in other words

Blog Series: Create a Winning Blog | Part Two: How to Get Started

Carte Blanche - Monday, January 12, 2015

Welcome to Part Two of How to Create a Winning Blog! In case you missed it, please ensure you catch Part One before reading on...

So you’ve made the decision to create your blog, now it’s about putting a comprehensive plan in place to guarantee its success. How frequently can you afford to post? What will you write about? How will you find out what your audience wants to know? Like any key business strategy item, if your blog is to be successful, it takes some careful planning before diving in all guns a-blazin’!

What do you want to achieve?

Set out some achievable goals. As time progresses and from one year to the next, you’ll find that these evolve, but initially it’s always a good idea to think about what you hope to gain within a 12 and 24 month period. Then, review these goals every 6 months or so to see that you’re on track. If unforeseen circumstances dictate that your business starts to head in a different direction, simply revise them.

Some initial questions to help determine your blogging goals might include:

- What’s the company’s mission? What are the vision and ideals founded upon?

- What do you want to tell people about your business?

- Put yourself in your clients’ shoes. Which questions are asked most often? What would they like to hear more about?

- How would you normally convert a warm lead to a sale, and how could you apply this to your blog?

- Identify the gaps that exist in the market at the moment. How will you capitalize on them?

While this list isn’t exhaustive, hopefully it will get you started with developing some rudimentary thoughts on paper and, from there, a rough draft of topics to write about. Make sure this process happens with all the relevant business employees / writers. It’s really important you’re a) on the same page, and b) writing in the correct (and consistent) tone of voice suited to your business.

Do your research

Take a look at your physical competitors’ blogs i.e. the ones you hear about from customers, clients or general reputation. What are they blogging about? How are their posts being received? What’s generating the most buzz? Now look at your online competitors. These are the guys who have invested in their online marketing. You’ll know who they are just by tapping in a few key words into the search bar and seeing who pops up on the first page of results.

Notice how the search words relate directly to the blog post topics?

Now, go back to your rough plan and revise the blog topics again.

Stick to a schedule (no excuses!)

Developing a schedule or a calendar of blog posts is absolutely crucial if you want your blog to succeed. How often you blog is dependent on your resources. Larger companies with content teams might blog several times a day, but for a smaller business it’s totally acceptable to post once a week, or at a minimum every fortnight.

Google favours blogs that are posted regularly, on the same day – and if possible – at around the same time. The added bonus to this is that, as you start to develop a following, your readers will know to look out for your blog post at the same time each week. Build the anticipation in the lead up to the publication via social media. At the end of each post, give them a taster of what to expect in next week’s blog.

Once the schedule’s locked in, ensure all relevant parties have access to it and are clear on their respective roles. Excel works best for me, but if you’re more of a visual person, a hanging calendar works just as well!

Weave your wondrous web

With each blog post you publish, try and link a piece of it to another post or webpage within your site. Think of your blog posts as a huge intertwining web rather than a linear collection of articles. For SEO purposes, Google favours posts which link to other blog posts or web pages on your site. And for the average user, they’ll be more inclined to explore your site, in turn discovering more valuable information about you!

For example, let’s say you’re publishing an article on 10 Top Trends you expect to see within your sector next year. As you’re writing the blog post, you realise you’ve previously written articles about some of the specific trends you’re predicting. Make sure you hyperlink back to these posts. As you start to weave your web, you’ll dovetail and revive material whilst simultaneously encourage browsers to spend more time on your site.

Think about how you’ll promote it

So the content for your blog is planned, and the schedule in place. Now, as part of your extended content marketing plan, you’ll need to promote the blog to ensure people know it’s there and have an easy link with which to reach it. This may well include an email that’s sent out to your database, but it should also take into account social media.

There exists a plethora of differing opinions when it comes to social media and its effectiveness on professional businesses. If I’m honest, I was very hesitant when it came to creating my Facebook page. It’s called ‘social media’ for a reason, after all, and I didn’t expect to generate any direct returns from it. But… social media provides a forum with which to promote your blog (and other fun things), and makes it super easy for people to click straight to it. Google is also a fan, and the more it sees people clicking through to your site from external pages, the higher you’ll rise in its organic rankings.

As part of your social media plan then, ensure you allow for promoting blog posts through your appropriate social media channels. Sharing is caring!

Next stop: My top tips on writing blog content in the final part of of the series “How to create a winning blog”!

Can I help you with your blog? Get in touch. I’m very friendly.

image courtesy of erinzam