If you were lucky enough to attend the blogging workshop in February, then I hope it was of use to you and your business, and has given you the motivation you need to put pen to paper and release your voice onto the world.
But if you weren’t one of those lucky few who’s brains were picked and put back together, then I hope that this summary gives you a tantalising taste of how you can utilise the platform of blogging, be it for business or pleasure.
Before we begin with the good stuff, I thought I’d share with you where my experience has come from, and how I began to dip my toes into the world of blogging.
Without my blog I wouldn’t have my job here at Datify as Content Marketing Manager.
When I started my blog more than 6 years ago, it was a simply a hobby that kept me occupied, but it has since become a beast unto itself.
Now thanks to that hobby, I not only still have my blog but I also have a job that I love, and gives me the opportunity to learn about new things everyday.
So Why Blog?
There’s simply no excuse not to, to be completely honest.
Blogging for your business provides you with another communication channel to your customers, fuels SEO, gives your brand a voice and can help you to create free PR for your company. A statistic that might help to put this into perspective, (and because we simply love data), in a recent Hubspot Survey 60% of businesses who blog acquire more customers.
So there you have it, if you have a business website, add a blog feature and get out there.
Of course many people are only aware of lifestyle blogs that are there to be enjoyed, and this is a perfectly valid excuse to blog as well.
Not only can a personal blog help you to join a community of likeminded people, but as in my case, it can help to boost your career, plus it’s super cathartic when you feel like you need to get something off your chest.
But if there’s one thing I would hammer home no matter which niche you choose, it’s to ensure that no matter what you write, make it valuable, and give your readers something to take-away with them. Whether it’s practical tips and advice, or just food for thought.
A few of my personal favourite business and pleasure blogs include;
The Trick of Choosing a Niche
When beginning your blog it can be a real pain to pinpoint they niche you’re going to fit into. After all, the last estimate on blogs currently on the internet sits at 152 million, but don’t let that put you off. No matter the subject matter there’s a blog, but the question you have to ask yourself is, what do you want to be known for?
You may have a penchant for eating cake and coding, so why not combine the two?
There are no rules when it comes to your chosen niche, and the more unique and quirky, often the better.
Is There a Magic Formula?
Many people ask me how to create a successful blog, well like most things that are successful it just takes a lot of time and dedication to the cause.
But there are a few simple things you can do to ensure your blog looks the part and draws in those readers.
Quirky Title – Let’s be honest, we’re all drawn in by a good headline in the papers, so treat your blog title with the same intrigue. Don’t be ridiculous, like ’10 Cats that Make Accounting Easy’, but let them know what to expect and put a little personality into it.
Content – The very body of your blog post should be as useful as possible. Always ask yourself, what’s the end goal of the blog post?
Will you be informing them, guiding them, or are you simply wanting a reaction?
There’s a huge misconception in the marketing world that word count matters, but it doesn’t. Get to the point and don’t be a waffler, but give your audience as much useful information as they need.
Know your Audience – Who are you talking to? Without knowing your audience, your content can be easily misdirected, so keep them in your thoughts whilst you’re writing, and get to know them.
Be Picture Perfect – Images go a long way in making a blog more reader friendly, they offer a quick insight into what the post will contain, and help to break-up large amounts of text. But always keep your images relevant to your blog post, there’s nothing worse than random images that have nothing to do with the message that is being conveyed in the blog post.
Spread the Word – Of course last but by no means least, once you’ve hit publish its time to spread the news. Sharing across all of your social media platforms and emailing it out to any subscribers or even friends is a great way to start shouting about what you’re doing.
It may feel a little alien at first to be so self promoting, but if you want to get noticed and gain those readers, it’s time to start being your own number one fan.
Picking a Platform
There are a number of blogging platforms now available that are user-friendly without the hassle of having to ask a web developer every time you wish to schedule a blog post.
But I’ll be biased and put myself out there to say that I’d personally always choose WordPress.
It’s free, many of the more bespoke themes are cheap, it’s customizable and mobile friendly.
I could go on until the cows come home about the importance of a responsive design and the benefits of the updates that WordPress implement, but the blog post below goes into far greater detail that may help clear any confusion.
Why choose WordPress > http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/241535
Finding Your Voice
It can be a daunting task when you’ve got a blank page in front of you, and some of the most common questions about my writing can include;
“How did you find your voice?”
“How did you develop your style?”
“How did you learn to write?”
The truth is, I never sat pondering on it for too long, and just went for it.
Always be yourself, because that’s what people can really identify with.
Being genuine, honest and helpful is always the way forward, because it immediately makes you relatable to your audience and far more trustworthy.
There are now a number of bloggers who have managed to make it big, and when they hit publish it only takes a matter minutes before it’s gone ‘viral’.
Finding these followers isn’t as simple as hitting that button and hoping for the best, the strands of their success are within their actions. We can all learn a few things from these bloggers.
They’re passionate about their subject.
They take the time to make themselves an expert.
They create useful content that people want to share.
They build strong relationships with others in their industry and with their followers.
They engage with their readers.
Combine all of this effort on a regular basis and before long you’ll have world domination.
Timing Can Be Everything
“When is best to blog” is a common question, but there’s no right or wrong answer.
What works for one company may not work for another, so to begin with it’s all about testing and checking to see the results.
These recent statistics by Kissmetrics may help you to begin with, but I wouldn’t use them as strict rules to blog by;
The highest percentage of users read blogs in the morning.
A higher percentage of men read blogs in the evening.
The average blog usually gets the most traffic on a Monday.
The average blog usually gets the most traffic around 11am.
Keep track of when you’re posting and be realistic. Installing google analytics can enable you to do this and monitor your most popular posts and the dates and times they performed best.
How often you blog also depends on what you can practically achieve.
Regular blog posts are well-known to work better, and your readers will come to expect this, so don’t set yourself up for failure.
If you can only blog once or twice a month then stick to that. There’s nothing worse than a neglected blog that looks like a distant memory.
Working with Brands
Once your blog becomes well-established, it can be a fantastic opportunity to gain sponsored posts from brands and offer advertising space.
Monetization of blogs is nothing new, and has become a valid way of living.
If you wish to get to this level ensure that you create a media pack that details what you can offer, and the stats of your blog including current followers, average readers etc.
Don’t forget to remember your manners though, being rude and unhelpful will only tarnish your reputation, so even if you don’t wish to review a product or feature that company, politely decline.
The Technical Stuff
You can put in a lot of time and effort making beautiful, and interesting blog posts, but you also need to touch on the technical stuff to make your knowledge easy to find in google.
This will not only enable your blog to gain more readers but will ensure you can begin to compete with others in your industry.
It can be a bit of brain scratch when it comes to optimising your blog for SEO, but there are simple things you can do yourself without the help of a techy.
Installing a plugin called Yoast SEO can help you to ensure your title and descriptions are optimised, and properly categorising and tagging your blog posts are important factors.
Think of it this way, the categories are the menu of a book and the tags are the index references.
Of course this won’t put you at the top of google, but it will go a long way in helping your blog be found in the world wide web.
Searching for those Light Bulb Moments
Finding inspiration can feel like a job in itself, especially when you’ve set yourself a task of achieving a set amount of blog posts per month or week.
I personally find that carrying a notepad around can help me to jot down any moments of inspiration I may have, giving me lots of blog fodder for when I finally sit in front of the computer.
Experience also has a lot to answer for in helping us to generate new ways of thinking, and this couldn’t be more true for blogging. Be a ‘yes’ person, and take part in as much as you can.
Don’t be afraid to start putting your voice out there. You never know what might come from it!