Whether you’re looking to expand your internet presence for an existing business or you’re looking to turn a blog into a business, learning some basic blogging skills can help you connect with consumers on a personal level and drive traffic to your website.
Many small business owners find that blogging allows them to better compete with large companies by building trust and an authentic rapport with their target audience.
If you know that your business should have a blog but haven’t taken the leap yet, or if you have a fledgling blog that you’re looking to grow, here are some key points to get you on your way to blogging success!
1. Know Your Target Audience
If you already have an established business, your blog will need to target your existing key audience – for example; a toy store owner will want to keep a blog that appeals to parents of young children. Consider who benefits the most from the product or service you provide – that’s the target audience for your blog.
If you already have a social media presence, take a look at who is engaging with your existing social media accounts by examining analytics and doing some hands-on research.
What kind of commentary is posted on your social media accounts? Do consumers make comments or ask questions about your business that you could expand upon in a blog post? What interests are listed on their social media accounts? What influencers do they follow? What kind of content do they pin on Pinterest?
Take the time to look at the social media accounts of your direct competitors – how are they serving their target audience, and how could your business differentiate itself or do a better job? How are your competitors connecting authentically with their customers? What can you learn from their interactions, and how could you improve upon that model?
Suppose you have a good idea of who your product serves, but you don’t know much about your target audience. In that case, you might want to consider diving into statistics from a reputable source such as Statista or the Pew Research Center to see what kind of demographic and psychographic data already exists to help you understand your target audience.
Diving into existing statistics can help you learn what cultural and technological attitudes and trends affect your target audience – in short, what information they find valuable and where and how they access that information.
2. Set Goals
To grow your blog, you need specific, attainable goals to measure your progress against. Don’t waste your time with vague or subjective goals like “write better blog posts” or needlessly complicated goals like “write 30 blog posts a month.” While writing 30 blog posts in a month isn’t impossible, it’s challenging for a novice blogger to produce a high-quality blog article every day. You don’t want to dilute the quality of your content to meet a strict posting quota.
Some Practical Goals to Consider Are:
- I want to double my blog traffic over a year. You can use analytics to measure how much traffic your blog is getting each month to see if you’re remaining on target. If all your traffic is coming from one source, consider expanding your internet presence – Pinterest, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc., can drive traffic to your blog.
- I want to publish a new post every week. This attainable posting goal can help keep you from putting your blog on the back burner. For most blogs, 1-3 posts a week will be a good benchmark to keep your blog active without compromising on content.
- I want to increase my search engine visibility. Use Google to research what consumers are searching for related to your product or service and provide content that addresses those queries.
Whatever goals you set, remember that plans are useless without a system in place to achieve them. James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, writes that “winners and losers have the same goals,” meaning that no one sets out to do poorly, but many people fail to put the habits and systems in place that allow you to reach goals.
For example, if your goal involves posting to your blog regularly, focus on setting yourself up to write and research relevant content every day (or at least every week) so that 1-3 blog posts can be written, edited, proofread, and published weekly. Consider what barriers are in your way and the actions you need to take to achieve your goal and make plans to eliminate them. Do you lose your computer charger frequently? Consider buying a second charger that always stays in the office. Do you prefer to write in a quiet space but don’t have regular access to one? Wear noise-canceling headphones or schedule time to write at the library.
3. Revisit Keyword Strategy
Keyword Strategy can be a powerful SEO tool for generating blog traffic, but if you’re focusing on keywords instead of the content, you need to revisit your keyword strategy.
While keywords are still important, Google rebuilt its algorithm in 2013 to provide more intuitive search results that aren’t as reliant on specific keywords. Peppering your website with as many keywords as possible won’t help your blog’s search engine visibility if the content isn’t relevant and may actually hurt it. More importantly, focusing on keywords over content will harm reader trust in your blog.
No one wants to read a thinly veiled list of keywords, and generating this kind of content makes your target audience feel like you view them as a number rather than a genuine person to connect with.
On the other hand, if you have no keyword strategy at all, you may be making it unnecessarily difficult for your target audience to find your blog. Consider the information, products, or services you provide and what people might search to produce those results. Google Keyword Planner can help you compare keywords and phrases and compare the average monthly searches for similar terms.
Use keywords as a guide and create relevant content that naturally incorporates those keywords. Don’t try to shove keywords into existing content, and don’t use your keywords so often that it damages the conversational tone of your writing.
If top ranking keywords don’t align with your brand, don’t use them – you don’t want to optimize for the most traffic of any kind possible; you want to maximize traffic from your target audience.
When starting with a keyword plan, err on the side of doing too little rather than too much. Start with a shortlist of keywords to build content around, use analytics to see what’s working and what isn’t, and build on your successes as you go. It’s much easier to add more relevant keywords over time than regain consumer trust in a blog that sacrificed quality for keyword count.
4. Use Visuals and Pictures
Vast blocks of unformatted text are not appealing to blog readers, and blog images are essential in driving traffic from social media. When someone pins your post on Pinterest or shares it on Facebook, the image on your blog that they choose to feature will be the first thing a potential reader sees. If your picture isn’t engaging, they have no reason to trust that your post will be.
If you’re artistically inclined, take original photos or create illustrations for your blog. Many vector illustrators and photographers can be hired as freelancers if you’re not an artist or a decent photographer. If you hire someone to do visuals for your blog, consider working with the same person over time if possible to give your blog a cohesive look.
Stock photos and illustrations are also a decent option for blog visuals. Do not do a google image search and use whatever relevant imagery you find. These images might be copyrighted, and you need the creator’s permission to use them on your blog.
To shop photos or graphics, you’ll want to search for reliable stock image websites and make sure that you take a look at the licensing agreement for each image you use. Some photos are free for public use, some are free so long as the creator is credited on your website, and some require you to pay a licensing fee to use the image.
5. Establish Blog Authority
You want your target audience to view your blog as an established authority in your niche. You need to provide consistent, accurate, trustworthy content in your area and connect with your audience on an emotional level.
If you’re new to blogging, consider narrowing your blog’s topics to just a handful of the potential subjects in your niche and create in-depth content in those areas. You can expand your coverage to other issues within your niche after you’ve started to establish credibility and value.
Whatever you do, do not use overly specialized language in an attempt to sound like an authority figure. Clarity is everything when it comes to blogging. Unless your target audience is a handful of professionals in a specialized field, you want your writing to communicate your ideas clearly and effectively. No one will follow a blog that they find difficult to read or that comes across as condescending or superior rather than informative and conversational.
Try to network with other bloggers, vloggers, and podcasters who cover your niche and related topics and see if you can contribute to their work as a guest. Guest writing for another blog or being interviewed for a podcast episode immediately establishes you as an authority on your subject in the minds of their audience and organically expands your reach.
Don’t treat a guest spot as a side project. You’re effectively being interviewed by thousands of readers/watchers/listeners who may not have ever heard of your blog. Perform well as a guest, and you may expand your regular readership considerably.
6. Relevant Content
If it’s not apparent by now, content is king when it comes to blogging! Creating content is the single most time-consuming aspect of a blog, and if you’re not carefully crafting your content, you’re just throwing your time and money away.
Every time you create a blog post, ask yourself: How is this providing value to my target audience? How can I connect with my target audience emotionally? Is my information up to date, correct, and supported by evidence or sources? Is my content unique? Relevant content needs to be informative, engaging, entertaining, or helpful – otherwise, your audience has no reason to continue to engage with your blog.
If you’re having trouble determining if your content is relevant to your target audience, consider creating a consumer persona. A consumer persona is a fictional representation of your target audience based on their demographic and psychographic data.
Take any research you’ve done to understand your target audience and use it to create an archetype – what would that person look like? What are their interests? Their concerns? What shows do they watch?
Take the time to understand your consumer persona as if they were a good friend, and then write content relevant for that person. You can tweak this content as you get further data from analytics and direct feedback, but this gives you a good starting point for creating relevant content that connects with the audience you’re writing for.
Blogging can be a lot of work, but it can also be a fun, creative outlet that takes your business to the next level. Not only can blogs expand your online presence and increase consumer engagement with your business, but they also allow you to connect authentically with your target audience in a much more comprehensive way than traditional marketing tactics.
Remember to focus on your niche. Running a blog that appeals to everyone is impossible, so don’t try to water your subject matter down for mass appeal. Focus on producing the kind of content that your target audience wants to read, be open to their feedback, and enjoy the opportunity to get to know your target audience on a deeper level.