself at least a week to spend on perfecting each post if that’s what it takes.
- Writing a great post comes with practice, but here a few starting points to help you out:
- Before every post, create a structure for what you want to include in it so that you don’t miss out on the important bits or stray off-topic.
- Do your image research before you start writing so that you don’t have to alter the talking points later.
- Instead of cramming keywords wherever possible after writing, place them sparingly at strategic places, such as your headline, introduction, and sub-heads. Try and insert them while writing so that they don’t seem awkwardly placed.
- Show off the right things while you write, such as your wit, your knack for impeccable research, originality, and humor. Avoid using flowery language or convoluted sentences which may be beyond the scope of understanding of the audience.
- Write a killer headline and an engaging intro. You have only a few seconds to rope in the reader.
- Attention to detail is important when it comes to editing. Make sure that everything is grammatically correct and factually accurate.
Blogging isn’t just about writing a few paragraphs crammed with keywords every month. It is as valuable as any other marketing asset you own and requires just as much strategizing. Small businesses can definitely benefit from a blog, but only if it is of the best quality.
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This article was written for Webnames Blog by Alisha Shibli, a Content Marketing Specialist at Radix, the registry operator behind great new domain extensions like .store, .online, .tech, .press and others. You can follow Alisha on twitter @alishashibli.