How to Start a Successful Blog
In today’s digital climate—with ad-blockers on the rise and on-demand media consumption at an all-time high, the importance of content marketing cannot be understated. Content marketing, which provides valuable content to users in order to draw them to your business, is an excellent way to improve upon traditional marketing tactics and solidify a name for your brand.
Studies show that content marketing works. According to a content marketing study by Curata, 74.2 percent of companies report that content marketing has increased both the quantity and quality of their leads, and reports by NewsCred show that 70 percent of consumers would rather get to know a company via articles and content than advertisements.
One of the fundamental parts of a content marketing strategy is blogging. A blog allows your company to build its reputation as a thought leader and engage with a community of industry standouts and consumers. Blogs also make a huge difference when it comes to building a business. HubSpot reports that marketers who use blogs generate 67 percent more leads that those who do not.
If you’re convinced that having a blog is important, but you’re not sure where to get started, take a look at the list below. These steps can help you determine your blogging strategy as well as how you will execute it so that your blog drives leads and brands you as a thought leader.
1. Define Your Target Audience
Figure out who you want to read your blog. The audience for your blog should be the people who will ultimately become your paying customers or influencers who can help promote your brand. To help you get going in the right direction, blogging guru Neil Patel explains that it’s important to develop rich buyer personas. Step into the shoes of the people who you want to become your audience, and talk about what they like to do, how they spend their days, and more. Patel explains, “Go into extreme detail. Talk about the daily tasks the person does at their job. Talk about what they do on the weekends with their family and friends. The more details you can include, the easier it will be for you to target this person as you implement your personal brand strategy.” Developing personas for your audience will help drive your content selection and voice and will ensure you’re catering to the right eyes and ears.
2. Determine Who Your Competitors Are and How You’ll Be Different
Do some research and figure out who your competitors are. Take a look at their blog then make a list of ways you’ll differentiate your blog from theirs. This will ensure that potential customers have a distinct reason to visit your blog rather than the already-known quantity. Some good ways to offer unique content include putting an unusual spin on popular topics or blending information about your particular industry with unrelated current events.
3. Brainstorm Topics to Cover Based on Your Target Audience and Business Goals
The next step is planning what topics you want to cover. This step ties in closely with figuring out who your audience is — you want to deliver content and media that speaks to them. You also want to make sure your content is helping you meet your business goals. For instance, if you want to grow your email list, you should include newsletter sign-ups or gated content that requires people to hand over their email for access.
4. Establish Your Cadence
Decide how frequently you plan to post to your blog, and establish a regular cadence. Posting regularly helps you steadily build a blog audience, and it’s a good way to help keep you consistent with meeting your content marketing goals. While there’s no perfect recipe to blog posting cadence, studies have shown that companies that post more than 16 times per month get 3.5 times more traffic than those that only post four or fewer times. Create an editorial calendar to help you keep track of your blogging schedule. On the calendar, include all dates related to blogging, including when pitches, first drafts, edits, and final drafts are due as well as when content should go live on the blog.
5. Build a Team and a Budget
If your company is going to have a blog, you’re going to need someone to manage it. Blogging may be just a one-person effort — but it may also take a village. If you need extra help, build a team to create, edit, and post content. Also, create a budget that is strictly dedicated to your blogging efforts. That way you can make sure you are properly paying your blogging team as well as funding efforts to design, promote, and improve your blog regularly.
6. Create the Blog
To create the blog itself, you’ll need to choose your blogging platform. There are lots out there. Do some research to see which fits your company and its goals best. Then, choose a domain name and a hosting option, which will allow you to get your blog live and seen by internet users everywhere. Next, determine how you’ll design your blog. You can use premade blog design templates or hire a professional designer to create a one-of-a-kind design for you. Be sure to keep your brand’s specific aesthetic in mind when you design, and incorporate essential elements such as your logo and company colors. Finally, choose what plugins you want to add to your blog to make it easier to create and more enjoyable for readers. A good example of a popular blog plugin that helps make blogging easier is Yoast — a WordPress plugin that checks your posts’ SEO and offers information about how to improve optimization.
7. Make a Distribution Plan
A distribution plan is necessary once your blog has been created. Decide whether you’ll rely on owned media (company content), paid media (traditional ads), or earned media (organic search results)—or some mix of the three to get your blog out into the world. Your blogging budget should help you determine how you can best distribute your content so that it gets seen.
8. Build a Community
At the end of the day, blogging is really about building a community. To help spread awareness of your blog and build relationships within your industry, be sure to visit other blogs in your field and leave comments—these can start an important conversation. Also, be sure to respond to comments people leave on your blog. Finally, one excellent way to build your blogging community is to get influencers to write guest blog posts for your blog; this builds your blog’s reputation and gets it seen by many more eyes when the guest bloggers share their posts with their own audiences.