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How to Blog: Tips for Blog Posts That Get Read - Blogging for Business

I've always loved technology. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a gadget kind of girl. I'm all about about form following function. I love technology – not because it makes me cool but because it makes my life better. I could care less about having the newest iPhone but I couldn't live without blogs.

And here's the thing, I bet most of you couldn't live without blogs either. Think I'm crazy? When's the last time you read a news article, watched a video, or followed a tutorial online? Guess what, those are all types of blogs. Let's explore blogs and how to blog successfully.

OK Then, What is Blogging?

One reason blogs might be confusing is that most of us aren't clear about exactly what makes a blog a blog and not a website. Businesses are to blame for much of this confusion. They often combine a website and blogs into a single presence, blurring the lines between the two. There are two main characteristics that set a blog apart from a website: regular updates and interactivity.

Types of Blogs

Though blogs have some common features, they are also very diverse. Think of blogs like a mullet: business in the front and party in the back.

"Blog" is actually a shortened version of the term "weblog". Back in the day when we actually called them weblogs, most blogs were little more than personal diaries. Some of them still are. But soon after their inception, businesses began using blogs as a marketing tool.

To add to the confusion, the term blog can apply to a whole site or a single article within the site. For the sake of simplicity, for the rest of this article, when I talk about a blog, I'll be referring to content – not a website or platform.

Three Types of Blogs

Blogs can be broken into three very broad categories:
  1. Corporate blogs focus on your company and are more like press releases than blog posts. You may mention people in the company but they are rarely the focus and  contain no personal details. These posts don't mention competitors or discuss larger industry concerns. These types of posts are not very interactive so they usually don't generate comments.
  2. Human blogs focus on – you guessed it – people! These posts are a great way to put a face on your company and create deeper connections with customers and prospects. These posts are meant to be engaging, so include personal details to encourage comments.
  3. Category or lifestyle blogs are topical in nature; a travel blog for example. These blogs cover the breadth of an industry. They're a great way to showcase your industry expertise and point of view. Don't be afraid to swim against the mainstream; a strong opinion will generate comments and engagement.
A Word About Guest Blogging

Blogging isn't just something you do on your site, you can also contribute to other blogs. Guest blogging, the fourth type of blog, can be a good alternative if you're not ready for the work of your own blog. If guest blogging sounds good to you, I'll cover that topic when I talk about how to blog, so read on!

Blogging: Tech Tool or Big Waste of Time?

Now that you have a better understanding of blogging, let's talk about why you'd want to blog. Yes, blogging can be a lot of work. And unless you are writing a personal diary, it's a great tool to have in your marketing toolbox.

It's a Fact: Search Engines (Google) Reward Quality Content

Creating and sharing relevant and informative content is one of the best ways to improve your business' visibility. (Or in less fancy marketing speak, blogging helps new customers to find your business.) Blog articles are one of the easiest and most logical ways to incorporate keywords that are relevant to your business or industry into your digital presence.

Other Ways Blogging Benefits Businesses

Besides being a key tool for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), blogging also helps you:
  1. Be the expert. Set yourself apart from the competition when you take a unique stand on a topic or answer a controversial question. This will help establish you as a thought leader in your industry and attract new clients.
  2. Answer common questions. If you’re like me, you’re answering a lot of the same questions over and over. Write and share blog posts that answer the most common questions your prospects or customers are asking. Use it as a reference the next time someone asks that question.
  3. Establish brand messaging. Brand messaging is about more than the mission of your company. It’s about how you make your customers feel. On your blog, you have the opportunity to present a thoughtful, insightful, and personable message to your customers and prospects that builds your brand messaging.
Blogging offers a unique opportunity to reach your customers while also getting found online by prospects. If you’re not blogging for business, you’re missing opportunities to grow your business and establish yourself as an expert in your field.

Secrets for Success

How to Blog: Start Here!

Before you begin blogging, you need to put some thought into the purpose and goal of your efforts. The key here is strategy. Besides getting more traffic, why do you want to blog? Visits are great but almost meaningless if you don’t have a further call-to-action in mind.

Your goals will also determine the right mix of content (how much of each blog type). Every business will have a slightly different mix based on goals and competitors. As a general rule, you should include a bit of each of the four types: corporate, human, category and guest.

Once you have a clear goal and content mix in mind, it's time to start writing!

My Tips for Successful Business Blogging:
  1. It’s like Nike: Just do it. Google loves when new content is added to websites. Not only that, but your clients and prospects would love to hear from you.
  2. Provide value to your readers. Don’t give away all your secrets, but provide useful information about your business or industry. You might share the same type of information on your blog that you would in a prospect or client meeting.
  3. Stop overthinking it. Answer a question people ask about your business. Write an opinion of a new industry trend or share news about your business. Don’t let the post sit unfinished. Write. Edit. Publish.
  4. Make a note of it. Whether you carry a notebook or use an app like Evernote, write down an idea when it comes to mind. Often, blog post ideas come from questions clients ask or articles we read but are gone when we sit down to write.
How to Blog: Crafting a Post

There is no secret formula to writing a great post but there are a few guidelines to follow:
  1. Be yourself. You want your content to be interesting, entertaining and maybe even funny. Try to relax and have fun with it. Tell a story or joke or both to get the readers warmed up.
  2. Stay true to your brand. You also need to consider what personality you want the post to have. It must be consistent to your brand and company personality.
  3. Chose one topic per article and stick to it. Don’t try to cram too many concepts into a post. Your articles should be at least 300 words, though 500 to 700 is better. A post should be long enough to offer real value or insight on your topic.
  4. On the topics, of well ... topics, be smart when choosing what you write about. Start with your keyword research for inspiration.
  5. Use Relevant Keywords. This doesn’t mean jamming your post with keywords. Rather, target how and where you use keywords. Include them in the title and as close to the beginning of the post as makes sense to the reader. This will help the post (and your website) get found organically.
  6. Include contact information or call to action. Readers want to know how to reach you or what to do next. Add a short paragraph about you, including contact information, at the end of your post. Or provide a clear directive for what they should do next (call for a consultation, schedule an appointment).
  7. Repurpose. Get the most from your blogging efforts by sharing blog posts on social media and in newsletters.
How to Blog and Overcoming Challenges

If you're struggling with what to write, in my blog post Conquer Writer's Block with These 9 Blog Post Ideas, I offered simple steps for developing a list of ideas, including answering your most-asked questions.

If you’re like many of the business owners I’ve met, the real reason you're not blogging is that you don't have time. There are too many other business-related tasks to complete. While you know blogging is a great way to get Google’s attention, it’s not as important as networking, professional development, or meeting new customers and prospects.

If you're struggling to find the time or to keep to a schedule, you might need outside help. Consider guest blogging or hiring a pro.

Guest Blogging to the Rescue

It requires less commitment for the same or potentially bigger results. Guest blogging provides the same benefits as having your own blog but for less commitment. When writing for someone else, you get online visibility and, depending on the site, possibly more than on your own site, exposure to the right audience, and the opportunity to establish serious street cred.

A few tips for how to blog as a guest:
  • Choose wisely. Make sure the blog your contributing is targeted at your prospective customers. If you work only with women, it doesn't make sense to guest post a blog that caters to men.
  • Build relationships. Nobody likes an over eager salesperson. You have to build trust and a relationship with a prospective site before asking to write a guest post. Follow the company or person on social media and share their content or make thoughtful comments on existing blog posts to start the conversation.
  • Create good content. This should go without saying but here it is: It's a big deal to write a guest post – don't mess it up with poorly written or overly salesy content. All blog posts (guest or otherwise) should be educational and entertaining first and sell second.
Hire a Pro

Even though you know how to blog, if blogging is forever sitting on your to-do list, then you need to hire a professional. All pros aren't create equal:
  • If you're an infrequent blogger or on a limited budget, a freelance blogger or writer is a good choice. Because they're offering a more targeted scope of work and narrower skill set, they charge less per post than an agency.
  • Marketing agencies offer a much more comprehensive suite of services. They're a good choice if you have aggressive goals or want to make your website your primary lead source. They'll be able to help with writing, SEO and branding.
Before you hire a pro, ask these questions to make sure they know how to blog:
  • What is your process for creating blog posts? Asking this question sets your expectation as a client and provides insight about the blogger. If there is no process, you may be spinning your wheels trying to get content from them. Ask what you need to provide for them to be able to write blog posts for your business and whether or not they will be providing an editorial calendar and/or list of topics for your review. A professional blogger won’t need to be spoon fed information, but will want to understand your business, industry, and expectations. They will also be able to make recommendations for topics, keywords, and frequency of posts while providing clear expectations for their work.
  • What is your pricing structure? While some bloggers work on a per-post or per-word basis, you may get the biggest return on your investment by buying in bulk. Purchasing posts is more economical (one post at a time will cost a lot more) and ensures you have a stockpile of new, relevant content.
What Are Your Waiting For?

While it takes some time and planning, blogging is an important tool to help your business get found online. If you are feeling overwhelmed by learning how to blog, don't be afraid to enlist the help of professional. And remember, it's like Nike: Just do it!

About the Author: Jasmine Holmes

With over 15 years of graphic design and marketing experience, Jasmine Holmes loves being able to say, “I’m older than I look.” Jasmine is the owner of 910 West, a digital marketing company serving small businesses in Gilbert and throughout the US. It is her combined experience in traditional print and online marketing that sets 910 West apart from the competition and makes Jasmine a marketing expert. At 910 West, she works with a talented team to deliver small business digital marketing essentials—local search, email marketing and brand development. When not working, you might find her at a farmer’s market buying locally grown veggies. Jasmine passionately believes in the power of small business and loves working with them to create lasting success.