Note: We wrote this book in 2019 combining all of our areas of expertise and experience and were due to publish in 2020. Then the world went to hell in a handbasket and we decided to put it on pause. Because Silhouette Creatives is all about adding value to your business and everyone just needs to recover from the previous year we have had. We decided between us that we would put it out there as a completely free resource for blogging for business instead!
(So if you see mentions of it being a ‘book’ and not a ‘post’ that’s why 🙂 )
What do you want to know?
*Click the link and it should scroll you down the post if you don’t want to read the whole thing:
- Introduction: The Background of Successful Blogging
- The Benefits of a Blog to Your Business
- How to Use Your Blog to Complement Your Business Model
- Starting a successful business blog (the logistics)
- Identifying Your Target Audience
- How to Research Content Ideas within Your Industry
- Guidelines for Business Blogging Etiquette
- Optimising Your Blog to Get More Traffic
- Converting Blog Posts to Sales
- How to Market Your Blog
- How to Manage Business Blog Comments and Feedback without Impacting Sales
- Best Practices for Success
- Key Takeaways
- Frequently Asked Questions
Chapter 1: Introduction
The introduction of blogs is not as new of a concept as people may think. Businesses have been sending updates to their shareholders and stakeholders for years, and for those with the budget, quarterly magazines or leaflets help to stay present in a customer’s mind.
Luckily, with developing technology, businesses are more accessible than ever and that is where a blog comes in.
So, here’s the complete guide to creating a successful blog for your business!
The humble blog is often overlooked by marketing strategists, but you’d be missing a trick without one. I’m here to show you how blogging is hugely beneficial to all businesses, regardless of your industry. You probably have plenty of questions about the power of blogging for your brand so let’s look at some of the most common ones before I dive in.
What is a blog?
Take out all the fluff and essentially, a blog is a website (or section of your current one) reserved for informative, or conversationally toned articles.
Blogs can be owned and run by individuals, businesses, educational institutions, non-profits, NGOs – just about anyone!
Whilst a lot of people have tried their hand at creating a space on the internet to discuss topics that matter to them, a business blog is different. It retains the light-hearted tone, but posts are more focused and purposeful.
Why are they useful to businesses?
A a blog is simply a format that facilitates communication between a brand and its audience. What’s great about the tone and immediacy of blogs is that they make businesses more accessible than ever before!
They are an outstanding marketing tool to utilise regardless of your industry type and aim to specifically target customers, improve your brand awareness and give you more presence on the internet (among other things.) Plus, they can be income generators themselves if you have the right strategy and can extend your reach to global custom if you let them.
Imagine you’re selling products on a shop floor. If a customer approached you to ask a question, you would offer your expertise to assist them in solving their problem and discuss appropriate products or services that you offer. You might even offer an incentive in order to nurture the relationship and encourage customer loyalty. Consider a blog as an extension of this principle, with all the relevant capabilities and more!
The aim of this book is to break down the disconnect between businesses and their technology, so they can tap into the potential that blogs create. The digital age means that you can easily establish and maintain your blog with minimal outlay and huge returns on investment.
Ready to get started? Let’s go!
Chapter 2: The Benefits of a Blog to Your Business
As we mentioned, it doesn’t matter which industry you’re in; whether you’re providing a product, service, or consultancy, a blog can work for you. Having an online presence is crucial to securing new customers and maintaining a relationship with your existing client base.
The first thing we want to look at is why setting up a blog is worth your precious time and resources, as well as the impact it can have on your brand’s success.
Dip your toe in the global arena
If there is any room for growth into wider markets for your business model, use a blog to reduce some of the barriers to entry into the global playground. It can offer a halfway house for A/B testing of your products and services as well as a wider pool for opinions and reviews. You may find, for example, your products or branding become popular in other countries you never had access to beforehand, leading to a new shop overseas.
Alternatively, you can conduct easier surveys and research with a larger sample size to analyse the response to potential future products or initiatives. Gaining insight into what your customer’s preferences also allows you to tweak or improve your current services and products to remain competitive.
Next stop, world domination…
Reaching a wider audience
You’re most likely using platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or relevant forums already, as part of the effort to promote your business. The thing is, analytic data for these platforms favours paying customers, so if you aren’t buying ads, it’s harder to be seen.
A blog is its own platform. It not only provides the opportunity to say exactly what you like, whenever you like, but it also offers sponsorship and branding income streams of its own. As your business grows and gains greater recognition, the potential for advertising revenue increases, as other brands seek to piggyback off of this exposure.
Loyal blog followers are therefore an asset in more ways than one. Not only do they contribute to your blog’s audience and success as a marketing tool, but their interest also creates alternate revenue opportunities for you as the blog owner. As such, nurturing and maintaining a relationship with your audience is extremely important!
Have you ever been asked a question about your product or service that you haven’t been able to answer until you’ve performed some additional research or testing? This uncertainty can lead to customer returns and refunds; ultimately meaning that your business loses money.
Blogs are an ideal platform for addressing frequently asked questions, troubleshooting common issues, and providing guidance on how to get the most out of your products or services. Supporting your customers fosters long-term relationships, making your business more approachable and real than large, anonymous corporations. No matter the distance between you, customers across the globe will come to cherish your brand just as much as their favourite local businesses.
Imagine if a customer had bought a product from you without really knowing how to use it. Having access to a blog post that describes its operation and uses, as well as handy tips and tricks, will create a favourable opinion of your brand. They will likely become a loyal customer, consistently choosing your business over your competition, and recommending you to their friends. A simple action can have spectacularly positive results!
Challenging the competition
Businesses are constantly vying for the attention of customers they share with their competitors. A blog allows you to improve brand recognition and introduce potential customers – including those of your rivals – to your products and services. Therefore, blogging is a form of competitive marketing.
If competitors don’t have a blog, you’re already one step ahead in the race to sway their customers to your brand. The difference between rival companies can be negligible, and often, a customer’s decision depends on a minute detail. Running a useful and relevant blog can certainly make the difference, and persuade shared customers to choose you over the competition.
If you already have a website in place, a blog is a low-cost addition. And if your brand is embarking on its online presence for the first time, there are free options to get you started. Smaller organisations can either handle the content in-house, or hire freelancers to create and publish creative content. This can be considerably less expensive than traditional advertising, and the content can be kept indefinitely on your own blog.
Whilst multinationals have the budgets to run continuous advertising campaigns, smaller enterprises generally have to be more inventive. A blog is the perfect complement to the promotion strategy of any business, and smaller companies are able to take advantage with minimal cost impact.
Providing incentives for loyalty
We all like getting something for free. When you provide high-quality content to your audience, at no extra cost, it creates a positive impression of your business and incentivises visitors to choose your brand first. You might also choose to provide exclusive content, resources, and offers to your blog readers; this helps to drive loyalty and maintain a steady stream of traffic to your site.
Showing off what makes your brand unique – and superior to the rest!
Let’s be honest; the whole point of marketing is to show off how your brand is better than the competition. So why not use all the tools in your arsenal? A blog allows you to, directly and indirectly, engage with customers, and demonstrate the experience, proficiency, and strength that encapsulates your business.
Chapter 3: How to Use Your Blog to Complement Your Business Model
When running a business, a blog is an essential feature to your online presence. It allows you to engage with your target audience, build your profile, create a reference for customers, and increase traffic to your site.
Generally speaking, business types are divided into three areas; products, services, and consultancy. Of course, many brands have an overlap, but when scaling up, most tend to fit into one of the three categories. Whichever type of business you run, a blog will help you to achieve your short- and long-term goals. Don’t miss out on this awesome opportunity!
Let’s take a closer look at how a blog can revolutionise your business…
Building your online presence
Nowadays, consumers are routinely searching online to find the right business for their needs. Whether they’re looking for clothing, food, a new TV, or a plumber, most people will turn to search engines to find them.
So it stands to reason that in order to stay competitive, it is important to make yourself known online. Start with a Facebook or Instagram page to get your name out there, but as soon as it is viable, reserve a domain name that’s appropriate to your business and begin developing your own site. This needn’t be a daunting process; there are online tools to help you do it yourself, or you can enlist the help of a web designer for a reasonable price.
The next step is setting up your blog. It’s a space with boundless possibilities, so post regularly to build a reference point for visitors.
Interacting with your target audience
The tone of your blog will usually be conversational, but you’ll need to strike a balance between the nature of your business, and the image you want to project to existing and potential customers.
Use your blog to initiate a conversation with your audience. Leave the comments section open, and share each post to your social media pages. Give your customers the opportunity to react to your content, and make sure you reply to each comment. Demonstrate that you are able to engage with clients in a positive and effective manner, and this will leave an impression that pays dividends.
Driving traffic to your website
Search engine optimisation, or SEO, is a method of boosting a website’s position in relevant search engine results, which encourages increased traffic to the site. One of the key techniques in successful SEO is the use of keywords; that is, identifying the words most often used when searching for your type of business, and organically integrating them into your online content.
Using the right keywords in your blog posts can help your business to rise up the rankings, encourage new visitors to stop by, and allow you to convert increased traffic into custom.
A cost-effective way of advertising
It doesn’t cost you anything to use your blog for advertising. Whether you’re introducing a new product, rolling out an upgraded service, or simply updating your brand, let your customers know by writing a post about it on your blog.
External advertising can be extremely expensive, and you’ve already made an investment in your website, so don’t be afraid to use it to your advantage! A blog post shared across your social media pages is an effective way of drawing attention to your business, for free.
Case study: business coaching
Imagine that you sell business coaching. This counts as a service, but it may also be considered a consultancy if you’re working directly with customers, rather than through a teachable, franchised service.
How can a blog help this type of business?
Firstly, it’s important to ensure any content posted to a blog does not cannibalise sales. That is, give away advice but not the framework you would use to create an entire plan or strategy for them. Your goal is to entice a potential customer, without providing your expertise for free.
Instead, focus on information that is available publicly combined with your expertise and knowledge of their pain points. Package it in a way that is relevant and useful to your specific audience so that they don’t have to go anywhere else. Your aim is to guide a visitor into the sales funnel; provide information that piques their interest, but also makes them curious enough to want to ask questions. Remind them that you’re the right person to answer those questions and can provide a personalised service.
In this scenario, a business coach might consider writing a post with the following no-nonsense – if a little heavy-handed – title:
10 Reasons Why A Business Consultant Can Up Your Revenue Stream
Or, they may go for a more subtle, soft-sell approach, with a title like this:
How To Use More Structure To Cut Costs
Here, they can discuss the basics, whilst hinting at how a business consultant can offer the best advice on structure, cost-saving, and managerial efforts. This style does more to solve a problem for the reader, and it still allows the business coach to showcase their skills.
All businesses have the potential to experience tangible benefits stemming from the creation of a blog, whether they sell products, services, or consultancy. Better engagement, greater brand recognition, increased sales, new customers, improved market share, or boosted traffic – blogs can influence the realisation of any objective, whatever the business model.
Chapter 4: Starting a successful business blog (the logistics)
Starting a blog might seem like an overwhelming task, but when it’s broken down into bite-size components, the whole process becomes perfectly manageable and you’ll see it’s quite easy!
In this chapter, I’ll run through the steps that will help you to bring your blog to life, and using it to achieve your business goals. This will help you to visualise the project, and see that it’s really not intimidating!
Begin by setting your goals
What are your business goals? Short-term, long-term, big, small, local, or international, every brand is aiming towards something. Take a little time to figure out what you’d like your business to achieve. Not only does this help to guide your blog content, but it also provides worthwhile direction to your business overall.
Next, you can begin connecting the dots between your blog and your goals. Think of the blog as a cog that helps to get the mechanism for your goals in motion.
For example, let’s imagine you run a company selling customisable jewellery. Your short-term goal might be to increase sales by 50%, while your long-term goal could be to offer your products in another country. How can a blog help?
Firstly, use your blog to show off your products. Take beautiful pictures and write about the benefits of customisable jewellery. Then, give your audience gifting ideas and demonstrate how their lives will be enhanced by what you have to offer. Transform the passion you have for your business and products into engaging content.
The best part? This principle is transferable, whatever your industry.
Be relevant and conversational
In the next chapter, I’ll discuss the concept of finding your perfect audience. Targeting a specific demographic allows you to focus your content on the people who will get the most out of it, making it relevant to their needs. It also makes it easier to create, since you’re not trying to appease a broad audience.
The readers of your blog already hold an interest in your company, and they often want to know more. Keep your content personal and relatable by speaking to your readers as if they are friends. Use a conversational tone to build rapport and establish that elusive – and rewarding – relationship.
Make it useful
Readers must feel like time spent on your blog is worthwhile. In such a resource-dense online space, there’s plenty of competition, and they won’t stick around for long if you’re not providing something useful. Posts needn’t be instruction manuals for readers to get something out of them; an entertaining post with nuggets of information, presented in an accessible, easy-to-digest style, are just as worthwhile!
Think about the possible outcomes of your blog-related actions. For example, if you offer your readers useful tips or links to other websites, they’ll have a positive impression of your blog, making them likely to recommend it to other people. This expands the reach of your content – as well as your potential readership – without you having to do any additional work. Imagine if one reader became a hundred, then a thousand, and beyond!
Similarly, if your blog provides up-to-date and pertinent information about your industry, other websites will link to it. This also increases traffic to your blog. In turn, search engine algorithms will pick up on your website’s popularity, and its position in search results will improve. This makes it more likely to be found by people making relevant searches, which feeds back into increased traffic and greater sales.
Once you begin to analyse the power held by a blog, creating one is simply irresistible!
Use relevant keywords
In the same vein as search engine optimisation, or SEO, a key component of increasing your blog’s popularity is to seamlessly integrate relevant keywords within your content.
Appropriate keywords can be researched online, using tools such as Google Ads and Wordstream. Enter words related to your industry, product, or service, and you’ll be presented with the most popular search terms. Once you’re armed with the most relevant keywords for your brand and blog subject, integrate them in the copy of each post, without being heavy-handed. This can take time to finesse, and a freelance copywriter can assist while you learn the ropes.
When keywords are used correctly, your blog will drive traffic to your website, improving its search engine position, strengthening your brand’s online presence, and ultimately increasing sales.
Make regular updates
Whilst it’s exhilarating to set up a new blog, don’t fall into the trap of neglecting it once the novelty wears off; you’ll need to post regularly to maximise its impact. Your readers will soon lose interest in a blog with an erratic posting schedule.
Make sure to factor in time to update the blog within your weekly schedule. Posting on a specific day – or even better, multiple days a week – gets both you and your readers into a routine. They know when to expect new content, and you have a firm date to work towards. Of course, you don’t need to shoulder the responsibility on your own; work with your team to share posting duties, and don’t be afraid to work with a freelance copywriter if your own hours are squeezed.
It’s far better to post small updates regularly, rather than reams of information infrequently. If you have a mega-post in mind but don’t have the time to sit down and write it in one go, why not break it up? Create your own mini-series and spread the content out over several posts. Not only does this alleviate the pressure of having to write a bunch of words in one sitting, but it creates buzz around the content and increased visitor numbers. Instead of landing on one master-post, readers will click on multiple pages. This can organically increase the popularity of your site.
Blogging is all about commitment. There might be times when the last thing you want to do is spend time creating content. That’s perfectly understandable! But it’s worth persevering. A well-maintained blog creates a positive impression of your brand, whilst a neglected blog with infrequent updates has the opposite effect.
It’s also worth creating a bank of content for busy periods or times when you simply don’t have the resources to commit to creating new posts. Instead of having to worry about where your next blog will come from, you’ll have posts ready and waiting for you to hit ‘publish.’ Make good use of moments of creative inspiration!
A blog is a low-cost and extremely effective marketing tool. With passion, creative flair, careful planning, and steadfast commitment, you’ll soon have a blog that works hard for your brand!
Chapter 5: Identifying Your Target Audience
One of the key challenges when writing a blog is knowing who to write for. Fortunately, there are practical ways to help you identify your target audience, allowing you to create engaging content that’s precisely tailored to their needs and preferences.
In this chapter, I’ll show you the steps to discovering your brand’s online tribe.
Defining your niche
Firstly, to create a blog that’s pertinent to your audience, you need to know your brand’s niche. For example, there’s no point in devoting your blog to the latest trends in women’s fashion if you’re in the tech business; unless those worlds collide, of course!
Your niche is more than just your industry or sector. It’s the features that makes your brand unique. It’s the superior aspects that make your business better than the rest. It’s everything you want to showcase. Don’t be shy; your niche is something you want to shout from the rooftops, and embracing it will help you to find your target audience.
Taking cues from your existing customers
If you’ve been established for a while, even without an online presence, you’ll already know about the kind of people who are purchasing your products, services, or consultancy.
There’s a lot to learn about your blog audience from your current customer base. What are their purchasing preferences? Is there a specific age group or gender that you tend to work with? Are your sales seasonal or more spread out during the year? You know your customers better than anyone else, and knowledge is power when it comes to blogging.
Analysing demographic data
Next, it’s time to gobble up all the analytic data you can find. Using tools such as Google Analytics and Quantcast, you’ll be able to discover demographic information about your visitors. As well as basic data, like location, gender, and age, these services offer enhanced insight into variables such as devices and operating systems used to access your site, popular visit times, and household income. This allows you to tailor your content with absolute precision.
Taking a sneak peek at your competitors
Whilst pilfering content from your competitors is highly discouraged, you can absolutely use their website to inform the decisions you make and find the audience that’s perfect for your own blog.
You will have considerable crossover with your closest competitors – similar products, services, or consultancy packages. You’re targeting the same people when trying to make a sale, so it makes sense to deliver blog content to a similar audience.
Take time to analyse what your competitors are posting; most importantly, find out who they are targeting.
Adopting a broader approach
This might sound counterintuitive, but there certainly is scope to create content that appeals to a broader demographic than your usual target audience. For example, if you sell supplements for weight loss and create content based predominantly on that subject, you might wish to expand your scope to include complementary subjects, such as exercise, fitness equipment, and sports clothing.
This allows you to extend your reach and find loyal followers that might be outside of your target audience, yet still hold an interest in buying from you.
Knowing your target audience is one of the most crucial parts of blogging. Once you have the ideal visitor in mind, it helps you to create pertinent and purposeful content. If in doubt, imagine you’re speaking with a loyal customer in-person, and use the friendly, informal tone that helps to build rapport and trust.
Chapter 6: How to Research Content Ideas within Your Industry
Business blogs can get a bad rap. They tend to be viewed as stuffy, boring, and laden with tiresome statistics. Whilst that is true for some blogs, it certainly doesn’t represent the cutting edge of online content.
To be successful in your own blogging odyssey, aim to consistently deliver informative, witty, and interesting material. Not only does this set you apart as a quality brand, but it also contributes to changing perspectives of blogging in a more general sense.
It can be tricky to find innovative content ideas, but there are tactics to help you in this endeavour, which will be the focus of this chapter.
Peep the competition – again!
Allow us to reiterate; don’t steal directly from your competitors! However, you are welcome to take inspiration from content that is popular with their readers. Emulate their success by taking an idea and delivering a perspective that’s even better!
Ask the audience
This may seem completely obvious, but going directly to your audience is the best way to find and discover content they’d like to see. Set up a poll, survey, or discussion thread to drum up ideas. It’s a win-win strategy; not only will you receive a flood of ideas, but your audience will also get the content they really want!
Tap into the creative talent of your team
Your team can be a great source of content ideas. Encourage them to share their thoughts with you, and give them the opportunity to flex their creative muscles if they wish to have a go at writing blog content. As well as alleviating the pressure on you, it’s a great chance for your team to expand their skills.
Keep an ideas bank
Have you ever been struck by a wave of creative inspiration at the most random time? In the shower, during a boring meeting, or at 4 a.m. on a Monday morning? We’ve all been there! When great ideas pop up, take a moment to write them down. You don’t have to create the copy there and then, but having a bank of prompts can help if the well of ideas dries up.
There are countless of online articles full of inspiration for creative content. Even if your industry is pretty niche, there are great ideas to be found. You might also wish to join a forum for business owners or marketing professionals in your sector, and garnish ideas from there.
Hop on trends
Enjoy a spike in popularity by including content that’s tuned into the hottest trends. It’s not recommended to focus entirely on trendy subjects, but it makes perfect sense to tap into topics that are having a moment – just as long as you can catch them at the right time! Check out Google Trends to discover what’s hot right now.
Researching content ideas might seem daunting, but once you get into the practice of using the techniques described in this chapter, you’ll consistently produce high-quality, valuable content. Don’t forget to always keep your audience, existing customers, and new clients in mind; these are the people you are trying to reach, and so your content should be tailored to them.
Chapter 7: Guidelines for Business Blogging Etiquette
Did you know that blogs are ranked fifth amongst the most relied-upon information sources on the internet? It’s also estimated that between 70 and 80 percent of people spend the majority of their time online in search of knowledge, information, and services.
With that in mind, incorporating good etiquette is essential when it comes to business blogging. Being professional and reliable creates trust between you and your audience, and encourages visitors to share your blog with their circles. This helps to boost your traffic and, consequently, lead to increases in engagement, brand recognition, leads, and sales.
What is business blogging etiquette?
Essentially, it involves ensuring the integrity and accuracy of information you present, whilst avoiding negligence and potential slander. In some circles, it is incorrectly assumed that all online content is shrouded in protective anonymity, but for business users, this disconnect simply doesn’t exist.
Practicing good etiquette can set you apart from competitors, making your blog an expert resource that people can rely on. Let’s now take a closer look at specific guidelines.
Content must be honest, true, and provable
Create mutual trust between you and your audience by making sure that everything you write is honest. Do not simply write statements you believe to be true, but also ensure that they are well-researched information that can be backed up with relevant data, particularly when making broad statements.
Your posts must have a purpose
Nobody wants to read a page of waffle that is nothing more than a poorly constructed advertorial. Readers are looking for value, so your posts should be dense with relevant information and a creative flair.
An excellent way to do this is to solve a problem for your audience. Let’s say that you’re a photographer and visitors are looking for location ideas for engagement pictures. You can solve a problem for the reader by writing about beautiful locations in your working area; this is valuable for your audience and the quality of your post creates trust. Remind them that you’re an ace photographer, and enjoy the influx of new clients!
Focus on the fine details
As mentioned above, you don’t need to be a prolific author to manage a blog. That said, it’s critically important to ensure that your posts are not littered with spelling and grammar mistakes.
Before you click ‘publish,’ give your post a thorough proofread, run it through a free quality checker (such as Grammarly), and pass it on to a colleague or friend for another set of eyes to run through. This stage of the process ensures that you come across as conscientious and professional.
Maintain respectful, cordial relationships with everyone you encounter online. When communicating, be impeccably polite and cautious with your words at all times. Like the old adage says, treat others how you’d like to be treated!
Chapter 8: Optimising Your Blog to Get More Traffic
A blog is a valuable addition to the online presence of your business. It allows you to make a connection with your existing customer base, as well as new visitors that may become customers.
There are several techniques that allow you to optimise your blog and maximise traffic to your website. Let’s take a closer look.
On-site and off-site promotion
As mentioned in chapter 3, SEO is the practice of using specific techniques to improve a website’s position in relevant search rankings. There are several ways you can utilise SEO to your website’s advantage, which are broadly divided into on-site and off-site SEO.
On-site refers to the techniques applied to your own website, such as keyword research, enhanced page titles and headers, meta-tags, descriptions, and internal links.
Off-site includes all efforts outside of your website, such as the use of social networks, backlinks, posting to forums, blog directories, and any other external platform.
Both approaches are important in terms of drawing visitors and retaining them. Ensure you take an integrated approach; maximise the quality of your online content, whilst engaging with potential visitors externally. Don’t resort to spamming, but where appropriate, take every opportunity to highlight your business and its online presence elsewhere.
As the name suggests, evergreen content is built to withstand the test of time. It doesn’t suffer the curse of becoming outdated, and it retains its relevance for visitors whenever it is accessed.
Including evergreen content on your blog is a great idea. Although posts about current trends may draw an audience to your website whilst they’re relevant, it is the timeless content that will work the hardest for you over the long term.
When planning your website’s content, take a moment to consider what your current and future customers will want to know about your industry or niche. Is there pertinent information that is unlikely to change over time? This is the foundation of your evergreen content.
One aspect of the algorithm for search engine indexing involves analysis of the current relevance of online content. Essentially, if the information on a page is outdated and visitors have dropped off, it falls down the list of results.
Evergreen content tends to avoid this, as it retains a steady audience over the long term. Consider an article listing the top ten trends in an industry for a specific year. The page will likely reach the peak of its popularity soon after it’s published, but as soon as its relevance drops, visits tail off pretty quickly. Conversely, informational content related to the same industry may not reach the daily peak of its time-limited sibling, but it will retain its relevance over a far longer period of time. A slow burner will do more for a website’s rankings than a one-hit wonder.
Once you have planned the content you’re going to publish, it’s time to think about the practicalities of creating it. Whether you’re writing content yourself, or enlisting the assistance of a specialist, one of the key factors that must be focused on is readability.
A dazzling headline will draw visitors to your site, but if the written content is difficult to absorb, their visits will be short. Focus on making the information as accessible as possible, without speaking down to your audience. Be snappy and to the point, with an added creative flair to make your content engaging.
If you’re producing a lot of content in one go, or you want to be absolutely sure about your routine blog posts, consider hiring an editor or proofreader to help. An investment in the quality of your written work from the outset, much like evergreen content, will pay dividends over the long term, without additional input or maintenance.
Finally, put yourself in the place of your audience. Run through the content on your website and be honest; does it make sense to you? If you’re in any doubt, review it until you’re confident that your message is crystal clear and perfectly accessible.
As discussed in chapter 5, you should have a good working knowledge of your ideal client, their basic demographic profile, and their preferences.
When writing content for your website, you must always have this ideal client in mind. Ensure that they are served first and foremost. Consider what kind of information they desire, and how you can deliver that information in the content you publish.
It’s also important to make sure that your headlines and title pages are not misleading. Your visitors are shrewd enough to spot clickbait, and they are unlikely to be impressed with the practice. As tempting as it may be to use outlandish titles to draw interest, it doesn’t demonstrate professionalism, and won’t pay off in the long run.
As such, the content contained within a post must be in keeping with its headline. Do your research and present information that is relevant to your ideal client. You will soon have an online portfolio that demonstrates consistently great content, which will ensure repeat visits. It will also encourage visitors to share your content across their own social media, feeding into the off-site SEO discussed earlier.
Engagement with customers
A blog provides an excellent opportunity for you to engage with your customers. It is your space to use entirely as you wish, and there are no boundaries to the creativity you can demonstrate.
Ensure that you use a blog wisely by creating content that is tailored to the needs and preferences of your customers, present and future. Find out what your customers want to know; encourage them to complete a quick and simple survey, provide them with an email address to send their feedback, and don’t be afraid of the comments section!
Integrate a blog with your existing social media portfolio. If you have a Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter account, use them to promote your blog. Similarly, don’t forget to add links to your social media pages at the end of every post. Show your customers that you have a joined-up approach to your online presence.
Showcasing your knowledge and expertise
Often, the motivation to start a business stems from an entrepreneur’s passion and interest in the product or industry they represent. You will already have a wealth of knowledge and expertise in your business area; use your blog to showcase it. Become known to your customers as the first and only place to find precisely the right information that they need.
Facilitate this by using direct titles for your posts, and integrate keywords that help search engines to place you at the top of listings. Consider a regular series of blog posts, with a consistent theme, such as product insight or reviews, and ensure that you are writing these posts regularly. Soon, you will build a knowledge base that your customers can access whenever they need it.
Keeping your customers up-to-date with news and information
Your blog is the perfect tool for marketing. Use it to share up-to-date information with your customers, to generate hype around new products or services, and to expand upon the news you share across social media platforms. Encourage your customers to bookmark your blog or add it to their feed.
Don’t forget that a blog provides an opportunity for you to market your business, products, and services at no additional cost. You’ve already paid for hosting, so utilise your website to the max! A well-integrated online marketing strategy, utilising your own website and social media accounts, can generate significant interest and conversion into new business, without the expense of traditional advertising.
All of these techniques can be used in combination to optimise your blog, making it a powerful tool in your marketing strategy. Don’t forget that well-researched, relevant, and readable content is key.
Chapter 9: Converting Blog Posts to Sales
Believe it or not, you don’t have to be a natural salesperson to succeed in business. One of the best things about blog content is that it can do a lot of the sales-related work for you.
High-quality, useful content will – when delivered consistently over time – become a preferred informational resource for your readers. Trust is a huge factor in purchasing decisions; given the choice between an unknown brand and one that a potential customer already has a good relationship with, the decision is a no-brainer. Customers will always buy from the provider that holds the greatest level of trust, especially when it comes to important purchases.
There’s no need to use any pushy sales tricks or annoying gimmicks when you’re driving sales through a blog; instead, the relationship grows organically through mutual respect.
I’ll now turn your attention to the techniques you can use to transform blog posts into sales. There’s no need to be the pushy salesperson that most of us try to avoid! You can be effective without being that guy.
Research is key
Although consistent posts are important, it is thoroughly recommended to put quality over quantity. Some businesses fall into the trap of believing that any content is better than nothing, but it simply isn’t true.
Replicating and regurgitating the content of everyone else in your industry won’t lead to success. Nor will churning out poor-quality blog posts for the sake of having something to fill space on your website. This approach will soon alienate visitors and remove the opportunity to transform them into customers.
Instead, you should offer resourceful, entertaining, and unique content that gives a fresh perspective or different angle on subjects that are important to your audience. Don’t forget that the effort you put into your content helps to encourage trust in your brand. That begins with research. Find out what your audience wants to know, and present the answer in a creative way that’s quintessentially yours.
Capitalising on the power of social media
Your blog and social media accounts are partners, working hand-in-hand toward the same business goals. The relationship works in both directions; your social media activities should promote the content posted on your blog, and your blog should make references to the spaces across social media where readers can follow and interact with you. It’s all about a consistent message and keeping the conversation flowing between your brand and its audience.
Sharing buttons are crucial to this effort. As well as your own promotion across your social media accounts, sharing allows your loyal readership to become extra promoters. And let’s not forget the power of word of mouth. We are all inclined to respect the opinions of people we already trust, and that principle certainly extends to business.
Think about the last time you made a major purchase. You probably took on board the opinion of at least one other person, and that kind of testimonial can have a powerful sway on our decision-making process.
In that sense, content shared by your followers will help to extend your reach, bring in new visitors, and ultimately lead to increased sales. All from a simple sharing button. Amazing!
Remember to update your blog regularly
As mentioned previously, it’s impossible to get the most out of your blog if you’re not updating regularly. Realistically, readers won’t stick around and develop that crucial feeling of trust if posts are sporadic. An upload schedule that is reliably adhered to is an important aspect of developing trust.
Aim for a minimum of one to three posts per week. Remember, quality over quantity with a focus on consistency. If you can realistically manage two well-researched 500-word posts per week, set that as your schedule and stick to it. Don’t feel forced into daily 1000-word articles if that’s something you know will last for less than a week. Your audience will quickly pick up on the consistency you demonstrate, and you can make it clear to new visitors by placing your blogging schedule at the end of each blog. A simple message such as this sets the expectation from the outset:
We publish new posts every Wednesday and Sunday, and we’d love to see you here again soon! Click here to follow us on Twitter and you’ll be the first to know about new posts!
You can switch out the Twitter link for Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, or any other platform that’s best suited to your brand and audience. You can also offer visitors the opportunity to sign up for an email newsletter; this also helps you to make a conversion, which is the perfect segue into our next point.
Use a call to action (CTA)
When you create resourceful and relevant blog posts, you’ve already began to lay the foundations for boosting sales. Readers will become more aware of the products or services you offer, which – all being well – piques their interest in making their own purchase.
The next step is to encourage them to make a conversion. This action moves visitors along the sales funnel, transforming them into leads. For your visitors, a conversion can be as simple as providing an email address. This contact information can be used to nurture the relationship and gently guide the lead further down the sales funnel.
You should make it as quick and simple as possible for visitors to make a conversion. A call to action (CTA) is, as the name suggests, is a technique used to encourage visitors to increase their interaction with your brand. This can be a short, encouraging statement at the end of a post, with a button to take your visitor to another section of the site, or a form in which they can enter contact information directly.
It’s a good idea to offer your new lead something in return for their treasured contact details. A free resource, such as an eBook, guide, checklist, or customisable template, adds value and makes your new lead feel like they are getting a good deal. These documents can also be used by an infinite number of leads; once you’ve taken the time to create a resource, it’s a commodity that keeps on giving. Alternatively, you can offer a free consultation or a discount code, depending on what is most appropriate to your business.
A CTA also helps to highlight a connection between the topic of your post and the products or services that you provide. As an example, imagine that your business creates content for other brands. You might write an article about the benefits of blogging, with a CTA at the end that reads as follows:
Would you love to create a blog but don’t know where to begin? Click here to see my guide on ‘Becoming a Blogger!’
This serves three distinct purposes. Firstly, there’s a clear link between the content of the blog post and the services offered by the brand. Secondly, the CTA provides a solution to a problem the visitor might have, in the form of a free resource. Thirdly, it encourages the visitor to make a conversion, which creates a lead for the business.
It’s amazing how a seemingly simple addition to the end of each blog post can have huge consequences for customer relationships and future sales.
Remember to link internally
Another challenge when it comes to blogging is persuading people to actually visit your site. And once they have arrived, the next and immediate task is to encourage them to stick around! How can you do it?
The best approach is to link internally; that is, to provide links within blog posts to other relevant content. This keeps the momentum on your own website and encourages visitors to get a feel for your brand. In turn, this can encourage conversion and eventual sales.
When you’re tackling a blog post, think carefully about other posts that your visitor might be interested in reading. For example, if you’re writing about the best SEO techniques, you can link to a post related to good SEO practice. The provides an organic flow for the reader, and if you have CTAs on both pages, you double your chances of securing a lead!
Reference your products and services
A blog is a marketing tool, so don’t avoid mentioning the products and services you offer within the text of your blog posts. Of course, you don’t want to come across as too salesy, and a pushy pitch will very rarely – if, at all – encourage anyone to move from casual visitor to customer.
That said, if the topic covered in your post has a connection with a product or service you provide, mention it! Be tactful; a forceful interjection is clumsy, but a natural, ‘in passing’ mention provides value without becoming a full-post advertorial. Focus on making a useful connection for the reader that also encourages them to give your business a try.
Promote your email list
Does your brand have a newsletter? If so, bring it in alongside your new blog! A weekly email to customers and opt-in readers helps your audience to keep up-to-date with important information, sneak peeks into what you’re planning to introduce in the near future, and promotional tools such as exclusive discounts and advanced warning of sales.
Your email list is a key component of your online marketing strategy. It allows you to have a more intimate dialogue with your audience, and provides the opportunity to really get them interested in the products or services that you sell. It’s another facet in the push to drive trust between your brand and the reader, who is always a potential customer.
Take advantage of customer reviews
Impartial reviews are invaluable when making a purchasing decision. Most of us will turn to the internet when making a purchase, to find out what people like us thought about a product under consideration. Before making a purchase, it’s all about building confidence.
Highlight the good reviews you receive, and add images or videos alongside positive reviews, so visitors can see your brand in action!
Use sidebars to promote your products and services
Banner adverts may not be as effective as the once were, but they’re still a great way to highlight the products and services that you offer, as well as free resources and CTA opportunities.
To get the most out of a sidebar, make the components eye-catching but not garish, informational but not word-dense, and enticing without being annoying. Keep is short, smart, and snappy!
There you have it! Nine different ways to use your blog as an important cog in your brand’s sales machine. Incorporate these ideas into your own website, and watch your business grow!
Chapter 10: How to Market Your Blog
You’ve done it! Your blog is live, and you’ve spent hours curating well-researched, relevant, and engaging posts. All that’s left to do is bring visitors to your blog. This can be a challenge, but there are plenty of ways to create a buzz around your content, promote long-term interest, and transform traffic into new business.
Create a Facebook page
Creating and updating a Facebook page encourages direct engagement with your audience.
Current customers will feel empowered to communicate with you, share feedback, and seek support. Potential customers will check your page to get a feel for your ability to engage positively, so it’s important to demonstrate that consistently. The best part is that a Facebook page is absolutely free, and gives you access to a large population of potential visitors.
Post to Instagram
It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words, which certainly helps to explain the popularity of this image-sharing platform. Businesses are now taking the potential of Instagram seriously and channelling resources into producing relevant content for their audience. The beauty of Instagram is that you don’t require a studio and a photographer to make an impact. Smartphones generate decent photos that are perfect for the platform; sharing them with relevant hashtags will help you to connect with a vast audience. If your business isn’t inclined to produce beautiful flatlays, create striking infographics to generate interest in your blog.
Make sharing easy
Ensure that you have sharing buttons at the end of each blog post. This will make it easy for your visitors to spread the word to their friends. Remember that these are split-second decisions; if sharing buttons are hidden away, it reduces the incentive to share your content.
Comment on other relevant blogs
Engage with other businesses or blogs that are producing content relevant to your industry or niche, and don’t forget to include a link to your blog. Visitors to other blogs, particularly those who take the time to comment, will be inclined to check out your brand. Ensure that their visits are worthwhile by maximising the quality of your content.
A newsletter is a fantastic way to engage with your audience on a regular basis. Use it to provide relevant information, as well as links to recent posts and any other content you wish to market. You may incentivise your audience by offering a special offer or discount code for your products or services.
Create videos and share them on YouTube
YouTube remains a powerful force in social media, and it would be remiss to ignore it whilst formulating your marketing strategy. Creating videos needn’t be daunting nor expensive. You can record on a smartphone, use free software to edit, and publish to YouTube at no cost. Make it relevant, and don’t forget to include links to your blog and social media accounts in the description!
Buy sponsored adverts
Sponsored adverts remain useful as part of your marketing strategy. Hone in on websites or social media platforms that are most likely to engage your target audience. You may need to spend a significant amount of money on sponsored advertising if you select a popular website, so consider its usefulness within the context of your other strategic efforts.
Get involved in forums
Forums can still be a great platform for marketing your blog. Narrow your focus on forums that are relevant to your ideal client, and ensure that your engagement is always positive. Don’t be forceful, and remember to behave professionally at all times.
Negotiate a reciprocal arrangement with another business
A fruitful strategy for small businesses, particularly those in the same area, is to work together to promote one another. Give your collaborator a shout out on social media, or within a blog post, and agree that they will do the same. You’ll both be exposed to new audiences, which can lead to a significant leap in traffic.
Sponsor an event
If you have the funds to do so, consider sponsoring an event that your target audience is likely to attend, or at least be aware of. Seeing your branding on promotional material of a well-regarded event will add legitimacy and create a positive buzz around your business, resulting in a boost in visitors.
Marketing your blog is just like promoting any other aspect of your business; focus on the right spaces, and your target audience has the best chance to become loyal readers, regular customers, and informal promoters.
Chapter 11: How to Manage Business Blog Comments and Feedback without Impacting Sales
Constructive feedback from your audience is extremely helpful in refining every aspect of your business. From products and services to promotions and online content, input from your most interested people help you to deliver a service that they want. In turn, this allows you to maximise sales.
Sometimes, comments from readers will not be polite, nor will they have any constructive value. This kind of feedback can also be used to your advantage
In this chapter, I’ll show you how to manage all kinds of feedback, so that you can continue to nurture strong relationships with your audience, and use it to optimise sales.
This is the best kind of feedback to receive! Whenever your audience leaves positive comments on your blog, make sure to respond swiftly with sincere thanks and appreciation for the support.
You may wish to use comments such as this for promotional purposes; take the opportunity to ask the commenter if you can utilise their kind comments in the future. You’re very likely to get a yes!
Managing constructive criticism
There’s a clear distinction when it comes to criticism, between comments that provide pertinent advice, and those that are merely designed to antagonise. In the case of the former, accept the critique and take it on board. The commenter may be pointing out something very helpful, such as a note about your writing style or tone, spelling and grammar mistakes, image use and placement, frequency of posts, or myriad other reasons. Adapt your approach if the feedback is helpful, particularly if several people have pointed it out.
Always be courteous and professional. Thank the commenter for their feedback, and make a commitment to take their comments into account. This demonstrates your ability to take critique with a positive attitude.
Managing non-constructive feedback
Belligerent comments are likely to crop up from time to time; that’s just the nature of the internet. Although this type of feedback can be hurtful, it’s important to have tactics in place to deal with them.
Before I go on, a small note about abusive comments. You do not have to accept offensive language or harassment; if these comments do appear on your blog, ignore them, delete them, and/or block the person making the comment. At no time should you feel threatened in your own space.
Non-constructive comments that are not abusive can be turned to your advantage. Again, respond courteously and succinctly; don’t go out of your way to provide a wall of text as a reply, and never be drawn into an argument. Simply provide a response to the commenter’s initial thoughts, and step away. This shows you to be professional but not combative, willing to allow free discussion but unafraid to disprove false information. It can be a challenging balance to strike, but you have the passion and skills to overcome it!
Here are some examples of standard replies you can use in response to non-constructive criticism:
Thank you for taking the time to leave feedback. We take all comments on board!
Thank you for your comment. Please find additional information about this topic here [link to another one of your posts or an outside source].
We’re sorry you feel that way, and thank you for your feedback.
Managing blog comments can be a great joy and a real pain, all at the same time! Relish your positive feedback, and make sure to share it wherever you can. When it comes to critical comments, be courteous, professional, and assertive. Harsh feedback can sting, but it does provide an opportunity to demonstrate a positive, confident attitude. Every cloud has a silver lining!
Chapter 12: Best Practices for Success
Now that I’ve run through all the steps to create a blog for your business, I’ll summarise the best practices that will make it successful over the short and long term.
Think of your blog as an investment
Although you might wish to enlist the help of a web developer, it is possible to set up a blog for free. Your blog is still an investment, however, requiring the most precious resource of all: time.
It helps to think of your blog as an investment on par with the other assets of your brand, such as your team, products and services, equipment, premises, and training. All of these components contribute to the success of your business, and a blog is no different. Give it the consideration it deserves, and you’ll maximise its effectiveness in achieving business goals.
Set clear goals
Whilst on the subject, it’s good practice to have goals in mind as you embark upon the blogging adventure. Of course, these goals can shift and adapt over time, but it’s always helpful to have something to work towards.
For example, if one of your business goals is to increase brand awareness, you’ll tailor your content to do that using an integrated strategy alongside social media and other promotional channels.
Focus on your target audience
A crucial facet of a successful blog is knowing your audience. Most of the time, you can build a profile of the ideal reader from information you already know about your customers, and make refinements from the feedback and analytic data collected over time.
Use this information to create content that is relevant, interesting, and useful to your audience.
As discussed throughout this book, tactical use of keywords is a critical aspect of helping your website to be found by your target audience, and to raise it up the search engine rankings.
Select appropriate keywords for each post, and integrate them seamlessly to optimise their effectiveness.
Adopt a conversational tone to build rapport
When writing blog, don’t be cold and abstract. Blogs are the perfect medium for a light-hearted, conversational tone. It can be helpful to imagine you’re actually speaking with a potential customer!
One of the goals of blogging is to build rapport with your audience, with a view to converting them into customers. That relationship can begin with one single blog post, so make sure that you project a friendly and approachable persona.
Show off your expertise
Entrepreneurs are passionate about their industries. A blog presents the perfect opportunity for you to demonstrate your expertise! Provide informative insights that can only come from a specialist; you’ll soon gain a reputation as the authority in your sector.
Prioritise quality over quantity
Whilst I do advocate a consistent posting schedule, I’d also advise against over-commitment at the expense of quality. It is far better to produce a well-researched, interesting blog post once or twice a week, than rushed and sloppy daily posts.
Audiences soon tire of underwhelming blogs; the key is to deliver something useful every time!
Use CTAs to encourage visitors into the sales funnel
Blogs are a pivotal part of your sales strategy, gently encouraging visitors into the funnel, and helping them on their way to becoming customers or clients.
The gateway to this process is conversion. Make it easy for visitors to convert by placing calls to action at appropriate locations. On a blog, sidebars and the end of each post are perfect positions to encourage action. Don’t forget to offer visitors an incentive to take the next step with your brand; free resources are perfect for this.
Take an integrated approach to promotion
Your blog should work in perfect harmony with your social media and other promotional approaches. Whenever you publish a new blog post, it should be shared across your brand’s social channels; likewise, you should try to integrate links to your social media within the body of blog posts, too.
Delivering a consistent message helps your audience to make the connection.
Interact with your audience
One of the most pleasant aspects of blogging is the opportunity it gives you to interact with your audience, build rapport, and develop relationships that lead to realisation of your business goals. Be kind, courteous, and friendly; give your community the VIP treatment and benefit from the goodwill boost.
And don’t forget to respond politely to critical comments; they provide an opportunity to learn, to grow, and to demonstrate your professionalism.
Use a mix of evergreen and trend-driven content
Evergreen content continues to work for you long after you’ve written it. Ensure that you include plenty of posts with timeless topics in your blog.
That said, if a trend is relevant to your industry, take the chance to cover it. Always be present in the conversations that matter to your audience.
Keep an eye on the competition
You share a lot with your competition: products, services, customers, clients, suppliers, and a blog audience. Whilst it’s important to remain unique, there are cues that can be taken from competitors.
For example, if a style of post is proving to be successful on a competitor’s blog, try that style out on your own. Keep innovating in line with your audience’s preferences.
Don’t give up!
The most important piece of advice I can offer is to never give up. There will be moments when demands on your time make it difficult to blog. Share the responsibility with your team, or work with a freelance copywriter to help you keep on top of this important asset.
At the start, you might not receive the influx of visitors you’re expecting. Persevere. As long as your content is of consistently high quality, and you demonstrate a passion for your blog, it will eventually become a driving force for your business goals.
In short, keep calm and blog on!
Chapter 13: Key Takeaways
You’re almost ready to embark upon the exciting process of starting your brand’s blog! Before you take the first steps, let’s review the key takeaways from this book.
A business blog can have a positive impact on achieving your goals
Whether your business goal is better engagement, increased brand awareness, enhanced sales, expansion into a new market, or any other objective, a blog can help you to achieve it.
One of the most crucial aspects of achieving business goals is communication. A blog is an excellent conduit of that ongoing communication between brands and customers, whether they are brand new or fiercely loyal.
Your brand’s blog will continue to put in the work long after you click ‘publish’
Traditional marketing techniques tend to be time-limited. Take advertisements, for example; once the period you have paid for elapses, the campaign drops away. That’s a lot of time and effort for a fleeting moment of effectiveness!
Blogs are different. The content you post will be live for as long as you decide. Evergreen content, in particular, will pay dividends over the longer term, without any additional input from you. The return is therefore worth the resource investment.
A small investment of time can transform your blog into a marketing and engagement powerhouse
Blogs do require attention, but they are not as resource-draining as other forms of marketing. Regular maintenance ensures that your blog continues to deliver on its potential, without having to set aside lots of time for a complete overhaul. You’ll find that a blog is surprisingly low-maintenance!
Your blog can act as an important source of information for current and future customers
Visitors will appreciate an insight into your expertise, and a blog is the perfect place to demonstrate your specialist knowledge and skills. Of course, if you are in the consultancy business, you don’t want to give too much away; just enough to pique the interest of your audience!
A blog can also be a useful repository for product demonstrations, how-to guides, and tip sheets. These can be presented as free resources, provided in exchange for an email address. This helps you to make a coveted conversion!
Armed with this knowledge, you’re ready to get going with your own business blog! Need some ideas to get started? I’ve got you! Turn to the next chapter for 100 amazing tips to maximise the power of your blog.
Chapter 14: Is it difficult to start and run a blog?
Not at all. The technical aspects are less intimidating than they seem. M– most platforms are user-friendly and automated, – and if you want something bespoke, you can hire a web developer for a reasonable initial outlay to help get you up and running.
Once you’ve got the maiden post out of the way, you’ll soon find that writing regular blog posts is an enjoyable activity. And it’s one that can be easily shared amongst your team.
I’m not a writer; can I manage a blog?
You needn’t be a Brontë sister to succeed at blogging! Whilst writing ability is certainly a plus, the most important factor is being able to present your ideas coherently and with passion. And you can always hire a freelance writer or editor to keep everything polished.
What if I run out of ideas?
I hear you! One of the factors that can seem intimidating at the start of your blogging adventure is writer’s block. Fear not; I’ve put together 100 fabulous ideas to help keep the momentum going, which can be found in my opt-in.
How can I get people to actually read the blog?
The perennial challenge for bloggers! The good news is that it’s easier than you might imagine to attract an audience. Throughout this book, we’ll show you practical ideas for targeting the right people, and keeping them around.
Is it worth the effort?
I understand that running a blog might seem like a drain on resources. However, you’ll find that blogging is straightforward, purposeful, and – dare I say it – fun!
As you navigate through this post, you’ll see that business blogs have massive potential for making a positive impact on brand awareness, sales, and long-term customer engagement. In short, it’s definitely worth the investment!