If you’ve been running a business for a little while now, or even if you’re brand new or are just about to launch, you may have heard that writing a blog is a great way to get onto the first page of Google.
That’s absolutely true: a blog can be excellent for your search engine optimisation (SEO) as well as for supporting existing customers and attracting new customers. But where do you start? And how? And is it really necessary? Here are some of my top honest tips for starting a blog for your business.
1. You don’t have to have a blog
That’s right, I said it! Yes, a blog on your site has lots of advantages, but it’s not the be all and end all. If you don’t have a blog, that doesn’t mean you’re business is going to fail. There are plenty of other ways to be seen and to improve your rankings on Google if that’s your aim. It all comes down to strategy, your audience, and your goals. Don’t fret about writing a blog every day just because someone you met one night at a networking event told you that’s what you need to do.
2. If you can’t commit, then don’t start a blog
A blog takes either time, or money, or both. And many of the benefits of a blog mean that it’s important to provide valuable content and to post regularly. If you can’t do both of these things, then you could be wasting your time. Honestly, there’s nothing worse then going on to a blog and finding that the last post was a one-paragraph bit of nonsense from 6 months ago. Not only does it look unprofessional, but you’re wasting the time it took you to brainstorm ideas and put things together. If you’re going to write a blog, make sure you have your the time to commit to it on at least a semi-regular basis. Remember point 1 – it’s okay not to have a blog on your site.
3. Recognise how much time it takes
If you know your subject inside out and are a skilled writer, then you might be able to knock out the odd blog in half an hour. But, in reality, even when you know a lot about a subject, you’ll probably need to do at least some research. Then you need to consider format, layout, proof reading, length, optimisation, sourcing images… There’s a lot to think about and creating a well crafted blog can take anything from a couple of hours to a couple of days, or even longer if your subject is really technical and in-depth.
4. It’s not all about Google rankings
Yes, a blog can help you improve your position in Google, but it can also do so much more! If you get bogged down in this one thing, then you could miss out on all the other benefits a blog brings to your site. The content is valuable to customers and potential customers, you can prove your expertise in your area, you can offer important industry insights, you can encourage users to stay on your site for longer, you can show off your products and services, you can give customers an insight into your business. When you’re considering whether to start a blog, have a think about what you really want to achieve with it.
5. You probably won’t have much success at first
Like with anything, you’re unlikely to see incredible results right of the bat. Depending on your main goals with your blog, it may be difficult to see direct results, or it could take many months or years to get the results you’re after. This is why you need to think again about the time commitment. If you give up after the first few posts just because you haven’t seen a huge jump in website traffic, then you’ve set your expectations far too high.
6. Make sure you keep it relevant
Relevance can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Depending on your brand, your relationship with your customers, your audience, your own personality, and your industry, what’s relevant to your business can vary hugely. If you stick to a very corporate-style tone, then sharing your family outing this weekend may not be the right content for your blog. Whereas, if you sell children’s clothing, a blog about your weekend adventures with your 4-year-old – who happened to be wearing a cute waterproof jumpsuit that you sell – could be perfect.
7. You might not have the right skills for blog writing
Blog writing is a skill that some have a natural talent for, others fine tune over many years, and some fail at completely. And that’s fine if you’re in the last category – you have other skills and your time could be better spent in those areas instead. It’s not a failure to admit that you don’t have a particular talent for writing.
On the other hand, you may think that writing is easy – all you need to do is jot down your own inner monologue and ‘voila!’, right?
Don’t underestimate the particular qualities and skills you need for writing good, effective blogs. Accurate spelling, good grammar, an understanding of target literacy levels, appropriate language, wording of phrases … these are just some of the considerations that you should take into account when putting together a blog post. It’s a talent and you may be better off outsourcing your blog writing to someone else.
8. Keep a note of your ideas
If you’re anything like me, good ideas will pop up at the most inconvenient of times and then, when you actually need them, your brain shuts down. It’s always good practice to make a note of your ideas in one place for future reference. You may never get round to using them all, but having a hearty list of options will be invaluable when you need to put pen to paper. For one of my clients I have over 100 blog post ideas to use at some point in the future. Some have been on that list for years, but I’ve never struggled for a last-minute blog subject!
9. Blog writing can be fun
If you’ve decided to go ahead and write your own blog, remember that it doesn’t have to be a chore! I’m going to assume that, if you run your own business, then you have a real love for what you do. Blogging is just another way of sharing that love with others. So, if you decide it’s for you, get out there and get started!