Blogging has undergone a recent surge in popularity even though it has been around since the early days of the web.
When we hear the word “blog,” we often think of things like music blogs, technology blogs, and fashion blogs – a sole author publishing their industry-specific work to a small group of online followers. In the past five years though, blogs have become an integral tool for local business to build an online customer base.
Instead of small-time music fans and fashion gurus making blogs, local companies are now publishing blogs of their own. Even dry cleaners and coffee shops now have online blogs to announce business developments and advertise new products and services. From an Internet pastime to an online phenomenon, blogging has transformed the online landscape.
Still, why should we care about blogging in 2015?
The truth is that blogs are really important. Business websites are static and unchanging, typically using the same content for months or years at a time. Customers want to see that businesses care about their online reputation. After all, the Internet is probably how we found the business in the first place.
Blogs provide an intuitive outlet for your business to update a community of online customers and followers. This online tool is an easy way for small and medium businesses to increase site traffic, gain social media followers, and promote sales.
If you are planning on writing content for a site or are wondering how you can add a blog to your domain, then there are a few things you should know:
1.) Research Makes Perfect
Having a blog is one thing. Having a quality blog is another. If you want to attract online followers, then you need to have the credibility and knowledge to back it up. Your blog should give users unique information that that is (a) relevant to your industry and (b) unique to your business. Meeting both of those goals is only possible when sufficient research is done beforehand. Speak with frontline employees and get their take on an issue. Read other blogs from industry experts and even spend time outlining a detailed article. An blog’s online reception is a product of the work that’s put into it.
2.) Readability (Make Lists!)
There’s a formula for success in online blogging and it’s all about the visual structure of your article. There is a reason this article and thousands of others are formatted into a numbered, easy-to-read list – it simply works.
Call them overused or uncreative, top ten lists are the best way to condense random factoids into a palatable piece of writing. Readability should be one of your biggest priorities as a writer. Online readers crave quick snippets of information; they don’t need long-winded paragraphs for each point.
3.) Who’s the Audience?
Is your blog targeted to a technical audience or is it designed for entry-level readers? The target audience is the biggest determinant of the style, vocabulary, and structure within your article. Many blog writers make the mistake of trying to cater to too broad an audience. Rather than reaching out to every reader, hone in on the crowd that really matters. Cater to an audience that is truly receptive to your stories and promotes your blog through social media or word-of-mouth.
4.) Adding Valuable Links
Blogs are an important tool for linking to new information. A blog entry about “5 reasons to buy new shoes” should undoubtedly have a link for you to buy new shoes – that’s the whole point. Blogs pull resources from across the web into a relevant and readable web page. Do not make the mistake of overdoing it though, which is a pitfall of many young bloggers. When there are too many blue hyperlinks scattered throughout the page, the article just looks unprofessional and broken. Try to prioritize outbound links and only add the ones that matter.
5.) Find a Niche
Like we said earlier, finding a target audience is the road to success in the online world. Whatever your subject matter is, try to stretch the limits of specificity. Let’s say your business sells hats. Ask yourself what kind of hats? Where are these hats being sold? Soon enough, you’ll find that your blogging niche isn’t “hats,” but instead something along the lines of “leather cowboy hats in Dallas.”
The more specific your writing, the more likely prospective customers and readers will find you. Not to mention, articles with a limited scope face much less competition than broad, oversaturated search terms. Finding your online niche isn’t easy though – it will take time to understand how different key terms and titles affect your site’s ranking on search engines.
6.) Promoting It
So you just published your first article but you don’t know how to get people to actually read it. This is where content promotion becomes a big deal. Writing the article was only half the battle, now you have to encourage
people to read it. One of the best ways to promote your writing is through social media. Hop on your company’s Twitter account or Facebook page to tell followers that your site has published a new blog post. Even use your own personal profile to tell friends and family about your new piece. After only a few people share your post, you have already achieved hundreds of online impressions.
7.) Become Part of the Community
Dedicated blog contributors care about the people who comment on their articles. If someone asks you a question or makes a comment on your article, write a quick response. This is an easy way to keep users coming back because they feel part of online community. Surely, some commenters probably have blogs of their own, so leave an occasional comment on their site, too. It’s all about crafting a successful online identity – the one that interacts with its users always wins.
Blogging is not as easy a job as it might seem. While blogging has given an online voice to thousands of contributors and self-proclaimed authors, this only makes it harder to distinguish yourself from the crowd.
Even if you follow all of the steps above, there’s still a chance your blog won’t hit it big. There’s no magic bullet for creating a winning blog, but there are certainly some useful tips you can boost your chances. If it all comes down to one piece of advice though, just remember to use spellcheck before you submit an article.