We recently shared some of the benefits of starting a blog for your business. Now, we’re diving into the nitty-gritty about what it takes to actually start a blog and how to make sure it’s successful. If you’re ready to up your content game and start an awesome blog for your business, we’ve got your back!
Research your competitors
Before you get too far into the blogging process, we recommend doing a little digging on your competitors’ blogs. Knowing what your competitors are doing on their blog will give you a good baseline for structure, topics, frequency, and more. Then, you can figure out what you can do to make your blog even better.
- Take a look at the structure of the blog and their website overall. How is it organized? Is the blog listed in the main nav or another location? Note what you like and don’t like about their structure, so you can make your blog even better.
- What do they call their blog? Examples we’ve seen include Blog, Resources, News, Tips, etc.
- How often are they posting content? You’ll want to note this so you’re sure you are keeping up and outperforming them!
- What are they writing about? This can serve as inspiration for topics for your own blog. You can also use tools like Moz to see what key phrases their blog posts are ranking for, so you can get a leg up on them.
Add a blog to your website
If you don’t have one already, work with your website developer or IT department to create a home for your blog content. Creating a home for your content is an important step in getting great results, but doesn’t have to be overly complicated, time-consuming, or costly. Having a clearly designated content hub makes it easy to add and sort your content; track posts using Google Analytics; and, most importantly, allows users to quickly find the content quickly and easily on your site.
You can use the information gained from competitors as a baseline of what you might want your blog home to look like on your site.
Do some editorial planning & research
Once you know what your competitors are doing, you can start digging into ways to make your blog even better. That starts with relevant, timely topics that resonate with your audience.
- Set SMART goals. Set some realistic SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely) goals so it’s easy for you to see if your content is paying off.
- Create buyer personas. If you haven’t already, we recommend really diving into your target audience and creating buyer personas (aka: semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers based on data and trends). Knowing exactly who you’re writing to and for will make your blog more successful and valuable in the long-run.
- Do keyword research using Google’s Keyword Planner Tool. This will give you insights into what your target audience are searching for, what questions they have, and what phrases you should be using as you write your content.
- Research trends and topics. There are lots of ways to research trends, but one of our favorites is Google Trends. You can explore what people are searching for in your industry, specific geographic region, and more. This comes in handy for developing content ideas.
Create an editorial calendar
Once you’ve done all the research noted above, you can start organizing your blog topics into an editorial calendar. We always recommend creating editorial calendars because they improve organization and help keep your blog more consistent. Here at E/Power, we create most editorial calendars on a quarterly basis, That provides us with a nice balance between of being able to work ahead on content topics while still allowing us to dive into results and adjust topics as needed.
Generally, editorial calendars include:
- A potential blog title
- The blog author
- A synopsis
- A purpose or goal statement
- A publish date/deadline
The goal of an editorial calendar is to keep you and anyone involved with the content creation process on track, so tweak it as you see fit. Feel free to add additional notes, image ideas, and more.
While we’re talking about developing your editorial calendar you may be wondering “How often should I be posting to my blog?” That’s a great question. Research from Hubspot has shown that 1-4 per week tends to be a good blogging frequency for small businesses to increase brand awareness and traffic to your site.
We’d echo that based on best practices, but understand that’s not always realistic for small businesses who are already swamped on time. With that in mind, keep the following in mind.
- Consistency is key. You want to keep a steady blog posting schedule — whether you post once a month or 5 times a week, That way, your readers know what to expect and your blog doesn’t go dark for extended periods of time.
- Quality over quantity. Both your readers and search engines are going to care a lot more about the quality of your writing than how frequently you’re publishing. One well-researched, edited post is going to be a lot more valuable than 10 short, skimpy posts that have grammatical errors because you were crunched for time.
Figure out how much time your team has to dedicate to blog creation and go from there to establish a routine of consistent, well-written blog content with unique information your audience actually wants to read.
Watch the data
Alright. You’ve added a blog home to the site, you’ve created some good content, and you’re feeling good about your new blog. Now what? Now comes the data! You should consistently be measuring your blog performance and making educated decisions based on the results.
Depending on your goals, a few key metrics you might want to pay attention to are:
- Pageviews and sessions. This shows how many people are viewing your blog. You generally want to see this go up over time.
- Bounce rate. This will tell you if people are doing what you want them to after they read your post or if they’re just exiting the site automatically.
- Comments and social shares. Keeping track of customer feedback both on the blog and the social channels you’re distributing it on is a good way to build relationships with customers and see if your content is resonating.
- Goal completions and revenue increases. Ultimately, your blog content should be guiding your audience through the buyer’s journey toward your end goal, so you should ultimately see goal competitions and/or revenue start to increase.
Once you dive into the data, you can use that to figure out what posts might need some editing, what posts you should reshare, potential new topics, valuable insights about your reader demographics, and so much more.
Got questions about starting a blog? The team at E/Power Marketing is here to help. From editorial planning and consulting to content creation and optimization, we’ve been helping small businesses find success with blogging and content marketing for more than 20 years. We’re happy to help you get started, just click below to get started!