Creating an effective business blog

Mark Newton

Managing Director

Posted on August 22, 2016

We spent years dithering about whether to start a regular blog on our website – in that mind-set where we knew we should be blogging, but were still unclear about its benefits and, quite frankly, frightened by the commitment involved.

How could we possibly come up with enough ideas and topics? Could we really keep it going every week? Was it going to be more work that it was worth?

We finally committed in December 2014 and, since then we’ve published a blog pretty much every week, sometimes more often. For the first few weeks we sweated over deadlines and kept wondering what we were going to talk about once we’d exhausted the half a dozen title ideas we started with.

Today, we are over 80 blogs in, we never fail to publish every week and we’ve seen some amazing results – it’s one of the most successful things we have done over the past 2 years.

However, here are some of the things we wish we’d known, which would have influenced our strategy. They might help you with your blog plans.

Engage your team

If you’re part of a team, engage as many people in the team as writers as possible. It keeps ideas flowing, shares the workload and automatically adds variety to your blog topics and style. If some members of the team are not confident enough to write a finished blog, consider a process where they do the research, write bullet points and then hand over to a more confident writer.

Clearly define who we are writing for

It took us some time to realise that we should have started by working out ‘personas’ for our potential readers. In effect, a set of reader profiles with interests and job responsibilities, to help us better understand whom we are writing for.

Set objectives for your blogs

An important task is to set objectives or criteria for your blogs, so that although they might cover a range of topics, they are all heading in the right direction. That’s particularly important if you’ve got a number of people writing. But the criteria doesn’t need to be too restrictive, because you want variety. For instance, the criteria for our blogs are:

  1. Must have some connection to financial marketing
  2. Should say something, however subtle, about us and what we do
  3. Shouldn’t be stolen from another website

Generating ideas

Start off with a team brainstorm of ideas and aim to get at least 8-10 initial ideas. If you’re struggling for ideas consider some of the typical questions or difficulties your clients have. You may also wish to do some online research, for example, look at which questions are being asked in LinkedIn groups, or using tools such as www.answerthepublic.com to see the questions being typed into Google.

Then schedule another brainstorm meeting every 3-4 months to come up with new ideas and make sure you’ve always got a list of titles in the bag and they’re allocated to your team of writers. After the first dozen blogs or so, ideas for future blogs will start to generate themselves. You realise that every week doesn’t require a new ‘big idea’, that one idea sparks another and you can delve into areas of specialist interest.

Make sure you can measure your efforts

As with any task you should have a way to measure your efforts. Make sure you have a way of measuring how many people are reading which of your blogs and give them a way to feedback or make comments. Looking at results helps refine your future schedule – it might also come up with some surprises in terms of what people are most interested in.

Encourage people to subscribe

If people have enjoyed your blogs and found them useful, they may be open to subscribing via email to your future blogs. It provides you a great opportunity to build relationships with your prospects and customers – keeping you front of mind.

The big bonus

We set out on our blog with a number of objectives in mind, only one of which was that it might help our SEO – our search engine rankings.

This has turned out to be the big bonus of the project for us. Without even trying to write optimised copy, only by blogging consistently on relevant topics, the effect on our rankings has far exceeded what we expected.

I’m not going to add any more stats or facts on this, just in case our competitors as well as our clients read this blog!

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