- Read time: 3 mins
- Tech level: low
- Key point: get started on your first blog post with our helpful tips.
So you've been convinced to start a blog for your small business, but you have no idea where to begin or how to go about it. To get you started, I've put together some helpful tips for you below, but if you take away anything today, take this: always write for your audience and always rely on a human (not a computer!) to read over your work.
1. Your readers are your customers
Or your potential customers. Keep this in mind throughout the blog writing process. I'm figuring you already know who your ideal customers are - adults, children, CEOs, social activists, fashion experts, parents, teachers, lawyers, students, entrepreneurs, gamers, nerds, designers, I could go on - so write for them. For example, if you sell custom-made lounges, you’ll be writing for adults with established careers, not trendy-20-something-year-olds-who-have-moved-out-of-home-for-the-first-time-and-love-second-hand-furniture. If you think you have a variety of customer 'types', write each blog post with one in mind each time. You can't please everybody all of the time, so be specific for each post.
Now that you know who you're writing for, write about topics they are interested in, but keep it relevant to your business. For example, if you sell handbags or shoes, write about the latest fashion trends, or how to match outfits. Be an expert in all things related to your product/service. Keep on top of current issues in your industry and write about them. Importantly, write why and how you are addressing said issue.
3. Don't advertise.
In your blog, I mean. Your blog is the place to show off your expertise. There are plenty of spaces, online and off, to advertise, and your blog is not it. You'll look pushy and your customers will start heading elsewhere to find their answers. For example, if someone needed a better night’s sleep and you (as a bed and mattress supplier) have written about the latest peer-reviewed sleep-related research (and not how great your newest mattress is), you’re more likely to attract that sleep-deprived customer your way.
Sorry, no copy-pasting at any time, even from yourself. Search engines look for original content, and you want to increase your SEO (search engine optimisation), not reduce it. For example, as a photographer, people may ask you ‘how do you get the pictures looking so good?’. Giving advice through your blog shows off both your expertise, and increases SEO. If other people write advice contradicting each other, show how you have weighed up each side, and explain why you do what you do. Show off that expertise, and people will keep coming back to you!
5. Style and tone
Be positive! Stay professional - an ambiguous term at times, but generally means always be helpful and don't bag out your competitors. If there is an issue you want to cover, for example 'when things go wrong on your travels', stay positive and give ‘tips on how to prevent it’, and ‘what to do if it does happen’. Consistency in your style, tone and formatting is expected in a business blog, so make sure at least one of your edits looks out for this.
6. Keywords and no jargon
Remember what I said before about writing for your audience? Use the same terminology they do! If your reader understands what you’re going on about, it will prevent them from going elsewhere, so avoid company and industry jargon. Using the same language that your reader does, means it’s also more likely that you’ll be using the same keywords that they enter into search engines. This will then improve your SEO (search engine optimisation), and direct more traffic to your site. For example, if you are writing a blog post about how to write a good blog post for small businesses, you want to make sure you had keywords and phrases like 'how to write a great blog post for small businesses' throughout the post a couple of times. See what I did there? I recommend being more subtle than me though.
There's controversy about the use of hyperlinks, but I would certainly speckle a few about the post. Put them smoothly into a sentence, rather than saying 'click here', or worse, inserting the entire link into the post, like this: http://www.mathewingram.com/work/2010/05/31/nick-carrs-retreat-from-the-internet-continues/
You can also link back to your older posts, once you’ve got a few going. There's no reason why you can't also go back to your earlier posts and put in a few links to your later posts!
8. White space
Use it. Have plenty of headings, and only write short paragraphs of 1 -2 sentences each, and make sure there's space in between. We all have short attention spans these days, and are easily distracted. Keep your audience distracted into reading your next paragraph and they just might get to the end.
Never use very. Find a better adjective. What sounds better? Very small or tiny? Use fewer words when you can and keep sentences short, sharp and snappy.
10. Spelling and Grammar
Do I really need to say how important spelling and grammar are? 'I like cooking my family and pets' is very different to 'I like cooking, my family, and pets'. If you don't quickly spot the difference in the above, find someone who does and get them to have a read over your piece. They may have been referred to as a 'Grammar Nazi', but I really don’t recommend disrespecting someone who can help you.
Bonus Tip! Now it’s your turn to give it a go, and if there’s one last tip I can give you, it’s to make sure you give yourself enough time to edit, edit, edit.
And when you’ve finished editing, edit one more time, just to be sure. Happy writing!