15 Blogging Tips for Beginners
Starting a blog can seem scary and daunting. However, it doesn’t need to be and, even if you are a complete beginner, if you are passionate about your subject (and your business) then you can have confidence.
Take a read through my 15 tips to help you on your blogging for business journey. And if you would like further support get in touch about my Blog Starter workshop – one-to-one training that will help you to plan, structure and market your blog. I also have exciting news about an online course and group session coming this Autumn…so watch this space!
Top tips for beginning your business blog
1. Be realistic
My first piece of advice for anyone beginning to blog is to be realistic about how often you will create content. For many, writing a blog is not a 5 minute job so consider when and how you will make the time to write and how often. Consider also what your goals are. What do you want to get out of writing a blog and what do you expect in return for your hard work? Having this can be good motivation when the early excitement wears off! I’ll be honest, writing a blog is often a ‘slow burn’, you won’t see instant returns. The content will have more longevity than any social media post and will help increase your website traffic, but you have to give it time to ‘work its magic’ – so be realistic about the commitment you are making.
If that hasn’t put you off (!!!), and I promise it will be worth it…then read on…
2. Be consistent
Updating your website regularly is a powerful search engine optimisation (SEO) tool, so try to add a blog post consistently, even if you cannot commit to writing something new very regularly. It is much better to publish a post once a month, than to publish three in one go, then nothing for two months, for example. Ideally, if you can publish consistently (i.e. every Monday or the first Tuesday each month) then the search engine crawlers should start to realise this and will ‘come back’ to identify the new content.
Remember just because you commit to publishing a blog once a month doesn’t mean that you have to write something every single month. I highly recommend writing a batch in advance. Check out some more ‘time saving’ blog tips here.
3. Identify your ideal ‘reader’
You need to know who you are writing for. This tip ties in nicely with the one below, as you need to know what the purpose of your blog is, in order to know what you want to achieve with it. Therefore, when you begin think about who you are writing for and why. Getting this down on paper early on serves as great motivation when you lose focus or lose track of why you are writing a blog. Check back on your goals too.
Remember your ideal reader may be slightly different from your ideal client. It may be just a small proportion of your market who you know will find a blog useful and will look to something like a blog to help convert a sale – not everyone will. Perhaps, your blog is primarily written for past customers as a source of advice or guidance. Just as different social media platforms have a different demographic so will ‘blog readers’ and what they find engaging.
4. Know your purpose
It is so important that you know why you are starting a business blog. Pin it up on the wall as a reminder. You may have more than one, but ensure you have a primary purpose. For example, my primary purpose is to educate, whilst my secondary purpose is to evidence my expertise.
Alongside your purpose, I would also identify a couple analytics that you are going to track so that you can identify your progress (which is motivational). They are also great to use for reflection and evaluation to see what it working.
5. Decide on your style
There are lots of different styles of blog. When you are starting a blog, I recommend every beginner spends time researching and reading other blogs. You can learn so much about what you like as well as what you don’t. You will also get lots of ideas about all of the different elements a blog can have (see tip 15 below!). It also ties in well with helping you to identify a style that will suit your ideal reader and your own personal style.
6. Set a launch date
If you don’t set a deadline then you’ll never get started! Treat a blog just like a new product or service – set a launch date and market it! You will want to have at least three blogs ready to go live on launch day too – so consider this when setting your date. Get your customers and clients excited about the value your blog will bring and encourage them to suggest ideas too.
7. Remember to market your blogs
Just like the launch of your blog should include marketing, like social media activity and an email to your subscribers, at the very least, then every blog should also have it’s own marketing ‘plan’. This can be very simple – but remember to advertise new blogs at least twice close to publication on at least two different platforms. Also consider a ‘rolling programme’ of marketing published posts, as for most of us their content is evergreen and can be promoted again and again. Don’t let old posts just sit there and be forgotten – they are important and worthy of the attention.
8. Write back up blogs
I highly recommend having at least two ‘back up’ blogs written in draft so that if your planning or schedule doesn’t quite go to plan then you can continue to be consistent (see tip 2). Remember that a Christmas blog can be written in March! Choose times when you are a bit quieter (most businesses have a natural ebb and flow through the year, even if it doesn’t feel like it sometimes) and write some spares!
9. Leave time for proofreading
Checking and proofreading your own written content is notoriously difficult. Whilst there are various methods for overcoming this (including reading what you have written out loud), one of the most powerful methods is to leave at least a day between finishing the writing of a blog post and then proofreading it. Check headings and any links, as well as the main copy for errors, long sentences and disruptions to the flow.
10. Optimise headings for SEO
When you are proofreading, always double check your headings for optimisation. Think about the keywords which describe your content and make sure these are used in your headings throughout your blog post. I guess one thing to say is remember to include headings in the first place! A blog post should be at least 500 words (ideally 1000), if it is a traditional written blog, and it is important to break up the text to help with scan reading, as well as for SEO.
11. Think carefully about your title
Your title (or headline as it is sometimes called) is one of the main things that will ‘invite’ your readers in – from the title they will make a very quick assessment as to whether it contains content useful to them (or, perhaps, what they are specifically looking for). It will also be the first thing that a search engine will try to match with a search term.
Whilst you may want your headline to be clever and engaging, this needs to be balanced with what the blog is actually about as well as how it will be easy to be found via a search. I use Answer the Public which list questions typed in to Google which contain a certain key term or word (of your choosing) which is great for titles. I also like CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer – which can give you a bit more confidence in your choice.
12. Keep a list of your blogs
From the moment you start blogging, keep a list. Doing this from the very beginning will help you to keep track of what you have covered and give you ideas for future blog posts, as it’s easier to identify gaps and look for places where you can offer follow up or more in-depth blog posts to complement another.
Furthermore, interlinking between blogs is really important and this is much easier if you have an easy list to reference. I suggest using a simple spreadsheet which includes the title of the blog; date published; category it is in (if you are using categories); and a general description or topic. You can also give the URL (the full website address) so it is easy to create hyperlinks in associated blog posts.
13. Reuse and repurpose blog content
Another reason for keeping a list of blogs from the beginning (see tip 12) is that it gives you a ‘reference list’ of content you have created that you can re-use (i.e. in a lead magnet, as guest blog or in an online brochure) and re-purpose (i.e. record elements as a video, break down in to social media posts or use sections in an email). Never write a blog, publish it and forget it! As I said in tip 7, remember to market old blogs as well as new. Direct customers to a relevant blog if they ask a question it answers – it saves lots of time!
14. Plan updates
As with any website content, the longer it remains on your website the more chance it has to rank for the keywords in contains. The more visits it gets, the more a search engine will rank it for trust and authority…and often this just takes time. Therefore, what you don’t want to do is only ever put out new content, particularly if you are writing seasonal content or advice that may date. Always have a plan to update those blogs and check for broken links. Once again, it is why having a list of blogs is really useful as you can go back through and mark ones that are need to be updated for relevant events, national days or advice that dates, etc.
You may also want to add some analytics data to the list/spreadsheet too, which will show you which blogs are getting most traffic and so may be good ones to keep updated.
15. Offer more than just words
I know the idea of writing 500-1000 words (or more!) scares a lot of people and it stops people beginning their blogging journey. But a blog doesn’t have to be a blog! Well, what I mean is that it doesn’t have to be called a “blog” and it doesn’t have to be just writing. A blog could be called ‘news’ or ‘events’ and you could offer a diary style with regular posts which includes lots of photos of what you have been up to. You can also embed videos and offer a transcription. Today’s best practice for blogs too offer so much more than just writing. You can offer a combination of links to your other blogs posts, links to external websites (when appropriate and trusted), quotes to catch the eye and images (not just a featured image), as well as added value such as downloads, videos and chances to subscribe to your mailing list, for example.
What barriers are stopping you from blogging?
I have written a whole series of blog posts on ‘Hurdles to Blogging’ and how to overcome them. Take a read here:
Hopefully, I can put any concerns to rest. However, at the end of the day, you have to want to do it. You have to make the commitment and be motivated to do so, because you believe in the power of it for your business and its growth.
If you want to discover more about blogging for business or have any other questions, do not hesitate to get in touch – email firstname.lastname@example.org