Blogging isn't a one-and-done item on your web marketing checklist. It's a long-term endeavor. In fact, until blogs go the way of web directories, once you start blogging you really cannot stop. Not if you want to maintain the value of all the time and energy you've invested thus far.
There are certain components to blogging that will hold their value over time. Great, evergreen content you've published will be universally valuable. However, if you don't keep producing blog content on an active basis, even great ranked evergreen content will lose it's value and appeal, both to search engines and readers alike.
To create a valuable blog you have to plan to be in it for the long term. There are no shortcuts to creating a great and valuable blog. On the flip side, there are tons of shortcuts to creating a lame blog. But perhaps that's a post for another day... "Blogging Shortcuts That Will Get Your Readers Excited To Leave". Has a nice ring to it.
Know Who You Are
To blog effectively, you really have to understand who you are. There is more to that than just understanding what you do as a business or even understanding who your target audience is. It's more about understanding what your audience wants from you. Don't think of yourself as a business trying to attract customers, but instead, be a relational entity that seeks to inform, educate and even maybe entertain a bit.
Ask yourself the question, how does your business make a difference in people's lives? Now tell that story. Let your readers know what you're passionate about and why. But don't stop there, use your skills, experience and knowledge to help you readers attain information they wouldn't know otherwise. Use your "you" to help them be "them".
Many businesses try to be something they are not. It's tempting to see someone else's success and think, I want to be them. The problem is, you're not them. There are probably a hundred reasons why someone else's blogging and social media efforts are effective and you may only be able to duplicate a few of them. The good news is that there can be a hundred different reasons why you can be effective and they wouldn't be able to duplicate being you either!
One of the companies we once worked with told us they wanted to be the Chief David Oliver of the copier world. For those who don't know, David Oliver is the chief of a small-town police department located in Brimfield, Ohio. There is nothing remarkable about Brimfield, but there is something remarkable about Chief Oliver. Brimfield PD's facebook page has over 100K likes. Why? Because Chief Oliver regularly posts his wit, humor and old-fashioned common sense when it comes to policing and crime in his city. It's fun, it's engaging and it makes a lot of people laugh. He even wrote a book, "No Mopes allowed."
Large business copiers don't exactly have the attraction of stupid things criminals do. There isn't much room for a copier company to be the Chief Oliver of copiers, but that's not to say that they can't write fun, engaging and interesting blog posts. Yet a book titled "No Copy Errors Allowed" isn't exactly going to be a runaway best seller. Scratch that... that's probably a great title for a book! But this client would be more likely to write "No Copy Jams Allowed". Snooze.
Set Your Goals
Growing up I remember being told, "if you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time." That can be paraphrased as, "if you have no goals, you'll never score." In business, setting goals is the only way we have to measure our success. If you are not setting goals, you are often left wandering aimlessly, blown around by whatever comes along.
The same is true with your blog. You can write for the sake of writing, or you can write with a purpose. While most businesses may think that getting new customers is the number one goal of their blog, be careful about falling into that trap. Blogs are rarely about customer acquisition and more about branding, engagement and authority building.
Most people who read your blog will never be customers. However, when you use your blog to showcase your knowledge and provide valuable help to your audience, you're building up authority that will help convince many others that you are the company they should be doing business with.
Determine Your Focus
A blog doesn't have to have to be hyper focused, producing content with singular appeal. Mix things up a bit by producing content that targets your audience but will appeal to different people differently. You can do this by including customer testimonials, stories, and even self-promotional posts about your products or services.
However, it's a good idea to have at least one primary focus that will help you keep zeroed in on your goals. A good mix of post types, including short vs. long posts, video content, how-to and self-promotion makes for a more interesting blog. One type of content that tends to bring readers back more than anything else is helpful content. Everybody likes being helped!
Determine what type of content your visitors are most interested in and make that your primary focus. But don't be afraid to stir the pot with varying approaches.
Stick With It
If your blog doesn't rocket to the top of the "most widely read blogs" list, don't fret. A good blog takes time to grow. And the more you stick with it the more you'll start to see your leads increase. According to HubSpot, you need to get close to 50 blog posts published before your blog will begin to be a lead generator for your business. That can be a 4-12 month wait depending on how often you're blogging! But the more you post quality content, the more effective you're blog will be over the long haul.
Good blogging takes a significant investment of time and you have to be prepared to commit to making it work. Too many blogs fail or get abandoned because the bloggers simply did not understand what it would take to succeed. But now you know! Is blogging something you can commit too? Are you able to zero in on who you are, what you want to be and what your goals are? Start there and you've got the first steps covered in blogging successfully.
Editor's note: This post is a portion of a larger slide presentation. See full slide deck here.
Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.
If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.
Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.
Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.
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