How to Start a Successful Blog

We have many blog posts dictating why having a business blog is so important for your company but, for this post, we have decided to create a guide on how to start off a successful blog.

The first step is to figure out who your target audience is and create your content around what they would be interested in knowing or learning about. You also want to make sure that what you are writing about plays along with the theme of your business.

Once you have come up with ideas for your content, put a unique twist on them by adding your own experiences, voice, and personality. Many times it can be difficult to come up with your own unique topic, this is where adding your own twist to popular content can come in handy.

Be consistent with uploading content. Create a content calendar where you can schedule in posts. Make sure to be realistic with the amount of content you will be distributing throughout the month. Do not push to post 3-7 days a week if you can’t come up with enough content. Instead start with 1 blog post a week and work from there.

Be honest and transparent. If there is something that your business needs to address or if you are trying to give advice to your clients, make sure you are being completely honest and are not feeding them ideas that would only be beneficial to your business. Your clients will read right through it.

Make your blog a community. Incorporate a comments box so that readers can ask questions and write about their own experiences. Use pronouns like “we” instead of “you.” You don’t want to be talking down to your audience; that’s the opposite of building a community.

Lastly, use your social media as a platform to promote your posts and help connect your readers.

New Year Resolutions for Small Businesses

 

Happy New Year everyone! With every New Year comes a new, sometimes recycled, resolution. We have come up with some New Year’s resolutions for small businesses, like us, that we’d like to share.

Focus on employees:

Building relationships within the company should always be a goal. By building relationships, the work environment becomes a more positive and profitable one. Planning more company outings and activities can help create new relationships and keep the ones that have already been made.

Stay in contact with customers:

Like building relationships within the company are important, so is building relationships with your customers. Make sure to check in with them to make sure everything is going well and that they are satisfied with the work your company is providing for them. This could also make it easier to follow up with any business concerns that may come about on either side.

Plan Ahead:

This is such a simple goal, yet somehow we find it difficult to keep up with. Planning ahead for any crisis or event is so important. It can save a company a lot of time and money.

Think about digital security:

Digital security has been a major concern for everyone individually and business wise in the entire nation. This year, take charge by getting better digital security for your company and say “out of the way” to hackers.

Create better marketing strategies:

A major way to help create a better marketing strategy is by improving specific geotargeting, especially online. This will help raise more awareness of your company wherever you want there to be.

Stay Present outside of the business:

It is very easy to bring home your work identity since it is such a great part of your life, but learning to separate your work identity from your personal identity is important. Try to leave all business work at the door of the office and mainly focus on your family and home when you clock out.

Say no:

Sometimes, it becomes difficult to say no to things you don’t believe are right for your business to your employees or customers. This year, make it a goal to get more comfortable with the word ‘no’ and stick up for what you believe is right.

Give up control:

Many times you may find that you are constantly trying to take control of everything going on in the business and end up becoming overwhelmed easily. Place more trust into your employees by letting them figure out things on their own, first, instead of trying to fix things yourself.

 

 

“A Year in Search 2015”

If you haven’t done so yet, you must watch “A Year in Search 2015,” a video that features the main worldwide events of 2015 and the questions they arose on Google Search.

The video shows a variety of clips from all the main events to hit the news this past year. It demonstrates events from the Syrian refugee crisis all the way up to the black/blue, white/gold dress crisis that had tormented humanity around the world.

In the background, the audio from Caitlyn Jenner’s moving ESPY Awards speech about overcoming all adversaries and moving along to greater things plays along. A very appropriate audio, this is, as we have all witnessed some difficult moments around the world and have worked to become more unified to overcome those moments.

The top 3 global questions that arose from the Paris Attack were:

  1. What happened in Paris?
  2. Why did ISIS attack Paris?
  3. Is it safe to travel to Paris?

Aside from the crisis, though, there were many great 2015 moments featured in the video like Queen Elizabeth II’s grand milestone, the discovery of water in Mars, and the release of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. Here are the top 5 entertaining questions that came about these amazing events:

Queen Elizabeth II’s longest-reigning British monarch—Top Questions in the UK:

  1. How old is the Queen?
  2. Where does the Queen live?
  3. Why does the Queen have two birthdays?
  4. What does the Queen do?
  5. How much is the Queen worth?

The discovery of water in Mars:

  1. Is there life on Mars?
  2. Is there life on other planets?
  3. Are aliens real?
  4. What do aliens look like?
  5. Is there water on Mars?

Release of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens:

  1. What order should I watch ‘Star Wars’?
  2. Who is Kylo Ren?
  3. Is Luke Skywalker Kylo Ren?
  4. When do ‘Star Wars’ tickets go on sale?
  5. Who is Finn in ‘Star Wars’?

Click here to watch the Google video: https://www.google.com/trends/story/2015_GLOBAL

Dos and Don’ts of Business Blogging

stock-illustration-26308096-education-and-school-and-education-speech-bubble-black-whiteThinking about starting a blog for your company?  Well, there are copious amounts of statistics out there that illustrate how beneficial blogging can be for your business marketing strategy.  For example, did you know. . . ?

  • B2B marketers that use blogs receive 67% more leads than those that do not.
  • Companies who blog receive 97% more links to their website.
  • Blogs give websites 434% more indexed pages and 97% more indexed links.
  • Blogs on company sites result in 55% more visitors.(Source: Hubspot)

While these stats are impressive and show how the pay off can be high for business blogging, it is important to realize that there are some basic rules to follow if you want your blog to create interest and ultimately convert readers into consumers of your brand.  A blog, or web log, can personalize, inform, and create interest in your company, service or product.  Let’s look at some critical Dos and Don’ts to get you started on blogging.

DO –

  1. Get Organized – Before you begin writing, formulate a list of topics that may be of interest to your readers.  Would they want to know more about your field?  Do they need “How to”  blogs?  Are they looking for professional opinions that your leadership could provide?  What angle are you hoping to take with your blog? Create a list of topics and plan them out on a blog calendar.  Whether you decide to blog once a week or once a day, keeping it consistent is important to not only the search engines who will register your increased activity but also to the readers who will come to expect information at certain times.
  2. Find a Voice – There really is nothing worse than reading a blog that sounds like wikipedia!  Be yourself and talk to the audience as if they are right  there with you.  This is a chance to show off what you know and your company’s personality all at the same time.  While your topics may draw in readers, your personality will keep them coming back!
  3. Titles, Headlines and Leads– These three things are extremely important.  Capture the audience’s attention right off the bat with a catchy opening line, statistic or relate-able story.  If they are not interested after the opening, they may not continue to read.
  4. Images – Always include some sort of image that relates to your topic.  Preferably use custom images that can highlight your company but if need be there are some great free images sites out there that can help you put a picture to the words.  (Top Sites to Find Free Images)
  5. Link to Social Media – Link or post a link to your blog on social media to encourage viewers to find your writing.

 

DON’T. . . .

  1. Offend or alienate any group– While it is okay to take a stance on issue that impacts your field of business, it is not a good idea to make statements that may turn off your viewers.
  2. Count Words – While search engines recognize meatier text over 500 words, shorter blogs that get to the point are fine as well and may be what your readers need.  On the flip side, if you have something to say and realize it may take more words, do it.
  3. Forget to edit – Mistakes are inevitable and the internet is filled with bad grammar and spelling errors, but try to edit your blog posts carefully to send a positive image of your company.

The Power of Blogging

Is blogging really a necessary part of a business marketing plan? Successful marketing leaders know that a content publication strategy can increase visibility, sales and leads.  Blogging is one major component of that strategy.  There are well over 150 million blogs on the internet currently, growing larger every day.  These are big numbers to absorb, even bigger considering blogs didn’t even exist 20 years ago.  In the marketing world, blogging has hit it big yet people still seem puzzled by the impact of blogging on business. Let’s take a few minutes to look at the power of blogging for your business.

  1. Increase in Search Engine Traffic/Rankings – Search engines love fresh content. What better way to provide frequent content than with blog posts. By blogging consistently, you give Google and other search engines new content to index and you create opportunities to plug in those all-important keywords to increase your visibility on search engine results pages (SERPS).(Source Open Vine) This increase in traffic can mean an uptick in conversions from leads to customers.
  2. Become an Authority in your Field – By sharing industry related information and “how-tos” you will develop a name for yourself and your brand as an expert in your field.  As you build up an audience for your blogs, you may find that customers refer to your information as a resource.
  3. Show your Personal Side – Blogging creates a unique opportunity to not only show off your expertise but also how a human and personal side to your business.  Readers will get to know you and your company through your voice in each blog.  That is why it is very important to keep blogs real and down to earth.
  4. Fast Feedback – When something new and exciting happens in your field, a blog can be a great place to have conversations about that event.  Ask questions and converse with your viewers about the news as well as gain valuable feedback about the changes.
  5. Leads and Conversions– An active blog sends a signal that your business is alive and well to the search engines as well as generating leads.  Research shows that the more pages a site has, the more leads it gets. According to Hubspot, businesses with 401-1000 pages of content get 6x more leads than those with 51-100. In simple terms, the more you blog, the more leads you generate. More content means more form submissions, more email opt-ins, more quote requests, and ultimately, more sales. (Source Forbes)

 

The Blogging Process

In earlier posts we have discussed the benefits for your company to set up and contribute regularly to a blog.  The statistics don’t lie.  For example, Hubspot’s 2012 Inbound Marketing Report highlighted the importance of blogging. According to the study, 57% of companies who have a blog reported acquiring a customer from their blog. In that same study, a survey of marketers revealed that 81% of businesses say that their business blog is useful to critical for their business. But knowing that advantages of having a blog is a far cry from actually setting one up and submitting to it frequently.  Here are some basic tips that I have used to organize and publish our small business blogs.

  • Get organized – Create a spreadsheet or editorial calendar that lists blogs for each month that you plan to publish.  Include in this worksheet a link to “brainstormed topics” that you feel your audience will want read.  Having an ongoing list will help you if ideas come to mind while working on other posts.  This worksheet should also list the days that you published each blog so that easy reference is possible.
  • Know your Audience – Who is it that you most want to “talk to”? Define what type of reader your company wants to attract and write to those people.  This may be “How to’s”, informational, opinion, insider tips, trending ideas, or just explanations of basic tools of the trade.  By targeting the blog towards a specific audience it has a clear focus and goal.
  • Scope – Be sure your blog covers topics that are both broad enough to include many people in your target audience but also include some that are narrower in scope to appeal to those who are looking for the “nitty gritty” details.
  • Stockpile blogs – Bloggers, such as myself, usually bank or stockpile blogs.  I usually try to write several blogs over the course of a few days so that they may be set up for publication in our wordpress platform.  This allows for time for revisions and time to complete other work projects.
  • Tone – Decide what type of tone you would like to have in your blogs.  Put your personality into it so customers can get to know your company and make a connection to your business and brand.

Happy Blogging!