Blogging is a powerful strategy for your business that can help establish your reputation, build authority in your industry and connect with your customers. Successful blogging takes work. Make sure you establish goals, clarify your audience and create a plan before you start publishing so your time is not wasted.
Establish your blogging goals
It is important to set long and short term goals for your blog so you are clear what you are working towards. Have a clear vision and plan how to get there.
Some long term (yearly) goals might be:
- Build brand awareness
- Attract new customers
- Gain 300 new followers on a specific social media platform
- Increase traffic by 20%
- Post at least 50 times on your blog
Plan what you can do on a monthly or weekly basis to help achieve your long term goals. For example:
- Run monthly competitions to attract Facebook fans
- Post a link back to your website on a social media websites once a day
- Write a post once a week to build content
Clarify your audience
When you communicate, your purpose is not what you want to do. It is what you want your audience to do as a result of reading what you have written. To communicate effectively, you must know your audience.
Who is your target audience? They are individuals, groups and communities that have influence and decision making power over your brands’ products and/or services. They are the ones who are going to react positively to your messages and take action. The key is to define your audience before you start writing for them. Consider the needs and interests of your readers. Ask yourself, what do my readers know about the topic? Are my readers likely to have an emotional response to my work? What do I want my readers to do, think, feel?
A target audience can generally be divided up into:
- Current clients
- Past clients
- Future clients
- New clients
- Extended circles
Identify the content you will publish that will be aimed at these groups within your target audience?
Create a plan
1. Brainstorm post ideas
What are you going to write about and where will these ideas come from? Ideas might come to you at any time such as while driving, talking to clients or when reading the newspaper. Constantly brainstorming ideas is vital.
What type of content will you write? Here is a list of some different types of blog posts you could consider including:
- Standard post – select a topic and discuss it
- How-to/instructional – specific information on how to do something. Video and images can be a helpful method to clarify your instructions
- Checklist – a useful set of specific steps taken to complete a task
- Resource link post – comment and share a link to something you have found online such as an interesting article or review on another website
- News – share some important, current news
- Interview – experts, celebrities, ordinary people who have managed to do something significant, people sharing their success stories
- Profile – focus on a specific person
- Review – on a single or series of products or services
- Cheat sheets – a concise set of notes for quick reference
- Freebies – for example free fonts or Microsoft Word or Excel templates to download
- Presentations – you can upload a series of slides to Slide Share and then embed them into a blog post along with a description of the presentation
Keep in mind that your goal should not be to simply rehash the same content that everyone is talking about. Draw on your knowledge and experience and make a meaningful contribution.
2. Plan your post categories and tags
Categories are a way to organise your posts and quickly tell your readers what the post is about. Categories also make it easier for people to find your content. You can assign multiple categories to a post. Use categories like a table of contents for your posts.
Tags are similar to categories but describe your post in more detail. Tags are the index words are found within the post.
Organisation is the key. It is important that your readers can easily find the information they want. When choosing names for your categories and tags, consider how you want visitors to find information in your blog. What words will they search for to find your articles? You can add more categories and tags over time but establishing a clear set of categories from the start is important.
3. Create a calendar
Scheduling enough time for creating original content, promoting it and answering comments is not easy. Set goals you can achieve. How often will you update your blog? Create a calendar that outlines your editorial plans including the post topics. Try to plan at least three months in advance. Look at the calendar and keep in mind what else is going on such as annual events and holidays. Be aware of what is happening in the world and in your business or industry. Use key events or holidays such as Christmas or Halloween for retailers to spur content ideas and to provide an opportunity to leverage content you create around those events.
Let your calendar be flexible. You may find that some of the post you have planned become obsolete before you publish them.
Don’t scratch your head and stare at a blank post stressing over what to write and feeling guilty because you haven’t written a post for a while. Know what you are writing and plan when you will write it so you use your time effectively and publish quality posts consistently that will draw more leads to your site.
There are many ways you can create you own editorial calendar. Here are a few free calendars you can use to get started planning your blogs goals and post titles:
- Printable calendar templates (Microsoft Word)
- Monthly and weekly planning calendar (Microsoft Word)
- Yearly calendar (Microsoft Excel)
- Make a customised calendar
To schedule your posts in more detail, consider including the following categories in your plan:
- Post title
- Content status – Where does the content stands (in production, on hold, published etc)
- Publish date – When the content goes live
- Type of content – The format of the content (article, video, infographic, whitepaper etc)
- Writer – Who will create the content?
- Editor – Who will edit/format the post?
- Supporting graphics – What photos/images will accompany the post?
- Supporting graphics source – Where will the supporting graphics come from?
- Supporting graphics status – Where does the supporting graphics stand? (in production, on hold, published etc)
- Target audience – Who is the audience, industry this post is aimed at?
- Promotion – What promotion and/or social media channels will be leveraged for this post?
- Keywords – What keywords will appear in this post?
4. Write your content
Most people read online by scanning the page for words, phases and headings. Make sure your blog post is easy to read. Some ways to do this include:
- Proof read carefully – spelling mistakes and poor use of language are a big turn off
- Clear, relevant attention grabbing headlines
- Lists – numbered or dot points help to make information clear and are easily scannable
- Formatting – use bold, capitals, italics as well as varied text sizes and colour to emphasise your points – just don’t go overboard
- Break up your content with compelling subheadings
- Keep paragraphs short
- Headings and sub headings act as visual cues to the main points of the post.
- Pictures – a picture is worth a thousand words!
- Clear call-to-action messages and links
5. Remember SEO
One of the easiest ways to maximise your websites position in Search Engines is by simply including keywords in your blog posts especially in the titles. Keep it simple and keep in mind what your readers might be searching for.
Making a blogging plan will take help take some of the stress out of this important marketing tool. Make sure you measure your progress and review how things are going regularly. As Benjamin Franklin said:
If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail