Blogging – is it right for you?
As web publishing has become easier, blogs have become more popular. Individuals with little to no technical experience can now start and run a blog using free to use platforms without any technical or coding experience. Users who read blogs are at higher levels now than ever before. WordPress, the most popular blogging platform is currently seeing more than 33 million blog posts published every month.
Highly successful blogging will take a lot of time and work. Depending on what you wish to gain from your company blog means the number of people involved can include just you or the support of marketers, designers and copywriters. A blog is an informal way to expose your company’s culture and personality while using it as a platform to highlight information on the products and services you offer.
You can establish authority through your blog by publishing content that adds value to your industry and the customers your industry serves. In most cases a blog integrated as a part of your website is the best choice and makes cross linking to service and product pages easy, plus as you build value in your blog you are also building value into your website as a whole.
The most daunting task for most blog owners is generating and sustaining regular blog posts of quality. Depending on your competitors and industry you will need to consider a frequency of posts that sets you ahead or alongside your competitors. Deciding what to provide in terms of content for your users is tricky and can be answered by considering some questions. These could be what questions are your users regularly asking you, what advice can you provide to your users about your services, your products or related subjects? What is happening in the industry as whole that you can add comment and opinion to? Using Google Analytics you will be able to see what keywords users are typing to find your website. Often you can convert these into a question, that you then answer as a blog post. By reviewing your competitor sites, social media chatter on related subjects, reviewing questions and feedback you’ve received you should be able to create a list of subjects to write about to get you started. Once you begin to gain comments and feedback and become immersed in the blogging world you’ll find new ideas for blogs materialise much more easily.
Blogs are an informal or less formal part of your company’s brand exposure and as a result a perfect place to build relationships and show your brands personality. You can use a writing style and voice that will communicate and connect with your users and choose a selection of posts that appeal to them ranging from fun and entertaining messages to more valuable content rich articles. Having established a brand style for your blog, content creation will become much easier and articles will flow quickly and freely.
Before embarking on a blog it is worth realistically assessing how many times a week, month, year you can contribute worthwhile articles to your blog. In most cases having no blog at all is better than publishing an unloved blog that hasn’t seen any new material for several months. A visitor to your site will be unsettled to see a stagnant blog and most likely continue to another site where there is regular activity and opportunity to join in on the discussion. This is not to say a daily blog is the requirement, as long as you can set expectations with your audience and stick to it, they will know when to look for the next update. Monthly posts are quite acceptable and you can even create summary blogs from other content your users may not have seen such an email newsletters and social media posts.
Discussions are what make blogs come to life. Once you write an article that sparks conversation and debate the blog not only is proven to be content rich and worthwhile but also the comments and engagement activity from others adds value for your users too. A series of blogs over time that inspires discussions lead to a community feel on the site and from there you become a destination for the community to converse. There are obvious search engine optimisation benefits that come with this too. With engagement also comes moderation and deciding how to ensure the blog standards are met and that spam and trolls (users deliberately causing arguments and harassing others) are dealt will efficiently. There are a couple of good methods I would recommend to keep this type of activity to a minimum which are to use an approval process where you receive an email displaying the comment before clicking a link to approve it, or if you blog is popular with regular comments, asking your users to signup before they can post. Comments are also a great way for you, the author, to respond and gain extra insight into your post. It is great way for you to get involved and respond to the comments you wish to, without feeling obliged to comment back to everyone.
A useful tool to setup for your blog (and website) is Google alerts. This free resource will help you to monitor any mentions on the web about your brand, services and products and also to receive notifications when other sites are talking about related subjects that you can use for future blog inspiration. Once you have configured it with the keywords you want to track, Google will send you an email when it finds these keywords on any newly published online document with a link to view it. You can include as many phrases as you wish and monitor mentions of individual blog posts, mentions about your competitors and key individuals in your industry. When someone is mentioning you online it is worthwhile checking out the scenario and adding your response if relevant and possible.
In summary there are plenty of content options for your blog and once you have found your style and voice the generation of new posts will become easier and easier. Varying your content will help you to see what is working and what isn’t and also make blog reading for your users varied and fun.