1. Define its purpose
Before you set up your blog, it’s essential that you define its objectives. There’s no point in writing content for the sake of it. The best blogs create value for your customers, while supporting your overall business strategy. Is your blog going to:
- Raise your brand awareness
- Boost your SEO
- Start conversions with new leads
- Establish trust with prospects
- Position you as a thought leader
Once you’ve defined its purpose, it’s time to set the metrics by which you will measure success. Think about:
- Web traffic
- Referral sources
- Lead generation
- Conversion rate
- Media coverage secured
In order to fulfil your key performance indicators (KPIs), now you’ll need to start generating content to populate your blog. But remember, people don’t want to read a self-promotional pitch about your company on the blog, they want interesting, relevant and compelling content.
2. What to write about
To get you noticed, your blog needs to establish you as an authority figure in the industry. Put your creative hat on and step into your target audiences’ shoes:
- What information would they find useful?
- What do they need to help them move to the next step in the sales cycle?
- How can you help them get the most from your product/service?
- How can you make their lives easier? Or their job simpler?
- And what can you do that’s fun to show off your personality?
Look around for inspiration. See what your competitors are talking about, the industry analysts, the media and industry associations. Check out social media, ask your sales team, ask your colleagues…maybe even ask your customers what they want to hear about!
Keep a note of all your ideas and keep adding to it. Then start to structure it, for example:
- A day in the life of…
- 10 ways to…
- How to….
- Problem solving (can be more technical)
- What does xx mean for xx?
- Motivations for a career in [your industry]
- Case studies
- Launching a survey / survey results
- Response to industry trends
- New applications / functionality
3. Create a content calendar
Now you’ve got a bank of amazing content, it’s time to schedule it in a content calendar, ready for publishing. There’s no secret formula that says, ‘post every X number of days to attract XXX results’. The important thing is to set an expectation from the start on how often you’re going to post – daily, weekly, monthly – and then stick to it. There’s nothing worse than visiting a blog and seeing the most recent post is from several months ago.
4. Getting started
Writing your first blog post may seem daunting, particularly if you’ve never done it before. But the secret to success, is simply to start writing. Grab a cup of tea, sit down in front of your laptop and start typing away. Write all your thoughts down, make notes on any research you need to perform, or input you want to inject from third-parties, but just write.
Start with an attention-grabbing title and a killer opening paragraph, so they’re hooked from the outset. Outline exactly what you’re going to talk about and why.
The best B2B bloggers write with empathy, addressing their audiences’ pain points and sharing how to overcome their challenges. They chuck all the business cliques, industry jargon and technobabble in the bin and speak to the audience in simple language that they connect with.
Then make sure your text is structured in a way that guides the reader through. Use informative subheadings, so that if your audience only reads these, they’ll still gain value from your blog. Then think about bullet points or lists to help share large quantities of information quickly.
Once you’ve got your first draft down, it’s time to review, review, review…..and review. The secret to reviewing is to look for something different every time. The first couple of passes should focus on the main body of the content, ensuring you stay on topic throughout, the key messages are clear, it has flow and is well-written. Then review your research, checking sources, surveys and quotations. Review for structure. Review for keywords to boost your SEO (search engine optimisation) and aid with organic search results. And finally, the all-important SPAG – spelling, punctuation and grammar.
5. The best format
The beauty of the blog is that it can be whatever you want it to be, you’re not forced to stick to a specific length. Think about mixing short, sharp pieces, with some long form copy (2,000+ words). Research shows that long-form content tends to rank particularly well on search engines.
“Users often turn to Google to answer a quick question, but research suggests that up to 10% of users’ daily information needs involve learning about a broad topic. That’s why today we’re introducing new search results to help users find in-depth articles.”Pandu Nayak, a Google engineer who created the Panda algorithm update
Once you’ve got the words down, it’s time to think about the pictures. Blogs with no images look dull. Add visual interest to your blog through:
- Header images
- Word clouds
- ‘Box-out’ sections
6. Time to post
Congratulations! You’ve finished your blog. Time to proudly publish it to your website for the world to see, before sticking your feet up to enjoy a nice cup of tea.
Posting your content online is just the first step. Once you’ve published your blog people don’t automatically know to go and read it on your website, they need to be told it’s there and pushed to go and read it. Think about ways to promote your new blog, for example:
- Through your social media channels
- Through other people’s social media channels
- Through groups/associations you’re a member of
- Advertising, such as Google Adwords, promoted Tweets, sponsored content
- Email signature
- Email marketing