It seems that almost everyone today has a blog, including businesses, college students, politicians, cat lovers—and even some cats! When you hear stories of companies that have increased their client base and bottom line through blogging, the natural response is to want that opportunity for yourself. However, simply creating a blog is not going to immediately bring more traffic or potential customers to your site.
A successful blog requires careful consideration and planning in order to achieve the positive results you’ve been hearing about. Below you’ll find tips for getting your blog started (including the important question of why you’d like to start one) and creating content that’s valuable to both your readers and your business.
Establish Your Motivation
Before you hop on the blogging bandwagon, it’s important to take a moment and ask yourself some questions about why you want to create a blog in the first place:
- Do I want one because I’ve heard they’re good for my online marketing efforts?
- Do I want one because I saw my competitor has one?
- Do I want one because I want to share my knowledge of and passion for my industry?
If you didn’t answer “yes” to all three questions, it’s likely that your blogging will prove both unsuccessful for your business and dissatisfying for you as the writer.
Creating a blog is about more than business strategies and competitive marketing. If your blog lacks a genuine sense of purpose or enthusiasm, you’ll lose the attention and engagement of readers—and potential customers.
Find a Balance
A successful blog requires a combination of passion, expertise, and creativity.
- If you’re not passionate, it will show in your blog posts. Blogging will become a dreaded task instead of something you’re excited to do.
- The importance of expertise may seem obvious, but a surprising number of bloggers out there simply parrot what others have said. Their posts use buzzwords to attract attention but don’t follow through with any real insight.
- Creativity is key to producing content that is both informative and engaging for your readers. Consider fresh approaches for any traditional topics you may cover.
Keep Your Reader in Mind
Keeping your audience in mind may seem like a very basic idea, but it’s often lost in the shuffle of meeting deadlines and running a business. If you create content that is informative and engaging to your target audience, you’ll avoid a lot of the pitfalls that are common among unsuccessful blogs.
- As you write, make sure you’re constantly considering your audience. Ask yourself: Is the information interesting or useful? Is it written in a friendly, engaging tone? Is it free of industry jargon that may alienate some readers?
- Posts that feature interesting graphics, charts, photos, or videos are excellent for capturing attention and delivering information.
- Lists, such as “Top Ten Items You Should Never Keep in a Storage Unit” or “Five Important Questions to Ask Before Moving into a New Community,” are also a great way to provide interesting content in an easy-to-read format.
- Blogs can be both informative and entertaining, so don’t be afraid to show some personality or incorporate tasteful humor!
Keep Search Engines in Mind
A blog can be very useful in boosting your site’s search engine optimization (SEO). New content delivered on a regular basis encourages the search engines to return to your site to crawl and index it more often.
- Adding content that’s relevant to your industry can increase your topical relevance for search queries related to your industry.
- Don’t force keywords related to your business into your blog entries. It’s crucial to keep readability in mind. A paragraph that repeats the same word over and over again does not make enjoyable reading, and it won’t boost your search engine rankings; in fact, it can hurt them.
- A keyword should appear in your post no more than two or three times.
The Blogging Bottom Line
Key takeaways to help get you started:
- Update frequently and consistently
- Always keep your reader in mind
- Be creative, informative, and engaging
- Avoid using “industry insider” terms your customers may not know
- Don’t overpopulate your content with keywords
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on September 2010 and has been updated to reflect current best practices.