Blogs are now the norm. You’ve probably added a blog to your site – because that’s what you’re supposed to do. If that’s the case, then you may not be getting the interaction you had hoped for and you’re wondering why everyone is so psyched about using blogs to build their business and yours is just sitting there.
Below are 8 simple strategies to take your blog from blah to brilliant:
Name your blog. Consider treating your blog as an online magazine or newsletter and give it a name. Make your blog name memorable and fun. Another tip is to create a name that describes the kind of information that you’ll be sharing with your readers. Keep the name short and easy to spell – especially if you want your blog to have its own domain name. Names like Smitten Kitchen, Sprouted Kitchen or Fooducate are just a sampling of names of blogs in the food category as an example.
Take a stand. Another challenge small business blogs face is taking a stand or creating a point-of-view from which to write. This is where you reach into the mission or purpose of your business. I like to call it standing on your soapbox. Think about the strong opinions you have about your industry or how things are done and then use those opinions to color your writing. These opinions will not only make your articles fun to read, they will actually reinforce your brand to your readers. Taking a strong stand on your area of expertise will not only differentiate your blog from others, it will start attracting those readers and customers who share those opinions as well – and that means more ideal customers for you.
Survey the blogosphere. You might get lucky and be so clear on your point of view that you won’t need to see what else is out there. But if you find yourself stuck, you should surf the blogosphere for blogs about your industry, product or topic. Read those and take a few notes about what you like, what you don’t like and what’s missing. You will find yourself forming an opinion about those blogs and then naturally incorporating those insights as you start creating your blog and your point of view.
Adapt strategies from outside your industry. Another tip is to notice which blogs you like to read and why – even if they aren’t in your industry or area of expertise. Create a list of those blogs and note why you like them. Is it their writing style? Is it the way the articles are structured? What keeps you coming back for more?
Try a few on for size. There’s no better way to get clear on your style or point of view than to actually challenge yourself to write some articles based on the styles that you’ve researched. I have this article on 52 kinds of blog posts bookmarked so that I can take on a new type of post and not get into a rut.
Keep an ideas file. The downfall of most small business blogs is “writer’s block” or not knowing what to write about. First think of your blog as a promotional opportunity. You can share ways that you’ve solved problems for customers, interview people in your customer service department and get some of their most frequently asked questions and then answer them. Go inside your operation and give customers a “back-door” look or tour on exactly how you maintain quality and make sure that things get done right and get done on time.
Go into the day’s headlines and education your readers on how your industry or business might be impacted. Share some insider secrets or time-saving tips on how to use your product. You can even put a post out there that lays out an idea that you have for improving your product or service and engage your customers to chime in with their opinions and feedback.
Use Google Reader or FlipBoard on the iPad. Take the time to set up a comprehensive list of blogs that you will follow. You don’t have to read every post every day – trust me. My Google Reader has over 1000 unread articles in there. But all of those articles come in handy when it comes to creating an informative article when ideas are running low.
Offer a call to action in each post. You can treat your blog posts as soft sales letters. Write each article with the intent to educate and persuade customers to engage with you and buy from you. Don’t be obnoxious about it, do it in the same way that you would if you were actually in a sales conversation. Give your customers something to click on to help them solve a problem.
If you’re not using your blog as a way to engage and attract customers, you are just wasting time and effort. Your blog is an incredible sales and marketing tool and you should treat it as such. Work on a marketing strategy to turn your blog into a real lead generator and you’ll not only have a lot of readers, but a lot of customers.
Fireworks Photo via Shutterstock
I’ve found the most inspiration for my blogging ideas outside my industry. My vacations, hobbies, even non-fiction books give me new ideas or a new perspective that I can write about.
Great advice here, I know I definitely struggled to format my blog at first and am now very successful at it. Sometimes it just takes diligence just like you said, trying a few different lay outs and blog ideas to get yourself going.
Ivana, this is great advice for those starting out or finding their voice. Kudos.
I’d add one point which spins off of the “Try a few on for size.” If there are industry experts and passionate writers who talk about the same things you’re hoping to write about, turn them into allies and potentially guest posters. It helps you to get new voices and an early traffic boost.
Reading what’s going on in the news each day helps me frame what kind of perspective I will add into my blog posts. For example, Whitney Houston’s death immediately makes me want to write about whether or not small business owners should use it as an opportunity to pitch a story to the press. Right or wrong it fuels discussion.
Great strategies! I will print out your blog post and show it to a individual who is both an art historian & copywriter. She is on her way to start blogging about copywriting, art history, etc….
Please don’t hesitate to give her tips on blogs that could be of interest to her.
Your tips will also be good for me. I have been blogging for almost ten years time and your post gave me some aha moments! 🙂
Love the ideas you’ve shared here, thanks! I guess, taking a stand is a nice link baiting technique that when done properly, promises you lots of traffic to your site. Now, the most challenging task of them all is how to keep readers glued to your blog as attention span is lowered now to three seconds.. and if you don’t have anything fresh to offer, they might just leave ( for good ).
I’ve bookmarked Darren’s post about 52 types of blog posts, per your suggestion.
Thanks a lot. Great tips, and I’ll try to implement them as much as possible. I want my blogs to rock!
The Franchise King®
Some great advice and hope to make use of it when we start a new blog soon! Thanks!
We recently revamped our company blog and did so with many of these ideas in mind. One of the most important improvements we made was linking directly to the blog above the fold on our home page. Nobody can read your content if they can’t easily find it!
It’s also a good idea to setup Google Alerts to let you know anytime your company or specific keywords are being mentioned. That way, you’ll be able to address any positive or negative mentions online, as well as strengthen blogger relations. Thanks for the post!
Lauren at Volusion
Excellent information. It can be hard to stand out so I really like your advice. I especially like your call to action and believe this is very important.