Thinking of starting a blog? Looking for ideas for keeping your blog up-to-date, fresh and engaging?
There’s no doubt that blogs afford small businesses big payoffs. They humanize a business, position you as an expert in your field, and work hand-in-hand with your website and social media presence to improve your search engine rankings.
But for busy business owners, maintaining an active blog is easier said than done. How do you find the time? What should you write about?
Here are some tips (in no particular order of importance) to help inspire you to write and manage a business blog that is current, relevant, and stands out in online searches.
As any blogger will tell you, a calendar is your number one asset when it comes to managing your blog because all the planning is done in advance.
Use a spreadsheet to plan your schedule (one blog per week is fine, but two is great; if that’s too much, shoot for one every 10 days) and plan ahead – your calendar could cover an entire quarter, two months, or month. Include an outline of each post’s topic, the angle you are going to take, relevant outbound links that you want to include and who will author it. You should also build in a few days for a review cycle and the tentative publish date. It’s also useful to include placeholders for blogs that you might want to write on the fly so that you can react to topical industry or news events.
Finding the time or an eager author to write an original blog for every slot in your calendar isn’t always possible. And there’s nothing wrong with repurposing other content every now and again. Other assets that you can repurpose include freshening up old blogs, distilling white papers or webinars into quick tips or how-to’s, and so on.
Another tip for keeping content coming, without spending too much time putting pen to paper, is to post brief blogs or “filler” blogs that link to other sources. For example, these might include linking to another blog or industry article that you want to share, or showcasing photos from an event that you recently held or participated in. Links, images, videos, and other multi-media all take the pressure off you and often just need a few words written around them to give them context.
Think of creative ways you can keep your blog fresh, without feeling the need to research and craft something that’s entirely new.
Thanks to social media, it’s easier than ever to poll, survey or get feedback from your customers. Consider turning their ideas, needs, and experiences into blog topics. For example, if you run a retail business, ask your Facebook friends to share what they did with their last purchase from you. What’s their favorite item from your new product range? Use your blog to share what your customers have to say.
If you are in the professional service business, use informal Q&A’s or send customers a survey and write a blog around the results.
Note: If you plan to feature your customers by name or include photographs of them, be sure to clear this with them first.
Beyond social media, you could draw inspiration from common questions or challenges that you hear from your customers, wherever you encounter them. Now, the skill here is not to write a blog about how your product or service can resolve these challenges, but how your insight and expertise in this field can help your customers with their pain points. For example, a hair salon owner who is frequently asked by clients how they can maintain their hair color between salon visits could write a blog offering “5 Tips for Keeping your Color Fresh between Salon Visits.”
Another way to get blog ideas is to check out what your peers are writing about. Identify and follow 5-10 of the top bloggers in your industry and follow their RSS feeds. What about industry magazines and news? Is there a new development that you should be sharing with your readers? Remember, you don’t have to write or even repurpose a blog around the topic; simply introduce the article, highlight some of the key points it makes, and link to it so readers can go there for the full read.
This is a great way for taking the burden off you, while adding a new face to your blogging line-up. Who should you approach? Is there an expert in your industry whom you have a relationship with (and who can write)? What about someone from a vendor or partner practice? Give them clear direction, but the creative freedom to maintain their own voice. A guest blogger can also help extend the readership of your blog – so don’t forget to ask them to promote their guest blog slot, too.
Don’t be too strict on yourself when it comes to using SEO-related keywords that you’ve identified for your business. Remember, blog writing is quite different from the style of your other static web content. The conversational tone of a blog is a good match for the way people query search engines (there’s a reason why some of the most popular search engine results tend to be blogs and online forums)! So strike a balance: strive for a human voice and use keywords only when appropriate. Don’t forget to add tags, metatags and image tags to store important keywords you want to emphasize.
It’s one thing to have good content, but take steps to share it. Showcase posts in your newsletter, add a link to it in your e-signature, post blogs on your social media sites, and make the most of the real estate on your website to cross-promote your blog. Add social sharing buttons to your blog so that others can easily share your content.
Happy and easier blogging!