Ah – that question I hear so often from clients with a new blog!
I don’t blog enough – I have a lot of info to share, but often I just don’t think about it until I get some kind of reminder from the outside world – such as a post like this one…
Most of my clients are not freelancers but some of the tips I read recently in this post apply here to their small businesses, too. The worst thing you can do with a blog is start off with an energetic post or two when you first get your shiny new website, then stop using it altogether. Seeing that your last post was dated June 22, 2010 communicates to potential customers that your website is not a high priority for your business, among other things…
You probably paid a not-inconsiderable fee for your custom business website on a CMS platform like WordPress or Drupal. It’s given you the ability to easily add fresh content in the form of blog posts, so if you’re not blogging on a regular basis, you’re not getting the full benefit of the money you spent. It’s like buying a new car and letting it sit in the garage, gathering dust.
So here are a few basic tips on business blogging:
1) Good quality is more important than high frequency. Writing a high-quality post with content useful to your customers (your customers – not you!) once or twice per month is better than writing a bunch of small, short pieces about anything and everything.
2) Consistency matters when you’re trying to build a good habit. Even if you don’t write often, write regularly – try using an editorial calendar to plan your posts. Here’s an editorial calendar for WordPress. Read more about editorial calendars.
3) Focus on your customers. The blog is not for you, it’s for them. Provide information that’s useful to your target audience (and know who they are).
4) Promote your posts! If you just display them on your website, the chances of them being found are much lower than if you actively promote your new content through social media. It’s easy to set up a blog to post automatically to social media networks like Facebook and Twitter. Twitterfeed is a great tool for handling this promotion process.
5) Make posts visually interesting. If you can add a meaningful photo that explains or demonstrates one or more of the points you’re making in your post, do it. More visual interest is better as long as you don’t overdo it. If you’re talking about a remodeling project you did for a client, show some before-and-after photos. You can also get very inexpensive stock images from providers like iStockPhoto or a number of other sites if you’re looking for an image that can help you get a point across or provide a metaphor for your post’s content. Video works too – it’s easy to embed video from YouTube or Vimeo in blog posts.
6) Get help if you need it. I work with a content strategist pro who also ghost-writes blog posts for some clients. Sometimes getting help from a professional at the beginning can get you started on the right foot and enable you to take over when you’re more comfortable.
Business blogging doesn’t have to be hard – think about it as having a conversation with a good customer. When you’re stuck and can’t come up with something to write about, think about some of the problems your customers have – what are the top three questions you here from prospects? That may be a good place to start thinking about a new post.