With the rise of social media, live video, podcasting, and other digital marketing trends, it’s easy to feel as if blogging has lagged behind. But even in a world where there are “sexier” options, blogging still has a place at the table.
The Benefits of Blogging
Blogging has been around since the dawn of the internet. And though it has experienced some evolution over the years, it’s largely remained the same. Other trends have come and gone, yet the blog has continued to serve as the backbone of any legitimate digital content strategy. Even in 2021, when there are plenty of other ways to create content, blogging continues to yield numerous benefits. This includes:
- SEO. Most business websites have no shot at ranking on the first page of Google for key search terms. And in 9 out of 10 situations, it’s because they have no content. They have a home page, about us page, contact page, and possibly a couple of product pages – that’s it! By creating a blog where you regularly publish rich content that’s full of natural keywords and language that your customers use, your website instantly becomes stickier for the search algorithms and increases your chances for ranking.
- Customer education. A blog gives you an opportunity to educate your customers about complex topics, technical components, or big issues that are occurring in their lives and/or your industry. It’s a simple and organic way to educate without pretense.
- Lead generation. A blog is an excellent lead generation tool. You can use it as an entry point into the website and then get people to opt-in via a subscription form connected to a lead magnet.
- Monetization. While it won’t happen immediately, you can actually reach a point where you’re able to monetize your blog through ads. You probably won’t get rich, but you might eventually make enough off your blog to offset the content creation costs.
- Authority. A blog is an excellent authority builder. Despite how easy it is to launch a blog, people perceive it as a status symbol. Much like authoring a book or podcast, writing for a blog gives you this level of authority that people respect.
- Skill development. Starting, managing, and growing your blog will require you to wear a bunch of different hats (at least initially). And through this process, you’ll acquire and refine a number of valuable skills that can be leveraged in other areas of marketing and business. This includes things like keyword research, basic SEO, WordPress, conversion copywriting, and lead funnels.
- Discipline. Blogging doesn’t generate overnight results. It’s something you have to stick with for several months and years. And in a world that’s defined and directed by instant gratification, there’s something to be said for cultivating discipline.
When you add all of these benefits together, the power of blogging becomes clear. It doesn’t matter what year is on the calendar, blogging will continue to yield significant benefits for those who commit to doing it the right way.
How to Start a (Successful) Blog
Starting a blog isn’t as difficult as some make it out to be. All it takes is some planning, discipline, and consistency. Here are a few other helpful tips:
1. Don’t Get Bogged Down
Most people get the idea to start a blog and then get bogged down in the details before ever turning their dream into a reality. While it’s true that there are a number of steps required to build and launch a blog successfully, you shouldn’t get so tied up with the details that you forget the big picture.
Your blog name, CMS, blog hosting, and theme are all important. However, you don’t need to spend weeks hammering these details out. Once you’re 80 percent there, take action. You can always come back and fill in the gaps later. It’s much more important that you put yourself out there. The sooner you do this, the better. Progress is much more important than perfection.
2. Use a Cornerstone Strategy
There are dozens of popular blogging strategies, but the cornerstone approach is one of the best options if you’re just getting started.
With the cornerstone strategy, you create three or four extremely high-quality pieces of content that take a high-level view of major topics/pain points in your niche. (These are often called cornerstone posts or pillar posts.) These will be the stickiest pieces of content on your site. Everything revolves around these posts (including your SEO and backlink strategies.)
Once your cornerstone pieces are established, you’ll want to spread out and create related topics that center around each cornerstone piece. For example, if your cornerstone topic is about buying a house, your blog posts (which are shorter) would focus on topics like how to find a real estate agent, what to look for in an inspection, tips for packing, top things to do before closing, etc. Each of these posts then links back to the cornerstone piece, thereby feeding SEO juice and traffic to the most important posts.
3. Understand Your Audience
Every successful blog on the internet is reader-centric. And you can’t develop high-quality content if you don’t understand who your audience is. So before ever creating a single piece of content, you should take the time to understand who your reader is on a micro level.
The best way to understand your reader is to develop reader personas. These are basically one-page documents that explain who the customer is on an intimate level. It addresses demographic information, financial information, purchase behaviors, hobbies, interests, background, family life, etc.
Most blogs will have somewhere between two to five different reader personas. Be as thorough with each of them as you can. When you begin writing a new post, make sure you know which personas you’re writing to.
4. Make it Visual
People are visual learners. The brain is much more proficient at processing visual content than text. Thus if you want your blog to be as engaging and memorable as possible, you should look for ways to make each post as aesthetically stimulating as you can.
There are plenty of easy options for creating visual content. This includes graphs, charts, images, memes, gifs, infographics, and videos. And thanks to user-friendly tools like Canva, anyone can develop rich blog visuals without much experience.
5. Splinter Your Content
Anyone who tells you that you can brainstorm, write, and publish a quality piece of content in under an hour is lying to you. It takes a lot of time to produce a good piece of content. So once it finally does go live, you need to be as resourceful with it as possible. This is where the concept of splintering comes into play.
Content splintering is where you take a blog post and reformat it into other pieces of content that can be shared on different mediums. For example, a 1,500-word blog post could theoretically be turned into a dozen social media posts, a handful of graphics, a Facebook Live video, a podcast episode, and an email sequence. And because you already have the content written out, it won’t take very long to produce these splintered pieces.
6. Study and Iterate
Keep your head down for the first 120 days. Produce as much quality content as you can and don’t look up for a second. Then, over the next 120 days, start studying what’s working, what’s not, and where you can improve. Then for the following 120 days, apply what you’ve learned and let your blog evolve.
If you adopt this one-year road map, you’ll look up in 365 days, and your blog will be head and shoulders better than most of your peers.
Buckle Up and Get Blogging
Blogging isn’t going to provide the short burst of engagement that a viral social media post might. And it probably won’t generate any revenue for you over the short term, like a PPC ad strategy would.
However, when you zoom out and look at it over the long term, blogging has the potential to produce a better ROI than both of them combined. As long as you maintain the right perspective and commit to consistency, good things will happen.