blogging for business

Blogging for business: The ultimate beginner’s guide

Blogging for business is an essential marketing tactic for most companies, big or small.

The fact that you’re reading this suggests that you’re about to start your own blog. Or maybe you already have one and you’re trying to figure out how to make it better?

The thing with blogging for business is that everyone thinks it’s easy until they've tried it.

It’s easy to get started, sure.

But once you get serious, there’s a steep learning curve.

With so much competition for the attention of online consumers, there’s a real risk that any time (and money) you spend creating content for your blog will be wasted.

As new technologies and apps emerge, and video continues to grow exponentially, it’s becoming harder and harder to create a business blog that makes any kind of impact.

In fact, visual content is 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content, and 43% of people admit to skimming blog posts.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

This in-depth guide to blogging for business will equip you with everything you need to develop a blogging process that works for you.

First, we’ll look at exactly what business blogging is and why it’s so important, before delving into the key wins you stand to make if you can learn to do it well.

In the second part of this blog, we’ll cover the 12 steps to blogging success, including how to plan, optimise and promote your blog posts for maximum impact.

Ready to get started?

Great!

(This post is over 3,000 words, so you might want to use the content guide below to navigate. It'll also come in handy if you bookmark this post to come back to at a later date).

What is business blogging?

When it’s used for business, blogging is a form of content marketing.

Content marketing involves creating relevant and consistent content that a particular audience will find valuable. Instead of (or as well as) creating and placing adverts, organisations create valuable, client-focused content as a way of subtly promoting their brand, products, services or other interests.

Business blogging is one of the most common and effective ways of using content to market a business. In fact, 80% of B2B content marketers use blogs.

 

blogging for business

 

Why is blogging for business so important?

One of the key reasons blogging has become so popular is because it’s accessible. Anyone with an internet connection can get started for free and learning the basics isn’t difficult.

When it comes to developing a successful and effective blog, on the other hand, there’s a lot to learn.

Countless businesses have tried and failed to use a blog as their primary marketing tool. From simply underestimating how much time it takes and how much work is involved, to neglecting to plan, analyse or strategise; there are many ways to fail at business blogging.

But, if you can learn to do it well, blogging for business is a powerful and cost-effective way of marketing your products and services online.

 

The stats to prove it

  • HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2017 report found that 81% of companies consider their blogs “useful”, “important”, or “critical.” (HubSpot, 2017)
  • 53% of marketers say blog content creation is their top inbound marketing priority. (HubSpot, 2017)
  • Only 29% of people want to talk to a salesperson to learn more about a product, while 62% will consult a search engine. (HubSpot, 2016)
  • 47% of buyers viewed 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep. (Demand Gen Report, 2016)

The top 8 benefits of blogging for business

We’ve already established that blogging is a vital string on any marketers bow.

You understand that it’s important to master this stuff, but what exactly do you stand to gain from all your hard work?

Let’s take a look at 8 of the leading benefits.

 

1. Drive traffic to your website

One of the key motivations behind blogging for business is to generate more website traffic.

The more people that see your website, the more awareness you’ll generate about your brand and your proposition.

According to HubSpot, B2B companies that publish 11+ blog posts per month get almost 3 times more traffic than companies that publish only 0-1 posts per month.

Just like you’ll never win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket, you’re not going to get any of that extra traffic if you’re not publishing content.

 

2. More leads and sales

Of course, what’s essential here is that you’re able to convert website traffic into leads and acquire more clients.

Thankfully, companies who blog find this a whole lot easier than those who don’t.

HubSpot reported that companies that blog 16+ times per month get around 4.5 times as many leads than those that only blog 0-4 times each month.

 

3. Connect with your audience

One of the best ways of converting traffic into leads and sales is to form genuine connections with your readers.

A blog gives your business a voice and empowers you to show off your personality. It also opens a 2-way street, allowing your audience to comment, share and interact with you.

In that way, blogging for business can really make you think about what your clients want. Learn to listen to what they’re saying (both to and about your business), and open up a dialogue with them about the things that matter.

With a good blog, you’ll soon build a loyal following of clients, especially if you can learn to infuse know, like and trust into your content.

 

4. Gain insight into your audience

As your blog grows and your audience begins to interact more, you’ll start to get an understanding of what’s working and what isn’t.

Firstly, there’s the qualitative data. This comes in the form of comments, questions and feedback. Ask for and respond to interactions like this regularly. Again, the better you are at listening, the more you’ll learn.

Secondly, by tracking social media link clicks and website analytics, you’ll be able to collect quantitative data. This will show things such as where your site visitors are coming from, what pages they’re clicking on, and how long they’re staying.

For many small businesses, insights of this nature are hard to come by. It’s advantages like this that can put you ahead of the competition.

Our favourite tool: Google Analytics

 

5. See long-term results

The right type of blog posts will build momentum, gathering more shares, links and activity over time.

Needless to say, this means more traffic, higher visibility and more opportunities to connect with and convert your readers.

To enhance your chances of seeing such long-term benefits, you should aim to publish a good amount of evergreen* posts.

(*Evergreen content is content that remains relevant. It’s not time-sensitive).

 

6. A source of content

Think of your blog as the foundations for all your content marketing efforts.

From all the effort you put into it, you’ll get ideas and opportunities to develop other types of content, such as social media posts, newsletters, eBooks and videos.

When you’re looking for new ways to reach your audience, you can turn to your blog for inspiration and material.

 

7. Stay informed

Writing a valuable blog post takes research. Research that you might not otherwise have done had you not started blogging for business.

Blogging will force you to stay up to date, to learn new skills and to spot opportunities as and when they arise.

 

8. Establish yourself as an industry authority

With all of that research comes a deeper knowledge, and knowledge is power.

Blogging for business is a way of demonstrating that knowledge.

As you use your blog to establish a voice within your industry, you’ll start to garner respect from your peers. It’ll certainly take time, but eventually – if you get it right - you’ll become an authority figure within your field.

 

Blogging for business

Blogging for business: 12 steps to success

Okay, now for the exciting bit.

Let’s take a look at the 12 steps that lead to business blogging success.

 

1. Create a plan and set goals

If you’re considering blogging for business, of course you’ll be taking it seriously. That’s why you’re here, trying to learn more.

Just as you need a detailed business plan to guide you through your first years in business, having a blogging plan is essential.

There are the obvious questions, like ‘what should we write about?’, as well as some more complex issues.

To start your research, consider the following:

  • What is our ultimate purpose for blogging? What do we want to achieve?
  • Who is the target audience for our blog?
  • What sort of things are they interested in reading about?
  • Where do they hang out online?
  • Do we have a budget for creating and promoting our blog?
  • Where and how will we promote it?
  • How will we measure our blog’s success?

When you can answer these questions confidently (and you have the research to back it up), use them to formulate a strategic plan for your blog.

There’s a lot of work here, so using a free project management tool like Trello can help you stay organised.

Our favourite tool: Trello

 

2. Publish consistently

That plan should include a content schedule, detailing the topics you’ll cover and when each post will go out.

Publishing consistently is important, and not only because it helps to keep readers interested and coming back for more.

When you get into a routine with your blog content, you’re more likely to stick to your plan and meet your goals.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach here; your schedule should be tailored to suit you and should fall in line with your goals.

It can be a real struggle at first, we get it. But keep going! After you’ve published 21-54 blog posts, your blog traffic should increase by up to 30%.

 

3. Optimise for search engines

On-page SEO (search engine optimisation) is the practice of formatting a blog post in a way that makes it easy for search engines to read and understand it.

When you get SEO right, it means your posts and pages are more likely to appear at the top of Google’s results pages.

If your site is built using WordPress, you should download the Yoast plugin right away (although not before you’ve finished reading this post, obviously!).

Enter your chosen keyword into Yoast and you’ll get an SEO score on each of your posts. Along with this score, you’ll get a list of suggested improvements for making your content more search engine-friendly.

The list will help you to optimise your posts in each of the following areas:

  • Keyword placement
  • Keyword density
  • Header tags
  • Meta descriptions
  • Image use and formatting
  • Use of internal and external links
  • Readability

Our favourite tool: Yoast

 

4. Build links

Off-page SEO also contributes to how well your pages rank on Google.

The key method for performing off-page SEO is link-building. In basic terms, this means getting other sites to link back to yours.

One way to achieve this is through ‘guest blogging’ for other relevant companies or publications. To guest blog means to contribute a post to another blog in return for a link back to your site.

Generally speaking, the more respected and high-profile the site, the more value the link will carry. Bear this in mind when you’re searching for guest blogging opportunities.

 

5. Don't just add to the noise

With an endless supply of new and exciting content at our fingertips, a blog post needs to be special if we’re going to stick around.

It’s okay to write about topics that have been covered online before (in fact, we’d love for you to show us a topic that hasn’t been written about online!).

What’s important is that you make the content valuable, interesting and better than what’s already out there.

You should also share personal stories and experiences to make the content unique to you.

 

6. Write attention-grabbing headlines

With all of that said, your blog post is only ever going to be as good as it’s headline.

According to some sources, 80% of the people who come across your posts will read the headline, but only 20% will go on to read the blog.

If you can’t draw people in with that first impression, your posts don’t stand much chance of competing.

Co-schedule’s headline analyser is a handy tool for getting into the right habits. The site has lots of helpful content too.

Just check out this remarkably informative list of terrific and powerful words. (See what we did there?)

 

blogging for business

 

Our favourite tools: Co-schedule’s Headline Analyzer

 

 7. Make it scannable

As well as making eye-grabbing headlines essential, our ever-dwindling attention spans mean long blocks of text just don’t work.

If you want your readers to stick around, you’ll need to format your posts in a way that makes them easy to scan.

Do these things to break up large walls of text:

  • Use plenty of sub-headings
  • Use bullet points
  • Keep sentences and paragraphs short
  • Add at least one image
  • Use numbered lists where possible
  • Highlight or indent quotes and statistics

Put your reader first. The easier you can make the experience for them, the more likely they are to enjoy it. 

 

8. Follow proven formulas

Another way to make your posts more readable is to follow proven content formulas.

Formulas that work well are:

  • How-tos
  • Numbered lists
  • Ultimate guides
  • Infographics
  • Mistake-centred posts (i.e. Avoid these 5 common blogging mistakes)
  • Insider advice (i.e. Exclusive blogging strategies from a senior content manager)

These are the types of posts that your audience wants. They’ll give you an edge over your competitors and guarantee results.

9. Use visuals

It should come as no surprise that content with images does better.

Every blog post you publish should contain at least one image. An image helps to break up the text, enhance understanding and make a piece of content more memorable and shareable.

In 2016, 53% of marketers said that 91 - 100% of the content they published contained visuals, a 130% rise from 2015.

Where possible, you should aim to add value with your images. Don’t just throw them in at random.

In educational posts, choose diagrams and charts that can help the reader to better understand the topic. If you’re discussing a product, service or application, use photos or screenshots to illustrate your points.

If you’re a small business, chances are you won’t have the budget to hire a photographer or graphic designer regularly.

Luckily for you, there’s a lot you can do yourself. For a start, you’ll find thousands of high-quality free stock photos online.

When it comes to graphics, you can create professional-looking designs in Canva at no cost. We find it easy to use and recommend it to everyone, regardless of skill level.

Our favourite tool: Canva

blogging for business

10. Promote your content

Why spend hours labouring over a blog post only to forget about it after you’ve hit publish?

Sadly, thanks to the amount of companies competing for consumers’ attention, the old ‘build it and they will come’ philosophy is a thing of the past.

Just like your blog posts promote your business and your brand, you need to promote your blog posts.

Sharing your content once and then forgetting about it is one of the biggest mistakes many small business owners make.

There are plenty of places you can promote your blog posts online, including:

  • On your social media platforms
  • On LinkedIn pulse
  • In relevant Facebook groups
  • Via email to your subscribers (either in a special one-off broadcast or as part of a regular newsletter)
  • Via email or on social media to industry leaders (more on this below)
  • In industry forums

You don’t just have to share your posts once, either. You can share evergreen content repeatedly, especially on Twitter.

Luckily, thanks to Buffer, promoting your blog posts on social media doesn’t have to take up too much time.

With Buffer’s smart and intuitive scheduling app, you can plan ahead for the week or month. The analytics features are handy, too.

Finally, remember that you don’t need to have a presence everywhere. Think about where your clients are and put more time and energy into those platforms. Don’t spread yourself too thin.

This infographic should help: An overview of the demographics and use of the most popular social networks.

 

Our favourite tool: Buffer combined with the Hiplay app.

 

11. Engage influencers

Find the micro-influencers in your industry and look for opportunities to partner with them.

These influencers will have an already-loyal following of people who trust them. A recommendation from someone like that could go a long way.

Ask influencers to contribute to, collaborate on or share a blog post.

To ensure you get a yes, remember the following:

  • Be polite
  • Personalise your request
  • Do your research (show interest in what they’re working on at the moment)
  • Explain how you discovered them (but don’t be creepy)
  • Explain why you’ve chosen them (a little flattery goes a long way, but don’t overdo it)
  • Tell them how they could benefit from helping you out
  • Keep your message brief

Buzzsumo and Right Relevance are both valuable tools for identifying the leaders in your industry. Use them to target the people who will bring the best results.

Our favourite tools: Buzzsumo and Right Relevance

 

12. Repurpose your content

As we covered earlier in the post, a good blog will form strong foundations for producing other types of content.

Many inexperienced marketers or multi-tasking small business owners tend to jump from one blog post to the next, without thinking much about the long-term.

The smartest marketers, however, repurpose existing content, turning old blog posts into infographics, videos or downloadable eBooks, for example.

Look at which posts worked well and re-create them in a different format to suit a different audience. Consider the posts that didn’t perform so well and ask yourself why. Can you make them better?

Never forget that your blog can be a never-ending source of ideas and inspiration if only you’ll take the time to review and analyse it.

 


Wow, you made it all the way to the bottom of this post. Great job!

Thanks so much for reading, we really hope you found this post useful. We'd love to know how this post helped you, or hear your blogging tips and success stories - so please leave us a comment below!

Did you know that we offer a range of digital marketing services, including content marketing and social media management? Contact Carly today at carly@keystonevirtual.com to find out how we can help.


 

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