Before you read this post about writing a great blog post, you need to make sure you have your website planned out and purchased. If not, check out this article about how to build a lead generating website for under $100. It is filled with tips to get you started in the right direction.
One of the great features of blogging is that anyone can do it. It’s one of the most simplest forms of communication in the digital age, unencumbered, unmoderated, and uncensored.
The ease of blogging is great for business owners, allowing even the smallest start up the opportunity to publish content and market themselves virtually for free.
So why does business blogging seem like such a challenge? You know your business. You should know your clientele (aka readers). Blogging’s greatest feature is also its greatest challenge: Anyone can do it. Just about every business (if they’re smart) does do it.
What will make people want to read your business’ blog?
There are six things every ideal business blog post should be:
- Well planned
- Well structured
- Easy to read
- Of value to readers
An ideal business blog post will vary in a lot of ways, but they all, with very rare exception, share these elements. If you remove any of these elements, the result is a post that will not be as effective.
Let’s break it down:
All posts should be well planned
Some successful bloggers seem to post off the cuff, and maybe they do — but most are not successful business bloggers. Before you even start your blog, you need to sit down and make a strategy based on your target audience. What do they need? What are their interests beyond your product or service? How old are they? What do they need?
Make a list of headlines that will grab your readers’ attention. Delete some, then add some more. Come up with ideas that will offer your readers information they can use — or, even better, will come back to.
Say you manufacture yo-yos. A few headlines might be:
- Does Yo-yo quality really matter?
- 10 Yo-yo tricks you’ve never seen
- Toy Convention Survival Guide
- The 5 coolest ways to customize your yo-yo
Keep the focus on your product or area of expertise, and think about your readers. People like lists (more on that later), so include some, and draw them in with the promise of new information. Yes, some of your readers will have seen at least a couple of those tricks, but, if you’re lucky, they’ll comment about their own favorite tricks.
Briefly summarize each post. Order and schedule them. Write them ahead. You really can’t over-plan a good blog post.
All posts should be well structured
What does a well-structured blog post look like? Truthfully, there is no single format that all good blogs follow — and, really, you don’t want your posts to come across like everyone else’s. But a well-structured business blog post should not be intimidating to the reader even before they read sentence one.
No one wants to read a wall of text, no matter how helpful it might be. A well-structured, accessible post will have:
- Short paragraphs
- Spacing between paragraphs, to avoid the “wall” effect
- Sections with bolded sub-headers
- Bullet points, when appropriate
- Links, where appropriate
- An image with a caption and alt tags
This is why “list” type blog posts work so well. These elements make your post easy on the eyes, and draw the reader in. Most blog readers don’t have all the time in the day, and, let’s be honest, are more likely to skim your post than read it closely. Make it easy for them — and make them want to read it closely.
All posts should be easy to read
Good structure plays a big part in readability, but the actual text is, of course, vitally important. Blog posts shouldn’t read like an article in a business journal or a college term paper or a formal correspondence. They should be casual, as if you’re talking to a friend, but not so casual that you sound completely unprofessional.
Imagine a prospective client with little knowledge in the subject asked you about the topic of your post. What would you say to them?
Keep it simple:
- You may be a wonderful poet, but flowery prose has no place in a business blog post.
- Save the jokes for your personal blog, unless they weave well with your topic (if you’re not sure, don’t use it).
- Don’t go into salesperson mode. People want information, not a sales pitch.
- If you have to use a technical word, explain it.
- Don’t try to be too clever. Stick to the facts.
Keep sentences short and sweet, choose simple words, and use an active voice (e.g: “kids play with yo-yos” rather than “Yo-yos are played with by kids”). Blog posts should read below a Grade 10 level. The Hemingway app is a great tool to help you create easy-to-read posts (the post you’re reading is at a Grade 7 level, for the record).
All posts should be of value to readers
What is valuable to a reader? It depends on the type of blog. With a news blog, being up-to-the-minute is valuable; an entertainment blog should be entertaining; a food blog should offer recipes readers can use. A business blog should offer relevant information that is helpful to the reader.
Say you write that “10 Yo-yo Tricks You Never Heard Of” post. Don’t just tell them about each trick, show them how to do them. Offer resources that will help them master the tricks. Make it so that they want to share the post with their friends and bookmark it for later.
Some things that are valuable:
- Time. If someone is looking to acquire something, research can be time-consuming. Take something that is relevant to your business and offer a list of the best, or do a comparison of similar items.
- Expertise. Share it.
- Instructions. There’s a reason How-To sites are popular — people search for instructions on how to do things constantly.
- Resources. Maybe you’re not an expert in a certain area, but you know the best websites on the topic. Share them all in one place.
Every post should offer something.
All posts should be clean
When we say your posts should be casual, we don’t mean a sloppy blog is OK. A business blog should use proper grammar and spelling, no excuses. You should never type a post directly into your blog and hit “publish” without careful review.
Typos happen. They should be rare. To help keep your blog posts as clean and professional as the big-time blogs you should:
- Always use a spell checker. This is obvious. No spell checker is foolproof, but always use one.
- Always have a second set of eyes read your post. They’re more likely to catch errors and typos missed by a spellchecker than you are, and can spot issues no automated program would.
If you’ve been blogging without asking someone — a business partner, employee, a friend — to read over your posts before publishing, start now. It can make a big difference.
All posts should be optimized
This element is the most terrifying for many business owners. To keep it simple, here’s what you need to know:
- If you’ve created a high-quality post that is well planned, structured, readable, valuable, and clean, you’ve created a search-engine-friendly post. But there is more to it.
- You’ll need a focus keyword (“yo-yo tricks” is better than “yo-yo”). Google’s free Keyword Planner is worth getting to know.
- You’ll need an SEO plugin to simplify optimization, such as Yoast or Squirrly, both available for free and easy to install with WordPress.
If you really want to take your business blog to the next level, consider adding in an email list. These are great for lead generation and for sales.
Creating a good business blog post takes work, but it’s worth it. Do you blog for your business? What works (or doesn’t work) for you? Let us know in the comment section.
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