Today I am sharing my top 10 blogging tips for entrepreneurs and how to use blogging to grow your business. These are the tips I use with my own entrepreneurial adventures and have worked across every industry I’ve worked (B2B/ B2C/ B2B2C, entertainment/ retail, SAAS, health and wellness, writing, legal, dental, and medical.) to increase your online presence, drive traffic to your site, and build your sales funnel. It is a fantastic tool to build trust, expertise, and respect. It is also something many businesses choose to outsource to agencies but I think that is a huge mistake. While you can hire someone in-house to handle your blogging, it is not a good idea to hire an agency to do your blogging because it will lose a lot of your company voice, it won’t be as easy to tie into your whole sales funnel, and the expertise you are seeking won’t be there because they are not experts on your product, your clients, your business. I used to write for Blog Mutt to provide these types of services and even when I was an expert in the content they were looking for, it still wasn’t a solid fit because I wasn’t an expert in their product and when I looked at their blogs to get a sense of their voice, it was all over the place because the company had no voice as everything was outsourced. So plan to do this work in-house. If you are a solopreneur you can write the articles and then pay someone to edit, format, and post them if writing isn’t your strong suit. But the core of it should come from you and you should use the same editor each time so you build that relationship and they can preserve your voice correctly.
Let’s get started!
1. Know your Purpose and Audience
You must know why you’re blogging, but also why your audience is reading. This is a common mistake I see over and over. If you are an author and you are writing to attract readers, then do not write about writing. You can occasionally write about your writing, such as research you are doing for a story, what inspired a character, etc. But so many authors are out there giving writing advice when they are trying to target readers. You should be writing about reading and about your own writing. That is what readers will find interesting.
For entrepreneurs of all stripes, you want to dig into your purpose for blogging so you can shape the content around that.
Here are some common purposes for blogging as an entrepreneur:
- To build an audience for your products
- To establish yourself as a trusted resource
- To build credibility
- To draw your customers in
- To educate your customers in how your product can solve their problem
- To drive sales
You can write with all these purposes or only one of these purposes in mind. Most of what will decide how many purposes you can tackle will be how much time you can devote to the blog posts and how frequently you can post. If you can only manage 1 post a week or a month then hoping to cover all of these areas sufficiently will take years. So start with just one and build that out. The beauty of blogging is that you can always update and expand posts (I do it all the time) as you grow and expand your business. If your primary focus is to build sales then start there with blog posts that tackle your different products and how they can help your target customer. Once you’ve built those posts out and are looking for more content, then you can build out posts about common problems that your customers experience and how your product can solve those problems.
2. Build a Detailed List of Topics
This will not only spare you writer’s block, it will also allow you to create a consistent posting schedule that will bring readers back over and over again. I like to build my list in my handy Editorial Content Calendar that I created in Excel. (I provide this to my clients to help them plan their own content as well.) This allows me to not only create a dump list of ideas but to organize the content in the best flow pattern with my planned posting schedule and can let readers know what the next topic to be covered will be and when. I can also go back and link content to each other to help drive customers further down the sales funnel.
Are you struggling with deciding what topics to cover? There are some resources to get topic ideas. Look at what your customers are asking about online. I love #writingcommunity on Twitter as it is a veritable resource of topics writers are asking for help on. I also do searches on all social media for keywords I am trying to rank for, look at discussion groups on Linkedin and Facebook, and even do polls with my customer base to get topic ideas. I set up google alerts for certain topics I cover regularly so I can see when news comes out about the topic of concern. Any time I come across this type of stuff, I add it to my pile of ideas. (With newsjack items getting higher priority to take advantage of the focus.) I remember when I was working for a publishing house that offered services to indie authors, as well as publishing authors under our own label, and #Cockygate hit the news. That gave us a slew of content that we were able to scatter over 6 months around our regular content.
Some other hot topics would be to write about industry events (especially ones you are participating in), to look at what competitors are writing about and decide if you can cover it from a different (or better) angle, and community events if you’re a brick-and-mortar store. Any events or charities you partner with and why you partner with them. You will see that Under Armour does a ton of charity outreach and partnership and writes about it.
3. Craft a Killer Headline
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Catch a reader’s eye without being clickbaity. Hit on emotional reasons a reader will care about and drive them to click on that post.
There are some fantastic tools to use to help you do this. One of my favorites is Co-schedule’sHeadline Analyzer. This tool is fantastic and gives you tips on how to improve your headline by using action and feeling words. If you’re not familiar with this copywriting technique, here is a handy guide Jenna Jacobs of Co-schedule wrote to help you out.
My general philosophy is that the more important the content is to driving revenue, the more time I spend on crafting the headline. For example, on my website, I do a lot of book reviews. I read across a wide range of genres and many of them are not relevant to the genres I write. I don’t spend a lot of time on the headlines for any of the reviews and only spend a little time on other aspects of the optimization process. This is the outer edge of my sales funnel. The closer down my sales funnel the content is the more effort I put into every aspect, especially the headline.
4. Plan your SEO
Use your blog to drive more Search Engine Optimization for your site and business. SEO allows you to get in front of high-value targets. Make sure that you are learning all about SEO, keeping abreast of changes, analyzing your key SEO words and working them into your content plan to drive customers who are looking for your content. I could write a 50-page dissertation on SEO, using long-tail and short-tail keywords, targeting what customers are searching for, etc. But that content has already been written by true SEO experts so rather than take up a ton of space on this already long post, I will advise you to become ABLE (Always be learning everything) and recommend that you carve out some time every week to read up and research (and keep learning as SEO is constantly changing and improving). Some of my favorite SEO resources are:
Google Search Central
I get weekly emails and read through them to keep my knowledge growing. If you are pretty new to SEO, each has some great courses you can take to help guide your learning.
5. Write for your Audience
Make your content as niche as possible and focus the content on what that audience wants and needs most. A great way to help you with this approach is to write the post for one specific customer knowing that customer’s specific needs. The content will resonate with all other customers struggling with the same problem. A perfect example is this article. I actually took a lot of this content from an email I created for a customer who wanted to get into blogging to grow her audience and had a host of authors who wanted to work with her but none of them really had commercial blogging experience. Each was writing their own blogs on their own websites and had their own formats and styles. They each had a ton of fantastic knowledge and experiences in writing to share with the novice writer audience she was trying to reach, but it was my guidance on how they could create a cohesive blogging platform following basic blogging practices that helped to grow their overall reach. Before we started this cohesion she only had a schedule but let everyone come up with their own ideas on what to write about on their assigned Day.
We put together this plan that included all of these elements and educated the authors on the process. Within 3 months we had taken their impressions from the low 200s to over 1,000 a day. Their engagement went from non-existent to 20-50 comments per post, and their subscriber list was non-existent and grew to over 800 subscribers. In just 3 months. Over the 2 years that I worked with her those numbers continued to grow steadily.
6. Break up your Content
Anything you can do to break up the blocks of content and make it easier for a reader to scan and find the content they’re looking for and make sure you address the solution they need. The longer the content, the more you need to use to break it up. As you will see, in this very long-form content I have employed a lot of techniques: I have headings, lists, images, video, shorter paragraphs, and longer paragraphs.
One of the cool elements of all this content creation included in your post is that it will also make it easier to share your post across different platforms. Create videos and images designed for the different platforms and it makes it easy to use that image to share on that platform and link back to the post. This is especially handy if you are creating evergreen content that you can share multiple times throughout the year, like this piece.
7. Include Reputable Links
This not only will increase your reader’s view of your knowledge, but it will also lead to higher google rankings as a quality source and will decrease your chances of your website being blocked by social media platforms. When doing this, I generally aim for at least 1 link to a reputable piece of similar content on my own site and at least 2 to reputable sources outside of my site. The longer your content, the more links you will want to create. But you don’t want to overwhelm a short piece with too many links or it begins to feel spammy. Sometimes you won’t have content to interlink to on your own site and that is ok, but whenever possible try to interlink your content. And there is always an exterior link to connect to, even if it is just where to buy or another reputable source for additional information. A note about links to help your content feel more reputable, let them know where you’re sending them with the link. I hate the habit that some bigger outlets have developed of not citing the source correctly. While a site like MSNBC can get away with it, if you are a much smaller name you want to cite your source so they know where they are going. Too many smaller sites ruined people’s trust by hiding viruses and such in links so build your credibility and site the source as I’ve done throughout my content. Whenever possible, cite the content and the author (see how I did this with the guide to headlines up above). This shows that you give credit to other people’s ideas, that you know who provided the content and their value (even if your reader doesn’t), and that you know the content and aren’t just pulling top-ranking content from Google. They may not even click the link while reading through your post, but in their mind, it will make you a more trusted source.
8. Create Killer Content
Mix with long and short-form content, video, images, and lists to keep your reader’s interest. While these tools are also great for breaking up your content to make it more scannable and also provide you great shareability on different platforms, it also caters to different learning types which your audience will appreciate. If your goal is to educate, meeting your audience where they are and in the format that best suits them is the way to go. Your goal with every piece of content should be “how do I meet the reader’s specific needs?” (writing to your audience) and then creating the best content to do that. With short-form content, you will want to be focusing on one very specific issue and address it thoroughly or create a very broad general understanding (giving yourself opportunities to dig deeper into the topic matter with linked content down the road). When creating images and video content, while you don’t need to make it in a professional studio, you do want to make sure that it is good quality and that the lighting and sound are solid and efficient to keep from distracting from your message. Some companies (especially new start-ups) try to rush through all the content creation focusing on creating a full backlog. It is better to focus on creating quality pieces from the get-go as it will build your reputation better. While you can cycle back and re-purpose content and update it you do not want that to be a key part of your strategy to just get more content out there faster.
9. Have a strong CTA
End with a strong call to action so your reader knows exactly what they need to do next. The call to action doesn’t have to be “Buy today” or something of that nature, though that should be your close for content created at the bottom of your sales funnel. It can be “learn more” (one of my favorites for book reviews, linking to their sales page with reviews and sample reads) or what are your thoughts if it is an educational piece. Asking them to share questions in the comments and assuring you will answer them is a good step in giving them additional resources for information, but you need to devote time every day to answering questions if you choose that approach. Invite them to share the post with their network, or try out these tips and let us know if it helped. But be sure to have a solid direction for what they can do next.
10. Share Everywhere
Use your blog post shares on social media to engage with your audience, drive traffic to your site, and to your sales funnels. If your content is evergreen, meaning that it isn’t time-specific, then add it to a content sharing list that you can pull from to re-share throughout the year. I like to share new pieces 3-4 times in the first month and then once every 90 days or so for the first year. Key sales funnel pieces may be shared more frequently, things that aren’t driving my sales funnel or traffic to my site may be shared less frequently. As you go through this re-shareable content, it might be worth updating some of it if new information has come out or adding new elements as it ages. As video content became more popular and easier to produce, I have been systematically creating video and adding it to older blog posts that have not been generating as much traffic.
Bonus Tip- Always be Improving
Constantly be evaluating your content and how you can improve it. Blogging is a long-term strategy, not a quick fix. There are a lot of things you can do after content has been created to keep it growing your business.
Link content together to keep readers on your site longer, to help guide them down your sales funnel, and to increase the chances of a sale. While this applies to content created specifically for your sales funnel, it may also apply to content that wasn’t originally created to drive the sales funnel but was a simple newsjack item. I review my content regularly to update posts and link them to other posts, and keep building my sales funnels.
If you have older content that you created before developing a specific skillset (like video) then go back through that content and add that element to it to give it new life and drive new traffic.
If you have content that you have re-vamped and re-shared and it isn’t driving traffic, then remove it so it doesn’t weigh down your site. There is no harm in doing this- but be sure that you unlink all posts that are connected to it. While it is hard to let go of content you created (believe me, I know) if it no longer serves your audience then it doesn’t serve you. It is ok to prune it.
Hope these tips help you in your journey to add blogging to your marketing arsenal. If you’d like help with your blogging journey, reach out for a consult.
Until next time,