Allow me to set the scene…
I belong to a local business club. It’s structured but informal, and not at all like the target-driven scariness I’ve heard rumours about. Part of each meeting is a member’s ’10 minutes’, where each of us talks to the rest for ten minutes about something to do with our work. Your first one is an introductory thing, a bit about you, a bit about your business.
When my turn came round again, I asked the group what might be useful to them, and it was widely agreed that I should “do something on blogging”.
So that’s what I did.
My audience here is very mixed; different industries, sectors and varying relationships with the internet. One is an SEO company, some people don’t have a Facebook page never mind a website, and most are somewhere in the middle. The unifying factor is that everyone is a local SME, with an interest in learning from and supporting other businesses.
So deciding where to pitch this was tricky, to be honest. And to keep everything within 10 minutes.
Feedback was positive:
- “When I heard it was going to be about blogging, I thought it was going to be really boring to be honest. But that was absolutely fascinating.”
- “It just makes me think about how I absolutely don’t want to do all that myself. I just couldn’t.”
- “You were brilliant, really informative and so engaging. Thank you. I’ll be needing your help soon.”
So I’ve basically turned my prep notes into a blog post, in case they help anyone else. Either to know more about writing their own blog, or if you’re a writer being asked to do a similar “something about blogging” talk somewhere.
Obviously, this is not definitive by any means. It is just my take, for this specific purpose. I’ve left it in note form, for speed reading, but I didn’t just read it out loud as it is. (That would’ve been a bit weird!)
Why do businesses have blogs?
- 55% of marketers say blog content creation is their top inbound marketing priority.
- 43% of B2B marketers say blogging is their most important type of content.
- Companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got about 4.5 times more leads than companies that published zero to four monthly posts.
Reasons for blogging:
- Funnels people to your website – will always include internal links, pointing people towards your business offering
- Improves your SEO with Google & other search engines are available. Choose titles with often searched for terms/questions. Doesn’t work alone, part of whole strategy,(I’m not our SEO expert) At the very least it is new, current content.
- Develop connections within your industry – potentially leading to you being an ‘authority’ in your field. Surprised that writing for others in the same industry was a thing. But it is just another way to network, have a sounding board of other professionals & learn (CPD in others’ articles/guides etc.) Depends on the community, the writer one I’m part of is very supportive.
- Build connections with existing and new customers/clients – be the answer to customers and clients problems. Blog can show you. Why you and not the other company?
Your readers – It’s all about them, not you.
Readers are clients, potential clients and colleagues in your field.
Either want to be entertained or educated.
Entertainment blog articles might start with:
- Secrets of/Confessions of…
- How not to…
- Why I decided to be a…
- Disaster: When… goes wrong…
Educational blog articles might begin with:
- How to…
- Do you know…
- Guide to…
- 5 ways to
They are all individuals who take in information in different ways:
- Figures – statistics
- Images: photos, infographics, charts, graphs, illustrations
- Questions (reflective)
- Audio – podcasts
Which do you prefer? Will you always click on a video first, if there’s the option? Would you rather listen to something than read it?
If you are writing a blog and aren’t investing in audio/video, you can still make sure that your text includes the maximum number of readers. You are trying to engage as many different learning types as you can.
Include as much of a variety as you can: statistics, quotes, images, questions – as long as they are properly relevant and not tenuously linked to the topic.
NOTE: Great stock images on sites like Unsplash, include an alt tag (for SEO) and make sure you credit the image creator.
KEY – they want you to fix their problem, that’s why they are reading your blog/website. They don’t care how many years of experience you’ve got, how much you love your new van/office, or how many followers you have. They just want to know that you understand their problem and know how to fix it.
Blogging is a way to build trust. Using clear language, shows that you’re not trying to confuse people with your industry–speak. Writing about how you’ve tackled other similar situations, lets them know what to expect when you’re fixing theirs. Have a sense of humour (if appropriate), feel less intimidating to contact you. Have a sense of reassuring authority (if appropriate), feel safe to discuss serious and sensitive issues.
You need to put yourself in the shoes of them, as non experts, and write in their language. If necessary, explaining terms as you go.
You are investing your time writing it yourself, or your money paying someone else to write it. Either way, it is an investment that you need to use as efficiently as possible.
NOT reinventing the wheel…’repurposing content’
- Your website already contains a whole load of information – each piece of that information can become a more in depth blog article. If you have a list of 10 services, each one of those services can be its own blog post – with the focus on how that service solves a problem for your clients.
- Newsletter – as blog ‘round up’. They don’t have to follow you or worry about missing a post, you’ll send all the links to them in your newsletter. Sometimes as the sole purpose, sometimes with an extra ‘newsletter only’ article or an offer.
- Case study – From your testimonials, if possible. Describe a job from beginning to end (with or without costs), problems encountered etc. A ‘usual’ job, gives most people an idea of what they need to know before they start. A difficult job, you as the hero, rescuing from a messy situation. Real client, if they give permission, with real photos (if that is appropriate). Or a fictional client. Make it clear that you are inventing a client, but drawing on real life experiences.
- About page – I love an About page – interested in people (nosey). Tell your own professional story.
- New products or services: Your opinion of a new product that you make/use, new service you’re offering.
- Guides: Turn one section into a blog post and direct the reader to the rest of the guide for more information.
- Video: transcribe and add notes for a blog post
- If you end up with a really long article, consider if you can chop it up into several shorter ones.
- What you want to push – targeted at who you want to work with. Tell them why they want it.
- Warnings – scams, changes to laws, faulty products, health and safety issues
- Current news – link to the original story, tell it yourself
- Things you’ve learned – CPD events, working with another colleague, your professional body/Trade Union, trade journals
- Testimonials: Let others refer you with their words. Is it time for a new case study? Or just a ‘why people hire me’, article.
Do a content plan
- Year overview – key times of the year, Easter/Xmas etc. Key for your industry. Official ‘days’ – jump on the #.
- 3 month overview – blog titles for each week. Based around your business plan.
- You’ve got 3 months planned and only had to think about it once. Rather than being under pressure to think of a new thing each week.
- Ideas have time to marinade + you’ll spot things to save and use as you’re going along
- Think about types of articles you are writing – not all ‘3 ways to…’. And who you are writing them for. (1 aimed at for industry colleagues, 2 for general potential clients, 1 to a specific target market)
Don’t forget to put a time in your work diary for actually researching and writing!
Why people hire me to do it for them:
- Writing isn’t at the top of their skillset
- They don’t like doing it
- Want it written by a professional
- Learning disability, like dyslexia
- Get an ‘outside’ eye, they are too embedded in their expert position to explain to a non-expert
- Cost effective – Save time + save money
- Two brains are on it. I can’t switch mine off, if I see something that will be useful for a client’s post, I’ll save it.
- I’ll be asking the questions your clients will, because I’m usually not an expert in your field. Education, gin drinking the exceptions. So your writing will answer them before they even have to ask.
Photo credit: Me.This is my actual desk, dust and all!