In the world of business, I am sure there is not a Universal List of Marketing Laws; but I do have a list and for me many of these “laws” are actually myths. One of the biggest myths is that marketing “gets” you clients. Wait a minute, you say. Isn’t that what marketing is for, getting you clients. Ah, I see you have bought into the law/myth. Perhaps this myth that Marketing “gets” you clients is actually #1 on your list.
Many businesses start blogs without a real plan. After all, it’s easy to do and you just need to start writing. But actually, there’s some serious planning involved and one of the major decisions to make is your blog voice. Just like you need consistent, clear messaging in the rest of your business, a good blog has a clear and consistent voice that is communicated on every page. Consistency helps you create a brand and this is what builds trust with your audience. More importantly, you need a blog that is not a copy of anyone else but a true reflection of you and how you want to show up to your audience.
The Elements of a Blog Voice
What does ‘blog voice’ mean? It sounds simple but it’s made up of a number of different elements including personality, beliefs, tone, style, and type of content. Some questions to ask include:
- Is your blog going to be strictly factual or opinionated? (are you going to be a technician or thought-leader)
- What values will it speak to?
- Is the tone going to be casual and friendly or more professional?
- Are you going to focus on recent news items, write reviews or offer how-to information?
Personality is an especially important consideration because your blog can’t be dull and formal. The human aspect has to come through. It needs to be engaging and speak to emotions as well as simply giving the reader information.
Your Ideal Reader
Just like any other time you are communicating your message, the best way to determine all the elements of your voice is to picture your perfect reader. Who do you want to become a fan of your blog? If you can imagine this person clearly, you can write posts to them that resonate perfectly. It may take a bit of market research. Find out which demographics are important parts of your niche. Find out what they like and dislike. Learn about how they feel, what they want out of life, and how they see themselves. Some people even draw a physical picture of their ideal reader and look at it whenever they write! I even recommend going further and naming this person so you can really connect to them as if s/he was sitting next to you.
Your Blog’s Image
Now that you’ve got a clear image of your blog readers in mind, the next step is to create an image for your blog that appeals to them. Consider not only your readers but also your business’s unique selling proposition. The key question to ask yourself here is – ‘How is my blog different than other similar blogs in my industry?’
The answer to this question lies in the specific niche you choose for your blog. One of the biggest mistakes bloggers make is trying to be everything to everyone. The truth is that no niche is too specific (unless it’s a market of one person). You need to carve out a unique place for yourself in the blogosphere that will set your blog apart.
Finding Your Voice
Finding a voice for your writing is something all writers must do. If you’re going to blog, you’ve got to consider yourself a writer, even if you don’t have the training, experience or writing chops. Take some time to read different blogs to see how each person’s voice differs. Some write in a very personal style, some are humorous or slightly outrageous, some write posts that are short and to the point. Find your own way of writing that you enjoy and that resonates with your readers.
So, I would love to hear what your voice is…. Share in the comments.
What is Cross-linking?
As your blog starts to grow and you’re adding more and more posts, chances are readers won’t see every single post you write. Why not make it easy for them to find related content by cross-linking where appropriate. You can even do this across social media platforms.
Here’s what I mean. Let’s say you blog about social media marketing and a particular post talks about using images effectively on Facebook. You could link within that post to an older post where you talk about using images on Twitter, or a more specific post where you explained how to fix things when Facebook doesn’t pull up the right image from your site. Do you see how this works?
Let’s look at another example. Let’s say you’re writing a recipe blog and you’re sharing a new recipe for an amazing BLT tomato salad. You could link to an older post where you shared how to cook bacon in the oven. This is pretty easy stuff, right? Or you can link to/from a post you did on Pinterest or Instagram or LinkedIn. What about a video you posted on Youtube? Sure, link them as well! The more ways you can connect your content, the better.
This strategy serves a few different purposes. You’re engaging your readers more with your content. This gives them a chance to get to know you and your blog a little better. It also means you’re getting more exposure and your visitor numbers will start to look better. It also helps you with search engines, believe it or not. They keep track of how long readers stay on your site and if they click around to read more. This is an indication of the quality of your content and your blog. In other words, if you can get readers to stick around longer, it will help your blog rank higher in the search engines.
Be of Service
Let’s not forget about the positive influence this has on your readers. You’re going out of your way to be helpful and share all sorts of great information with them. Not only does this allow your readers to get to know you better, it also builds credibility and trust which is exactly what you want.
Last but not least, the more pages your readers look at, the higher your chances that they’ll comment or share your links on social media. That, in turn, will help you broaden your reach and grow your audience. So, let’s see some cross-linking.
Today is the last day I am writing a “How to” type blog for the October challenge ( I will keep sharing blogging strategies, resources and tips with those in the October Blog-A-Day Challenge so you can sign up to keep getting this information – http://www.blogadaychallenge.com). I would love to hear what you have found helpful so far.
Starting tomorrow I will demonstrate other ways you can blog and create a relationship with your audience.
I have a quick tip for you today that will come in handy as you’re working on getting ahead on your blogging. It’s using the draft feature. Yes, it’s handy that WordPress and most other blogging platforms have a way to save your posts as drafts so you can continue to work on it over the course of a few days. It’s even better that they usually auto-save for you – at least it is in my case. But there’s another great way to use the draft feature.
You can use drafts to get ahead of the blogging game in several different ways. Let’s start with the most obvious one.
Use Drafts to Work on Your Next Blog Post (or Two)
The most obvious way to use drafts is of course to work on your current blog post until it is ready to publish. But don’t just stop there. If you know you have a busy day tomorrow or later on in the week, go ahead and give yourself a head start by creating a draft and working on it here and there as you can fit it in your busy day. You’ll be glad you did when it comes time to wrap up that particular post.
Use Drafts to Plan Out Your Week
You can also use drafts to plan out your blogging for the week. Let’s say you want to post 5 times per week. Come up with 5 topics and create a draft for each. Then start working on them, making sure you wrap up and publish at least one of the posts on each of your publishing days.
Not only will this keep you on track and show you at a glance what you’ll be blogging about this week, it also allows you to work on multiple posts throughout the week, giving you options when you get stuck on writing one post.
Use Drafts as A Way of Storing Blog Post Ideas
Let’s wrap this up with my favorite way to use the drafts feature. And that’s to use it as storage container for ideas for future blog posts. Here’s how to do it. When you get an idea for a blog post, go ahead and create a draft. Come up with a working title and make a quick note of what your blog post will be about. If you’re feeling ambitious, go ahead and write a quick outline for the post. Then save it as a draft.
Do this anytime you come up with an idea and save them for later. Then whenever you need something to blog about, browse through your drafts and pick one of these. The idea is there and you may even have done some of the writing already. These drafts make for fast blog posts and are just the thing when you’re suffering from writer’s block.
No matter what kind of company you have, you need to be blogging. Even if you don’t consider yourself a writer or blogger, it’s essential because your business blog offers another touch point with your customers and It’s easier to do than you think.
Here are 5 reasons why you should blog:
- To Create a More Personal Connection
- Establish Your Expertise and Credibility
- Customize Your Marketing
- Improve your Search Engine Traffic
- Increase Visibility for Your Products and Services
Create a More Personal Connection
Like social media, your blog gives you a chance to connect with your current and potential customers on a more personal level. While your website is a static page that simply tells them about your business, your blog is interactive. It’s a way to start a dialog where they can leave comments and get to know you better. Your blog gives your business a human face. Make sure that you use it as a way to humanize your business. In order to connect with your readers, be active and reply to each comment they leave.
Establish Your Expertise and Credibility
One of the best things about a business blog is that it gives you an opportunity to establish your expertise and build your reputation. You can blog about things you know. For example, if you’re a law firm, blog about simple legal questions people have. If you’re a cleaning company, share some easy house cleaning tips. Your blog shows your website visitors what you know and this engenders trust in your business. People like to do business with people they know, like and trust.
Customize Your Marketing
Blogging offers a much more effective and lower cost way to promote your business than other methods. If you want to place advertisements on other sites, this costs a bit of money. Other costly methods don’t make the same kind of impact that a blog written by you does. You also get information on your target market through their reading behavior and comments. Thus you know what problems they are looking to solve and you can offer them the right solution. When you are coming from a place of serving your customers and helping them, they will come back for more information.
Improve Your Search Engine Traffic
Adding a blog to your static website is a great way to attract traffic from search engines. The search engines favor sites that have fresh, updated content. If you write just one blog post per week, you’ll see more searches coming your way, especially if you choose a few good keywords for each post. Write two or three blog posts a week and you’ll really see your traffic climb. If you are making these posts relevant to your audience, you will also see more comments and these also act as fresh content in the eyes of the search engines.
Increase Visibility for Your Products and Services
Through your blog, you can tell your customers about your products and services. Let them know about discounts, special offers, new inventory items and offline events that you’re participating in. You can also add a feed to your social media sites so that every blog post shows up there as well.
Now, if writing gives you a case of the willies, don’t despair. Blogging isn’t like writing the Great American Novel. Focus on the wants, needs, interests and questions of your customers. Write short, conversational posts as if you’re speaking directly to them. Pick something related to your business and share your expertise with them. Your business blog doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel; it just needs to be helpful and engaging.
If you would like help getting started or just need more ideas, you can download my e-book “Blogging Brainstorming” at www.blogadaychallenge.com. This is the first of a 10 article series on Business blogging to help you thrive as a business blogger. Look for my next article, “Where to Start with Your Business Blog” tomorrow.