9 Steps to Successful Blogging
23rd May 2017
How to be a successful blogger?
Did you know that businesses that blog can get up to 67% more leads than businesses who don’t? But you’re pretty sure those companies have a lot more time, money and resources to pour into those blogs. Right?
Successful blogs do require a bit of planning and investment. But most of that investment is your time, just like any other marketing strategy. And if you do things right in the early stages, you can build good habits that will make sure your blog is easier to maintain.
But where do you start?
Step 1: Set Goals and Benchmarks
How are you going to measure the success of this blog? You would be amazed how many businesses would struggle to answer that. In fact, you could ask two stakeholders in the same organization and one may tell you “leads,” while another would say “social shares.”
Sadly, 86% of Canadian companies have no digital marketing strategy. Which is actually really good news for those who do.
Set clear and measurable objectives and targets that will help you to see a clear ROI. And makes sure everyone in your organization is on the same page about what they are. There’s no wrong answer, as long as it’s a unified one.
Different goals mean you should be shooting for different wins:
- Revenue: Sales, leads, appointments
- Brand awareness: Social shares, comments and reaching influencers
- Search engine optimization: keyword rankings, link
Step 2: Create a Strategy
Start by researching your audience and making sure you know exactly who you’re trying to reach.
Only 34% of the companies we surveyed have conducted research to understand who they are speaking to and where they go for information. If you haven’t done this research before you do your strategy, you may end up talking to no one.
Look for opportunities to execute the right content, social media and search marketing tactics that support each strategic priority. This integrated approach will ensure consistency and will build your credibility on the topics that you want to be known for.
Failing to plan will lead to floundering. Companies will sink money into ad hoc digital marketing ventures, without a clear endgame in mind. So they become frustrated and convinced digital marketing doesn’t work for their business.
Step 3: Listen to Your Audience
Once you lock into exactly who your audience is, listen to what they have to say.
Look at the conversation they’re having in places like:
- Social media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin
- Questions and answer sites: Reddit, Quora, Yahoo Answers
- Review sites: Yelp, Google Reviews, Yellow Pages, Angie’s List
Don’t just search for your brand. Search for your industry as a whole so you can see what people are saying about your competition.
Copy and paste the phrases, complaints, praises, and questions that you see people use. This is the most valuable information your blog can have. You now have a list of the most common pain points, questions, complaints and myths from your customers. Use it.
Create headlines using the exact same words that your customers are using. Tap directly into their emotions and show you understand them. Even if it’s a negative sentiment, like “Why does the cell phone coverage in my area suck?”
Use a tool like Answer the Public to find the infinite permutations of the questions on people’s minds and generate loads of content ideas. This will also help you generate awesome blog titles and headers.
You get bonus points for being the company that understands and listens. And tackling complaints head on, instead of trying to defuse them with boilerplate messages.
Step 4: Find Your Keywords
People aren’t going to read your blog, just because you wrote it. You need to know how to get it found. “If you build it, they will come” does not apply to digital marketing.
So when creating your content, think about topics or phrases rather than single keywords. Use the information you found in the research you did above. What questions does your target audience need answered? What pain points are they trying to solve? Now, optimize your content with these phrases to maximize searchability.
Different people have different views on how to use keywords in writing these days. But as a basic rule of thumb, try to include keywords:
- In your title
- In your opening paragraph
- In a heading or H2
- In the title and description of any images you add
Step 5: Start Writing
Yes, by Step 6 you finally get to start writing.
Book off a block of time every week to dedicate to your writing. Make it a regular and predictable part of your work week. When people get busy, this block often ends up being the first thing to get chopped out of the schedule. Don’t let that happen.
Create a content calendar. That way, everyone in your organization is aware and accountable. This way, if deadlines are missed, you’re aware of them.
Make writing a regular thing that you do every week.
Step 6: Add Pictures
This will be the first thing a lot of people see, particularly if this is shared on social media. Don’t use boring stock photos or generic pictures of people shaking hands or on a cell phone in an office. This tells the audience you used a cliche image and your content will be cliche.
Today, content paired with an image attracts 94% more views on average than content without. Also, your reader’s retention increases by 40%.
Pro tip: Make sure you optimize your images for search engines by adding the right descriptions and alt text.
Step 7: Earn People’s Attention
This one is huge. Never assume you have your audience’s attention. Again, they’re not going to read it just because you wrote it. You have to earn their attention.
Frist of all, your title game needs to be on point. Your title grabs your reader’s attention. And we’re not talking about clickbait “what happens next will shock you” titles. You’re going to grab their attention by using the pain points and problems that you found in your research.
And if you pose a question in your title (ie. “How much should I budget for home flooring”) make sure you answer it. And answer it quickly. Some companies will not answer the question because they can’t and just kind of write an article full of fluff. Readers hate that and will hate you for doing it.
Other companies will “Bury the lead” by putting the answer at the bottom of the article in an effort to get the reader to read the whole article. The reader doesn’t care about anything other than the question you promised to answer, so they’re not going to stick around long for your answer. Keep your answer near the top.
Lastly, spend a lot of time crafting your lead sentence. Again, this needs to be catchy, just like your title. Try leading off with a question or statistic. Or make a provocative or thought provoking statement, like “We’ve all ruined the internet,” then spend the rest of the article explaining it or backing it up.
Step 8: Get Influencers Reading Your Stuff
Simply put, get the popular kids talking about you.
Influencer market has emerged as one of the most profitable ways to market yourself, with up to an 11x larger ROI than other forms of digital marketing.
Influencer marketing works because influencers actually drive their audience’s purchase decisions. In fact, 63% of 18- to 24-year-olds would buy a YouTuber-Endorsed Product, versus a celebrity endorsement.
Getting Emma Stone to appear in your cosmetics commercial is awesome, but people know she’s being paid (a lot) to endorse you. Having a respected beauty blogger or YouTuber give you a great review is better because they’re more respected and trusted.
Build your network by commenting on blogs and connecting on social media with those with a larger audience. After some time, look for opportunities to guest blog on their site or have them guest blog on your site and bring along their audience. Over time as you develop the relationship, ask them to help you spread your content to their audience. Typically this happens organically as you develop a relationship of reciprocity.
Step 9: Share it with the World
All hands on deck. Get everyone you know sharing your content. Showcase your content to your partners, suppliers, and employees by sending out a creative email blast with links to your blog. Also leverage your existing network by getting your employees retweeting content, sharing posts and slowly building a community of brand ambassadors.
Be sure to create a calendar to plan how you will be sharing your content on social media, using the right keywords and hashtags.
There you go. There’s a 9-step checklist to building a blog and building a following. As you can see, most of these steps are either low-cost or no-cost. But they will take a bit of time commitment. Be sure to give yourself enough time to succeed. Most companies don’t see much traction in the first year but keep doing the work and striving to improve with each blog.
Bonus tip: It is always a good idea to plan out your content a few months ahead and determine the content topics and formats so you can prepare for publishing. Nobody enjoys trying to figure out a blog topic hours before the deadline. Remember, consistency is key.