Creating and maintaining a high-quality business blog can establish you or your company as an authority in the field. It can make your business more relevant and drive traffic to the website. Which is why many brands focus on business blogging.
If you have a knack for it, it can even make you a thought leader (it’s never too soon to start prepping that TED talk).
You may already have a business blog, but perhaps you’re unhappy with its performance. Or maybe you started a blog but weren’t able to keep it going.
Maybe your current blog is doing well.
No matter where your current efforts fall, these business blogging tips can help you take your site to the next level.
Business blogging works!
If you do it right.
The Benefits of Business Blogging
I mentioned authority, relevance, and thought leadership. But the benefits of blogging for marketing are also tremendous. Businesses that blog regularly have 55% more visitors to their websites, 97% more inbound links, and 434% more indexed pages.
Let’s talk about that last number. It says that business blogging can increase the chances of someone finding your site in their search results by 434%! Meaning searchers are more than four times more likely to find a link to your site than to a competitor who doesn’t blog.
And 55% more visitors or 97% more inbound links are nothing to sneeze at either. If you’re like most of us, much of your marketing resources and effort are concentrated on increasing visitors and inbound links.
Business blogging can help in those efforts, and all it costs is a bit of your time.
Here are 21 business blogging tips that will let you hit the ground running with your new blog or help to rejuvenate your existing blog.
1. Be Consistent
There are many abandoned or neglected business blogs that were started with the best of intentions. Blogging consistently is difficult. You should be aware of that going in.
There are always other things in your day that are going to seem more important than working on a blog post. This is especially true if you’re a small business or a solo entrepreneur. To take advantage of the benefits of blogging for a small business, you have to be dedicated.
If you find it difficult to carve out the time necessary to write a full blog post, maybe you can set aside 30 minutes a day. Create a schedule and stick to it. If you can do that, you can put out a good post every week, and that’s a great start.
If you have employees or partners who can contribute, make it easy for them to do so. More on that in a minute.
2. Be Relevant While Business Blogging
If your articles are relevant, useful, and valuable to your audience, you will reap the benefits of blogging. One way to be sure that you are writing relevant articles is to perform keyword research.
It’s important to think like a customer when you write. And what better way to think like a customer than to see exactly what they are searching for.
There are a lot of tools to aid in your keyword research. Using keywords properly can go a long way toward making your articles relevant to a searcher. But keywords alone won’t do the trick. You still have to provide quality information based on those words and phrases.
The articles have to be relevant.
While you’re researching, it can be tempting to focus on popular words. But don’t ignore “long-tail” phrases. If your business thrives in a niche, you can gain a lot of value by exploiting certain long-tail keywords.
3. Know Your Audience
You can gain knowledge about your audience through keyword research, but you also have to know your existing customer base. Someone who has already made a purchase is your target audience, so see what insight you can gain from them.
A powerful tool for leveraging customer knowledge are buyer personas.
A buyer persona is a fictional person that possesses a number of attributes that you know a group of your customers possess.
Creating buyer personas can really help you focus your message, whether it’s for advertising or creating blog posts that will appeal to them. If you get stuck, think of one of your personas and how you would pitch a message directly to them.
4. Make It Visually Appealing
The New York Times may be able to get away with a 4,000-word block of text, but most of us are not The New York Times. Consider visuals when you write. Think about an image or a number of images that will complement and illustrate the subject of your article.
It will make the job of image searching easier if you make notes while you write. Keep it in mind as you think of what would be a great image for a certain section.
A list of potential images will focus your search and save time. Don’t use images that you don’t have permission to use, though. Search stock image sites, and if you have the budget for it, pay licensing fees for the images you use.
If you can’t spend money on images, search stock image sites for “royalty-free” graphics.
Stock images can be tricky since you want to avoid those which may be used on dozens (or hundreds) of other articles. So be imaginative when you’re searching. Also, avoid the temptation to overload an article with images.
A few well-chosen, relevant images can really enhance an article and make it more readable and shareable. Too many images can be distracting and dilute the message.
5. Honesty is the Best Policy
In any business, there are times when things go wrong, or we make mistakes that impact customers. You’ve no doubt read hundreds of articles and emails apologizing for the inconvenience caused by a problem that affected you.
These messages go on to talk about what happened without ever suggesting or admitting that the company may have played a role in the problem.
Don’t do that.
I’ve been writing to customers of online businesses for more than 20 years, through many issues, problems, failures, and outright disasters. If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that your customers will always appreciate hearing the truth, even if it makes you look bad.
Especially if it makes you look bad.
I know that sounds kind of backward, but your customers are smart. Treat them as if they are smart and they will go from being customers to fiercely loyal customers.
They will go from publicly criticizing you to being your defender. I’ve seen this happen time and time again. And I’ve heard “Thank you for telling us the truth” from customers more times than I can count.
Telling the truth can be difficult. No one wants to admit they’ve made a mistake, or not taken steps to prevent a predictable problem from happening. But a wise person once said, “The truth will set you free.” Believe that.
6. Answer Your Customer’s Questions
Your customers have questions. Ask your support staff. Or maybe you’re the one answering those questions, so you know first hand. Anyone who runs a business can provide a list of the top ten questions they are asked. And they can probably list them off the top of their head because they’ve heard them so often.
Write articles that answer those questions. When you answer a customer question in an email or on social media, you’re probably using no more than a couple hundred words to explain or justify a situation. A blog post can go into much more detail, including the company’s reasoning behind a rule or policy, or even the philosophy that drives company decisions.
Answering your customer’s questions serves a dual purpose. It provides the information the customers want, and it shows potential customers who you are, and that you value your existing customers by addressing their concerns.
7. Find Your Voice while Business Blogging
The most successful blogs have a “voice,” even if they have multiple authors. They have a point of view and an approach to the world. And they express it consistently.
That voice could be technical, eloquent, humorous or insightful. Whatever form it takes, you can see the thread connecting all of their articles.
Your company voice can be mapped out in advance before you start a blog, and you can come up with guidelines for writers to follow. But more commonly, a voice is discovered over time.
When you see what kind of tone and content connects with your audience, you’re on your way to finding your voice. You may even be surprised at what works.
If you don’t yet know what your voice is, just keep the connecting threads in the back of your mind as you write or brainstorm blog article ideas. Eventually, the connections will make themselves clear, and then you can work to stay close to them.
8. Open Yourself Up
As a small business blogger, you may be hesitant to share too much of yourself to your audience or customers. That’s what Facebook is for, not a corporate blog!
But your goal as a business owner is to foster a connection with your customers. To become a successful business blogger, your goal should be to build a personal connection with your readers.
Very few CEOs or company Presidents write blog posts regularly. But those who do, those who talk about who they are and what they believe and how those beliefs affect their business, stand out above the crowd. And, it can become immensely popular (see Richard Branson below).
Of course, opening yourself up can also be…detrimental. It all depends on what kind of person you are and what you choose to share.
9. Approach It From a Unique Angle
If part of your blogging involves recent events or industry news, things that are likely to be written about by a large number of people or outlets, don’t be just another site reprinting a press release.
Talk about how the story affects your company. Or better yet, your consumers. Always look for a way to connect the subject to your customers and promote a deeper connection.
Every reader is a potential customer. If they see that your target audience is benefiting from certain developments, that’s a mark in the positive column for you when that reader is ready to buy.
10. Consider the Length of Your Posts
Perhaps you’ve read one of the million or so articles explaining that the average Internet user isn’t very bright. Their attention span is shorter than that of a goldfish.
I’ve always wondered exactly how one measures the attention span of a goldfish, but I digress.
Guess what? That isn’t exactly true.
The truth is, longer blog posts rank better in search engine results. In fact articles around 2,500 (or more) words not only earn more organic traffic, but they are also shared on social media more frequently. And they generate more backlinks.
There’s also evidence that even longer articles garner even more social media shares.
That may be surprising news for those who bought into the “goldfish” attention span idea. But the studies confirming the effectiveness of longer articles are out there, and they shouldn’t be ignored.
That isn’t to say longer is always better. Those 2,500-word articles have to be well written and provide relevant high-quality information. And it’s also true that certain industries or types of businesses can make great use of shorter articles.
Just keep in mind, these are based on average numbers. You will have to find the sweet spot for your own business blogging needs. While some excel with 2500-word posts, others can accomplish success with fewer than 1200.
But for the most part, the more words, the more engagement. And the more engagement, the more effective your blog.
11. Use Business Blogging to Become a Thought Leader
A thought leader is a respected authority in a given field. People go to them for answers and seek out their advice, coaching, and direction. That might sound like a difficult status to achieve, but depending on your field, it may be quite attainable.
It’s an uncomfortable truth that most of us are followers. When it comes to business, it’s easier to take a proven path, use proven methods of communication and sales, and generally follow the road that others have laid out.
It’s safer; it’s less work.
If you happen to do business in a category that lacks a thought leader, all you have to do is stick your head up into the wind a tiny bit, confidently and unashamedly present your opinions and ideas, and boom: you’re a thought leader. This is done by the benefit of no one else daring to say anything that hasn’t already been said.
Okay, admittedly, it’s not easy to be bold. It’s not easy to put your ideas out into the world where they can be mocked or criticized. But that’s what thought leaders do. They give their opinions, talk about what they believe would be good for their industries, and basically position themselves as experts.
In most cases, no one bestowed the “expert” title on them. They recognized that it was there for the taking, and they took it.
No one is a greater expert on your business than you are.
12. Collect and Summarize Industry News
We touched on this earlier, but it’s a good tip for those days when you may not have a full blog post in you. Or you don’t have time for one of your thought leader articles.
Spend a few minutes gathering up recent news in your industry, summarize it, and post it. You’d be surprised how effective that can be
Entire blogs have been built around the concept.
13. Make It Easy for Others in the Company to Contribute
It’s very difficult for one person to create or maintain an effective, successful blog. Especially if that person has a business to run. That’s where your employees come in. Let them know you’d welcome their contributions.
Foster an atmosphere where people will be not only willing but eager to contribute. That means being open to their ideas and actually using their contributions. Give them credit and bylines while keeping critical feedback to a minimum.
Keeping critical feedback to a minimum doesn’t mean publishing a substandard article. You have to gauge someone’s tolerance for criticism on an individual basis.
But if you have an employee who consistently provides the bones for good articles but is sensitive to criticism, it’s better to have someone else clean the articles rather than discourage the writer with criticism.
If you don’t yet have any employees, invite guest contributors. Look for other bloggers in your field who would be a good match and politely ask them if they would consider doing a guest article for your blog.
Those requests may be more successful with “mid-tier” bloggers. Well-known and influential bloggers are less likely to have the time or inclination to do a guest blog. Or they will only provide them when there is financial compensation.
Don’t let that deter you from asking that famous blogger for a post. However, temper your expectations.
14. Get a Second Pair of Eyes
Not for yourself, that would just be weird. Get a second pair of eyes to proofread your article. It doesn’t have to be a professional proofreader, it can be anyone.
A second reader will often find mistakes that you missed.
That’s because we don’t tend to read our own writing very closely (“I already typed it, I know what it says”), and repetitively working on a sentence or paragraph can make you blind to simple errors.
Of the 21 tips here, getting a second person to go over your articles may be one of the most important. You’re presenting yourself as a trusted authority, and simple errors like misspellings or mixing up ‘there’ and ‘their’ can cause readers to lose confidence in what you’re saying and ignore your message.
15. Solicit Comments and Respond to Them
Comments sections can be a minefield, but they can also be a goldmine. Many times comments have helped me refine or clarify a point in an article. We talked about the second pair of eyes – well, your commenters can be a thousand pairs of eyes.
Invite readers to comment. Ask questions in your articles. Make it easy to comment. How many times have you felt compelled to comment on a piece of content but didn’t because you were expected to establish an account first?
I understand why registration might be necessary for certain sites. But your goal, at least at first, should be to make commenting easy.
When you receive comments, whether you asked for them or not, always respond! That goes double for negative comments. You may hesitate to respond to criticism or even be tempted to delete it. But responding to criticism increases your legitimacy.
Being open to criticism is a sign of strength and openness. It’s crucial, though, that you always remain cordial no matter what is being said about you or your company.
Never engage in negativity.
Allow me to repeat that: never engage in negativity. If you do, you lose. You lose the argument, you lose goodwill, you lose respect. It can be incredibly difficult sometimes but stay above the criticism. Try to look at it objectively. Respond to it honestly and sincerely and you will come out on top every time.
16. Make It Easy to Subscribe
Just like commenting, you want to make it easy for readers to subscribe to your blog.
Subscriptions serve not only to alert readers of new articles, but they also help you build an email list that can potentially lead to new customers.
17. Promote Your Articles
This may go without saying, but let’s say it anyway. If you want to maximize readership, you have to promote your blog. Social media is a great way to draw readers to new posts, but also to older posts that may otherwise go unnoticed.
If you blog regularly, you will soon accumulate more articles than you can reasonably expose from your blog. The older materials tend to get lost or become buried beneath newer posts.
Social media like Twitter is a great place to post those older articles, so they can remain visible and effective.
18. Include Sharing Buttons on Every Post
WordPress makes it easy to add buttons, but whatever platform you use, you will benefit by making use of social media sharing.
Social media buttons allow readers to share an article with their followers with a couple of clicks. According to one study, making the buttons available can lead to seven times more mentions.
If you don’t already use sharing buttons, set them up today.
19. Include Links to Your Social Media While Business Blogging
We talked about increasing the discoverability of older articles by re-posting them on social media. You can make those social media posts more effective by letting people know where they can follow you.
I come across a lot of blogs that I’d like to follow, but there’s no link to their social media to be found. Or it’s buried in a footer link.
Make links to your social media accounts visible and easy to find so readers can follow you.
20. Offer an “About” Page
Another thing I look for and often can’t find is an “about” page. If I’m intrigued by the ideas in an article I want to know more about who wrote it or the company behind it.
If you have an existing about page on your website (and you should), you can link to that.
Or you can create a new page in WordPress or whatever blogging platform you use. You might also consider about pages for each author who writes for the blog.
21. Hang in There
Building a blog audience can take time. If you write and promote consistently, your audience will find you. In the first months, it can feel like you’re shouting out into the wilderness and no one is listening, but stick with it.
If you need some inspiration, here are a few top-notch business blogs to look at.
Business Blogs That Do It Right
Virgin Airlines has a great blog that takes you inside the company, and answers questions, let’s you peek behind the scenes, and even gets into company philosophy and training.
A recent post, “Human Trafficking: training our teams to spot the signs” was both surprising to see from a big corporation, and informative. That single post tells you a lot about the company and what they believe their responsibilities are.
CEO Richard Branson has his own blog as well, where he advocates for his personal beliefs and posts photos from his day-to-day life (which is nothing like our own in many cases).
The Whole Foods blog does a great job of selling their products by posting a lot of recipes and spotlighting new products. They talk about their industry, and like the Virgin blog, take you behind the scenes and discuss company philosophy.
The Disney Parks blog also does a great job of taking readers behind the scenes (do you see a theme developing here?) of the Disney parks. One of the things I find interesting about the Disney parks blog is the way they mix in posts about classic attractions while still promoting what’s new.
That creates a draw both for current customers (or potential customers) and also for old-timers who have visited many times and have fond memories of the classic attractions.
Go Get Started
We’re not Virgin or Whole Foods or Disney, but we can learn from them. I hope this article has given you some insight into what it takes to create a successful business blog, and given you some inspiration to get you started.
If you take the leap, you may just discover that blogging about your business can be a satisfying and rewarding task that brings you closer to your customers.