Does it remind you of watching the most gutwrenching parts of Grey’s Anatomy?
No comments. No social shares. No leads.
Ick – why does this happen?
It’s my belief that when writing a blog, no matter how obscure the topic, nothing is “boring.” You’re listening to the guy who writes about security gates and janitorial services, for goodness sake.
Do you really think you would ever want to read about either of those topics?
Of course, they’ll never be mainstream. But to business owners, schools, and churches – janitorial services are quite interesting. And ditto for homeowners who have installed security gates.
Definitely niche topics – but well worth writing about!
If your business blog has all the liveliness of a funeral, try these techniques. I guarantee they’ll help.
1. Post Consistently
In my experience, it’s the top reason most business blogs don’t meet their goals. Posts are consistent for 2-4 months. Then they get skipped once or twice. Before you know it, it’s been 6 months since your last post.
Inconsistency kills. You should do 2 posts per month at least, and ideally 4. 6-8 per month makes for a steady flow your readers love.
2. Promote the Heck Out of It
“Build it and they will come” does not work at all. Competition’s too intense these days. Something like 2 million posts get written per day (probably more), and about 33% of our planet’s population has internet access.
Guess what competition’s going to be like 5, 10 years from now?
Promotion takes a whole serious of blog posts to cover. But take a look at some simple tips for now:
- Hit up all your social media accounts. Necessary, but generally doesn’t work well because there’s so much commotion.
- Post to LinkedIn groups where you have established relationships
- If you have a tame publishing schedule (4 posts or less), e-mail your subscriber list
- If you publish frequently, e-mail your list when you publish posts you think they’ll like most
- Submit to social sharing sites that have your audience.
- Hit up niche forums and post your link in their “articles” sections
With promotion, it’s best to have relationships built up before you need to promote your content. But it’s not required.
And you have infinite room for creativity!
3. Make It Pretty
The average blog, for businesses new to blogging, looks something like this:
I used the black spots to hide the owner’s identity. But just eyeballing this business blog…it looks 5-8 years old.
And with the brown…don’t you get a sense of lifelessness? It feels appropriate for a company that pumps septic tanks.
Doing that makes people question whether you’re in business or not.
Now to their credit, this person is a small local business with a limited budget. But if they paid up for even a decent web design, they’d make that money back easily. You get a treasure-trove of credibility you get from a better blog design.
A few things to call to your attention:
- Overall, it looks green, colorful, and lively which draws readers in right away
- To the left of the author’s photo, you have an image for the post – that’s necessary
- The author has a profile photo so you can get to know and like them (powerful)
- Social sharing icons are to the far left, which ads more color and the ability to share the post
- To the right, they have call-to-action boxes for their services and downloads (nice but not necessary)
That’s really all you need!
You can also insert statistical charts, infographics, and regular graphics into your post to bust up the text a little.
And you can do all sorts of cool effects too.
But they’re not necessary.
And you make a 1000% better impression on your readers. So, you get more e-mail addresses, comments, social shares, links, and sales.
4. Lose the “Businesslike Tone…”
That’s code for stop being “stilted and formal” with your content and copy. 90% of all business blogs do this.
The golden rule to follow is this: always write like you talk to someone in person. If you wouldn’t use that term in person, don’t write it.
Example: business copy often includes the word “unparalleled.” Have you ever told a client your services are “unparalleled?”
5. Optimize Your Blog Titles for Good Rankings…
With business blogging, put the phrase you must rank for in your blog post title. The keyword should appear in your image ALT tag and 1-2 times in your copy.
A couple supporting keywords should appear in your copy too (as they fit). You can optimize your post for 1-2 keywords for every 500 words (about).
6. …And Optimize Your Titles for Clicks Too!
This is really an art. The point is: don’t forget to make your headlines interesting for your potential readers.
It’s tough to do because so many writers are getting good at writing attractive headlines.
In an ideal world, you write 20-25 variations, narrow it to 3-5, and then pick the one you your readers will like most.
7. Write Scannable Content
This one’s easy. Your paragraphs should be short – 3 lines or so. You should use around 14 words per sentence.
One-sentence paragraphs are a must.
Use sub-heads every couple paragraphs. Add bullets to list items. Make sure those bullets contain some of the most interesting information on your page because they attract attention.
The reason for scannable content is this: it’s easier to read.
Long, dense paragraphs remind people of reading an encyclopedia. No one wants to do that anymore.
8. Throw in Some YouTube Videos
Text gets boring. Besides breaking it up with images, do the same with videos.
9. Respond to Comments and Engage
From a commenter’s perspective, they’re going way out of their way to comment on your blog.
So if they do it, reward them handsomely.
Thank them, elaborate on their feedback, or ask a question. It builds engagement, and eventually, sales!
10. Link to Valuable Resources
I added in a couple self-serving links in this post here. That’s fine, as long as they get balanced with links to external resources.
And when you link out, link only to sites doing their best work. Never link to content mills like About.com or EHow.com.
Google wants those sites at the bottom of their SERPs. And you can always find someone else who writes on the same topic with greater depth.
11. Hate Writing? Outsource!
Writing a blog requires a special skillset. Yes, some people love writing literally all day long. To you, that might be unfathomable.
There’s plenty of freelance writers who would love to help you write interesting content that sells.
They know how to keep their minds fresh and ready, so you always get engaging content.
If writing isn’t you, no worries. Hire help.
12. Do an Interview
In this case, I’m not talking about a blog post that features an interview. Instead, interview an expert or two before you create your post.
For not much additional work, you get a post chock full of specific information hard to find anywhere else on the web.
13. Use Data from Authoritative Sources
The source should be an easily recognizable name for your audience. That way, there’s no question about the validity of your data.
You can interpret and argue about it if you want.
14. Write an In-Depth Series of Posts
Usually, posts stand alone. In fact, can you remember the last series you read?
I can’t. And neither can your readers.
Pick an expansive topic, and cover every angle of it over as many blog posts as it takes.
15. Write a “How-To” Guide
Now here, I’m not talking about your typical “how-to” blog post. I mean a guide that solves a specific problem.
If you’re an accounting firm, give solopreneurs a step-by-step guide on organizing all their tax information.
Your guide should be so comprehensive your readers have no reason to look anywhere else.
16. Give an Update On Your Products/Services
Around 10-20% of your blog posts can be self-serving. Push the ratio higher than 20%, and you start losing interest.
Your readers do want to have a relationship with your company. And this is one way to do it.
And hey, you can make some good sales with this in small business blogging.
17. Talk About Your New Hires
Speaking of personal relationships, profile employees your readers are likely to talk to. Before they even call, they’ll already have some familiarity.
18. Tell Stories
Your readers love to know what’s truly going on at your business – and between your ears. Tell a personal story.
Talk about the time everything went wrong at business. Discuss your failures (bonus points if you do).
What did you do to make things right?
Your readers want to know.
A great idea when blogging for business purposes.
19. Take on Untouchable Topics
You don’t have to take a controversial stand. But journeying into uncharted territory is a good thing.
It gets you attention – the good kind (as long as you have sound reasoning for what you have to say).
Of course, if you don’t feel comfortable, don’t do it.
But if you like risks, go for it.
20. Write Truly Epic Content
Sorry, the word “epic” gets tossed around a lot. But it’s what you hear, so I use it to make sense to your brain. This content should be the most amazing, in-depth piece of its kind on the web.
In general, these content pieces will be 2000+ words, and often much longer.
21. End Every Post with a Call to Action
You can use a ton of calls-to-action at the end of your post, like these:
- Asking for comments
- Another reminder to subscribe to your e-mail list
- Further blog posts to read
- Making your offer (use on a rare occasion)
22. Seek out Guest Posts
Everyone wants to get a guest post these days. When you search for authors yourself, you’ll have no shortage of takers.
And your audience loves to hear different perspectives.
23. Avoid Adjectives and Adverbs
Adjectives describe nouns (a person, place or thing) and verbs end with “-ly.” In most cases, they don’t improve the effectiveness of your writing. They clutter it up and make things harder to understand.
Never use 2 adjectives in a row (like this: the big, red truck…). And whenever you see something ending in “-ly,” question whether or not you
really need it.
You can use adjectives and adverbs to explain things better, but it works best to avoid them.
24. Paint a Clear Visual Picture
Now here’s the exception to the above rule (English is great – isn’t it?). You do want to use adjectives that appeal to reader’s emotions and senses.
For example, adjectives like these help your reader visualize your point:
You don’t read these “power” words on 99.96% of all blogs. So it makes sense they get more reader interest when you use them.
25. Use the Active Voice
This one means the action happens now.
See the verbs in that past sentence?
“Means” and “happens” both end with a “S.”
That’s your clue they happen in the present.
These clues show you the action happens some other time, and they bore your reader:
- Past tense: any verbs that end in “ed”
- Being verbs, which simply show existence: is, are, was, were, have, has, had, be, been
- Any verbs that end in “-ing”
When you see those things, they should set off alarms in your head!
However, it’s okay to use these other verbs. Actually, you can’t write without them. But, the ratio of active voice verbs should far outweigh all other verbs you use.
Huffing, Puffing – Don’t Worry, You’re Halfway There!
Whew…that’s already a ton of work. And you’re just halfway there. You could spend years implementing those business blogging best practices and reaping the benefits.
Why don’t you get up and do 25 jumping jacks or take a walk around the block?
When you finish, I’ve got 25 more tips and techniques for you:
26. You MIGHT Cut the Qualifiers
Qualifiers reduce the power of your blogging and copy. To see the point, read these two sentences:
- This powerful cleaner makes your counter sparkling clear in a single wipe
- This powerful cleaner can make your counter sparking clear in a single wipe
See how using “can” kills your impression of the product? It can do what you want in a single wipe, but “can” leaves the door open for the possibility it can not.
In the first example, you have no room for doubt. This product does what it says in a single wipe.
The exception to this rule: if law requires your copy to use qualifiers.
27. Start with a Problem, But Don’t Give the Solution Right Away
What happens when people get what they want from your content? They put it in their mental trash heap and leave.
So in the initial paragraphs, you outline the problem your readers face.
That gets their interest because they know you understand what bothers them.
Then, you outline a few things they think solve the problem. You show, with abundant evidence, why those common solutions don’t work.
Now you’ve captivated your readers.
They know you get their problem so they’ll read to see your solution.
But don’t give that until toward the end of your post. You want their attention as long as possible.
28. Use Contractions
Contractions are a must. They’re casual, and with business blogging, readers want casual these days.
29. Ditch Stock Photos
Okay, okay – so I’m guilty of this one.
#raises hand timidly while cowering
For the most part, you should avoid stock photos. They look staged and blend in with what your readers see at many other small business blogs.
The exception: if you can find some goofy and wacky stock photos and released for free.
As an alternative, you could use images you make yourself – or screenshots.
30. Write Actionable Tips
These tips work because your audience can take action on them literally now.
“Make your content actionable”say most posts.
With many of the tips you’ve read in this guide, you can use them on your blog right now.
No experience necessary. Now that’s actionable.
31. Do Research & Report It
Compose a survey for your customers. Discuss your findings.
Make it something startling like,”40.2% of all law firms have inadequate cyber security.”
Be precise. It adds credibility to have that .2% on the end.
32. Run a Contest
This could be part of the 20% of those self-serving posts you write.
Maybe you run a contest that rewards the customer with the best comment with a free month of service.
The 100th subscriber to your newsletter gets unrestricted access usually reserved for members-only.
You can use a lot of creativity here.
33. Start VLogging
This term’s short for “video blogging.” You don’t have to use a long video – just 5-8 minutes will do.
34. Host Webinars
I’ll confess – I don’t have much of a taste for running webinars. When I find a good one, they’re great to attend.
And I don’t know much about running one.
35. Write up a FAQ
You already have a brief FAQ on your website. If you don’t, you should have one. It’s great for getting targeted organic traffic.
On your blog, though, give in-depth answers. Then, on your website’s FAQ page, link to those answers to keep visitors on your site longer.
That also gives you a chance to add a few more readers to your e-mail list.
36. Ask Your Current Customers What They’d Like to See on Your Blog
In business, you give your customers what they want, right? Then, you try to educate them on what else might help their cause.
Why not go straight to the source and ask some of your customers what they would like to see blog posts about?
And you know if someone tells you, many other customers think the same thing.
37. Ruthlessly Steal from Your Competitors
Okay, so the word “steal” up there – that’s for getting your attention. Don’t actually copy and paste their content!
But, you can certainly borrow from them. Look at their business blog for ideas.
Write on the same topic and go farther in-depth. Or take a different angle and disagree.
Look at the posts with the most social shares.
They’re guaranteed winners.
38. Where’s Your Lead Magnet?
You do know what this is, don’t you? Kidding…there’s actually a ton of names for it.
You might call it your “free download.”
It doesn’t have to be long (although it can be if you want). Write a 4-5 page freebie, and make it clear it’s available for people who subscribe to your list.
E-mail lists are the equivalent of gold. It’s cheap to e-mail your list, and they convert well because you already have a relationship with the subscribers.
39. Write with a Fresh Mind
You can’t force writing. It’s not a linear process like an assembly line at the factory or a data entry job.
Some days you “have it” and rock your content…
…And others you won’t. I can’t tell you what to do. But when I don’t, I wait another day or exercise to lift the brain fog.
40. Scour Twitter for Ideas
Just type your keyword into the search bar at the upper right.
You’ll only find about a thousand posts, or more, with your hash tag.
Social media, in many cases, works better for listening and discovery than marketing and promotion.
41. Break the News As it Happens
Did something major happen in your industry? It’s tough to be the first to talk about it.
But do write a blog post on it as soon as possible (like the next day).
Also, put your own take on this news. Was it good? Bad? Downright stupid? Hype?
Then your audience has a reason to read the news from you and no one else.
42. Promote Every Post by E-mail
This assumes you do 4 posts per month or less. Do it more often, and you risk annoying your e-mail list.
You’ll have special offers and other things to promote, so save some newsletter airtime for that.
Your e-mails don’t have to be a big deal.
Just write a few sentences introducing the post, add the link, and you’re done.
43. Check Your Analytics
Your e-mail newsletter should have analytics showing how many clicks and opens you get. That gives you clues as to which blog titles your audience likes.
Google Analytics, the best free analytics, gives you awesome data on this. You want a bounce rate of at least less than 70%, and ideally less than 60%. Your 0n-page time should be a minute, or more, depending on content length.
44. Make a Blog Post Full of Expert Quotes
If you feel like working extra hard and getting original quotes, reach out to key leaders in your industry and organization.
If not, scour the web for fascinating quotes. Ones that counter conventional wisdom get more attention.
45. Write a List of Great Free Resources
These posts do particularly well. And the better the resource, the more attention your post gets.
Even better yet, add a brief description of the value your readers can expect to get at each resource and a video or a picture.
Most posts just give the link.
46. Do You Have Social Sharing Buttons?
I found myself being critical of business blogs that don’t.
And guess what? It turns out I’m a hypocrite.
My blog didn’t have social sharing buttons until a week ago!
This makes your blog look legit. And of course, it’s easier for your readers to share your post and make it go viral.
47. Avoid Common Post Formats
The typical post goes, “7 Tips for…” or “10 Silly Business Mistakes to Avoid.” Those aren’t necessarily bad.
After all, plenty of research shows list posts work.
But you can get better results from your posts.
Why not go for “23 Silly Business Mistakes to Avoid.” More items shows bigger value – and that gets more clicks.
48.Make an Editorial Calendar
You don’t need to be fancy here. But you do need one. It does two things:
1. Shows you take your blog seriously (just like a serious carpenter uses good tools)
2. Organizes the blogging process, saving stress and hassle
49. Write Down Ideas as They Come to Mind
I always have my blog sitting open in a tab in Google Chrome. When I think of a new idea, I create a new post and save it as a draft.
A few links and a sentence or two go into the draft.
Something like 50 posts have been published, and there’s another 70-80 ideas in the queue. I don’t expect to write all of them.
Do that, or write your new business blogging ideas as they come down on paper.
They’ll strike you for a moment, but they don’t stay with you unless you write them down at that instant.
50. Do an In Memoriam of a Past Company Leader
This is a serious tip. If you’re not comfortable with death, don’t feel like you have to write about this.
But it could make a fascinating post.
Think about it – our nation loves to remember tragic events like 9/11 and World War II.
And don’t you always see the post office flags at half mast?