Creating and maintaining a successful blog can seem like a daunting and arduous shot in the dark but it doesn’t have to be like that.
Daunting? Never. Shot in the dark? No way Jose. Arduous? OK, we’ll give you that one. But if you play your cards right it will be worth it.
Blogging can be a wonderful marketing tool – according to these stats, companies that blog get 97% more leads.
But getting started is often the hardest part so we’ve put together five key tips to help combat writer’s block. Pencils at the ready then chaps…
1 Know your audience and make sure you push the right buttons
People visit websites for a reason.
The chances are new visitors will have tapped relevant keywords into Google and gone to your blog because the title and meta description match what they are looking for.
For no particular reason – or certainly none that I can adequately justify – we tried typing “cheese facts” into Google (who doesn’t wanna know a bit more about cheese?):-
Both the title and meta description contain the phrase we’ve tapped in. So do what you say on the tin and make sure your readers are getting value all the time.
With that in mind, keep a beady eye on the data from your Google Analytics.
It will tell you where in the world your visitors are based, what devices and browsers they use, what they tapped in to get to your blog and how long they stay on each page. And that’s just for starters.
Use this info to try and understand who your target audience are, what their problem is and how you can solve it. Then you’ll be well on your way.
For more details on Google Analytics read this blog post or give us a call.
2 Keep tabs on your enemy too – but be original where possible
What is everyone else talking about? Why are they talking about it?
One way to gather ideas is to have a look at what your rivals are posting so get on Twitter and make a list. See who they interact with and what gets retweeted and shared on social media.
Set up Google Alerts so you’ll know every time a particular subject is being discussed or a rival is commenting on something.
If there is a hot topic flying around that takes your fancy you might want to get in on the action with a well-timed blog post of your own.
But try to avoid just regurgitating stuff that can be found elsewhere – use your own examples and put your own slant on it where possible.
It might feel like you’re cheating but we prefer to think of it as market research. And if you still feel bad just remind yourself that everyone’s doing it.
3 Be decisive: Work out what you want and stick to the brief
Now you’ve taken some time to consider your rivals and the visitors to your own site, you are ready to decide exactly what you want from your blog.
Do you want an amusing way to keep your site looking fresh? Do you want to provide step-by-step accounts of how to use your products?
Maybe you want a way to drip feed your company’s latest news? Or news about the market in general? Maybe you want all of the above.
Research suggests more than three-quarters of blog readers are happy for you to sell them something as long as you provide value – and 70% would rather read about your company than see an ad.
For those of you who are selling a service or product the obvious goal is for your visitors to put their hands in their pockets but don’t worry if this doesn’t happen right away.
Whatever you are trying to do, your blog should aim to get people to your site, make them stick around for a while and provide enough value for them to come back another day.
And if they tell their friends about you you are really in business. So make it interesting and easy to share.
4 Be ready for anything – and have somewhere to store your ideas
Life, for better or for worse, has a habit of throwing things at you when you least expect it. Blog ideas are no exception.
To this end, carrying a notebook around or installing a good notebook app onto your phone or tablet is always a good idea.
If you’ve got a camera phone and you suddenly get inspiration from a poster or an article you are reading on the way to work, take a pic and come back to it later.
Some of your ideas might turn out to be absolute rubbish in the cold light of day but if you keep your eyes open there are bound to be a few you can dust down and use at a later date.
5 Encourage customer feedback – and be thick-skinned!
Direct comments from your customers or readers can be like gold dust.
If you are just starting out it can be helpful to send your blog to friends to get their opinions.
And remember: it’s not just the writing. The page layout and contrast will affect the user experience so if you can get them to read it once it is live you’ll get more bang for your buck.
And, if Jeff Bullas is to be believed, articles with pictures get 97% more views so it will help to stick an image in too.
However, one word of warning: If you do approach your friends, get them to take the gloves off – if they try not to hurt your feelings they will be doing more harm than good.
And even if they are being brutally honest, your friends are only so much use – the people that really matter are your potential customers. And their opinions may be different.
Encourage them to tell you what they are interested in and what would be useful for them to read.
On that note, do you have any pointers you’d like to share with us? Drop us an email on email@example.com – we’d love to hear how you come up with your ideas.