Blogging on your business website can bring all kinds of benefits – especially to your bottom line – but getting going is easier said than done.
This post is for you if you’ve wondered whether you should blog, have been told you should, or if you’ve always intended to, but never got going.
I’ll cover how to make the most of blogging time, but also help with that burning question: What to write about.
Of course, this post is not confined to blogging, but also if you add news items to your business website.
It’s especially geared towards owners of WordPress websites but still applies to any business or charity website.
Let’s start with the basics.
Why blog on my business website?
There are sound business reasons why you should blog, but it’s not for everyone. Here are the benefits of blogging:
- It shows you know what you’re talking about (assuming you do!), which will encourage potential customers to contact you
- It builds trust in your readers, making them more confident in contacting you
- It’s good for search Engine Optimisation – building a good library of blog post relevant to your field of expertise allows to rank in search for more terms, lends you more authority, and Google prefers websites that are regularly updated
- It allows you to position yourself as an authority in your field, which can bring all kinds of benefits
All this, of course, happens in an ideal world, where you don’t have demands of everyday life, family and – er – running your business competing for your time.
But I don’t have the time!
We recommend blogging on business websites, but the main objection we hear from clients is that they don’t have the time. We get it.
It’s true that blogging involves a time commitment, but this can be managed and there are productivity tools I’ll cover later on in this post.
But the time concern often goes hand in hand with a deeper problem:
I don’t know what to write about
This is often the biggest mental barrier to starting a business blog, but once you get into the mindset, the ideas will begin to flow thick and fast.
Deciding what to blog about becomes an awful lot easier when you narrow down who your audience will be.
Your main audience will be your prospective customers, and you need to cater to their needs.
Think about what they may be: What are their problems? Why might they be looking for your services or what you sell?
Many will arrive directly on your blog post from a Google search, and they will be looking to solve a problem.
The principle is the same whether you are a local plumber or a consultant engineer on civil engineering projects worth tens of millions: Show your knowledge, your expertise and your experience.
Often you may find clients or customers have the same questions again and again – use your blog to answer them.
If you have an opinion on a current news story related to your business, use your blog to express it (though it’s helpful to back it up with facts!).
If people have common misconceptions about your trade or profession, use your blog to correct them.
When you start thinking in this way, ideas will come all times of the day or night. Use a notebook to capture them and sort them out later.
And in a bizarre piece of circular logic, this blog post is an attempt to help solve the blogging conundrum for our own clients!
But I don’t know how to write blog posts
Fair point, and if you find it really hard to express yourself in writing, and have plenty of business coming in (and not much time) then blogging is probably not for you.
You can, of course, hire someone to write blog posts for you – but be careful who you choose – but, again, once you get into the mindset, it’s easier than you think.
Keep your audience in mind with everything you write, and follow a few basic rules and you’ll not go far wrong.
- Your headline and first paragraph should sum up the subject of the post – and remember to keep it simple
- Avoid overt marketing, hard sell or anything that looks like you’re overly pleased with yourself
- Use headings to break things up and organise the post, making it nice and easy for readers to scan
- Don’t worry too much about length – a mix of in depth posts of 1,000 words or more, and concise 300 word pieces are fine
- Steer clear of jargon and stick to the point, understand your target reader’s likely level of knowledge and/or interest in your subject
For WordPress users, we find the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast, particularly its content checker, really useful for writing blog posts.
You can find out more with our Five Tips for Writing Effective Website Copy
It’s a learning curve, and as with anything worth doing, it takes time to master, but can reap rewards down the line.
Promoting your blog
No website should exist in isolation, and if you want people to see your blog, you need to promote it.
This, in itself, could be the subject of a dozen other blog posts, so for the sake of brevity we’re talking social media and email subscriptions.
In WordPress at least there are countless ways to automate pushing your posts out to social media accounts including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or any platform you can think of.
The Jetpack plugin for WordPress is free and allows auto posting to social media and post subscriptions, comment notifications and all kinds of clever things.
It’s also easy to integrate with services like MailChimp or our favourite, Mailpoet, for emailing, and loads of time by automating promoting your blog posts.
More help with business blogging if you need it
Even taking all the above into account, you may still not be ready to dive in and that’s understandable.
More research will help, and there’s no better place to start than have a look at what others in your field are doing, not just locally or nationwide, but all over the world.
Also, look at your competitors and what they are doing. You can be sure that once your blog is up and running, they will be looking at you!
If you’re still hesitant there’s no need to rush, but there’s plenty more advice and inspiration available on the internet.
Subscribing to a few choice blogs will help you get a feel for writing style and how a successful blogger keeps things going.
A couple of favourites of ours at Moghill are:
Chris Lema: Blogs daily (including about blogging), largely on business issues for the tech industry, but his writing style is very immediate, possibly because he dictates his posts and has them transcribed (more on that later). Chris is also a brilliant public speaker.
Jeff Bullas: Again blogs daily on social media and content marketing, and the blogging guide you get for signing up to his blog is a great starting point.
Copyblogger is a great site to spend a bit of time on, with no shortage of tips and inspiration for running a blog.
If you use WordPress at almost any level, WPBeginner is a great resource and example of ‘How to’ type posts.
Please feel free to add your favourite blogs in the comments.
How often should I blog?
This is the golden question and I’m possibly not the best person to answer, given the sporadic nature of the Moghill blog. I mean to post every week, but other things take over. This is the real world after all.
Obviously, it depends on the time you have available, but there are ways of making the most of that.
Some people will have you believe you should blog every day for Search Engine Optimisation, but we would prefer an approach of quality over quantity.
There is no right answer, and unless you are on a marketing blitz you don’t have to make it a regular thing – just so long as your blog doesn’t peter out altogether.
It’s best to get into some kind of routine, as otherwise suddenly it’s three months since you’ve posted, and that can become a blocker in itself.
So here are some ways to save time while making sure you update your business blog regularly.
Time saving blogging hacks
Schedule your posts
In WordPress it’s easy to write your blog posts in batches and then set them to publish weeks or even months in advance.
This allows you to concentrate, say a morning a month, on writing your posts and schedule a new post to go live each week. And, as covered earlier, each published post will push out to your social media profiles and email subscribers without you having to do a thing.
WordPress’ Editorial Calendar is one of many ways to schedule your posts.
Dictate your posts
Some people prefer speaking to writing, so the obvious solution is to have them transcribed. we haven’t used it, but Otranscribe is one service that promises to transcribe your dictation fast, allowing you to clean up the text, then hit publish.
Easily source pictures
I haven’t touched on this until now, but blogs need at least once picture and in WordPress you’ll need a featured image for each post. The Image Inject plugin allows you to search images that are free to use on services like Flickr and credit them appropriately, as you edit your post – saving a lot of time in hunting on image libraries.
Polish your writing
Writing for the web is a skill that needs to develop, but there are shortcuts.
Ernest Hemingway was the master in the kind of concise writing that lends itself to websites and blogs in particular, and he lends his name to an excellent online tool that sharpens your writing.
Just visit the Hemingway website and paste in your text and their online tool will suggest improvements to make your blog more direct, effective and easy to read.
Optimise your posts for search
As we’ve mentioned already, we recommend the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin to help make your blog search friendly.
Its tool on the edit screen allows you to test your post against a huge range of search criteria, from length of text to readability and image use, and gives your page a grade.
We use many of the above plugins and services on our own and client sites.
Now go out and blog on your business website!
Hopefully this post has helped you get over many of the barriers to getting your business blog up and running.
Feel free to add more tips in the comments.
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