I talk a lot about blogging. A lot.
In fact, I have written nearly 400 blog posts about the benefits of blogging. I know my professional success would only be a fraction of what it is today without blogging.
Simply, blogging is the reason I can pursue my passion for helping others grow their own business.
Now that you know how important blogging is in my business, it may not be a surprise to learn that I think you should start a blog for your business immediately.
You see, just like investing in the stock market, investing in a blog pays dividends over time. The sooner you start, the sooner you reap the rewards of higher search engine rankings, shorter sales cycles, and more business.
Today, I want to talk about how a blog can help in various stages of a business. Whether you are just starting, or have been in business for decades, you can benefit from the powerful effect of publishing content for your audience.
Let’s talk about when to start a blog for your brand.
Quick Overview: What is Blogging for Business Purposes
The biggest benefit to blogging for business is the ability to build authority through transparency with your next customer.
We know that modern consumers are entering the buying cycle armed with more knowledge and seeking out non-biased information before speaking with a brand or salesperson.
By publishing high-quality, expert advice on your brand’s website, you immediately stand out from the competitive noise to become an advisor to the prospect rather than a vendor.
That differentiation is huge in the eyes of the customer and to your bottom line.
Blogging Before Your Launch
Some of you are just formulating your business plan. You have the basic idea, some sketches of your product, and maybe a legal formation.
In this instance, blogging about the startup process early will help build interest in your company. Readers and social media followers will naturally feel vested in your company as they follow along with the highs and lows of starting a business.
Additionally, talking about your products early, and asking questions of your audience, will give you insights before you spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on inventory or design setup.
So, blogging early in your startup builds a strong community and helps guide the direction of your product design.
Blogging to Increase Sales
Sales is most often the driving factor behind every company decision. It stands to reason: sales generate dollars. Dollars keep the doors open.
Today’s market is crowded with traditional ads. It is very rare that a traditional ad results in a direct conversion — that is, someone seeing the ad and immediately making a purchase.
Buyers are more aware of marketing tactics and are actively resisting the desired result of those tactics.
So brands looking to increase sales or awareness of a particular product should begin blogging about the benefits of that item. But think about the benefit to the end-user, not the benefit of the marketing and sales departments.
If your goal is to sell more fish tanks, write blogs about the increased health benefits of maintaining a fish tank; how fish tanks in professional settings lower stress levels; or how fish tanks in the home correlate to kids having a better sense of responsibility.
I have no idea if fish tanks do any of those things, but if you’re selling fish tanks, I hope you can think about these types of benefits
The point is, by telling stories, offering advice, and being a helpful resource to the next customer — even when they are anonymous right now — you begin making those micro-deposits in the trust bank.
Read: You become a trusted advisor.
Blogging to Raise Awareness for a Cause
Fundraising, non-profit, and cause-based campaigns often struggle to spread the word about their mission. This results in tapping dry their existing following. Donors can only be asked for more money so many times.
Instead, the focus should be on attracting new potential donors to the pool.
Blogging for non-profits and social projects can have systemic effects. Look at how charity:water leveraged social media and storytelling (on their blogs) to spread the word about their cause.
They capitalized on several human emotions through storytelling to build a tangible sense of belonging and community supporting those without access to clean water around the world. Donors were connected in such a way that they felt emotionally invested, in addition to being financially invested.
Blogging to Increase Website Traffic
There are a number of reasons to want more visitors coming to your website. Regularly adding content is a way to keep attracting new visitors (through search engine results, social media shares, and other outreach marketing), but consistently adding new content keeps past visitors coming back.
Study after study shows that the more content on a website, the more traffic that website will attract. For example, a website with 51-100 pages gets 148%+ more traffic than a website with 1-50 pages. And both B2B and B2C companies with 101 to 200 web pages generate 2.5 times the number of sales leads than those with 50 or fewer pages.
The results are pretty clear. The more content you’re adding, the more traffic and sales leads your website will generate.
Blogging Best Practices
As you start blogging, it is important to know what the best practices are. I would hate to encourage you to start a company blog, only to have those efforts wasted because I didn’t tell you the general rules.
As with anything, best practices are semi-subjective. I’ll use a scale of Poor, Good, Better, Best when ranking these:
Ideal Blog Length:
- Poor: Less than 500 words
- Good: 500+ words
- Better: 1500+ words
- Best 2500+ words
If you’re just starting your blog, don’t fret about always producing 1500-2500 word articles. This is daunting! It is better to get started than to be paralyzed by fear. However, make it your goal to be in the Better-Best range quickly. This will demonstrate to the search engines that you are a subject matter expert and are worthy of their web traffic.
What to Blog About: Subject & Topics Ideas
- Common questions answered by your sales team
- What the ideal customer should know before making a purchase
- What your competitors would prefer your customer not know
- Non-biased advice on a product or specialty
- How your customer can benefit from choosing a certain product over another
- Buyer Beware stories
Pictures Are Worth 1000 Words
- The best blog posts have an image that supports the topic
- Include images that are social-friendly to encourage them to be shared on social media networks like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter
- Avoid generic stock photos (Here is a link to where to find high-quality photos for your blog)
Link to Other Resources
The best blog posts link to internal resources (other posts on your website) and external resources (sites that may offer more information than you are able to share) and landing pages to convert the visitor into a sales lead. Here are my landing page resources.
Proper On-Site SEO Practices
Finally, the best blog posts practice good SEO (search engine optimization) tactics such as proper page headings, titles, and URLs. I have another article here that discusses some of the best practices and the blueprint to the perfect blog post.
Before You Start Blogging for Your Business
A well-designed content marketing strategy centers on knowing your audience. Before you start your business blog, clearly identify who you are targeting. Knowing your audience will help you in the writing process because you will cater your writing to their specific needs, language, and decision-making factors.
Cautionary Tale of Starting a Blog
Obviously, I am a huge propionate of blogging for your business. But there are some areas which you should be aware of before you start.
Blogging takes time. It is a commitment that you must be willing to stick with, even when you don’t feel like writing.
There will be times when you face “writers block”. It is natural.
There are a few tricks I have learned over the 10+ years I have been blogging that you may find helpful to overcome writer’s block:
- Have a “hopper” of blog topics and ideas: this resource will be invaluable to refer to when you feel stumped.
- Look through Question & Answer sites: I frequent sites like Quora, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Clarity to see what people are asking — and how they are asking it.
- Work on a number of blog posts at once: sometimes the mental juice just runs dry on a particular topic. By having a couple of different articles in the queue, you can work on a second one while letting the first one simmer.
- Batch write: our brains are very powerful processing machines, but they do not multi-task very well in the creative arts department. Commit time to write, and write when you feel inspired. I like to write 3-4 blog posts in a “batch”. By the fourth post, I am really in the writing zone.
- Take a break: Sometimes just going to get a cup of coffee, going on a walk, or talking to a co-worker is enough of a metal break to get through the logjam.
- Turn off distractions: When I write, I close my browser tabs, turn my phone on Do Not Disturb, and put on the headphones. No distractions.
- Don’t edit or proof as you go: just write. Write sloppy, jump around, ignore grammar rules and throw spelling out the window. Just write. You can proof later.
It Takes Time to Stick
For the first 3-6 months of blogging, it will feel like you’re publishing into a black hole. Expect little to no interaction. No comments from readers. No social shares. No private messages of encouragement.
Stick it out.
On average, it takes 3-6 months of posting 2 times per week before your blog gains the traction needed to feel rewarding.
There is an emotional and technical reason for this. First, the emotional reason:
Humans are generally quick to trust, but slow to let down their guard. Meaning, we want to trust someone, but we still approach relationships (even those formed through a blog) with caution.
By sticking with your consistent blogging efforts, and sharing your advice, you will build trust and authority for your topic of choice. This works whether you are selling guitar lessons, makeup tutorials, or physical products.
Stick with it.
Second, the technical reason, search engines like Google reward sites that post high-quality, original, and consistent content.
Since so many brands know this, they start off really strong. They share excellent content that is original (meaning it is not copied and pasted from some other source). But they are not committed to it. So, after a few weeks, their posts are less consistent and eventually stop.
Google hates this.
So those search engines watch to see how long you will stick it out, again, that tipping point is generally between 3-6 months.
NOTE: There are things you can do to shorten this schedule, but those are advanced topics that I share with my paid clients and mastery classes.
The point is to commit to 3-6 months before deciding to quit. The rewards will blow your mind when you reach that point of search engines dumping tons of new traffic your way.
You’ve made it through the toughest part!
I am a naturally private person. It is not easy or desirable for me to talk a lot about my life or personal experiences. When I first started blogging, I would try to remain as neutral as possible and not incorporate a lot of personal stories or details.
The result was blasé content. My readers did not interact with my early posts because it did not resonate. It was dry and the content could be found elsewhere.
Now, I am much more intentional about pulling back the curtain and explaining why my viewpoint is what it is. It is often shaped by experiences early in my personal and professional career. That history allows me to see problems and frustrations in a different light.
When you’re blogging, experiment with the balance of personal antidotes and professional advice. It should be personal enough that your following actually gets a sense of who you are — you’re both an expert and a person. Focus on being approachable and not stand-offish like I was at first.
It is About You …. and Not About You
Readers of your business blog will certainly expect some bent towards your product. But blatant promotion is a huge turn-off and will drive traffic away.
When writing content, share your experience and advice — even if that means another product (not yours) is a better deal for the reader. This transparency actually strengthens your brand positioning.
Think about a hypothetical scenario where you are researching a hammer for a home improvement project. If you read a blog article from a company that sells only rubber mallets, and every one of their blog posts talks about how their rubber mallet is the best choice for your project, you would read with skepticism, to say the least.
Whereas, if that same company wrote and compared the benefits and features of a rubber mallet versus a carpenter’s hammer — including when a carpenter’s hammer would do the job better, there is an instant validity between the brand and the reader.
The reader is looking for information. Be a brand that writes the best possible information for the prospect.
How to Start a Blog for Your Brand
By now, I think it is clear that your business can benefit from a strong content marketing strategy and blog content.
So where do you start?
Getting a business blog is quite simple but requires a bit of technical knowledge — especially if you want some custom features or interactive content.
I believe it is better to start simple and add fancy features later. It is easy to become overwhelmed by complicating the process early.
Here is a list and timeline to get a business blog started:
- Define your ideal audience; what are their pain points, frustrations, questions, and concerns. This is what you’ll write about.
- What is your content marketing strategy? How often will you post? Who is responsible? Do you have an editorial calendar?
- What is your messaging style or voice? Serious? Light? Comical? Will you be focused on “How To”?
- Do you have a domain name already? I *always recommend your blog be on the same domain as your business website*.
- Setup a blog system. I recommend WordPress (this does require a little bit of technical know-how)
- Install Analytics / Tracking code like Google Analytics
- Start adding your content.
- Share your content on social media platforms, where appropriate
- Review your tracking data to find out where your visitor traffic is coming from, which posts are most popular, and what visitors are doing once they read your content
Conclusion & Next Steps
In general, I don’t feel it is ever too early to start blogging for your business. I’ve covered a great deal of information on when to start a blog, how to do it best, and when you should consider a blog for your brand’s marketing purposes.
Always start with a purpose — and a strong content marketing strategy will help with this. Next, define who you want to speak to and how you’ll share that message. Finally, commit the time to write high-quality content to establish yourself as an expert.
The rewards of blogging for your company are ripe for the taking, and those who earnestly commit will reap those rewards through deeper customer relationships and increased sales.
Inspiring post, Shaun. I think consistency in quality and frequency are so important. It’s not only a commitment to yourself to keep up that schedule, but to your readers, fans, and prospective customers. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks, Benjamin! Spot on. Holding yourself accountable not only builds your writing skills, but hones your ability to communicate to your audience — both add value in the eyes of the prospect or customer.