The humble blog. A content creators dream, a place for social posts to unite, and often the entryway to your online presence – it’s a commitment. Whilst skipping a few entries from your old diary matters very little; taking a few weeks off blogging can mean you’re potentially missing out on serious business opportunities.
Here’s a start-to-finish guide to building a blog that will stand the test of time: from choosing a topic, to maximising readership once you hit publish.
1. What are you talking about? Being choosy about your topic
Getting from A to B should be simple, and in the digital era, customers expect nothing less. A successful blog takes you on a journey, providing a link between the chosen topic and your products or services. First port of call? Find out what your reader wants.
Are there any recurring questions from your customers? What’s happening in your industry? Being relevant and timely in equal measure creates the perfect formula. Focus on your niche, then relate it to a trending topic and you’ll be the belle of the ball in search engine land (i.e., your content will appear top of the list!). Some of my favorite tools for investigating a topic include: Google Trends, AnswerThePublic and AlsoAsked.
2. When creating a title, remember first impressions matter
… and they definitely matter in the eyes of search engines. Even if they alter with time, writing titles and headers at the planning stage will help organise your content and make it digestible. In this instance, it pays to prepare. There’s plenty of artistic license when it comes to headers, but don’t forget your keywords, as this is where they’re really effective. Whilst you’re in the keyword zone, tick off writing your meta data, it’s really worth it. Here’s an in-depth guide to meta descriptions from HubSpot for inspiration.
3. It’s time to put pen to paper
You’ve got your topic nailed down; your headers are all in place, you’ve set the scene for a great blog. Keep the one-way conversation flowing, your tone of voice on track and bear in mind your keyword list (but please, no shoehorning!). Each brand should have its own guidelines when it comes to writing copy, but keeping sentences short is a golden rule – why use five words where one will do?
The aim is to be known as trustworthy, and why shouldn’t you be, if you’re writing about your niche? It’s also good practice to be transparent. If you’re using stats, share where you got them from. If your thoughts are shared by others, link to high-ranking sites (this will really make search engines happy). If there’s a debate, include the other side for balance (but don’t sit on the fence, that’s just painful). With every point you’re making, think about your goal. Are you looking to educate, inform, or entertain? You can do all three – but at the end of the post, your readers should never be thinking “so what”. Instead, they should be satisfied ([insert sign up for next time]) or intrigued ([insert find out more]). Create a dead end at your own peril!
4. Tidying up: Proofread, proofread and proofread
Pruning and preening your work is the best bit – you’ve done the hard part and now you’re finessing it all. You’ll never get that ‘first read’ back. However, if you go out for a walk, come back, and re-read with fresh eyes, it really makes the world of difference. Grammarly have a quick proofreading guide with more tips here (and if you haven’t heard about Grammarly before, it’s also a great tool!).
Your blog might be looking spot on now, but how is it going to appear once you hit publish? A bulk load of text is one way to guarantee a swift exit. To keep your audience engaged, create plenty of white space and break up your copy with relevant imagery. It might be that your reader is looking for one particular section of content – this is where the digestible element comes in, so ensure your piece is easily scannable.
Something which frequently gets overlooked is accessibility. Use alt text on your images, choose a good size font and check how it looks on mobile. The University of Edinburgh has a full guide to accessibility here.
5. Sharing is caring
We are ready to go. Great. Job done? Not yet. Before hitting publish, there are a few boxes to tick. For now, put the blog to one side and move your attention to other channels.
Surely, if your blog is good enough for by web visitors, it’s good enough for your followers too! Start tailoring some engaging posts to show off your blog on social media. Don’t just create one post, pull a teaser out from each section of your blog and keep the party going. Create a buzz by asking if your followers agree with you, or ask if they’ve got anything to add to your piece.
If your content is super relevant right now, how about leveraging your PR connections? Maybe they have an opinion section or Q&A just waiting for an insert for your chosen topic. Finally, if you use email marketing, save space for your latest creation. All the above will complement one another to maximise readership and snowball interest.
Yes, well-written blogs may take a little work, but it’s well worth your while; because, when you get it right, the possibilities for reach are endless. By bookending your writing with detailed planning and great aftercare, you’ll create a piece that will be read time and time again.
We’ve created countless blogs for our clients here at Fox Agency, specialising in writing engaging, SEO-optimised pieces with a track-record of success. When paired with our array of award-winning PR gurus, social specialists, digital experts and general marketing nomads – we can take your content to the next level.