Blogs offer businesses the chance to directly engage with their audience on a range of industry topics. If your business has just started a blog and you’re unsure what to put on there or how to write the ideal piece, read on. Writing a blog is as much art as science – if you understand exactly what you’re trying to achieve with each blog post then you are already half way there.
Why write a blog?
Business blogs are very common nowadays among businesses of all sizes. There are many reasons to write a business blog:
- Help your customers understand industry topics
- Increase authority of your business
- Strengthen your corporate identity
- Stand out as a caring company
- Engage with your customers and user base
- Help your search engine optimisation efforts
- Link your website to your social media accounts with useful content
Blogs really are good ways to give your business a boost online, but it’s important to understand that by themselves blogs are bare and barren. It’s what you do with them that helps you achieve these goals, and before you do decide to run a blog, you need to ensure you can dedicate the time necessary to build it into a worthwhile area of your website.
Defining your audience
This is an important, and often repeated, piece of advice. While it’s easy to understand, it’s not always easy to put into practice. The best way to understand the type of content your audience will want to see is to build a ‘persona’ of your average reader, including their likes, dislikes, needs, worries, concerns, dreams, etc, and use this to inform your content choices.
Bigger businesses can create several personas but it’s best not to create too many as it dilutes the effect, and can also make it hard to settle on content choices if their needs are too diverse. Once you’ve developed your personas, you can start to think about what type of content you want to produce.
What should I talk about?
There’s a lot of advice out there but generally it all comes down to making sure your blog posts are relevant – is the content important to the people you consider important i.e. your audience? If it’s not, you shouldn’t write it.
After you’ve made your persona, put yourself in that person’s shoes and consider how your business, your knowledge, and your experience can affect the hopes, dreams, dislikes, worries that you previously identified.
You can then use your knowledge to craft relevant content that directly impacts on your customers’ lives – try to change their opinion or ideas, or improve their knowledge, with every blog post.
Fresh but not too fresh
Some blogs are updated once every three months. Some are updated multiple times a day. Neither is ideal. The key to maintaining a good blog is to strike a balance between regularity and quality.
Generally speaking, two or three quality blog posts a week is a good aim. Try to post more and your content could lack cohesion and expertise, which then makes your business less authoritative. And of course, posting less can make your blog look barren. There’s nothing worse than a business blog that hasn’t been updated in two years. It reflects extremely poorly on the company.
Blog post structure
Technical structure is important when writing blog posts – you want to maximise the chance of people staying and reading, and then becoming more interested in your company.
It’s very hard on the eyes to read a computer screen like you do a newspaper or book. Linear movement along a screen hurts. So, people tend to scan online text to get the gist of the piece, picking out key phrases and words and occasionally dedicating more time to complex areas. This must be reflected in your content – simple sentences, short paragraphs and use of the active voice. Clearly labelling your introduction and summary can also help.
General writing advice also applies here – don’t use complex words when simple ones will do. This doesn’t mean write simply or patronisingly, it means that you shouldn’t try to impress your audience with your language. Some industries are innately complex. A blog about financial derivatives will make little sense to outsiders, but will be easily understandable to those in the know.
Choosing a headline
The desire to pick funny, witty or elaborate headlines is human nature. This is great when it comes to print – people like it. And that’s because they have more time to deeply parse the headline and the content below it. It’s a more immersive, intimate experience.
Online, however, the headline’s aim is to allow the reader to instantly comprehend what the piece of content will be about, and what it will include. Puns and funny headlines often take several ‘beats’ of thought to understand – that’s the joy in them. But they should be avoided online. Go for the snappiest way of accurately describing the blog post’s content.