Is your business blog tanking? Have you wasted hours upon hours creating what you thought was out-of-this world content while attempting to attract visitors and maybe even grab conversions via your business blog? Lift your somber spirit out of the rain because you have come to the right place! Blogging is not rocket-science, but many of you are missing small but crucial things that will drastically improve the readership of your business blog.
Image via Evil Erin
Back in college my roommates and I attempted to throw a party one Friday night. The turnout was simply pathetic, which we blamed on the competing parties occurring in the same townhouse block as ours. A month later we were determined to prove our past party performance wrong. We spent time creating a compelling Facebook invitation full of witty banter and entertaining photos while highlighting some major draws such as free beverages and pizza (no college kid can resist either). Aside from Facebook, we used word-of-mouth marketing to get people enthused about our party. If I do say so myself, the turnout was phenomenal.
You may be wondering what this anecdote has to do with your business blog – well, the point is that even if you have great content, your target audience is not going to join the party or read your blog if it is not presented and executed in an enticing manner.
So let’s dive into the 3 mistakes your business blog is making, and how to fix them today:
Mistake #1: Your Blog Posting Schedule Is Inconsistent
Have you ever stumbled upon a great blog only to return a few days later to no new posts? It is discouraging and might deter you from visiting again. I have even come across a few blogs that post several times for a few weeks, and then there is a steep drop-off like the blogger fell off a cliff and failed to find a replacement. Before you start barking at me that “Creating great content is time consuming,” I have several solutions to this problem.
Utilize multiple authors across your organization.
WordStream has seen great success with this method, with approximately 50 authors across our 100-person company who work in several areas of the business, including customer service, sales, product, and marketing. Believe it or not, my day-to-day job is not to write blog posts for WordStream, but rather something that I add on as an additional task.
Of course you will need a great editor and also a strategy for convincing employees to contribute. So where to start? Here are a few actionable tips to encourage employees to contribute:
- Schedule a short, persuasive meeting with each team to outline the new blogging participation opportunity.
- Highlight the benefits of blogging, especially if your businesses brand is well-known and/or growing rapidly. Authorship improves one’s personal brand and professional portfolio – having great content on your resume is a draw for recruiters, which can help accelerate your career to new levels. It can also help you get speaking opportunities at industry conferences.
- Implement a reward strategy. Our marketing team at WordStream treats employees on the customer success team who write three posts per quarter with a fun outing – for example a Red Sox game or night out bowling. You could also provide a prize (cough, cough CASH prize) for the writers whose blogs posts perform the best in terms of traffic, engagement, etc. People are much more motivated to act if they’re tempted with a potential reward.
Schedule time each week to dedicate to blogging
Do you have time to watch the Bachelorette every Monday? Or Modern Family on Wednesdays? This is all the time you need to dedicate to blogging each week. It’s that simple. Block off a small period of time each week to focus on blogging and only blogging. Tuck your iPhone deep into your desk drawer or even remove yourself from the distracting office environment by grabbing a conference room or utilizing a nearby library and just type away. Blogging is much less daunting when you realize it is essentially just writing down what you know. It’s shocking how much you can accomplish when distractions are removed.
Have a running list of content ideas
Always be thinking, reading, and writing down your ideas even if it is just on a post-it in your cube or in the notes section of your phone. Once you’ve got new ideas jotted down, add them to a shared document so other authors within your company can cover them if your schedule is jam packed – as stated above, take advantage of your resources i.e. your co-workers! Figuring out what to write about is so much easier than you think, for instance…
Write about what you know
If you drag yourself out of bed and slave away at your desk on five out of the seven weekdays, you must know something. Knowledge is power – share it.
Answer a question
If you work with clients, write a blog post answering a question you receive frequently. Often I will come up with blog ideas just by eavesdropping on the colleagues who border my cubicle. If people are asking as question, you may as well answer it in a spunky sharable blog post – this will save you time in the long run. Instead of writing that long email explaining how to set up conversion tracking in the future, just send along a link to the post you already wrote!
Follow industry news and blogs and re-purpose with a twist
Browse through some influential industry bloggers or news stories and take your own twist on the update. WordStream authors do this all the time for example in January Elisa Gabbert caused quite a stir when stating her prediction on link building’s future and reacting to Matt Cutts’ claim that guest blogging is dead. Not only were several shares and over 54 comments received but also the conversion continued through follow-up articles and additional coverage.
Don’t be afraid to get involved in industry dialogue
For example in PPC Matthew Umbro runs a #PPCChat conversation weekly where questions are tweeted out and respondents engage in an interactive live chat through Twitter every Tuesday for an hour. These conversations often lead to blog posts since ideas and information are being exchanged by industry experts.
Mistake #2: Your Business Blog is a Visual Nightmare
Your blog has no images, is disorganized, and downright ugly. Yikes! Wouldn’t you say it’s time for an extreme makeover, blog edition?
Have at least one compelling and relevant image in each post.
“Your goal isn’t just to add eye candy, though that’s probably a good thing,” says entrepreneur Neil Patel. “Your goal is to add strategic images that help your readers and enhance your content.” I think Neil hits the nail on the head because seriously, how uncompelling and unattractive is online content without an image or video for further engagement and context? It is an immediate turnoff to see a huge block of text that isn’t broken up visually. Once that image pulls you in, it also needs to complement the text so the two elements work together to create a memorable experience.
Charity: Water, a non-profit with the mission to bring clean and safe water to every person in the word, does a remarkable job with the image/text combo in each post. Check out this recent post introducing their new interns. Each picture has personality and is relevant, and they wrap up with a lovely group photograph of the whole gang. Case in point, the images draw me into the article, while providing relevancy and additional context to the copy in the post.
Keep your blog organized and easy to navigate
If your blog is just a never-ending page of posts this is far from user-friendly; visitors will likely become frustrated when they cannot easily navigate to the area they are looking to focus on. Your blog should be organized so readers are able to home in on areas of interest.
For example, try providing a sidebar with clickable links to various sections or dividing the posts between tabs on various topics or products that are relevant to your target audience. Evernote does an excellent job at this, providing four separate tabs including – Latest, News, Tips & Stories, and At Work – this allows readers to easily navigate to the section that interests them. Evernote also provides a search bar to search for topics of interest, as well as a section that provides recommended posts for you.
Think simple, attractive, and easy to navigate when it comes to site design: According to a Mashable article by Erica Swallow, “Web design is one of the most important factors in creating a blog that is user-friendly and visually appealing. Corporate blogs are notorious for lacking in design.”
Squarespace is another company that excels at site design. The design is not only visually appealing, it has one of the best overall user experiences I’ve seen among business blogs. I’d estimate that about 80% of business blogs look fairly similar – a bland page of blog text with branded company logos, and possibly a pixilated image here and there. Squarespace takes readership experience to a whole new level, with unique blog navigation, but at the same time providing a clear and simple experience. Each post is introduced with a compelling and relevant image (hitting on my last point), and the overall experience is pleasant.
I also love how Squarespace encourages reader participation in each post via a call-to-action to react on Twitter – see the example below, incorporated in their Brooklyn celebration post.
Mistake #3: You Don’t Have Social Media Share Buttons
Your content NEEDS to be shareable. According to a report from BI Intelligence, “Americans spend an average of 37 minutes daily on social media, a higher time-spend than any other major Internet activity, including email.” If that’s not a wake-up call it should be! Think about it: If your target audience is spending the largest chunk of their time on Facebook and Twitter each day, they’re not going to find your blog unless it’s being promoted on these sites. Including these share buttons will ensure your blog is actually gaining some traction on social.
If people are indeed sharing your content, then these social buttons also give upfront proof that your posts are worthy of reading. When visiting a blog post that has 400+ shares across various social networks, I’m immediately impressed and confident that the post is worth my time.
My point is that including share buttons is an easy way to:
- Promote your content for free, and
- Provide social validation for each post
If you are not sure how to add social media share or follow buttons to your blog, check out Hubspot’s Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Creating Social Media Buttons.
So are you ready to turn your blog from a complete nightmare into an overnight success? Well, OK, it might not be overnight, but applying these tips will give you some much needed blog cred. As a recap remember to:
- Utilize the expertise of your co-workers to keep posting consistent, and always be brainstorming new blog ideas.
- Dedicate time to making your blog attractive! That means relevant images, easy navigation, and clear organization throughout.
- Ensure your posts are sharable! Social media is a HUGE source of referral traffic, so take advantage of spreading your content through this ever-growing channel.
I’m curious to know:
What techniques do you utilize to ensure your blog is attractive?
What are the best business blogging tips you’ve ever heard? What are the worst?