A blog can be your company’s voice in the busy online marketplace. These online publications are easy to start, even for small business owners, and can help you reach new markets and customers. Learn how to strategically start a blog, target your ideal reader, and learn from measurable impacts.
1. Make A Plan And Determine Your Goals
In the earliest planning stages, a blog is no different than any other business project. Treat your new blog like you would any other decision. You wouldn’t try to launch a new marketing campaign on the same day you developed the idea, so likewise, don’t rush into publishing your first blog post. Give yourself time to plan before going live.
A clear plan and meaningful goals will help your blog be successful. Look to your business plan and consider what a blog can do for your overall targets. Do you want to increase sales or conversions this year? Showcase your services through your posts. Do you need to spread brand awareness? Focus on fun content readers will want to share with their social media networks. Are you trying to strengthen your relationship with your customers? Humanize your company with behind-the-scenes posts and employee spotlights. Decide what you’re trying to accomplish with your blog before moving forward.
2. Think Through The Logistics
Your blog doesn’t need to be complicated or fancy to be successful, but you will need to consider the practicalities before you publish. Decide who will write and maintain the blog, as well as how often you’ll post new articles.
Allocate enough time and resources towards writing your blog. Every small business is different, so you have lots of choices for selecting writers. If you have a marketing or social media position, managing a blog is a natural fit for these roles. In leaner companies, a new blog allows staff to take on fresh challenges. Some small business owners prefer to be the voice of the company and do their own writing. Outsourcing is another option. You can also mix and match these strategies to use a variety of writers.
Whichever model you choose, make sure your writers have space in their schedules. Set aside a couple of hours for each post. Readers respond best to high-quality, engaging writing, which does take time to produce. After you’ve published a few articles, reexamine your workflow and see if you need to make any adjustments.
3. Determine Your Audience
Plan your blog subjects with a particular audience in mind. Think about who is likely to visit your website, what they’re curious about, and how you can add value to their day.
If you’ve created marketing personas or ideal customer profiles, use these exercises to build your blog audience. A marketing persona is a fictionalized character who represents your average customer. Keep these personas in mind and your blog posts will quickly come together.
If you don’t have an ideal reader in mind, learn about your current audience. Look at existing data from web analytics, social media, email campaigns, customer surveys, and more. Use these insights to build a picture of who is already engaging with your business online. Think about this customer’s needs and plan your first series of blog posts about topics that meet their desires.
4. Start Writing
Once you’ve identified your goals, answered the practical question of who is doing what, and found your target readers, you’re ready to start writing. If your writing team is confident and experienced, this might be the easiest part of the process for you to manage. Simply give your goals to your writers and let them get to work.
For new bloggers and smaller shops, writing can be a different story entirely. It can be hard to start writing even when you have a robust plan. Blank pages are intimidating. Luckily, simple exercises can help you get your ideas on paper.
Many people find that speaking their thoughts feels more natural than writing them down. You can probably talk about your small business for hours, so turn on a voice recorder and start talking about your article’s subject. Once you’ve said everything important, you can listen to your recording later to write down what sounds the best.
You can also try brainstorming exercises. Find a stack of sticky notes or index cards and jot down everything you know about your blog’s subject, writing one note per card. Once you’ve written down all your thoughts, look through your collection of notes. What main ideas jump out? Sort cards into piles of similar themes. Then, choose the three biggest piles and adapt those cards into your blog post. Use the leftover notes as a jump start on your next article.
5. Learn and Adapt
After you start posting to your blog, make sure to track its performance. Reflect on the goals you set and see whether the blog is making an impact. Are you finding changes in conversions, web traffic, email clicks, or any other metric? Your posts may be lead to increases in unexpected areas, so take a look at all of your analytics at regular intervals.
As with any project, you can try new strategies when you don’t see enough movement. If you’re not reaching your original goal but are seeing growth in other areas, lean into the success you do have. For example, if you find a growing social media reach, be sure to share all of your blog posts on your social platforms. If email subscriptions are going up, make sure your email campaigns are fresh and current. Engaging, authentic writing will grow your customer base over time. Stay confident and keep publishing.