Blogging is big business nowadays. A quarter of people’s time online is spent either blogs or social media accounts, and a corporate blog can more than double lead enquiries from potential customers. However, the popular misconception that blogging is easy or automatically successful has been disproved by the sheer volume of new content being uploaded every day.
This is a mature and congested marketplace, where attracting readers is almost as difficult as retaining them. Creating a successful blog needs to meet numerous criteria. In this article, we consider what those attributes are, and how to achieve them:
Investigate the market.
You wouldn’t launch any other business venture without undertaking due diligence on competitors and demand levels, and blogging is a recognised form of marketing nowadays. Study other blogs in your chosen niche or industry, and analyse whether they respond to every comment. Tools like Moz and SEMrush are useful for determining the popularity of particular keywords, and assessing whether competitors are achieving strong results for these terms.
Focus on topics you’re familiar with.
If blogging doesn’t come naturally, you don’t need the additional handicap of trying to write about a topic you’re not au fait with. People with greater knowledge will see straight through your bluff, just as you’d recognise someone trying to feign interest or expertise in a topic you know inside out. Don’t start rambling to fill space if you can say everything you need to within 300 words, and ensure tangential features, like industry and internet news, still position you as an authority in your industry.
Develop a dedicated social media following.
This doesn’t mean shoehorning copyright-free images with tenuous links into your Instagram timeline. It might mean opening dedicated accounts with platforms like Reddit or Facebook which may be used to drive traffic to the blog by posting regular summaries of new content. Connecting with other bloggers and people in your industry is critical, but don’t expect to see results overnight – it takes a long time to organically develop a following.
Don’t be tempted to take shortcuts in the pursuit of attracting a substantial readership.
Buying follower lists is a terrible idea, and companies using this deceitful shortcut are to be avoided. LinkedIn is a great platform for inbound links, as are Facebook company pages and Twitter profiles. Ideally, a blog should provoke comment and generate organic site traffic.
Choose a strong title.
A headline is often the only opportunity to capture people’s attention in search results or on a page of links to third-party blogs. It should be directly relevant to the topic under discussion, but also ideally be humorous or topical in some way. Puns are great since people who get the reference will feel pleased with themselves. While humour is very subjective, self-deprecation or irony are often well received.
Make blogging a weekly activity.
Building a blog is a long-term commitment, not something to be abandoned as workloads increase. Uploading a blog post once a week will keep people coming back, and content can be stockpiled during quieter periods for posting in busy periods. The week before Christmas is a prime opportunity to draft up articles to publish during 2018, though topical output might need tailoring in response to subsequent events.
It’s essential to use keywords and long tails a handful of times in each post for search engine optimisation purposes. Remember that search engines are alert to keyword stuffing, so using a word twenty times in a 500-word article will probably result in the blog being downgraded. Choose keywords with relevance to your target audience, potentially encouraging them to click a link in search results.
Write like a journalist.
Professional writers understand that an article needs an attention-grabbing headline and a strong opening paragraph to draw in readers. Always prioritise key content towards the top so that anyone abandoning the blog midway through leaves with its key messages in their mind. Every successful blog post tells a story or makes a point – if yours doesn’t do either of these, don’t publish it.
Make the blog flow.
Every sentence needs to justify its presence, and it’s preferable to ensure one paragraph follows on from its predecessor. Speaking of which, paragraphs should contain a maximum of three sentences, while sentences should never contain more than two commas. Today’s audiences have very short attention spans, but infographics and list-based content (often referred to as listicles) will break up a series of text-based posts.
Present each blog attractively.
Sub-headings break up slabs of copy, and it’s important to conclude with a call to action or by reiterating key points or messages. Pull quotes are a great way of pulling out key points to emphasise them more, and these are often the primary messages readers remember. Copyright-free photographs or graphics also add personality to a page, offering additional opportunities for SEO via captions and image tags.
Be professional at all times.
This doesn’t just mean running a spell-check before clicking Update, or proofreading a blog post the day after you’ve written it for a fresh perspective. These are of course important, but professionalism extends into other areas like hosting your blog on a dedicated website or subpage of your corporate site. A Blogger.com account will suggest you’re a periodic hobbyist rather than a committed writer, and there’s no scope to choose a relevant or SEO-friendly URL.
Write without prejudice.
Expressing personal opinions may alienate audiences with opposing viewpoints. A successful blog post should build the largest possible following, but bias can achieve the exact opposite. Ask a colleague or friend for their feedback; it’s easy to lose sight of what an article actually says when you know what it’s meant to say.
Everyone wants a successful blog to generate a dependable income stream, but commercial success is very rare. Nevertheless, if your blog isn’t linked to a particular company, you may be able to attract advertisers if you’re able to demonstrate substantial visitor levels. Don’t bother trying to sell ads yourself – delegate it to one of the digital advertising specialists who block-sell banner or sidebar advertising to numerous platforms.
Use guest writers with caution.
Reciprocal blogging opens up audiences you’d otherwise be unable to reach, but it requires a degree of editorial supervision to ensure the overall theme remains relevant to your target market. Similarly, it’s crucial to maintain some impartiality with affiliate marketing. Your company’s reputation will become intertwined with any brands you promote, so choose partner organisations carefully and extol their virtues with caution.
Our final tip is perhaps the most nebulous, since many people find blogging difficult or time consuming. Even so, enthusiasm and passion shine through every bit as clearly as fatigue or apathy. If you don’t feel comfortable penning a corporate blog, perhaps a well-briefed colleague could inject whatever passion is necessary to engage with audiences. A freelance copywriter will certainly be able to find the right words…
At UK2, launching a blog is an easy process. Our website builder includes numerous mobile-optimised templates that can be launched within minutes, and we stock a comprehensive variety of domain names at temptingly low prices. Whatever else your blog becomes, it should always be professionally hosted and instantly available to view…